Monday, November 17, 2014

Nyenuk Processions...

I've just returned from a month of wanderings in Asia. Though my best intentions were to make regular posting updates here throughout the journey... full daily schedules, excruciatingly slow internet connections and an unexpected, 12 day sail across the Indonesian Archipelago allowed little time for editing on the fly or opportunities to log on here to post the wisdom.

This trip... a month abroad, was made primarily o behalf of a mainland client who had retained my services as guide, consultant and sourcing agent for asia style furnishings, antiques  and objects'd art. Having previously lived in Hawaii, this fellow had moved to Kansas City a couple of years ago and was frustrated by the lack of interesting home decor. Consequently, he planned on opening his own furnishings gallery and through a mutual friend, contacted me about showing him the ropes and providing him with suppliers for the goods he hoped to stock his shop with.

After several months of brainstorming via email, a date was finally set for travel to Bali & Java, where all sorts of exotica could be found. 

The first two weeks of the trip were spent crawling around dimly lit, dusty warehouses in search of suitable items for export back to Kansas, leaving little time for photographic pursuits above & beyond the documentation of purchases. The client proved to be a good natured travel companion. We had never met previously and I was relieved to find that we shared a very similar world view and seemed to click immediately when Adi and I picked him up at Bandara Ngurah Rai Airport in Tuban. We hit the ground running immediately on the following day... in search of treasures. In between treasure hunting, we managed to dine on fabulous Indonesian delicacies, make introductions to several of my local friends in Bali and take in a handful of cultural activities... touring a temple or two, attending a colorful Hindu ceremony and the cremation of a member of the Royal Family of Peliatan.

The client seemed impressed with the sources I directed him to and by day 12 enough purchases had been made to fill a 40' container full of goods. While my trip was to last a month... my client would only be in Bali for the first 2 weeks. Many of the items he purchased had to be manufactured, leaving me behind to supervise production and follow my own pursuits for the remaining two weeks of my stay.

The adventures that ensued during the month abroad were many... so many that I will be posting multiple entries in the loose form of a diary/chronology of journey. There are many photographs to share and tales to tell... 

Ubud, The Start of An Adventure:

My home-base for the month would be in the small mountain village of Ubud. Again, I set-up shop in the nicely appointed home of friend, generous host and internationally renown photographer Rio Helmi. Located just a couple of hundred meters behind the Royal Palace in the heart of the village, Rio's home has been my camp for my last several visits to the island where, over breakfast, we have the opportunity to compare notes & share our respective photographs.

Having arrived during the full moon, the island was already swept up in ceremonial beauty with temple festivals and other rituals taking place at nearly every turn. During our shopping weeks, we were able to take a day off to attend a large procession & ceremony called Nyenuk... the final cermonies involved in the rededication of Pura Gunung Lebah, a spectacularly beautiful temple lying just below the Tjampuan Bridge. This temple had been undergoing expansion & rennovations during my last visit a year ago. Now complete, the temple was brought back to life, spiritually, thru a series of elaborate rituals, the processions of Nyenuk being the final events.

A large procession, complete with giant ogoh-ogoh, paper mache sculptures depicting gods, demons and various players in the great Hindi epics, orchestras of drums and gamelan and the Balinese community en-masse and dressed in their best ritual finery paraded down the main street in Ubud... bringing all traffic to a standstill. The parade began at the temple and carried on for a couple of miles to the village of Peliatan... all during the intense heat of mid-day before returning back to the temple just after nightfall.

More to come... stay tuned.

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