Tuesday, May 13, 2014



There is a village in Bali called Trunyan which according to the Lonely Planet guide many years ago is inhabited by a tribe of original Balinese people called the Bali Aga. These people are known to be generally hostile to foreigners and strangers and unlike the traditional Balinese who cremate the bodies of their dead, the Bali Aga do not. You probably think that if they don't cremate the dead, they must of course bury their dearly departed. No, they don't do that. They just leave the corpses to rot.

I drove my rented four-wheel drive through rough terrain until I came to the part of the road where a small off-beaten path departed from the main road and seemed to go over the cliff to the lake below.

I looked carefully and I saw that the path went down a steep incline and I wasn't sure I dared to drive my car down such a slope. There were no barriers on the side of the sandy path and a mere slip to one side would spell disaster. But the lure of the village of Trunyan was too great and I emboldened myself and took the plunge, literally.

It wasn't so bad as I had expected. The path was very long but soon I was down on level ground. The road from which I had come was way up in the distance above me and I was now on the bank of Lake Batur.

The imposing volcano Gunung Batur stands over the lake.

The only way to get to the island of Trunyan is by boat.

Approaching the village of Trunyan.

There were groups of villagers staring at me as I entered the village. I was careful not to take their photos because at that time, they were still not familiar with the sight of tourists and I was the only outsider there. The boatman was a little nervous and he kept telling me not to take photos of the people. But I had to at least take some photos.

Below are pics of the village temple. Not the spruced up tourist-friendly temple but one that services the village well.

The boatman said his prayers in front of this altar before ushering me to his boat for it was time for us to go to Kuburan, again, accessible only by boat.

Kuburan is the burial ground for the dead. No, there is no burial. It's more like a dumping ground, for want of a better term.  Upon arrival at the bank of Kuburan, the visitor is greeted by a row of skulls.

All the dead bodies are placed on the ground and covered with 9 different kinds of flowers to take away the smell of the rotting flesh. All I could smell on Kuburan was the strong fragrance of flowers. But the smell was not that of any flower I'm familiar with. I think it's an odd mixture of the smell of rotting flesh and flowers but it's not so bad as to put off a visitor. You wouldn't know there were dead bodies around you just by the smell.

Around each body, a small "tent" of bamboo sticks is erected.

Here's a close up of one of the tents. You can see the body within and a hand that seems to have come out in between the bamboo poles.

Before leaving Kuburan, I felt I had to take a final shot as a personal souvenir. I checked with the boatman who didn't think it was disrespectful so I proceeded with this pose.

I had thought of squeezing two different funeral styles that I have witnessed in Bali into one page but I can see that this post is already extremely long. I will break it up so this 3-part series on Bali will become a 4-part series. In Part 3, I will post a story about a totally different funeral ritual that I attended in Bali. Part 4 will be a story which I will post when I am in Bali which will be not long from now. I promise you Part 4 will be something quite different from what the average tourist has experienced.  Yes, very different indeed. In fact, it may be so outrageously unconventional that I might be compelled to password-protect Part 4 or segments of it.

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