A must-see event for those who are visiting Bali for the first time is the Barong and Kris Dance, the traditional Balinese and Javanese dance, one of the best-known and most beloved of the island. A page with an explanation of the various acts is given to spectators at the start of the show in various languages to facilitate the understanding of this complex drama with its synchronised and hypnotic dancing, representing life itself, with it colourful costumes and harmonious femminine movements, depicting the eternal battle between good and evil. There is Barong, the “good” character, symbol of virtual, resembling a lion, its costume of thick white fur, adorned with golden jewellery and pieces of mirror and there is the “Queen of Demons”, Rangda (widow in Javanese), head of an army of evil witches who wants to control the world. Male dancers fight with kris knives and, upon the appearance of Barong, they stab themselves and enter into a sort of trance, then being reincarnated and sprinkling holy water throughout the space. At this point, Rangda is defeated and the natural order is re-established. Costumed musicians sit on the side of the stage, accompanying this whirlwind of movements of masks and colours with the sound of the “gamelan”. Barong performances can be found all around Bali but the most popular take place in the village of Batu Bulan in the district of Gianyar, or in Kesiman, Denpasar.
One of Bali’s most ancient and sacred temples, the Lempuyang Luhur is situated on the peak of the mountain of the same name on the eastern side of Bali. To reach it, there are 1700 steps, but bite your tongue before complaining. Locals say that whoever complains will never reach the summit.