Death becomes her: happy Balinese villages

A happy gong player in a cremation
ceremony, Tabanan.

We were pottering through the loveliest little village in west Bali when suddenly the street was blocked by a procession of about 100 people.

The procession was led by women in beautiful costumes bearing offerings, men playing gong (gamelan), a stick bearer and lots of folk walking behind them.

It was a pretty procession, and I wound down the window of my car and took plenty of pretty photographs. Everyone smiled and waved, happy to be snapped.

The procession finally finished and we started on our way again, and I asked Nata, my guide, what the occasion was.

“It was a cremation ceremony,” he explained.

But they all seemed so happy!

About the author

Fear is found on a creaking glacier in the Caucasus mountains and joy is encapsulated in the perfect Shanghai dumpling. And while I love a $500-a-night hotel room (who doesn’t?), sometimes the best stories are found in a $20 guesthouse. With an eye always out for good markets and great street eats, I write the travel news and features for the Sydney Morning Herald and Melbourne’s The Age newspapers, and features for whoever else asks. I have a particular soft spot for the wilds of the Middle East, scarves and carpets. My articles and photographs have been published in a range of consumer magazines and newspapers in Australia and abroad.

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