Dancing With the Apes: Kecak Dance, Bali

I hate monkeys. Maybe it is just envy. Although there is ample evidence that our evolutionary stem has developed a superior brain, deep down at the coccyx of my psyche there may still exist the tail stub of an ape. Maybe I still have a repressed urge to play with myself in public, fling my feces and steal every shiny object that isn’t nailed down.

At the Uluwatu temple in Bali, Indonesia I got stuck in a tourist trap, a narrow passageway facing a phalanx of not-so-great apes. Luckily I had been warned to remove my glasses and shiny objects and clutch my camera. But a woman in front of me was not so cautious. She let out a scream as a marauding macaque snatched her earring and taunted her to return it in exchange for a banana. Come to think of it, this hairy extortionist might consider an alternate career in banking.

But monkeys are untouchable in this Hindu temple perched on a cliff above the Indian Ocean. Every night, in a performance of the Kecak, or Monkey Dance, the monkey-like Varana helps a prince fight off an evil king while 100 men chatter like macaques.

More

Photo Gallery: Burmese Days: Sunrise on a New Myanmar

Temples of Bagan – Photo (c) Russell Johnson

I read George Orwell’s “Burmese Days “while traveling through Burma aka Myanmar on a filming assignment in the 1990s  The country looked then as if it hadn’t changed much since Orwell’s 1930s. Burma was oppressed, frozen in time, isolated from the rest of the world. That has gradually changed, largely due to social media, militant monks and the presence of Aung San Suu Kyi the country’s face of freedom.

Today, after a free election, the jackboots of the ruling generals (depicted on their currency as men with small heads and large hats) may have finally been lifted.

More

LATEST STORIES

FEATURED VIDEOS & PHOTOS