Going Solo in Indonesia: Barong and Kecak Dance

Part of going to Bali would be watching the Barong Dance and the Kecak Dance.  The former is played in the morning while the latter is played during sunset.  While it was Honey who recommended that I see the Kecak Dance, it was Kadek who told me that there was also the Barong Dance.  Hungry for more culture, I agreed to see both.

Barong Dance

The show started with a long musical number by a Balinese band.  The music was played using Indonesian traditional musical instruments called gamelans, and it sounded really good.  The musicians were of varying ages with one guy looking like he’s 20 while another looked like he should’ve retired decades ago.  I was glad and envious at the same time that the Balinese people seem to be keen on preserving their culture and heritage.  Aside from the great traditional music, I liked the costumes and props of this dance, particularly that of the Barong which came in the form of a tiger.

Barong Dance

Barong in Tiger form

On the other hand, I felt that I was over my head with this play.  After the prologue, the characters started talking.  A lot.  I thought that I would only be seeing a dance, something like an interpretative dance of a story, but it turned out to be something different.  There were lots of talking and since 95% of the audience were tourists… I must say that I couldn’t help but think, “Where are the subtitles?!”

Barong Dance

Sadewa captured

The play lasted for an hour and fifteen minutes.  I could’ve stayed to take pictures with the cast but I was already eager to go to Padang Padang Beach and get some surfing action.

Read about my surfing adventure in Bali.

Kecak Dance

After staying at Padang Padang Beach, we headed to Uluwatu to watch the Kecak Dance  (pronounced as /ke-chak/).  The Kecak Dance, like the Barong Dance, is played in a variety of places but the one in Uluwatu is popular because the setting sun provides a very good ambience for the performance.  The sun will provide illumination during the early parts of the story while the parts that involved fire were just in time for the darkness that the sun leaves behind.

Kecak Dance

blessing of the Kecak singers

Kecak Dance

Rama, Sita and the Golden Deer

Kecak Dance

Hanoman destroys the palace of Ravana

Compared with the Barong Dance, I must say that I enjoyed this one better.  It was more action-packed and there was less talking.  Add to that was the fact that I am familiar with the story – a depiction of the battle from Ramayana.  Another element that I liked about this dance was the Kecak singers.  Musical instruments were not used, so the chanting of the Kecak singers provided the necessary sound track.  It was really unlike anything that I have witnessed, and I loved it.

Uluwatu Temple

Uluwatu Temple at sunset

Kadek “Alung” Suastika

The Kecak Dance was the last thing on our itinerary and it was time to go back to the Pop! Hotel Kuta Beach.  It was also the last day that I would be spending with Kadek.  After he delivered me back to my hotel, we parted ways, with him promising me that he’d send me my pictures, that if I go back to Bali I should contact him again and that if I would go back, I should stay in Ubud and he’ll look for a place for me to stay.

He’s such a cool guy.  Gone was the paranoia that came with the unknown as early as an hour after our first meeting.  He was really a good driver and tour guide.  He really made an effort to make me seem at ease and he really took care of me while I was in Bali.

Kadek Alung Suastika

For example, as I mentioned in my previous post, the other drivers that we saw just stayed at the parking lot while their clients roamed around the tourist spots.  But Kadek always accompanied me when I asked him to.  He even shelled out some money so he could buy some swimming attire so as not to look out of place when he went with me to the beach.  Plus, he also helped me haggle the surfing price.  Also, his English was very good so he was able to answer all my questions about Bali.  And not once did he lose patience with my curiosity and occasional indecisiveness.  Lastly, he gave me tips on which foreign exchange shops to trust.

All in all, I would say that I had a really great time in my solo trip in Bali.  I was able to see and do the things that I went there for while also discovering and learning new things.  A great part of that was also because I had a great driver.  I was really thankful that I chose him and trusted those reviews from Tripadvisor.

Watch out for the next installment of my Going Solo in Indonesia series.

Read the next part here.

Going Solo in Indonesia Notes:

  • Bali Driver:Kadek “Alung”Suastika
    • Email Address: alungsuastika@gmail.com
    • Phone number: +62 08174793556
  • Barong Dance ticket:  100,000 IDR
  • Kecak Dance ticket:  70,000 IDR


Jayce Cairo

Jayce is a linguaphile who speaks four languages and currently works as a translator to finance her various interests. Scoring very high on “Openness to Experience” on the Big Five Personality Test, she is an avid globetrotter who aspires to retire at 35 and travel for the rest of her life.

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