Elephant Parade


In 2008 a baby Thai elephant named Mosha lost her leg after stepping on a landmine. When Marc Spits learnt about the unfortunate incident through Soriada Salwala, founder of the first Thai elephant hospital in the world, it inspired him and his son Mike Spits to set up the Elephant Parade – on June 9 2008 Mosha became the first baby elephant ever fit with a prosthetic leg, partially funded by Elephant Parade. Today Elephant Parade’s mission is to become the world’s largest financial support organisation for Asian elephants. 

On November 11th the Elephant Parade arrived in Singapore.  Over 160 life-sized fibreglass baby elephants, painted and decorated by international artists and celebrities, are currently covering Singapore along Orchard Road, Marina Bay, VivoCity, Singapore Zoo, Botanic Gardens, museums and more!  

Each statue is a unique piece of art – and when the exhibition comes to an end, all will go up for auction. Part of the proceeds will then be donated to The Asian Elephant Foundation. 

Saving Richard III Elephant

Dada The Surrealist Elephant
Delightful Durian Elephant

Zelda Zelliphant

Angry Bird Elephant

Christmas Blooms

I have finally had a chance to take some pictures of some of the stunning Christmas decorations around the city.  The theme for the decorations this year is Christmas Blooms in Singapore.

The ornaments are bigger than our heads! 

Here is my meager attempt to show some of the lights in a short video.

Below is a much more professional video of the lights! It really is incredible!

Bali - Ubud

Ubud is often called the cultural center of Bali and its easy to see why. It seems like every few feet there is a temple. The Balinese are very spiritual and in addition to having a temple at each house, they do prayer twice a day for everything, including their car and scooter. You can see the small handwoven banana leaf baskets filled with flowers they use for prayer along the sidewalks, and in front of every hotel, restaurant, and shop.

Caught site of these two biker dogs on our way up to Ubud. 

I love the rice fields in Ubud.  Its reminds me of the years I spent growing up in Japan.

Even Starbucks has been culturally influenced by Ubud. 

Bali - Elephant Cave

Goa Gajah (the Elephant Cave), is located in a steep valley just outside of Ubud. Built at least 700 years ago, the cave was rediscovered in the 1920s and excavated 30 years later.

To enter the cave you walk through the mouth of a demon. You can just make out the profile of an elephant if you look at the demon face's hair; the elephant's trunk is hanging over its ear to the right.

The leading theory on the history of the cave suggests that Goa Gajah was used as a hermitage or sanctuary by Hindu priests who dug the cave entirely by hand. Although accredited as a sacred Hindu site, a number of relics and the close proximity of a Buddhist temple suggest that the site held special significance to early Buddhists in Bali.

Despite the ancient significance of the Elephant Cave, the last excavation took place during the 1950s; many sites still remain unexplored. Literal piles of relics with unknown origins have been laid out in a surrounding garden and jungle. 

Bali - Barong Dance

Theater and dance are an integral part of Balinese culture.  I caught glimpses of a few Balinese dances on previous visits however, knowing that Kingsley would almost rather be doing anything other than watching a dance I never pursued experiencing a full dance performance.  Thankfully Cynthia and I were on the same page with our desire to watch some serious dancing so we went the Cafe Lotus in Ubud which is the spot to go as they have dance performances every night of the week. We happened to go on a Thursday evening where we saw several amazing dances but my favorite was the Barong dance.

Legong Trance Dance - a sacred dance performed only in a temple by very young girls.   The trance dance is performed when a village is suffering from a bad harvest or an illness.  The dance is intended to appease the gods and goddesses with the hope that they will bless the village.

Nyamar Dance - a love story filled with intrigue. Based on an old Javanese tale, Chandra Kirana, a beautiful woman appears disguised as a man.  She had been forcefully separated from her lover, Panji, but returns to him just in time to stop his marriage to an evil imposter claiming to be Chandra.

Barong is probably the most well known dance. It is also another story telling dance, narrating the fight between good and evil. This dance is the classic example of Balinese way of acting out mythology, resulting in myth and history being blended into one reality.
The story goes that Rangda, the mother of Erlangga, the King of Bali in the tenth century, was condemned by Erlangga's father because she practiced black magic. After she became a widow, she summoned all the evil spirits in the jungle, the leaks and the demons, to come after Erlangga. A fight occurred, but she and her black magic troops were too strong that Erlangga had to ask for the help of Barong. Barong came with Erlangga's soldiers, and fight ensued. Rangda casted a spell that made Erlangga soldiers all wanted to kill themselves, pointing their poisoned keris into their own stomachs and chests. Barong casted a spell that turned their body resistant to the sharp keris. At the end, Barong won, and Rangda ran away.
Somebody can die or get seriously injured in a Barong dance. It is said that if Rangda's spell is too strong, a weak soldier may not be able to resist it, even with the help of Barong. He may end up hurting himself with his own keris.
The masks of Barong and Rangda are considered sacred items, and before they are brought out, a priest must be present to offer blessings by sprinkling them with holy water taken from Mount Agung, and offerrings must be presented.

The Barong is a strange creature - half shaggy dog, half lion and is propelled by two men kind of like a circus clown horse.

Bali - Junjungan Hotel and Spa

After two busy days in Seminyak we headed up to Ubud where we stayed at the Junjungan hotel and spa.
Its a quiet hotel located about 15 minutes outside the heart of Ubud.  The hotel is surrounded by green rice paddies and large natural stream runs through the hotel which created a relaxing sound.

This was the view from our room. Fell asleep to the sounds of frogs croaking and best of all there were fireflies twinkling in the rice paddies at night. 

There is a free shuttle that will take you to and from downtown Ubud anytime you want.  I found the hotel and our overall stay here to be excellent.

 Dinning room where we sat on elevated platforms to eat.

Amazing complimentary breakfasts each morning.  
Love the touch of Christmas! 

Bali - Potato Head

Potato Head is one of the cool new spots in Seminyak.  I am so glad Cynthia and I got a chance to check it out.

Designed by acclaimed architect Andra Martin as a modern take on the Coliseum, the towering elliptical fa├žade is crafted in Potato Head’s seminal trademark of mismatched 18th century teak shutters collected from across the Indonesian archipelago. The beachfront bar and 500-square meter emerald lawn leading to an infinity pool is all housed inside a state-of-the-art amphitheater. The selection of handcrafted cocktails offers a cool and opulent fusion of both old and new inspirations carefully combined with cutting edge Mixology techniques.

The exterior is covered with vintage window shutters creating a cool rustic/tropical feel

 I had a pineapple black pepper margarita which was defiantly unique but not something I would order again.  Way too much black pepper for my taste!

Great pool and lounge area to hang out and listen to the DJ mix a beat and the waves crash in the surf. 

Bali - Jari Menari

Just a short 5 minute walk from our villa is a magical little place called Jari Menari (which means dancing fingers).  In my opinion it is the place that provides the best massages in the entire world. Yes I am well aware that is quite a claim but I really do think they are THAT good! 

90 minute "massage with movement" = bliss

The massage really is like 'dancing fingers', the (all male) staff are incredibly professional and well trained and all use the exact same style and technique.  This was my third massage with them and each one has been incredible. The massage experience at Jari Menari felt like it was intricatly choreographed to place mind and body in a state of utter relaxation and bliss.