There`s something special about Bali. Almost


There`s something special about Bali. Almost
There’s something special about Bali. Almost everyone who comes to the island
feels it. While Kuta and Seminyak flow with a bustling vein of tourists, in direct
contrast, Spa Village Resort Tembok, Bali is a peaceful spa resort tucked away on
the tip of the northeastern coast. Yet there’s a subtle vibrancy that runs through this
part of Bali; epic stories that lurk in its history and a raw natural beauty evident in
its simple landscape.
This unique travel journal came to be from a mutual love for this island of the Gods,
between Dato’ Mark Yeoh, who chose the village of Tembok for his first spa resort,
and Chang Fee Ming, who has been exploring its hidden beauty for years riding
through dusty tracks on a little motorbike.
Filled with sketches and anecdotes from Fee Ming, inspired by his journey to Tembok,
this travel journal can be more than just a memento of your time; it can also be
a place to jot down your thoughts, capture a moment or just sketch whatever catches
your eye. Perhaps within these pages you will be inspired, as Fee Ming was, and
create something of your very own.
Choong Chi-Ying
Kuta has changed so much since the first time I set foot there in the early 1980s.
But on the beach you can still find religious rituals carried out by the locals,
especially purification rituals before Nyepi as depicted in the two sketches here.
During my early days in Bali, I used to spend a lot of time doing watercolour
work in this fishing village in Kusamba. But this time, I discovered a new activity
there – people were crouching on the ground, laboriously shifting through pebbles
and small rocks. I first thought that they were looking for some kind of valuable
precious stones. In fact, they were just looking for black pebbles that are used as
decorative material for landscaping, for which they get paid not much.
This is when tradition and modernity blends well: fish wrapped in a Balinese-style
banana trunk fibre packet transported on motorbikes!
Candidasa is located on the way to Tembok, with a picturesque lagoon abound with
waterlilies. The lagoon is best viewed from a temple that sits on the mountainside,
just across the road. While I know that this watercolour could never capture the
beauty that I saw with my naked eye, drawing it was still a very pleasurable
moment for me.
In Tirta Gangga, the view of the paddy terraces is spectacular, which many people
stop by just to enjoy. But I always remind people going there to also pay attention
to these unusual huts crafted by the farmers there, that have living trees growing
out of them.
The Tirtagangga Water Palace is surrounded
by lush gardens and artistic statues. I actually
went swimming in one of the royal pools once,
imagining that I was the King of Karangasem.
I always enjoy the market scene. Abuzz with activity, the morning market at
Pasar Tianyar near Tembok is a great place to watch and see what people eat,
wear and use.
The roast pig is a local Balinese delicacy that
has become a favourite among foreigners.
Too bad I am not a meat person.
This traditional medicine man from Sulawesi displayed all kinds of dried animal
parts, including a crocodile skull. Can he be a witch-doctor as well?
Two hard-working ibu at the market…
In a small section of the pasar, there’s an area for trading fighting cocks. In Bali,
cock fighting forms part of the religious ceremonies performed at the temple.
Pasar Sapi is located just next to Pasar Tianyar. It’s fun to see how the villagers
trade their herd while sipping a cup of tea and chatting with cattle owners.
Tembok, which means ‘the wall’, divided Buleleng and Karangasem and
was considered the Eastern gate of Singaraja when it was part of the ancient
Baling-Kang province.
Baling-Kang no longer exists in the eyes of the government, but as far as the
people of Tembok are concerned, this great province still remains as the temples
of Baling-Kang continue to be a part of their spiritual constellation of temples,
involved in every major religious ritual.
At a New Year’s Eve dinner in Tembok, a lady guest from Australia excitedly
recounted her discovery of a frog in the Resort. Amused, I told her that we
even have frogs performing the gamelan!
Modern art sculptures by Nature! Took them back with me to my room for a
while to sketch and enjoy. Then, I returned them to the beach, where Nature
had intended them to be.
I have always been fond of the shape
of the sukun tree and I never tire of
drawing it. It is amazing that because
of this tree, the mutiny of the Bounty
happened (remember that 1962 movie
with Marlon Brando?). The fruit is nice
to eat too. In Terengganu, I love them
thin-sliced and deep fried and while
I was in Tembok, Chef Danny kindly
shared a few sukun recipes with me,
including this one.
3 250 g 38 g 38 g 20 g 1⁄2 tsp Combine all ingredients in a deep bowl and
knead well for 3 minutes, until the dough is
smooth and does not stick.
village chicken eggs
freshly grated breadfruit
glutinous rice flour
plain rice flour
palm sugar
Dust a cake tin with a little rice flour and
press the dough into it.
Steam or bake in moderate oven (180º C /
350º F) for approximately 35 minutes, or
until the top is golden brown.
I began to draw this bull statue which sat under a Kemboja tree just behind my
room. But soon, the sunlight was so bright that I moved to the spa house where
I drew another Kemboja tree that was there instead. Later that night, there was
a beautiful full moon. When I woke up the next morning, I was inspired to add
watercolour on the sketch to capture that moonlit night scene.
At the fishing village just next to the resort, I made a rather interesting discovery!
The jukongs (traditional Balinese fishing boats) there were unlike those I have
seen in Bali before because the form was more like a whale’s, with a beautifully
decorated tail. I wonder if it had anything to do with the fact that these local
Muslim fisher-folks are originally from Lombok...
My friend Sugi took me to Pura Negara Gamburanglayang that had shrines
for different faiths. But it was this modern-style statue, probably of the temple’s
guardian, that really caught my attention!
This is where I spent most of my late
afternoons, just watching people go about
their activities - children running around,
fishermen coming back from the sea as
I enjoyed Ibu’s delicious gado-gado at the
warong nearby and waited for the sunset.
The local vegetation in Tembok is so different from the one I am used to in Ubud.
So untamed and wild, they are my RAW file (as those uncompressed picture files
in a digital camera)!
This is another favourite tree of mine,
the pandan. The atmosphere was peaceful
and tranquil as there was no other presence
around, except for Daeng Gasing Selesai
Dipugar (deceased 16 November 1997),
as I sat by his mausoleum to sketch the
pandan on the beachfront.
Under the shadow a soft breeze blows languidly and white surf caresses the sand
on such an afternoon, what else is there to do?
We went looking for an old mosque (Masjid Jamek Al Munawaruh) built around
1400. But at the site, what we found was a (new) mosque under construction. But
we were not at all disappointed because we met Iman Durahman, a kind man with
whom we had a pleasant conversation. When the Dzuhur prayer was called, he
excused himself and went to lead his congregation for a prayer in a simple makeshift shelter that will serve as the mosque until the new one is ready.
I could never forget my first experience watching Wayang Wong in Tejakula.
I think that here is where the best shows are. This time, I had the opportunity to
join a big crowd to watch another performance in Pura Ratu Gede. As expected,
they were amazing, the performers… whose movements, old masks and costumes
completely drew the crowd into the Ramayana play, though they were in fact
performing for the Gods.
There is something beautiful about the way Asians sit, which is further accentuated
when the seated person is wearing batik and a transparent brocade lace kebaya.
I am always amazed at the craftsmanship of Balinese offerings. Everyone seems
to have a distinct creative style to please the Gods.
The Balinese men are often involved in food preparation during temple ceremonies,
which is always a great occasion to socialise. This group is making Lawar, a Balinese
delicacy served at auspicious events. Starting in the early morning, they take their
time to chop the Lawar ingredients of herbs, greens and various types of meat over
hearty chats while sipping coffee or arak.
In Tejakula, if you see a statue like this at the entrance of the house, you know that
the family of the Pande (master metal-smith) lives there.
A cempaka blossom has a sweet, lingering
but delicate fragrance. In Ubud, I always
like to take one that is just opening and
put it behind my ear the way the Balinese
do. It always keeps me feeling fresh all day.
The Tragic Tale of
Jaya Prana and the Cempaka
A deadly plague descended upon the ancient kingdom of Kaliangat and spared no
When Jaya Prana claimed victory in the savage battle fought, the Prime Minister
one. The king wandered the streets in despair and met an unaffected boy. Believing
revealed that he had been sent to kill him on the king’s orders. Jaya Prana replied,
him to be a gift from the Gods, he adopted the boy, naming him Jaya Prana.
“So be it. Kill me if it is his will as my life belongs to the king.”
One day, the king told him to choose his bride and the union would be blessed. Jaya
Prana fell in love with a cempaka flower seller called Layang Sari. When brought to
Animals wept, the ground shook and lighting split the sky when Jaya Prana
the palace, the king astounded by the girl’s beauty, wanted Layang Sari for himself.
was killed.
So he ordered Jaya Prana to reclaim Terima Bay from pirates but the night before
The cempaka flower faded and Layang Sari’s heart trembled. The Prime Minister
departing, Layang Sari had a nightmare that Jaya Prana would drown in a mighty
returned and told them of Jaya Prana’s victory but revealed that he had died when
flood and begged him not to go. To soothe her, he gave her a cempaka flower and
overcome by six pirates.
said, “This flower is my soul. As long as it is fresh, you will know that I still live.”
Layang Sari killed herself in grief. Left alone, the king realised the countless lives
Once Jaya Prana left, the king tried to make Layang Sari his queen. In refusal, she
said, “My soul is dedicated to Jaya Prana as he is my life.”
lost because of his selfish greed and took his own life.
We were fortunate to have been introduced to Gede Pastika, with whom we were
able to do an up-close exploration of the temple belonging to the family of the
late President Sukarno’s mother. I was most taken by the old Kemboja trees in the
temple grounds. Luckily I have planted some in the compound of my own home
in Terengganu too. Otherwise, I would have missed them so much more.
I found the Yudha Mandala Tama Monument so well positioned. The statue faces
the sea defiantly, making me think of how the Indonesians courageously fought
the Dutch invaders that arrived from the sea.
The call of the kulkul is one of my favourite sounds in Bali,
even if I don’t know what the call is made for (as they have
different beats for different occasions and events).
I met Bapak Yang, who was the custodian of the Seng Hong Bio temple.
The 77 years old Balinese born of Chinese origin doesn’t speak or read any
Chinese. I nonetheless drew him against a pillar with a dragon to express
that he is still a descendent of the Dragon.
On our last day, we saw an unforgettable scene on the way back to Singaraja along
the coastal road. The tide was low and in the foreground, children were playing
football in the shadow of the vermilion sun setting on the horizon.
Pura Beji is located in Sangsit, just few kilometres east of Singaraja. The temple
has the most delicate stone carvings where the colours on some figures make me
think of the Dun-huang cave murals.
I found this wild boar statue very unusual. It must be a very old one…
Although I found this Bapak’s strong expression amusing, I am sure that those
who listen patiently to him would learn a lot about Pura Dalem Jagaraga. As he
told the tales of the temple, his eyes were as expressive as those of the fish on
the wall relief!
Baling-Kang was created in the 12th century when a Balinese prince fell in love
with a Chinese scholar’s daughter, Kang Ching Wee. When the Shiva Gandu, the
priest of Shiva, refused to consent to their marriage as the girl was Buddhist, the
Balinese prince abdicated his throne and left with her to form his own kingdom;
the ancient province of Baling-Kang, using both their names ‘Bali’ and ‘Kang’ as
An exquisite offering with perfectly
infused Chinese and Balinese influences.
a symbol of their love.
I met this Bapak at Pura Dalem Balingkang. But when I sketched him, I used
the picturesque Mount Batur view that I saw on our journey down to the nearby
Pinggan village for the background.
This pair of yellow and white tigers (statues) reminded me of a similar pair at a
Chinese Temple in my hometown Terengganu where I used to go eat vegetarian
food served at its restaurant. The big difference is these two are covered with
layers of cloth in accordance with the Balinese custom.
On the way up to Kintamani I saw this caged “keker” (wild fowl), which reminded
me of its owner who I recalled had a thick moustache and a beautiful tattoo on his
hand. But instead of drawing the nice chap, I drew his prized rooster instead.
How skillful are the Tukang Banten! They can mould rice dough into detailed miniature
representations of Balinese life, such as a full scale Balinese dance spectacle!
I think that one of the reasons why I keep returning to Bali is the beauty of the
Balinese gardens. The locals have a unique way of decorating their green spaces
with plants and statues complementing each other…. It is something that I never
tire to sketch and paint.
For reasons that I do not know, the hands of this Tukang Banten reminds me
of my late mother, Zeng Ai…
Born in Kuala Terengganu, Malaysia in 1959, Chang Fee Ming is a self-taught artist
who began his career in the early 1980s. Since then he has become one of Asia’s
most highly regarded artists working in watercolour. His works are acclaimed,
exhibited and collected throughout the world, and have appeared regularly at auction
at Christie’s and Sotheby’s since 1995. Several books have been published about
his work, including The World of Chang Fee Ming {1995}, The Visible Trail
of Chang Fee Ming {2000}, Mekong {2004}, Mekong Exploring the Source
{2008} and Imprinted Thoughts {2009} which was published in conjunction with
his exhibition at Singapore Tyler Print Institute {STPI}. In 2010 he launched two
publications: a book of travel sketches, Sketching Through Southeast Asia, and
Visage, which features a new body of work that was inspired by his experience as
Tsai Ming Liang’s guest observer during the shooting of the same title film Visage
at Louvre Museum in 2008. For over 20 years, his subject has been the people and
places of South East Asia, portrayed through an extraordinary grasp of texture and
light, as well as vibrancy of colour and composition. His works are suffused with
pathos as well as beauty. He is currently based in Kuala Terengganu, although he
returns frequently to Bali, his second home. He spends much of his time travelling
through Asia. In his own words: “To travel and see and paint is for me a way of
learning, part of my life philosophy”.
Spa Village began, in 2002, as an idyllic
Spa Village Resort Tembok, Bali is YTL Hotels’ first luxury spa
spa on the tropical island of Pangkor Laut
resort. As with its sister Spa Villages in Pangkor Laut, Cameron
with a passion for introducing individual
Highlands, Tanjong Jara, Malacca and Kuala Lumpur, every
and authentic encounters that combine
experience in the resort embodies the plot of paradise on which
the therapeutic properties of natural local
it is set. Hosting 31 rooms, the gentle spirituality of Bali and its
ingredients and age-old healing practices
rich culture infuses every encounter in the resort, and within its
to the world. This flagship spa has
spa treatments the secret power of the elements is unveiled by
blossomed into an international luxury
healing lore as old as the land itself.
spa brand, encompassing five Spa Villages
across Malaysia and a luxury spa resort
in Bali. Anchored in the principle of
honouring the healing culture of the
region in which each spa resides, Spa
Village is more than just a place... it is
a philosophy.
The anecdotes in this book were by Chang Fee Ming, recorded by Jarina Jani, edited
We would also like to give a special thanks to the staff of Spa Village Resort Tembok,
by and, in the case of Tembok, Baling-Kang and The Tragic Tale of Jaya Prana and
Bali for without their energy, support and enthusiasm, this book would not be what
the Cempaka, written by Choong Chi-Ying and are the writer’s own interpretation of
it is today.
the stories of the origin of those places and the Tale of Jaya Prana and the Cempaka.
Many people have contributed to the crafting of this travel journal and we would like
To those whose contributions we have neglected to note here from sheer failure of
to thank them all for their help and support.
memory, please accept our apologies.
Dato’ Mark Yeoh
Chik Lai Ping
Spa Village Resort Tembok Bali
Administration & Reservations
Bapak Sugi Lanús
Jalan Singaraja-Amlapura
+603 2783 1000
Bapak Gede Pastika
No. 100 Desa Tembok
[email protected]
Imam Durahman
Tejakula Buleleng
Bapak Kt. Suradnya
Bali, Indonesia
Jarina Jani
Published by
YTL Hotels & Properties Sdn Bhd
8th Floor, Yeoh Tiong Lay Plaza
55 Jalan Bukit Bintang
55100 Kuala Lumpur
First published 2010
© 2010 YTL Hotels & Properties Sdn Bhd
All artworks and anecdotes © 2010
Chang Fee Ming
Printed by
Pakatan Tusen Cetak Sdn Bhd
No. 11, Jalan SG7/6, Taman Sri Gombak
68100 Batu Caves, Selangor Darul Ehsan