Ubud along with the Kuta beach are the principal destinations for tourist visiting Bali. Personally, I prefer Ubud for its natural beauty and the many art galleries that it somehow supports. There are literally dozens of shops that carry large outdoor sculptures. How they can fund a business with all of the competition is difficult to comprehend. Too large to fit in your luggage most must be destined for the homes of rich expats.
In Ubud, we saw a performance of the Barong which is probably the most well-known dance of Bali. It is also another storytelling 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 a fight ensued. Rangda cast a spell that made Erlangga soldiers all wanted to kill themselves, pointing their poisoned keris into their own stomachs and chests. Barong cast a spell that turned their body resistant to the sharp keris. In the end, Barong won, and Rangda ran away.
There are no foreign lands. It is the traveller only who is foreign.Robert Louis Stevenson
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 offerings must be presented.