Bali, isle of heavens

No other place in the world has been so highly praised for its beauty as Bali,  many temples, shrines and beautiful palaces.  Even the most remote  corners of the island, the visitor’s eye is engaged by magnificent views of these richly ornamented constructions.  Very much living shrines, they are the sites of both daily observance of the Balinese Hindu rites and more spectacularly religious festivals.

A mask dancer performing in Pura Sadia temple during the Galungan-Kuningan festival, the most important in the Hindu Balinese calendar, celebrating the victory of good over evil.  It is believed that during Galungan spirits descend to bless the earth and ascend back to the heavens on Kuningan day.  Music and dances performed in temples are considered as offerings to the deities.

Bowl of flower petals and holy water are left on temple altars after blessings or purifications rituals.  For the Balinese people, offerings of food , flowers and incense to the gods and the elements, promises a state of equilibrium where man, nature and the divine can co-exist in peace and harmony.

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IMG_0529                                Rows of fishing boats along the beach of Jimbaran.

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Carved decorative Balinese door.

Children learn to dance and play musical instrument at a very young age.

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31Women dressed up in their splendid attire in preparation for a temple festivity.

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Barong a character in Balinese mythology He is the king of leader spirit of the host of good.  Banas Pati raja the good spirit which animates the Barong.  The character of the Barong often accompanied by two monkeys (dancers dressed in monkey costume)

 

 

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Haunted Paris

Paris and surrounding are full of ghost stories that has been told  many times.  People who have interest in this subject will explore all haunted spot.  Whether is in Paris or other places, they will find what they are looking for.   Here are stories that will intrigue readers in Halloween night.

CATACOMBS OF PARIS

Paris catacombs

It is said to be haunted by strange orbs and human figures from different centuries.  there have been reports of voices being heard through the walls and the feeling of being stared at.  Another legend of the catacomb is the green man.  At the end of eighteenth century, the quarry men working on the stones designed to shape modern Paris saw a green man leaping through the galleries and hiding in wells and cellars.  Those who saw him were cursed, and even today people will feel a presence behind them without ever being able to identify if  it was the  “greenman”

THE RED MAN OF TUILERIES

It seems that the palace of the Tuileries is haunted by a butcher, named John the Flayer. He worked for Queen Catherine de Medici, who had a passion for the occult sciences. The henchman was in charge of the queen’s relationship with wizards and warlocks.  But Jean  started to know a little too much, and Catherine de Medici had him murdered. Before he died, he threatened his murderer Neuville: “I’ll come back to haunt you.  He did not live well the following days. He felt like he was being followed. The Queen’s astrologer, Cosme Ruggieri, went to check the scene of the crime and found nothing , only a pool of blood. Shortly after, the astrologer had a vision of John, who predicted that the queen would die “near St. Germain.” Catherine de Medici then fled from all places bearing this name. It was in her death bed that she was overtaken by fate. His confessor was called Julien de Saint Germain.   Since then, the red man of the Tuileries appeared to Louis XVIII, to Marie-Antoinette, prisoners at the Tuileries before  execution, to Napoleon the day before the Battle of Waterloo and in the inferno of Communards burning the palace of the Tuileries.

PALACE OF VERSAILLES

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Once home to the French royal family between 1682 to 1789.  A few tourists and employees have seen people in 18th century clothing.  There have been sightings of Queen Marie Antoinette, orbs and ghostly presences in tourists’ photos and descriptions of being touched by the  unseen .

 

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THE MARIE BRIDGE PHANTOM

It is said during the German occupation, a French woman who was married to a resistance had an affair with a Nazi officer.  She was a spy for her husband.  On a cold night she waited for him on Marie bridge,  he did not come and she froze to death.   People would hear her sobbing in the dark on the bridge.  A story do doubt destined to torment the collaborators.

PHANTOM OF MONTSOURIS PARK

The phantom  of Isaure de Montsouris would haunt this park located in the south of Paris since his assassination with ax by a band of looters in 1831.  One would regularly see his specter stroll near the Bardo, a small monument of the park which has mysteriously burned in 1991, while 15 million francs had been used for its renovation.  Since then, the silhouette of the beheaded has been seen, moans have been heard.  Montsouris park also a place where Dr. Guillotin tested for the first time his macabre guillotine in 1792 .

 

FATHER LACHAISE CEMETERY

The largest cemetery in Paris, France.  It is the most visited cemetery in the world and is said to be one of the most haunted cemeteries in Europe.  Some people have experienced overwhelming shivers and a sense of unease, while others have experienced a  feeling of calmness.  Claims have been made of photos  of visitors and investigators revealing orbs and ghostly apparitions.

 

 

Rhodes…..Crusader Castles and Ottoman Splendor

They were the Knights Crusaders who lead the Holy wars in the Middle Ages. Among them were the legendary Knights Templars and the Knights Hospitallers. These Christians soldiers recognizable through their long coats with a cross were powerful groups backed by the highest level of society, economically prosperous and politically influential. After the fall of Jerusalem into the hands of the first crusaders in the 11th century the Knights Hospitallers was created in response to the need of caring for the poor and sick pilgrims coming to the Holy Land. The Knights Hospitallers were closely linked to the Hospital of Jerusalem. After the downfall of Byzantine Empire and the rise of Islam the Knights Hospitallers who later differentiated themselves from their military counterpart the Templars, finally established their stronghold on the island of Rhodes. And so our story began …The year 1309 and they were called the “Knights of Rhodes”.

They built fortresses around the island and succeeded in holding off Muslim attacks until they finally succumbed under Suleiman The Magnificent who took over the island to become part of the Ottoman Empire. Remnants of the fabulous centuries of the Knights Hospitallers can still be seen in Rhodes Old Town as well as ruins of some of their fortresses perched on hills. Besides military architecture that makes up the island landscape, are the beautiful Ottoman buildings in Rhodes Old Town. Even if the Greek Orthodox religion is predominant, there is still a minority of Muslim Turkish community – legacy of the Ottoman Empire…


Rhodes Old Town a World Heritage site is an amalgamation of fabulous architectural accomplishment illustrating different settlers from Byzantine Empire to the Order of Saint John Knights Hospitallers and the Ottoman Empire. I love scouring the alleys of Rhodes Old Town which make me feel as if I am thrown back into the time of the Crusaders. The street of the knights is where the action takes place. Knights from different origins would

have their flags placed in front of their houses. Walk through the many streets lined with Knights palaces interwoven with beautiful mosques, public baths and stop by the Ottoman cemetery with its mosque and an elegant minaret. So now let’s go on our historic walk and discover some fascinating places in Rhodes …

 

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Camellias and the Zen garden

There is a place in Paris worth for a visit.  Created in the nineteenth century by its founder Albert Khan, French banker and philanthropist known also  for his auto chromes collection taken during his voyages in Asia.  The garden which once enhance his Parisian home was created to illustrate the gardens of the world.  His creative garden landscape is still kept alive till this day where visitors may enjoy the lovely walks through the French, English, the forest and especially a voyage into the meditative Zen world of Japanese gardens.

 

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The original Japanese garden created by Albert Khan in 1908, was given its contemporary style in 1989 by the Japanese landscape designer Fumiaki Takano.  Nothing much is left of the old Japanese garden except for the bridges, the small wooden door leading to the orchard and the wonderful  weeping purple beech tree.

Walk along the pond and sit under shady trees to listen to the sounds of dripping water while admiring some of the garden flower collection such as the many beautiful species of Camellias.  The visit gets even better in Spring when cherry blossoms become a wonderful background to the Japanese style houses surrounding the garden.

 

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The Old China Town

 

Surrounded by Dutch colonial architecture, a town where Chinese immigrant live since the discovery of Indonesia.  Many buildings still stand through time, grand, imposing and some left to the elements.   For anyone who want to venture out to Old China town is a must.  Plenty to discover such as Chinese temples,  walking is the best way to experience the hustle and bustle of this old city.   If you still have energy walk to the old Dutch train station in Kota with its 1930’s style façade and browsing through the many old VOC Dutch buildings.  Visit Fatahillah Park where a large building stand was the Dutch Governor residence, it is now a museum.  A large draw bridge build by the Dutch still stand proudly through time.  This bridge connect to sea port “pasar Ikan” fish market where you can find Dutch storage area where it is a museum.  There are plenty to see and experience in this wonderful corner of Jakarta.

Fatahillah Park

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Jordan … the Biblical land

Who knows where exactly all the historic figures mentioned in the Bible set foot in Jordan, but one thing for sure Jordan has one of the world most interesting sites that is closely connected to early christians and the ancient world. Jesus was believed to have preached and healed the sick in the regions what was then known as Decapolis and Peraea, the ancient lands of Jordan and Moses was believed to have received signs from the heavens when he climbed Mount Nebo, today regarded as a holy site. And so names like Abraham, Elijah, John the Baptist, Job, Paul and many other leading figures of the Bible, add to the bygone allure of this land. Jordan is undoubtedly a treasure trove for Biblical sites.

The famous Kings Highway world oldest road is where to head for to see some of these ancient sites. From here you can get some nice views of the enigmatic Dead Sea where many Biblical stories are associated with, amongst those, is Sodom and Gomorah – when Lot’s wife disobeying God not to look back while the infamous city is being destroyed, is turned into a pillar of salt.

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Then en route to Petra the amazing rock-cut shrines and cities built by the Nabateans with a stop over in Madaba to see the 6th century mosaic map of Jerusalem. The Moabite town of Madaba is also closely linked to the story of Moses and the exodus. Another gem of the ancient world, north of Amman is the still well-preserved Graeco-Roman city of Jerash ..

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Ruins of the ancient Graeco-roman city of Jerash

The Krak des Chevaliers are another ancient sites worth the visit. These fortified Crusaders castles perched on hills, built to protect pilgrims on their way to the Holy Land are spread throughout the area along the Kings Highway, but the most visited
is Shobak ….

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Shobak Krak de Montreal 11th century Crusader castle.

P.S.  This article was written by my late sister several years ago.  I thought I reposted for Easter week as Jordan was mentioned in the Bible.   Copyright on all images.

 

 

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The Living Last Supper

 

My good friend neighbor asked me whether I want to attend the living last supper.  It will be  held at their country Camp Creek Church a nondenominational affiliated with Village Mission.

Located in a rolling hills dotted with homes and farms. Horses  in the pasture, cattle grazing in the field and sheep roam the hills.   Nearby  hazelnut orchards, a nursery where local buy  plants and vegetable seedlings for their summer garden.  Meandering country road perfect for Sunday drive.
I have met  pastor Craig and Shelly his wife.   They are friendly outgoing people.  Listening on Easter Sunday was beautiful with choir and congregation joined in singing .
The presentation itself was quite mesmerizing.  Jesus is played by intern pastor Stewart, along with his 12 disciples played by twelve men from the congregation. Before their meal Jesus washed the disciples feet. After this ritual  they all went to their respective place. They dined together on stage depicting events from the Biblical account of the eve of the Crucifixion. In between play Pastor Craig would add what the last supper is all about.

 


In groups of two or three, each disciple stood up and told the story according to his perspective, while the rest of the group was frozen in their position as depicted in Da Vinci’s painting.
The play followed the progress of the last supper that Jesus had with his disciples, when he announced that he would be betrayed by one of the twelve, and began his sacrament of Holy Communion. The dramatizations were mixed with musical interludes provided by the church organ player. It lasted for whole hour. I was not disappointed they did a wonderful play of the Living Last Supper.
On Easter Sunday I went again with my neighbor for Easter brunch and celebration in the church. Brunch is a family type of potluck with everyone pitched in. The dining room packed full even one couple brought in their baby. Children sitting quietly enjoying their food.  The room felt alive with everyone having a great time.

Food are plenty for anyone who want to eat more, even dessert which was plenty full.  I cannot resist dessert so many to chose from and difficult to decide. After brunch they all went into the church to hear Pastor Craig Easter sermon. Being in a country church have a better feeling of community especially with a friendly Pastor on Holy Sunday was a treat.

 

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CREDIT TO:  Kamala Bright