Mapping Bali 11: Water

November 7, 2016 Bruce Granquist

The majority of the earth is covered in water. The heat from the sun cause the water from the ocean to evaporate, which forms into clouds, and eventually is released back to the earths surface as rain.

Bali gets its fair share of this rain, at least for part of the year. During the dry season (usually April to October) there is very little if no rain. During those months wind from the Australian continent don’t pick up enough moisture to form substantial rain clouds. But during the rest of the year the opposite is true. The winds switch direction and blows from the northwest from the Javan Sea forming long lines of heavy clouds. When these reach Bali it almost certainly rains, and this channels the rhythm of daily life. The constant situation of being drenched or recently drenched creates its own challenges and fosters a kind of group spirit among the local population.

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The morning commute, on a motorcycle, in rush hour traffic, during a flash rain storm. Trying to keep work clothes or school uniforms dry and presentable while only being protected by a thin plastic poncho. Sometimes the challenge is too much, look for a large tree or overhanging roof and join the others waiting out the storm. Sometimes a roof doesn’t provide suffcient shelter, as you’ll find it is constructed only of clay tiles over a wooden framework, which lets the rain water leak between the gaps and runs down the cement walls, making it even more difficult for the paint trying to adhere to this incompatible surface. The water also drips into aluminium pots and plastic buckets arranged on the floor. The different rhythms and intensities of sound created by this dripping water, all night long, can be thought of as an extended performance of minimalist music (but only if you are in a very good mood and don’t mind a little insomnia).

After the storm, some of the rainwater runs back to the ocean, some of it evaporates away, some of it is stored as ground water, and some of it is held in Bali’s four caldera type mountain lakes.

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Looking at Bali’s topography along a line running from west to east it becomes evident that several of Bali’s volcanoes have had multiple eruptions. Starting from the west: Mount Karu seems to have exploded at some point in its history, with Mount Lesong having done the same. Mount Bedugel shows a series of additional volcanoes located immediately to the south, splintering the original caldera into three. Mount Batur has the most intact and nearly symmetrical caldera (and is the most active volcano in Bali at this time). Mount Agung lost its summit in a massive explosion in 1963. This cataclysm caused extensive damage to the island and some areas In the north east and have yet to recover. Mount Seraya would have become a caldera if it had not lost its northern rim. If this caldera had remained intact it would probably become Bali’s fifth lake, Danau Seraya.

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These lakes with their contrasting elements of fire and water are the source of many myths. They are magnificent at any time of day and in any type of weather.

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