Fascinating ritual for the deceased
What we say:
The cemetery of the married people is the main reason that people visit Trunyan, but it is separated from the main village by dense, impenetrable jungle, so the only way to visit the cemetery is by chartering a boat.
The most popular place to charter a speed boat from is Kedisan at the far southwestern edge of the lake and in fact many local people you encounter will recommend this as it is a lucrative venture, costing 500,000 rupiah per speed boat. This option becomes economical if the boat is filled and the maximum of 7 people share the expense.
The second way of reaching the cemetery of Trunyan is to make your own way to the village proper and charter a canoe (a carved-out log) for the 15-minute journey to the cemetery. This method costs 100,000 rupiah per person after fierce negotiation – do negotiate with patience and in a friendly manner, as the locals have a reputation of being ruthless.
Cars can make it to Trunyan, but the road is narrow, windy and in some sections incredibly steep and only the brave or crazy would make this journey by driving themselves. A car and driver would be a better option, as would an ojek or self-drive motorbike. An ojek from Toya Bungkah runs at about 40,000 rupiah for the return journey.
When travelling to Trunyan, it is likely that you will be trailed/escorted by a local person wanting to negotiate your entry into the village and onward journey to the cemetery. It is normal for this to occur on the side of the road prior to entering the village, but it is probably best to indicate that you'd rather discuss it when you have seen the village itself and decided whether you want to travel to the cemetery or not. Prices will normally start at around the 400,000 rupiah per person mark and negotiation from there is very slow.
Upon arriving at the cemetery via your chosen mode of transport, you will be led to the tiny burial grounds, which will ordinarily contain a handful of graves of the recently deceased with bamboo fences around them. Alongside the decomposing bodies are some trinkets, thongs and traditional Balinese offerings.
It really isn't as gruesome as one might think to see the bodies and bones out in the open and the local people encourage you to take photos and get up close and personal with the bodies. To one side of the cemetery is a collection of skulls and other bones which your guide will enthusiastically encourage you to have your photo taken with — it's all a bit surreal.
After seeing the bodies, you are taken to a guestbook where you are asked to sign your name and make a donation — 10,000 rupiah per person is probably a fair amount although there will be pressure to give more.
The view from Trunyan and its cemetery of Gunung Batur with Danau Batur in the foreground is fantastic and one of the better places in the area to take photos from.
A journey to Trunyan is a worthwhile excursion.
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