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Going for Glamor

On Thursday, December 30, we went looking for a bank to get money for the New Year’s eve weekend. Sharon and I trudged up and down Sanur’s main street, periodically asking if a bank was nearby, and being assured again and again that one was “just up the street.”

It seemed like the temperature and humidity index went up a degree for each mirage we encountered: the ATM-only storefronts, the banks that didn’t offer credit-card cash advances, and finally, at the end of the line, a bank that met all our requirements EXCEPT for the fact that it had closed 15 minutes before we arrived, and wouldn’t reopen until January 2!

We started the long, hot walk back to the hotel, dreaming up ways to make our rupiah reserves last until the bank re-opened, and then – serendipity! We spied a sign that called out to us:

Those who keep up with our adventures know that we are suckers for dressing up in native garb wherever in the world we find ourselves. The photo shop manager said that yes, we could come back and get all dolled up as a Balinese family and have our portrait taken, for the princely sum of 100,000 rupiah (about $12) a head. For us, cheap at twice the price.

We made a date to return in the new year.

The girls were enthusiastic, and Miranda seized the chance to dress up again in her own Balinese dance costume. We were all even more psyched to learn that the hour-plus make-up and costuming would be done in an air-conditioned room! We didn’t want a repeat of Miranda’s Denpasar market experience, where the humidity enveloped her as comprehensively and tightly as her costume.

Sharon was the first in the chair, and the make-up specialist tamed her frizzy, humidified hair with a two-handed, comb-and-spray technique:

Then came make-up – fortunately, much less involved than our Chinese opera dress-up experience last April in Beijing.

It was finished in just a minute or two.

Then a huge, black tail of horse-hair came up out of nowhere and the make-up artist secured it to Sharon’s ponytail.

What a transformation!

I didn’t know Morticia Adams was Balinese…

After the piece of hair came the hair piece: a dozen or more stems of gold foil leaves arrayed crown-like in the ponytail.

Now for the costume: First a layer of green, then a TIGHT gold bodice-type sash, topped off by shimmering scarlet.

With a few more adjustments, Sharon was ready for her close-up!

A second specialist tackled Tom’s transformation.

He got just as much make-up as the ladies.

We loved the Clark Gable mustache!

His tooled-leather crown looked way cool.

Like the girls, Tom had to suck it in as the sarong was wound around him:

His finishing touches included more gilded leather around his neck and gauntlets around the upper arms.

Next up, Sami!

She liked her multi-hued eye shadow...
... but called the make-up artist back to add the little touch between the eyebrows that Sami had spied on Sharon.

She was then quickly squeezed into her finery:

She found she could still breathe enough (but barely) to strike a few poses:

Miranda’s make-up also went on quickly.

So did the hair ornaments we’d bought in Denpasar -- beautiful!

Next step, get wrapped!

While Miranda was getting dressed, Sami's ornate headdress was brought out and the delicate process of fitting it to her head began.

That’s a very cool look, Sami!

Finally, we were finished! We grabbed a few shots before the "formal" photo shoot began:

We emerged from the dressing room into the shop and, much to the amusement of a half-dozen store personnel who materialized out of nowhere (plus a family of French tourists) we posed in front of the Balinese-style backdrop for a few shots.

Unfortunately, the quality of the backdrop and the lighting wasn't on the same level as the costumes and makeup, so you have to sort of squint to get the intended effect.

We present to you, the 2005 edition of the annual Melcher-Ruwart family portrait.

Finally: An amazing rumor upon our return to Beijing.


Bali chapter shortcuts: Intro Xmas Eve Zoo Temple Market Balinese Beauty Tsunami
Batik Monkeys Rafting New Year's Biking Elephants Sea Sports Cremation Dress Up Missing!

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