Public Bath Place
Speaking about public bath place in Bali, you cannot expect well sanitized public bath place as you will see in Japan. Public bath place in Bali offers a totally natural approach to the art of bathing. Public bath place in Bali mainly Tukad (river) and Pancoran (nature formed shower which derives its water from underground water supply).
Taking a bath in the river is a daily activity for Balinese in rural area. Although almost all the Balinese have their own bathroom in house compound, they prefer to take a bath in the river than in their own bathroom.
Bathing in the river is a favorite pastime since it offers many advantages. They can socially active while taking a bath in the river. The housewives can find the latest news in their neighborhood. The husband can share the schedules of cockfighting, lucky numbers of lottery or simply discussing the events of the day. The teenagers can find a potential boyfriend or girlfriend and of course the children can play and swim freely. Moreover, taking a bath in the river is economically helpful since there is a plenty of water in the river and it’s free! Staying submerged in the river is good for the pregnant women and for those who have digestive problem. Washing dirty clothes is another activity that can be done besides taking a bath.
Nudity in taking a bath in the river is considered to be normal by the Balinese especially for men and children. For unmarried women they usually use kamben (a piece of clothes) to cover their body. But for married women, most of them are nude. Staring at a nude woman is considered to be impolite and it is seldom happen.
Though bathing in the river has a tranquilizing effect but the Balinese have to stay alert since flood can come at any time especially in rainy season. But the Balinese already know their river like the back of their hand; they know where is the shallow or deep water, the rapid current or the dangerous under rocks so they can escape the flood quickly and easily.
Taking a bath in the river is usually done late in the afternoon and finish at the evening. No Balinese in his right mind will taking a bath in the river at night or late in the evening since it is believed that at that time Tukad (river) belongs to Gamang or Tonya (supernatural being who inhabit the gorges, riverbeds, or cliffs).
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Taking a bath in pancoran (nature formed shower) is totally different from taking a bath in the river. It is more personal and conversation seldom happens since the shower is use only by one man after he finishes the bath another man takes the turn. The conversation is done by the people in waiting. Washing dirty cloth is never done in the Pancoran. There are special Pancoran for man and women so they can not see each other. Nudity is ordinary thing in the Pancoran, it is more comfort to be nude in the Pancoran than in the Tukad since Pancoran usually surrounded by walls or cliffs. Similar with bathing in the Tukad bathing in the Pancoran is never done in late in the evening or at night.
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