…I think I can only truly appreciate a max of two temples a day.
Today we met back up with Julia and Maeva (the sisters from France with whom Rhys traveled to Ubud on Sunday). Barb had recommended renting a car and driver (the driver is necessary – traffic here is a snarling tiger) and exploring some of the island – and with four of us to split the cost, we thought that sounded like a grand idea.
It would be an unnecessarily long blog post if I detailed everything we did today. In summary, we hit the coast in several different areas, vehicularly scaled a volcano, saw a lovely waterfall, checked out a lake, and browsed through three different temples. Does that sound like a full day to you? It did to me! I would recommend checking out our Flickr page, as we have updated over 100 new photos from today’s trip. Mine are short on detail in the captions (sorry!), but both of us took turns behind the lens.
The first temple we visited was Tanah’ Lot (“Temple in the Middle of the Sea – wiki). As with all of the sites visited, it was a Hindu temple; strange animistic gods stood watch in stone at all entrances and in front of shrines. Each shrine we’ve seen (and we’ve seen hundreds) on sidewalks and in temples has a slightly different look, a different face. They are impressive works of art, and important places of worship for the Balinese Hindu population. The stone is worn, but retains its elegance.
The second temple was Pura Ulun Danu Bratan (wiki), which incidentally is the temple shown on the Indonesian 50,000 rupiah note. As with all of these sites, tourism thrives – the path into each temple (and the waterfalls) is lined with dozens of stalls selling Bali by the statue, sarong, painting, or shirt. We neatly escaped an extremely touristy and overpriced sad-looking buffet that our driver took us to (he was really nice, I don’t think it was on purpose), and ran across the road to take refuge in a tiny Muslim noodle and rice shop. The people were extremely friendly, the food was enak (delicious), and all four of us ate and drank for less than it would have cost for one of us at the other place. In fact, we also bought three baskets of strawberries from a roving vendor, and it was still cheaper than one meal would have been. Win!
Please don’t misunderstand me – we did get out of tourist Bali today for a while, and we certainly drove through it. Rice paddies stretched as far as the eye could see, and stray dogs roamed the roads looking for handouts. Chickens went free, and kids ran on ledges above the highway, disregarding the traffic below. Signs were plastered everywhere for the upcoming July 8th presidential election (in which the current president is running against his former running mate, as well as the daughter of Indonesia’s first president!). In most towns, gone were the souvenir and shirt stalls, and sprawling markets rose in their place, selling food, spices, fresh fruits and vegetables, and more. Small packets of trash burned in the ditches next to the fields, and giant kites flew above them, inviting more bountiful harvests from the gods. It was a good day.
I do want to share my favorite shot of the day – it came at the Gitgit twin waterfalls – which were spectacular. I could have sat and watched them for hours, listening to the crashing of untold volumes of water. The path led directly to the base, where instead of the falls disappearing into a deep pool and then streaming calmly into the river, it splashed on a huge basin of flat rocks, showering anyone near with fresh, clear mist. It was a beautiful sight, and my favorite of the day.