Bali - Island of Gods
Trip Start Jan 29, 2009
1Trip End Feb 02, 2009
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Where I stayed
Balisani Padma Hotel
I have heard so much about Bali in my younger days. 20 years ago, I bought a book on Bali, with many pictures on it, but hardly read the contents even if I did, I do not remember anything about it. Today, it is all new to me, rain pours in, a great way to greet my friends and me on the night of our arrival. We rushed as fast we could, seated comfortably in a Toyota Unser, which we never thought it would be this nice after all. Tourist Guide is Mr Ketut and his son Made( Ma dey). I realized that all first-born in Bali are Made, 2nd is Wayan, 3rd is Nyoman or Komang and the youngest 4th is Ketut respectively, if my sequence is correct. It is a cycle of every four children in a family. For your info, all the Tourist Guides and the Drivers used these names.
It was 8.00pm, pouring cats and dogs. Flooded road near the hotel where we were staying. After the wash up, we went out for dinner.
Below are the tourist attractions we went to in the next four days.
The Barong Dance and the Kris Dance are located at Gianyar. Barong - "lion dance" - a ritual dance depicting good over evil, with performers wearing fearsome lion-like masks. This dance often staged specifically for tourists as it is one of the most visually spectacular and the storyline is relatively easy to follow. There are five types of Barong. Very colorful costumes, the stage is with typical Balinese two crafted pointed pillars that marks the gateway. On the right side of the stage there is another small platform comprises the musicians, playing the traditional music. The second show is about warriors in trance trying to pierce the kris onto their chest. It is about mind over body. The sharman made his round of prayers, summon all the Gods in their presence, to protect the warriors who are about to fight the enemies. That their body is as hard as steel, kris or any sharp weapons could not kill them.
We then went to Batuan, an old sacred temple, one of the biggest in Bali. Today, it is still a place of worship for the people of Bali. Most sacred temples have rules on personal attire. They will provide sarongs.
Batur Lake is located in Kintamani, where you will find a very tranquil and most visited tourist destination in Bali. On the feet of Mount Batur, lies a crater with clear blue waters, clouds surrounded the mountain, giving a vivid view of the mountain. From afar, one can see a truck or two gliding its way on the barren ground.
Pura Taman Ayun built in 1634; the temple is exposing the Balinese traditional building structure, Meru, surrounded with its beautiful lotus garden. The whole temple complex seemingly pictures the Mount Sumeru floating on a pond. The tiered pagodas reminded me of the similarities in Kingdoms of Nepal.
Tanah Lot Temple stands on a black coral rock at Kediri Village, Tabanan. Under the temple, there lives a sacred snake also you will see the spring water in the cave where it is treated preciously as holy water. When coming of high tides, the priests will guide the devotees and tourists to cross over to the cave. I prayed and received the water, drank it and wash my head and face, hoping for better future.
Monument Bajra Sandi Renon is located in the middle of Puputan Square, the museum shows off its unique architecture. This museum built to commemorate those who "created and established Bali". The design is of the Vajra Bell represent the Symbol of Peace. It took fifteen years to complete.
Pura Gunung Kawi in Sebatu – backdated to 11th century. It is a place of worship with a pool for bathing. Devotees throng to this pool for relaxation and for healing. The main shrine seats Lord Vishnu, commonly devoted by the Balinese. I found peace here
Goa Gajah or Elephant Cave is located in Bedulu Village, Ubud, built in 11th century. The Goa Gajah highlights by green paddy fields and Petanu River. In the early years, a landslide from the earthquake affected the Elephant Cave. A Dutch archaeologist rediscovered the cave in 1923, but the fountains and the pool much later in 1954.
In the open part of the temple, there is an ancient basin, stone sculptures, and small waterfall. Into the cave, you will find 15 holes on the wall for meditation purposes. In the east hole, there is Shiva and Ganesha the other side.
Monkey Forest Temple or Pura Dalem, in Padangtegal, Ubud, refers as “temple of the dead”. Lush green forest inhabited with thousands of macaques. A tourist attraction must not miss. A guide will also show you thousand of bats hung on the trees that shivers me down to my spine. I saw a macaque stole the hat from a young man. He attacked him the second time by landing himself on the young man's shoulder. I could see the fright of the man’s face. I stayed my distance.
Garuda Wisnu Kencana Cultural Park, a 250-hectare limestone hill, GWK exposing the 22-meter statue of God Wisnu shows off an incredible view and the head of the Garuda is the other attraction that should not miss. Limestone hills chiseled into huge cubes forming as borders stood uniquely in rows
Dreamland is a new spot for beachcombers. It was a long dreadful walk towards the beach, with dazzling hot sun above us. I could use a tan. The road was not ready for visitors; somehow, the westerners seem to know the way there. With its beautiful ocean facing me, I found myself enjoying walking barefoot to some distance, while my friends hid themselves in the shade. I took some pictures; I soon realized it was a topless beach. Quite a treat for me that day though.
Uluwatu Temple, located at the south of Bali. The temple standing on a rocky cliff facing the Indian Ocean view seems has astounded me. Never thought I came this far, almost at the southern tip of the earth. This temple draws much attention from visitors who want to enjoy the sunset or the spectacular show of Kecak Dance. We were there early, because of the tickets for the Kecak Dance in the evening at 5.00pm. Mr. Ketut said to find a good seat before the arrival of the tourists. Spent a two-hour tour round the place, scattered rain brewing from the Indian Ocean, hiding myself in the small store behind the mini arena, just meant for two, chatting with the priest, who became my friend instantly. Kecak Dance is a story depicted from Ramayana’s epic story. Lord Hanuman was the highlight on that night of performance.
Griya Kongco Dwipayana, Tanah Kilap, is a temple with a mix of Buddhism, Taoism and Hinduism. There are few sections with own features. There is also a storeroom kept with dragonheads, a shrine Balinese style, yet you can see the Taoist and Buddha statues on the main shrine. I am quite confused, but I guessed it is all the same.
Pura Durga, a request made by me. It is in Ubud, not far from Elephant Cave. Lord Durga is a God manifested from Lord Mariamman. She is the God Mother or better known as Amman by the Indians. It is a place of worship, we had to wear sarong to get in. There are many shrines of big and small all over the compound, what interest me were the chariots kept in the hut. I believe when a grand celebration comes, the devotees will use the chariots to carry the Gods. Hope to see this one day.
Turtle Island in Bali is one of the best places to visit. It is located in Tanjung Benoa, south of Bali. We paid for the boat ride and that includes a stop in the middle of the sea, feeding the fishes, watching the fishes through the glass panel on the base of the boat. It was fun. On the turtle sanctuary, there were so many turtles of different species. The turtle sanctuary boy insisted I should attempt to carry the big one that he was so nice to me, I simply cannot refused. The turtle is 65 years old and weigh so heavy that both of us could hold any longer. He put the eagle on my head, a python on my shoulders, a hornsbill on my arm, and not forgetting having a cameo photo with the handsome iguana lizard.
Tegalalang in Ubud. This is the most scenic place in Ubud. About 30 minutes drive from Ubud town. Here you will find terrace paddy fields before your eyes. So green, so refreshing and picturesque. In fact, you will see this spot in most travel magazines in the world. In addition, before reaching this place, have to remind you to visit the Talisman Restaurant. It is located between the Elephant Cave and Tegalalang. What is special in the menu? Have been yearning for the Bebek Tutu the last few days, the infamous charcoal gril spicy duck in spicy creamy gravy. I had Gado Gado for side orders to treat my friends and the father-son team. “Food Glorious Food…”.
Ubud town is located in Central Bali. Ubud, described as a magical, wonderful, cultural center. Above all, it is famous as an arts and crafts hub. One can see many shops of antiques, restaurants, bookshops, art galleries, boutiques and a market full of little things to test your temptations. The famous Ubud Palace is on the main road and down the road; one should not miss this Pura Saraswaty. In there is a temple with a stage, with two beautiful ponds, a restaurant and daily show of cultural dance. Each night performance is different. Cultural Dance shows are from Monday to Fridays only.
Bali Orchid Garden – Located in Sanur. We were there soon after the morning rain. No doubt, it gives freshness to the flowers that makes flower lover starting a completely new day with bright smiles. It did work on me. I did not sound like Julie Andrew that day and if I did, I will probably bring more rain. There is a wide variety of Orchids displayed. Every flower is in full bloom yet so colorful. Some of the species is like out of this world for me. It is so beautiful and rare. Look at my photos and you will agree with me.
The holiday has ended; sadness in my eyes, trying to drag my feet to the airport, hoping the clock will tick unusually slowly and my holidays in Bali will never end. Facing reality is very hard for me that day but surely, I will come to my senses when I am on the plane heading for home.
Am I planning for the next holiday? My heart never ceased to wonder.