Sunday, March 23, 2014


Before I came to Bali, several people questioned why I was staying here for a whole month.  There's not much to do there, they said, especially in Ubud, which is quite a distance from the beaches that attract hordes of tourists.  And besides that, it's the rainy season.  But I already knew this, and it was exactly what I wanted...a quiet place to relax and reflect away from the bustle of tourism.

Because of the construction next door, my days haven't been as peaceful as I imagined.  So maybe now I wish there were more sights to see.  I hired a driver to take me to a few places north of Ubud.  It's consistently hot here every day, around 88°F (24°C) with humidity in the mid-80’s, so I wanted to go to the mountains to cool off a bit.  My driver, Kwi, is a really laid back , mid-30’s Balinese man who has a family like Kadek's, two boys the same age as hers.  Kwi's given name is Wayan, which is an extremely common name in this area of Bali.  So nicknames are given to children to give them individuality from the thousands of others with the same name.  Kwi was the driver who transported me from the airport to Ubud, and I took an immediate liking to his gentle spirit.  I asked him to take me to some special places.

Our first stop was the Elephant Cave Temple.

Balinese temples are designed as an open air places of worship within enclosed walls connected by a series of intricately decorated gates between its compounds. These walled compounds contain several shrines, towers, and pavilions arranged according to sacred hierarchy.

The special feature of this temple is a cave with carved recesses for special offerings to the gods.  This cave is mentioned in a Javanese poem written around 1365.  The entrance to the cave shows menacing creatures and demons carved right into the rock.  The steps into the cave show the curved erosion that thousands of entering feet have caused.

You will see statues wearing sarongs everywhere in Bali, usually black and white checked, which symbolizes the duality of good and evil.  I don't know the significance of this tricolored sarong.  

There were several recesses like this in the cave, but only two were filled with offerings.

You see these umbrellas here and there in the temple compound--I'm not sure they have a particular significance.

The grounds were serene and there were some beautiful flowers and, of course, another wonderful tree trunk, maybe the Balinese relative of the fig tree.  Kwi says it's a banyan tree.

We also visited the Holy Spring Water Temple where Hindus go to be purified by spring water that is said to have healing properties.  

The water from the springs here flows out of the temple area via multiples ditches and is used for irrigation and domestic purposes.  Here's one use for those umbrellas I was wondering about.

An example of one of the towers.

And a pavillion.

A pond chock full of huge colorful fish.

And here is one of those intricately decorated gates that separates the inner temple from the surrounding gardens.

This was the only modern example of statuary I saw here.

This huge banyan tree was draped at the bottom in a black and white checked sarong.

We headed from the temples to see Mount Batur, an active volcano which last erupted in 2005.  It was a bit hazy and,yes, those are storm clouds rolling in.  

There was also a lake in the volcanic valley.

We drove through a short rainstorm to the next location, the rice terraces.

Our final stop was a neighborhood, or banjan, where a colony of white herons live.  I walked down the tree lined street and there were herons roosting in every tree.

These are very small herons compared to types I've seen elsewhere.

It was refreshing to get away from the din of sawing and hammering and see some of the small wonders of Bali.

No comments: