This is the last from my series of posts about Bali, the magical island I’ve been tirelessly raving about the past couple of weeks. So far, I’ve talked about the things we’ve seen while on the road from Sanur to Amed and then to Ubud. I also shared to you my perception about the Balinese people and my experience of their religion. Recently, I posted a photo essay about the Barong Dance. And I also made a vide0 entitled “Chasing Dreams in Indonesia” and summary of our travel expenses (including Yogyakarta).
Goa Gajah (Elephant Cave)
Situated near Ubud, Goa Gajah is a sanctuary for both Hindu and Buddhist faithfuls. Built in the 9th century, it is included in the tentative list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites. We had to go down several steps to reach the courtyard of the temple. It is surrounded by beautiful ancient tress. The façade of the cave features demons and other creatures but initially it was thought to be that of an elephant, hence the name. The mouth of the cave is too narrow that barely 2 people can walk side by side. Inside the cave are Hindu figures offered with incense and flowers. It also has a bathing place to ward off evil spirits. The most interesting part of this site is the blend of Hindu and Buddhist structures.
Pura Tirta Empul (Tampaksiring)
This Hindu temple in Central Bali is famous for its purifying and holy water. It was built in 926 A.D. during the reign of the Warmadewa dynasty. We saw a lot of Balinese taking a dip at the purifying pool with offerings of flowers, incense and fruits. I couldn’t help not to be enchanted with the serene atmosphere and religious rituals.
Kintamani – Mount Batur and Batur Hot Springs
Kintamani includes the lake of Toya Bungkah, Mount Batur and the villages of Batur and Kintamani. We went up for a lunch buffet at one of the touristy restaurants with a vast view of Mount Batur, an active volcano. Unfortunately, it was drizzling and foggy that time. It was a spectacular view nonetheless.
Penglipuran Village is a traditional countryside village famous for its beautiful houses and unique social system and culture. Too bad it was raining when we arrived there. Armed with only a small umbrella, we had a hard time taking decent photos and most of the houses are closed. Usually, residents here welcome visitors and generously show them various aspects of their culture. The roads are bricked with steps going up to the temple and the village is clean, surrounded by trees, most prominently bamboos.
Located at Pujung Kelod village in Tegallalang, Ubud is an agro tourism center showcasing the process of making Kopi Luwak (civet coffee), an expensive coffee variety made of excreted coffee beans from a nocturnal mammal called civet. Enveloped with forests, gardens and rice terraces, it is a good place to try kopi luwak along with other varieties of coffee and tea. It is definitely a place meant to attract tourists in buying their products. The guides were really nice and they gave us free taste of different hot drinks and a bowl of potato snacks. But at the end of the tour is a small shop where they sell traditional products. It was a shame not to buy (of course, they will not force you) and, as expected, we bought some coffee, tea, saffron and herbal soaps. Anyway, it is a good way of helping the local industry (no regrets, no regrets).
Finally, the place where we stayed in Tegallalang, Ubud. Surrounded by ricefields, it is a peaceful place to get closer to nature and to one’s self.