Sunday, February 8, 2009

Day Four in Bali - Three Temples

Today's adventures started at 10am so we had a relaxing morning. Ari picked us up and we headed north to Bali's volcanic area and on the way we stopped at three temples.

The first temple we stopped at was the Elephant Cave, known locally as Pura Goa Gajah. Discovered in the early 20th century by a Dutch archeologist, a elephant shaped naturally occuring rock formation was the foundation about which this temple was built. It is surrounded by running water with seven fountains that pour water into a pool set in the ground and used in holy ceremonies. The holy cave has extensive carving in the stone around it and you enter through the mouth. Unfortunately the little jungle valley where the temple resides is extremely humid and we were soon dripping with sweat as we explored the grounds.

Our second stop was at Pura Gunung Kawi into which we descended on what seemed like a many hundreds of steps. It was the site where the first Balinese king was interred before final burial and the old temple area is distinct from the newer temple and is obvious by its rough and weathered stonework. Along the path down was a man plowing his rice paddy with two cows, an apparent rarity in these days of advanced technology, and two women were working hard to remove all the wild rice from their fields. Given the high humidity you can't help but admire their commitment.

The final temple, Pura Tirta Empul, was one dedicated to the Hindu god of water as it is not only a temple but the site of a natural spring. Worshippers come here and pray at each of the spouts emptying water from the springs into the lower pool and then allow the water to run over their head and it is reputed to cleanse you of your ailments. This was, to me, the most interesting of the temples today because it was the only in active use at the pools and in the rest of the temple complex.

After leaving the temple we headed to one of the volcanos to have lunch overlooking the volcano and the surrounding valley. You can see where the last eruption in the 1990s took its toll. Nevertheless there are houses throughout the valley because apparently the lake on the northeast side is teaming with fish. It was a nice change in weather as the humidity was significantly less that at lower elevations and there was a nice breeze so Laura and I felt more than a little refreshed.

From lunch we headed back to Ubud and stopped on the way at a spice plantation where they grow coffee, vanilla, pepper, chilies, palms, and innumerable fruits. We were brought a tray of beverages that included coffee, hot cocoa, ginseng tea, lemongrass tea, and one other that I can't remember as I didn't care for it. Laura was in heaven with access to all the fresh culinary components but unfortunately we were low on cash and they weren't equipped to take credit cards so we spent what we had between us and departed for our hotel.

After returning Laura befriended a woman who is also staying at our resort. Apparently Toni, Laura's new friend, has been here for almost a week but has kept herself in seclusion until her boyfriend arrives so that they can discover the wonders of Bali together. While this is a laudable thing to do I don't think that I would spend my vacation trying to keep myself from experiencing anything for half of the trip. Anywho, we ended up having dinner at one of the resort's many restaurant together and spent a nice evening chatting until the mosquitos drove us into our respective rooms and we called it quits for today.

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