On the verge of burnout and tears, I bit the bullet and organised myself to get to Bali for some much needed R and R. I haven’t been to Bali since I was a little child so I was excited to see it all with fresh eyes.
Our first day, my travelling companions and I took a tour with our driver Kadek. This was our major tourist day visiting three site of cultural and historical significance. We were first guided to Tanah Lot; a 16th-century temple located on an island only accessible during the low tide. A beautiful location, but unfortunately, we were not able to get to the temple itself due to the tide being high. On top of this, the tourist buses and humidity made it a little difficult, so we retreat to our next destination up in the mountains.
We arrived to cool off at the UNESCO world heritage Jatiluwih Rice Terraces. Beautiful and green, we took a short walk through the tall rice fields, noticing the small shrines along the paths, watching the birds skip from branch to branch, and said hello to the beautiful cows and calfs in their little houses.
Our last stop for the day was Pura Ulun Danu Bratan or also known as the Lake Temple near Bedegul. Built in 1633, this site is a major Shaivite water temple in Bali and sits on Lake Bratan. It also serves as the main source of irrigation in central Bali and has a beautiful and calming view over the lake.
The next few days were spent bargaining with vendors at the craft markets over Batik print cloth and wooden masks. This was followed by generally relaxing by the pool in Ubud listening to the waterfall behind our room. Our second location was Lembongan Island, where our rainforest view turned into an ocean view, and one of the most spectacular sunsets I’ve seen due to the fires that are constantly lit in Bali. Our last stop for the trip would be Seminyak. I thought being away from the main Kuta area would make it a bit quieter, but it was hustle and bustle of traffic, locals and tourists and lots and lots of shopping.
If you look hard enough you can find the Balinese Hindu traditions right there in front of you. What I like about Bali is the clash of worlds, old traditions versus the modernity of life. This might be an effigy of Ganesh right next to a hand painted sign with scooter rental prices. The smell of incense from the daily Canang Sari offerings mixed with petrol from the scooters zooming by. The beach full of banana chairs, umbrellas and tourists is blocked off by a giant ornate wall the length of the beach.
Interestingly it is this beach wall that got me thinking about this. The wall, as an example, may serve many purposes to our western minds but on reading about Balinese Gods and Demons, the sea is the place where demons and bad spirits live and cannot be trusted. They can also only move in a straight line and would bump into the wall and then return where it came from. This is similar to the courtyard compounds where families and the family shrines are kept safe.
I feel like I only just scratched the surface of this beautiful place, people and culture. I think a return trip would be well worth it and a more intensive tour with our guide Kadek!
You can find more information on tours in Bali at https://balifreeholiday.com/