Monday, November 30, 2009
Cultural Bali: Terraced Rice Fields and Temples
After we toured the beautiful Ulun Danu Batar lake temple we decided to hire a driver and see other temples in the area later that week. We were excited by the idea of walking through the famous Balinese terraced rice fields to reach some of the temples, but what we didn't expect was how overwhelmingly beautiful the rice fields were. The big attraction at Goa Gojah is the elephant cave, an ominous cave carved out of a hillside by Hindu priest with a crazy stone entrance.The cave was built as a place for priest to contemplate death. It was dark inside the cave with fertility relics and a statue of Ganesha.Worshipers come to visit the cave and take holy water from the temple spring.Goa Gojah was a nice temple, but I guess we were distracted by our irritation after being harassed into buying sarongs to cover our legs by our driver and sarong merchants at the top of the temple. Telling us that it is necessary, shows we are respectful, and that we won't be allowed into the temple in our shorts. And what do we see when we get to the temple grounds? Tourist in shorts. Not us...Next we drove up the road to the Gunung Kawi Rock Temple. A temple we had to walk down through the rice fields to visit.We walked down stone steps pass small merchants, most of which weren't open yet and out onto a hillside cliff out towards the terraced rice fields, lush green rice fields.We continued along the stone path towards the temple entrance with our mouths wide open by the shear beauty of this place!We wandered around the rice fields soaking in the serene surroundings.We captured some amazing images of dragon flies. The dragon flies in Vietnam were green. The dragon flies in Thailand were blue, and the dragon flies in Bali were red. The temple grounds were spread out along the bottom of the terraced fields along a quiet creek, with endless nooks and crannies to explore which were mysterious, eerie and solemn, especially since we were the only people there.We soon came upon a set of the rock-cut shrines carved right into the cliff. The carved monuments are said to be dedicated to an ancient king and his queens. We assume these petite ones are his queensAnd these larger ones must be the ancient king's We then wandered down to the stream and along some more rice fieldsWith other temples waiting for our exploration we walked back over the bridge and up through the rice fields. The next temple was the Tampak Siring Holy Spring Temple.Tampak Siring Holy Spring Temple was vastly different to the Gunung Kawi Rock Temple. The atmosphere at the Holy Spring Temple was lively and festive.Tampak Siring is a colorful temple centered around a bubbling holy hot spring and cleansing pool where locals come to take in the holy water and pray.Next we were headed to Mt. Agung, the famous volcano in the middle of the island for amazing views of Bali, but after all the temple hopping we needed a snack.Just a short drive up towards the volcano and the weather changed dramatically from sunny and warm to cold, stormy and rain, but the view of the lake and area below was beautiful.And of course for one last view of those amazing rice fields!