Friday, 24 June 2016

Bali & Borobudur - 1

Bali is an island and a province of Indonesia. Though Hindus are in a minority in Indonesia, as most of them live in Bali they constitute the major section of the population in Bali.  So there are a quite a number of temples, some of them in picturesque locations. The island is also famous for its beaches and handicrafts.  Borobudur which is in the nearby island of Java is famous for its greatest Buddhist monument.  We planned a short holiday to these two places of cultural interest, during the winter month of June in Australia, when it will be summer there. We left Sydney by Garuda International and arrived in Denpassar, the capital of Bali, on the evening of Friday the 10th of June.  Even as we were going to our hotel, The Haven in Seminyak, we were greatly impressed to see the big statutes in the street corners depicting incidents from Hindu epics.  The hotel was located in a busy street but was close to shops and restaurants.

Travel and hotel we booked through, but local tours we had booked through Bali Agung tours. The next morning we started on a day tour of Bali, with the English speaking driver Wira, acting also as the guide. Our first visit was to a Bathik factory in the Ubud area.  In a Bathik factory we can watch the artisans at work. You can see them draw pencil designs on the fabric and then apply melted wax onto the outline.  You can even buy and have a design made on it if you have the time.  Some of the designs are quite intricate and require deep concentration and steady eye. One cannot but be impressed by the artisan’s dedication to the traditional art.

Our next stop was at Ubud Monkey forest.  It is officially called as Sacred Monkey Forest Sanctuary. Here there are more than 600 Balinese long tailed monkeys.  The park staff feed them sweet potato and visitors feed them bananas which are sold locally.  Bread and snacks are prohibited.  They have no fear of people and come very close looking for food.  They freely climb on us if we hold the banana high above our head.  We are warned not to touch them or play with the food.  Then they will become aggressive and bite and their bite can cause even death. There are also three temples inside and they are not open to tourists. One temple is devoted to Lord siva; another to Godess Ganga and the third to Prajapathi.  There is a cemetery attached to the Prajapathi temple in which bodies are temporarily buried pending a mass cremation which is held once in five years. The sanctuary is a vast hilly wooded area and a deep ravine runs through its grounds, at the bottom of which flows a stream.

After lunch we had a roadside view of Tegelang Rice Terrace. While admiring beautiful green rice terrace we also wondered how tough it will be for the local farmer to cultivate on the cliff-side.  From there we proceeded to Kintamani to view the active volcano of Mount Batur and the caldera lake, Batur lake.  Mt. Batur has erupted around 24 times since Year 1800, the latest being at the start of this century. Lake Batur is the biggest lake in Bali.  We were lucky to have a clear view of the peak and the mountainside as in the late afternoon it will be covered by clouds and the view was magnificient. Some tourists go trekking uphill to watch sunrise.

Our next visit was to a Luwak coffee farm.  I heard about Luwak coffee here only.  It is a very expensive coffee prepared from the poop of civet cat, which is a nocturnal tree cat that eats the ripest coffee beans in the field and secretes the beans processed by its internal juices.  The beans are extracted from the poop, washed, roasted and then ground up. Here in the farm on a terrace overlooking the hillside we were offered more than ten different varieties of coffee for tasting, but not this Luwak coffee, which has to be purchased only.  I had no mind to taste one, paying money, after hearing about the preparation process and anyway I had my fill tasting more than ten different varieties of coffee. 

From here we went to the elephant cave, Goa Gajah.  Though called elephant cave, there are no elephants there but in the cave’s entrance is the face of a giant carving and this carving is considered to be of an elephant.  You have to go down a number of steps to reach the cave.  In the cave there is the statue of Lord Ganesa and also three lingas of Lord Siva where people offer worship.  There is also a pond with water pouring out of pitchers held by the statues.

That day we rounded off with a visit to Tanah Lot where there is a famous temple on the sea shore accessible on low tide. This place is also famous for its sun-set view. By the time we reached the place, the sun was under heavy clouds and sun-set could not be seen.  Further as it was getting dark rapidly, we did not venture walking over the slippery rocks to reach the main temple entrance. There is another small temple built on a rock formation with a “hollow” overpass linking to the mainland. Because of the scenic view and location Tanah Lot is a favourite among all classes of tourists.



1 comment:

  1. Great travellogue.Your write up has given me the feeling of my personal visit to these places. Thanks.