Sunday, 24 July 2011

Days 267-270-The Island of 1000 Temples

Entrance to a typical Balinese home through the courtyard-Ubud July 2011

My 1st trip to Bali was in the 90s when travellers were still talking about the three Ks of  backpackers heaven- Kuta Beach in Bali, Khao San Road in Bangkok and Kathmandu in Nepal. I saw Bali then as a student, spending my days mostly suntanning in the beaches of chaotic Kuta, staying in budget hotels and constantly being hassled by touts, rude drivers and peddlars. Bali did not leave a lasting impression for me.

Top of a Hindu Temple at Ubud Market- July 2011

I enjoyed Bali a lot more this time around because this time, I saw Bali as a builder of Indian houses albeit in dollhouse scale. My interest and participation is as deep as an architect's, perhaps more so in certain aspects as every little detail is an exercise in re-invention and re-engineering for the replication in tiny scale.

Taman Ayun Temple, Mengwi

Bali, also known as the Island with a Thousand Temples, where more than 90% of its people are Hindus, appears to have more temples than houses. These temples were built in muted colours, often relying on the natural hues of the materials used. Despite being heavily influenced by the Indians and the Chinese, the Balinese practise a restraint in their use of colours not shared by the other two.  I think that's why I favour Balinese architecture and landscaping.

Taman Ayun Temple, Mengwi

Tanah Lot Temple on Kuningan,the last day of the Galungan Festival

Tanah Lot

These temples- whether they are built in the middle of a heavenly garden, lying in the middle of the sea or erected against the mountains- are all exquisite, magnificent, mystical.

Decorations on the streets for the Galungan Festival

We were in Bali during the Galungan Festival. A major festival in Bali, it is held throughout the island and is an annual event in the wuku year or every 210 days according to the Balinese calendar. 

During this ten day period, all the gods, including the supreme deity Sanghyang Widi, come down to earth for the festivities. Everyone decorates their houses with bamboo and young coconut leaves.

Women at Tanah Lot

And women bring offerings of colourful rice cakes to the temple for prayers.

The young, the old, women and men don their best traditional sarongs and kebayas. And on Kuningan, also the last day of the festival and the day all the deities return to heaven, Balinese line the streets to watch the procession of the Barongs prancing from temple to temple and village to village. 

Taman Ayung Mengwi

Balloons sold at Taman Ayung

Barbecued chilli corns -Taman Ayung

We visited only two of the thousand temples but both were unforgettable experiences. Taman Ayung was crowded with families as it was Kuningan and the last weekend of the holidays before school started. There were little children carrying the most unusual balloons , wearing the cutest animal hats. We also had the best barbecued corns ever for a mere 3000 rupiah or 40 Singapore cents.

 Crowd at Tanah Lot Temple watching sunset

A picture perfect sunset at Tanah Lot

There was also a crowd at the Tanah Lot Temple but less boisterous, patiently waiting. A hush came over them  when the moment arrived, the happening of the legendary sunset of Bali.  

Musicians at Maya Resort Ubud

And so this is Bali, 
where traditional music is played to the beat of the winds in the padi fields,

Attendant at Maya Resort Ubud

where men wear flowers behind their ears and

Mi Bakso, Mi soto and crispy prawn crackers, Seminyak

where great food can be had for a dollar.

It is where the eternal song of OM is celebrated in every element of nature,
 in a rock, a dagger or a piece of woven cloth.

It was also where I rested my feet for 4 days and 3 nights in blistering July 
and had a vacation that was restful yet eventful at the same time. 


Norma Soulet (AZArtist) said...

Hi Sans,

Beautiful photos! I love the temples and those colorful balloons especially the bird ones. :)
Hope you had a lovely time.

Flor said...

Es un mundo maravilloso el que tu ojos ven Sans!!

Daydreamer said...

Dear Sans! You can be my Travel Guide any day! You know how to find the most beautiful places! Those temples are absolutely heavenly! I love the idea that it is an Island of a Thousand Temples..... that the Gods come down to celebrate with the people!!! Have I told you that there is a real Indian Temple being built here in a town not too far from my home? When my younger son was in grade school his class was studying India and we had to go visit the Temple. It was an AMAZING sight.... I think I will have to go again just to see how much my memories have kept ....! When I do I will take pictures for you.
I am glad your visit was so restful..... the endless pools look divine... and the sunset was spectacular! THANK YOU for bringing us along!

Sans! said...

I did Norma S. The loveliest time :).

Sans! said...

Gracias Flor:) Este post es de mi propia memoria también. :)

Sans! said...

Bets, I really like the Balinese Hindu tamples. They are like the zen version of the Hindu Temples in Singapore except their motifs are ancient. I really prefer the Balinese version.And I will absolutely love to see how the temple in your neighbourhood looks like.

I will do another post on Balinese Garden for you :). I know how much you love gardens :). I have always wanted a Balinese garden :)

And dearie, thanks for coming along :)

Margriet said...

Your stories and photos take me to a part of the world that is so magical and beautiful....
I hope someday I will be able to see some of that beauty with my own eyes, but until then...thank you for taking me with you :-)

Sans! said...

Margriet :) Bali and parts of South East Asia is truly exotic. Let me know what you think when you see my Balinese garden pictures. After having seen so many countries, I still think these places have much to offer.

If you will it, it will happen , your trip to this part of the world I mean. And when it does, I will be more than happy to offer a few suggestions.

Virginia Isabel said...

Menudos sitios visitas. son el paraiso. por cierto preciosos tatuajes.

Eva said...

Gosh Susan!!! Now I MUST go to Bali....Your pictures make me feel like I have to go there and see all these temples (by the way handsome man with the flower :) )
And you look so relaxed in the swimminpool...good for you!!

Bali!! a new place in our wish list.. :)....and close to Singapore :) hehe

Susanne said...

Wonderful pictures, Susan, thanks for sharing. I can tell, you had a fantastic vacation. I am looking forward to see the inspiration in new miniatures.
Love, Susanne

BiWuBär said...

Great to have you back after an - obviously - wonderful vacation. Thanks for those fantastic photos, I think one of your eyes is in charge of the beauty and the ofter one for the details... ;O) My favourite is the one of you in the water - it looks as if the water has no corner, flowing in clear shape and end into the landscape - great pic. So sad that the only visit to Bali I will ever make is our Bali here - yes, there's more than one Bali in the world! But I must admit ours is only a small village near the Baltic Sea (by the way, we have also California and Brazil around here - never say our German tourist agencies lack of fantasy - LOL).

I've read your reply to daydreamer - I'm really looking forward now to this garden post... ;o)

Flor said...

¡Mejor aun Sans!!!! ¡Wow! que memoria más envidiable ( =
¡Eres muy especial Sans!!!Y eso es maravilloso♥
Un beso

dale's dreams said...

Oh, Sans! What a beautiful country! I'm so glad that you gave it a second chance.

I can see exactly why the temples are so inspirational for you in your mini making. Yes, those are your colors, the more subdued, the ancient looking.

Thank you so much for sharing these gorgeous pics with all of us.

I think I'm going to add Bali to my list of destinations. :)

How far is it from you?

Nice foot, btw. ;)

CWPoppets said...

Whenever you show us this wonderful and interesting places (and the food! Don't forget the food. ;-)) I would love to go there myself.

Ascension said...

Sans me encanta ir de viaje contigo.
Son unas preciosas fotografias.Estoy contigo en lo de que miramos las cosas pensando en como hacerlas en mini y por lo tanto le prestamos mas atencion que mucha gente que solo ve"lo que hay".
Ha sido un placer visitar tu post, me ha dejado llena de paz y me ha encantado conocer "tu pie" jejejejeje
Espero que ya estes mejor, cuidate mucho.
besitos ascension

The Old Maid said...

Beautiful photos! As usual I just love the way you see the detiles - both on your colourfull photos and when you write about them, dear Sans:) - Great to read this trip was better than the last one to Bali ;) - And what I love about your photos except for all these great temples are the people - love the photos of you in the pool(pretty tatooes by the way ;) - the women and of the attendant at Maya Resort Ubud. The flower behind his ear reminded me about my travel to Tunesia, there too men wear the jasmine's flowers behind their ears and it is importand behind which ear the flowers are worn, you can easly know if a man is married or still single;D

Plushpussycat said...

Wow Sans! Your post has brought back so many memories for me! I spent 2 months in Bali in my early 20s, six weeks of them in Ubud. If I could have figured out a way to stay there, I would have, because I fell in love with the place. I've never been anywhere where spirituality permeates everything any more than in Bali. Thanks for all of the beautiful photographs. I feel like I just went back myself!

My Realitty said...

So wonderful! Aside from all the beauty and exoticness, I especially love the balloons and the banners that decorated the streets. Lucky you! CM

Snowfern said...

hee hee welcome back! the photos are beautiful :) SEE YOU LATER! so much to catch up on :O

Eliana said...

Wonderful place! Beautiful pictures ...

Dark Squirrel Victoria said...

Beautiful photos Sans! Thank you for taking me on vacation with you LOL. The temples are amazing.


Margriet said...

My son (he's 12) is afraid to no far away destinations for us the coming years ;-)

Amy said...

I'm speechless, Sans. Just amazed! It's an absolute gift to be able to look at Bali through your eyes-I can't get over the temples and their architecture, it's like they're defined by the landscape but are refined by their culture, their history and ideas. The Balinese people's sarongs and kebayas, the festival decorations, even the food all seem to belong to the same grand design. And the way the trees and flowers dress up Tanah Lot, everything so intertwined, as one. What a journey, S.
(And your ankle tattoo is fantastic, I love it and the idea of it both.

Kim said...

It's so beautiful it almost makes me want to cry. I am thankful for the life I have, but when I look at the pictures of the places you have been and the wonderful stories behind them I long to move there so badly! Thank you for always sharing your trip with us Sans- you fill my head with images I would probably never see otherwise ♥

Sans! said...

Gracias Isabel Virginia:). Los tatuajes tienen un significado especial para mí:)

Sans! said...

Eva, I was reading Eat Pray Love (yes, for 2 months already and still cannot finish ..haha) when I was in Bali and I remembered Elizabeth Gilbert describing Bali as a place where men wear flowers behind their ears. When I saw this man, I just had to take a picture of him with his flower :).

As you can see I plagiarised that line from her but I have picture to prove it and she didn't! teehee

Sans! said...

Susanne, I was lucky . During my stay at Maya Resort, there was an exhibition of a painter on the Traditional Life of Bali. They were giving out these beautiful flyers on very fancy papers with little reproduction of his paintings that look like a mini oil paintings on canvas.

Those will be my 1st mini souvenirs from Bali. :)

Sans! said...

Teeheeheheheehehee, Birgit, I had to laugh out loud at your "never say our German tourist agencies lack of fantasy" . I can imagine there are many Little Indias and Little China (Chinatown) in the worlds but wow , Little Bali, Brazil and Belafonte (ok, putting that in just for the B..;p) I remember when I was in New York, there was a little Italy as well.

Anyhoo, Birgit, never say never right? I am sure you will see Bali and South East Asia one day especially as you now have a Singaporean friend :).

That is an infinity pool, Birgit designed precisely for the effect that you have described. We were being silly and pretending to shoot what we call "ad pictures" you know , pictures you put in an advertisement :). This one is either a "shampoo ad" (next shot would be me releasing my hair from the clip and shaking my head in slow motion with hair flying) , vacation ad or "save the water " ad.

Sans! said...

Worlds??? I mean world...but then again maybe there's also the fairy world..

Sans! said...

Bali es especial, Flor. Por fin estoy capaz de ver lo especial que es en realidad. Con los años, el turismo se ha echado a perder la isla un poco, pero un poco de belleza permanecerá para siempre. Gracias Flor por estar aquí.

Sans! said...

Margriet, no worries :). Bali can wait :)

Sans! said...

Dale, Bali is 2.5 hours away only by air. Close enough for you to come say hi again before you bali hai away :)

And about muted colours, it was common for Balinese to wear their kebayas and sarongs in white. They have somehow managed to make the otherwise tabooed white (over here, people wear white and black in mourning) ceremonial and elegant.

My foot has just been cleaned before that shot..haha!

Sans! said...

Christine, so funny you should mentioned food pics. We kept forgetting to take pictures of the food before we eat them !

Sans! said...

Ascensión, también sabe que mi espalda:). No muchas personas pueden decir que saben de mi espalda y mis pies! haha

Me encanta cuando viajó conmigo, la Ascensión. Hacer compartir mi diversión viajes. Casi me creen ahora que las fotos de las vacaciones no son aburridos ya, pero ambos sabemos que todavía lo son, sometimes. haha

Drora's minimundo said...

An exotic place, no wonder so many dream of going there and you are the fortunate to realize this dream. Thanks for sharing by telling and showing us with these beautiful photos.

Sans! said...

Drora, it is not such an improbable dream to see Bali. :)

Sans! said...

Ewa, I have always been more fascinated with the people than the places especially when I travel. The places I love best in the world are always the ones where I had met the warmest, most hospitable people. That's why I rather sit at a cafe to people watch than to sight see sometimes. If I was lucky, someone local might strike up a conversation with me. The thing I want to do most when I travel is to understand another's way of life. Maybe you like my people picture because you are that way too?

I got both my tats this year. The one on my back is the word OM . This was after my ashram experience in India. This tat is to commemorate this year which has been really special in many ways. The one around my ankle is a touch up of a tattoo I had when I just started work. That tattoo was to commemorate my transition from a school girl to a working adult. It was only a sun face on the foot. I had gone back to the same tattoo artist and told him to add an anklet . He also changed the sun face (which he said was passe) to a leo sign. I guess both these tattoos mark my transition from experienced to veteran :):).

Sans! said...

Jennifer, I couldn't have agreed with you more. It is strange having just come from an ashram experience in Rishikesh how I found more spirituality in the Balinese than I did in India. Maybe it was also Galungan and temple celebrations happening everywhere, even in the streets, in every home.

I find Balinese a generally reserved people. But I have had a few locals share their spiritual experience after conversing with me for 1 minute because they saw the OM on my back. The ones I spoke to spoke about India like it was the holy pilgrimage.

Have I told you that in the resort where we stayed, there were yoga (every morning) and meditation classes (once in every 3 days) offered for free to guests? Of course we went. The meditation class only had 3 people so we had a good opportunity to speak to our rather young "guru". He said he had an almost kundalini experience sometime back. He described it as heat rising from his lower back to his spine and that it was so powerful that he fell backwards thus breaking the meditative state. He told me he had this experience after fasting for about a week (water and rice diet) .:)

Sans! said...

Carol, those were really wonderful balloons, all made in China. I found out that the "cutest animal hats" were also made in China :).

But the banners were local. I love them too. Those banners and silk umbrellas together with towering bamboo and palm decor are typical of Balinese worship in a village.

Sans! said...

Thank you, Eliana, for being here:).

Sans! said...

Cindy, see you tomorrow :)!

Sans! said...

Balinese temples are definitely my favourite Hindu temples, Victoria :).

Sans! said...

Amy, art is so much a part of a Balinese life that you see art even in the most mundane. Baskets, how they arrange the flowers for offering, a stone planter and their clothes. But always, everything about a Balinese life and art has a divine connection.

Kebaya (top, bottoms are called kain) is apparently only a fairly recent (1920s) adaptation by the Balinese women who used to have their breasts exposed except for ceremonial or temple occasions where they would then wear a piece of cloth tightly wound round their bodies leaving their shoulders and arms bare. That's how they are still depicted in classical Balinese paintings and stone sculpture. Even now, the kebayas worn by the women are more hugging, see through and very sexy.

I read that "traditional kebaya required the torso of the women to be wrapped with a long piece of cloth called a stagen. Women of higher social status would have help in wrapping their torso with the stagen however women who were not so fortunate to have help could dress themselves by tying the end of the stagen to a post and literally wrapping themselves into it." :)

I bought 4 pieces of kebayas for my mum who is a mere 45kg. And you know what, they were all too small!!! Balinese women are very petite.

Sans! said...


You know what they say: when you are safe at home, you always wish for an adventure and when you are having an adventure you wish you are safe at home.

And I think you have a great home with a fabulous garden :).

And Kim, I have said this before and I will say it again, you are a great "travelling" companion.:)

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