Saturday, September 27, 2008

I Can Use Some Rest

Oh, my. Another busy day in tourist land!

Dewa picked us up this morning at 9:00. "Sleeping in" seemed like such a luxury. After early morning diving, we've just pretty much stayed on the same schedule, waking around 6:30 and crashing into bed right after dinner, around 10:00. Tonight's dinner reservation isn't until 8:30, so we'll see how we hold up. I guess last night we didn't eat until well after the dance show ended at 9:00, so this should work out fine.

Today's destination was upward, to two big temples and then the volcano.

First was the Tirta Empul water temple at Tampaksiring. This is the site of a sacred spring, where people come both to use a public bathing area and a ritual cleansing area. We just came to look at the beautiful and large temple. First thing we saw on entering was some small deer in cages. These are native animals which are in the temple as a kind of refuge; people kill them for sport outside. They're very small, and quite cute.

Then on into the temple. It's quite large an ornate, particularly when compared to the small, community temple we visited the other day. The most noticeable difference to me is that more things are painted, so it's just much fancier looking. Of course, it's also much bigger. The spring flows directly into a pool, and the water then flows into several other pools, each of which has specific cleansing properties. To my view, it's mostly very lovely. With all the water, there are also fabulous flowers, especially the red Bird of Paradise flowers.

Next stop, just down the way, is the carved stone temple of Gunung Kawi. This is sort of the next stop for the water flowing from the water temple. In a deep-carved canyon in the volcanic rock (much like the one we rafted through yesterday) we walked down a long, stone staircase lined with the obligatory vendors hawking batik cloth, woodcarvings, t-shirts, bed coverings (quilts made from the batik), and so on. Eventually this goes through a gate or doorway in the rock itself, and you're in a valley that has been carved into a temple or palace, right out of the living rock.

The guide books all say this is a temple dedicated to the royal family that ruled Bali around the 10th or 11th century CE. Dewa reckons that yes, it was a temple, but also a palace. And it is huge and stunning, both the parts sculpted from the hillside rock and the parts built within. In many ways it's reminiscent of the Mayan works we saw last summer in the Yucatan, though that was pretty much all built up, as there are no hillsides to build into!

It's hard to describe the immensity of the works here, either the statues, the shrines, or the waterworks. Dewa and I cleared some leaves that were blocking some of the water flow in one area. It was satisfying to see water starting to flow again. This temple must have been incredible when it was first built.

After climbing back up the huge stone stairs to get back to the car, we stopped for a cold drink, then headed toward the volcano. On the way, we stopped at an agricultural area, where they grow and display many of the food plants of the area and allow one to sample some of the product (and buy some, of course!).

We saw arabica and robusta coffee trees, cacao, vanilla, papaya, jackfruit, snakeskin fruit, cinnamon, pepper, turmeric, ginger, lemon grass and more. We got to try some of their cocoa and coffees, and also some lemon and ginger teas. They also served us some tamarillo and the snakeskin fruit. The former isn't all that interesting; inoffensively flavored, but nothing special, The snakeskin fruit is really quite good, and the skin of the fruit really resembles snake skin. The snake tree is also really interesting. It has huge, sharp thorns all along the trunk and branches.

They also had several Asian palm civets on site. These are the animals that eat coffee cherries, then pass the seeds through undigested in their feces. Apparently, such beans make some kind of incredible, rare, expensive coffee called luwak coffee. Yet another reason I don't think I'll be taking up drinking coffee.

OK, finally to the volcano. Bali has several volcanoes in the middle of the island. We were sitting on the rim of the caldera of one ancient one, Batur, where at least one secondary cone has grown up in the middle. The view from our restaurant was quite stunning: we ate at a counter overlooking the volcanoes and the caldera. We could see the results of two relatively recent eruptions, within the last 15-20 years. The buffet was decent, but the view was great.

I've left out more details, but as you can see, it was another typical vacation day for our family. We went to a couple of bookstores and bought some reading material for the trip home,based on recommendations from the ex-pats on the boat last week.

Tonight, a nice dinner at a highly-recommended restaurant, then tomorrow, a little down time before we start heading home. We have a couple more touristy stops to make, too, so I'm sure it will be yet another full day.

1 comment:

Laura E. Goodin said...

Your trip sounds fantastic! And more than a little stressful....