After much needed respite for walking more than 10,000 steps on day 1, we were very much looking forward to day 2 and exploring more of Bali. We had a sumptuous breakfast enjoyed at the hotel’s Nebula Café. We started the day right with a full English breakfast. However, for someone like me who needs rice in every meal, it was not filling enough so it was not a surprise for me that before 10am I found myself searching for food.
Our driver, Oka, was pretty much on the dot. At 9.30am we left the hotel and started our journey to Taman Ayun, Purah Ulan Danu and Pura Tanah Lot. Oka suggested going to the rice paddies in Ubud but we come from the Philippines and the Banaue Rice Terraces is the queen of all rice terraces in Asia so it was a no-brainer, we said no. We were looking for quality over quantity on day 2. We did not want to hurry from one place to another like what we pretty much did on day 1. We wanted time to pause, admire the temples, and maybe even reflect.
As the vehicle started down the sinewy roads, we came face to face with the everyday life of locals, if only for a fleeting moment. We saw women wearing their traditional garbs while balancing baskets on their heads, happily chatting with each other while walking. Life in Bali is laid-back and carefree and one very surprising thing that I noticed is that there isn’t a single beggar in Bali.
Traveling to three different places from Kuta basically took almost half of the day but it was well worth it as we stepped out of the vehicle and marveled at the beauty before us. No wonder Bali is one of the most visited places in Southeast Asia, it is incredible. The sights alone explain rightfully so why it is called the island of the gods.
Taman ayun looks nondescript from the road, however, once you go deep in the heart of the temple grounds, you will be pleasantly surprised by the treasure it holds. This royal temple, which was built during the Mengwi Empire is surrounded by a pond. Balinese architecture is simply one of the finest in Asia. After jostling for space with tourists doing their nth attempt at the perfect jump shot, we were able to take decent pictures, as well as pictures which we would rather forget. Walking in the temple grounds made me realize just how lucky I am to have the opportunity to visit Bali during my birthday.
Pura Ulun Danu
Bali in March is very hot and humid. We were sweating profusely every time we were out of the air-conditioned van so going to the highlands and being greeted by cold air on our faces was a welcome respite. Located at the edge of Lake Bratan, tourists are likely to see people on their motorbikes going to the lake when heading to the temple. We even saw some Balinese men fishing.
Guidebooks say that the temple is used for offering ceremonies to Dewi Danu, a Balinese river, lake and water goddess. The temple ground was just surreal and I can perfectly understand why the visitors happily snapped away with their cameras and smart phones. I have seen so many pictures of Pura Ulun Danu but the real thing before my eyes is still incredible!
After Taman Ayun and Pura Ulun Danu, our tummies were practically grumbling and all we wanted to do was eat. We wanted to sample Balinese cuisine and our driver brought us to this al fresco roadside restaurant cum garden. It looked great from the outside however the smell was not that pleasant. We thought that there must be animals being raised nearby as their odour wafted through the air every time the wind blew in our direction.
You can just imagine the impression it left us when were supposed to be enjoying our lunch. Suffice it to say that I didn’t enjoy my lunch, not only because of the smell but I discovered that I really didn’t like Balinese cuisine that much. The only high point of my lunch was the avocado shake with a few drops of chocolate syrup! After our not so satisfying lunch, we continued our temple hopping.
Pura Tanah Lot
Pura Tanah Lot is one of the icons of Bali and along with Pura Ulun Danu, one of the most recognizable landmarks. The temple is built on a rock formation and it is believed that there are venomous snakes at the base of the rocky island. Fortunately, no one was bitten when we went there but a lot of people did not escape the wrath of the waves. The waves can be gentle and turn fierce in just a matter of minutes and this is something we found out the hard way.
We were standing on this rock while taking pictures and the waves gently touched our feet then in a matter of minutes the waves grew big that they reached my waist! I quickly went to higher ground for fear that my camera would get wet. However, there was one unfortunate Korean tourist who got knocked down by the waves and she had to be helped by others.
Suffice it to say that the waves cannot be trusted and tourists should take heed of the warning signs placed near the cliff and should not cross points which they are not supposed to, least they get carried by the waves out to sea.
After a good day spent sweating under the sun, admiring temples and taking pictures for posterity, I did not want to return to my hectic life in Singapore.