Bali: Spiritual Beauty
There are no words or photos that can give Bali's beauty justice. Bali is a spiritual feeling, a state of mind. When we were considering the places to visit during our RTW trip we wanted to see Bali but we thought it had become too touristy. We were in doubt for a while, but in the end, we decided to put it on the list. If you are considering Bali, but you are not sure, please go. The arrival at the airport can be a chaotic moment. I recommend a pre-arranged transfer. It might not be the best deal, but if you don't do it you will feel overwhelmed in front of a yelling crowd of drivers at the arrivals gate who will compete with each other to get the ride. Later you will learn how to negotiate, but when you are tired after a flight is better to go straight to your destination.
Kuta is the touristy part of the island, but Sanur is less crowded. Our apartment was perfect: private, with swimming pool immersed in the green. The beach in front of the Hyatt (10 min walk) is quiet (the hotel is in the construction phase and will open in 2018). You can rent umbrella and chair for IDR 100,000 (around $7) for a day. Food and drinks at the cafe are good and cheap. In Bali, a good meal for two people should be around IDR 150,000. If you pay more it's probably a touristy spot or they are ripping you off.
There are two must do in Bali:
- Learn how to negotiate: in order to get a cab, you HAVE to negotiate. The maximum you should pay for a private driver that takes you around to explore for 8 hours is $450,000 (around $30). If the driver is nice you can give him a tip.
- Buy a sarong: it's a must have to enter in the Hindu temples. You can rent one at the entrance, but if you are considering to see many temples you should buy your own. You can find them for a cheap price. They are beautiful and they will be a great souvenir to bring back home.
Bali is not about the beaches. Bali is about the temples. You should see as many as you can. The island's spiritual inspiration is the reason why you should go to Bali.
- The Mother Temple. It's majestic. It's located on top of a hill. You have to get a ticket and a guide is mandatory to enter all areas. The reason for the location is to ensure protection from natural forces. The temple is open for prayers and families often organize private ceremonies to worship their ancestors. The temple is built on seven levels and has many shrines dedicated to a specific Hindu Lord. You will see doors without tops (good and evil divided) and doors with tops (good and evil co-existing in human nature). Good is on the right and evil is on the left. Locals acknowledge both good and evil and have rituals for both. They pray to the God and the Lords and ask devils to stay away. During the visit, our guide told us a sentence that I think embodies the spirit of Bali and I would like to share it with you: "Religion is a way to be harmonious with each other." In a world of wars based on different values and beliefs, this is an important teaching.
- Pura Tirta Empul. This is a temple dedicated to purification. You can take a bathe in the sacred water (sarong is mandatory to immerse yourself). Locals pray for their families and ancestors and they leave offerings. Note: if you have a driver that takes you around he won't be happy to have you wet in the car so don't get into the water (you can dip your feet if you like).
- Gunung Kawi is immersed in the jungle and rice patties. For some reason, it's less famous than other temples on the island. We were amazed looking around. The shrines emerge out of the green, there are small waterfalls, water streams, and ancient caves.
You can visit the three mentioned temples in a day hiring a driver for 8 hours, starting from Kuta/Sanur.
- Pura Ulun Darun Beletan. This is the famous pagoda on the water that you can also spot on the RP banknote 50,000. Its unique location gives it the special appeal. It's probably the most photographed temple in Bali.
- Pura Taman Ayun. This is the royal family temple. You can take a tour around the temple but you can't get in the complex. It's a square shape placed in the middle of gardens and there are shrines and pagodas inside. The walls are not tall so you can take the photos of the structures from the outside.
- Lempuyang. It's made of five temples. The view of the mountain from the Heaven's gate (divided door on the top of the hill) is hands down, the most scenic view of the island. If you want to see the other temples you have to hike 2-3 hours and get ready for possible monkey attacks.
You can visit the three temples in a day hiring a driver for 8 hours, starting from Ubud. Lempuyang is quite far from Ubud (2 hours). If you have time to stay for a couple of days in different places, Amed is the best starting point.
WHERE TO STAY:
Villa Lotus (around $40 per night). The host, Herman is sweet and caring and will make your stay special.
If you go and you need a good driver to explore the temples using Ubud as starting point I recommend:
Wayan Suada - Whatsapp +62 8133873530
Read more about Bali in the blogpost: Bali: Culture and Food