Tuesday, May 3, 2011

My 4D3N Holiday in Bali - Day 1 part 2

Please note that I wasn't able to take pictures for some of the events during my Bali trip so some of these were sourced via Google.

Next on the itinerary was the Uluwatu Temple, a mysterious holy temple built with solid rocks,  perched precariously along the limestone peninsula of Bali on top of precarious cliffs with a mesmerizing seashore below overlooking the Lombok Straights. The structure was significantly expanded by a Javanese sage, Empu Kuturan in the 11th Century. Another sage from East Java, Dang Hyang Nirartha is credited for constructing the padmasana shrines and is claimed to have attained Moksha here. Even more remarkable than the temple itself is its location, perched on a steep cliff 70 metres above the roaring Indian ocean waves. There are more steep headlands on either side and sunsets over Uluwatu are a sight to behold

Along the way, we made a quick stopover at a hillside Villa for tea, and I didn't realise this quick stopover would leave such a lasting impression on me. The view there was simply captivating, beautiful, serene. I felt like I was in a love movie or something.

Of course I didn't expect to see the cliff side ocean when we reached the villa. The entrance looked more like a gateway to some beautifully maintained park.

We followed the pathway toward the rest house, and along the right side were the luxurious villas that were still under renovation. A mixture of ancient and modern architecture, it was a pity were couldn't have a look inside.

As we approached the rest house, the first thing I noticed was the sound of ocean waves, and the sound was a little loud, so I expected a beach nearby.

I didn't expect this. We were literally on top of a cliff overlooking one of the best looking seaside views ever. There were no ledges to cling on as you literally step close the edge of the cliff looking down. Did I mention I was terrified of heights? The winds there were strong and cooling, and the view did manage to calm my nerves .. a little.

Oh yeah, we were told to be wary of the monkeys. Just when you think you're going to have that last piece of goreng pisang (deep-fried banana), in they come like some swashbuckling pirate and snatch that precious dessert off your plate. So I had to eat mine while giving them the nastiest stare at the same time. My guide was chuckling as he stated that the dessert would be still very hot when a monkey successfully liberates one from the plate, but in a haste they literally swallow the whole thing whole, ignoring the pain just so his buddies can't snatch it away.

I was trying to get some great images here, so as I clambered to get a good view, I kept reminding myself to watch my step. The strong winds didn't help much with the tingling sensation of vertigo I was feeling all over. I only hoped my camera could do it justice

Check out those huge ocean swells. It is all too perfect for wind surfing. Just looking down there, I kept getting this urge to explore the beach there. Perhaps my next visit.

Aaaaahhhhhh Yes, a Kodak moment ... oh wait. I'm using a Nikon ... Hehe. The view is truly hypnotic. With the kind of tranquility you experience there and being surrounded by such a huge beautiful garden, don't you just wish you struck that multi million dollar lottery jackpot just so you can afford to build a lodging here? I did.

On the way back to our MPV, I asked the guide about that peculiar structure there. Apparently its used as a vase to collect rain water for the surrounding plants. Whoa, now that's a real huge vase.

Uluwatu Temple

Next stop was Uluwatu temple itself. Its official name is actually Pura Luhur Uluwatu, "Luhur" referring to something divine, "Ulu" means where the land ends, and "Watu" means rock. It is one of 9 key temples located throuhout Bali. The entrance fee is Rp 6,000 and you need to be properly dressed (you'll need to tie around your waist a yellow sash) to enter. You are free to walk around the temple grounds but the central courtyards can only be entered during special rituals.

We were told there used to be a lot of souvenir peddlers harassing tourist but when we reached there, there was only one peddler selling roasted corn cob. We were also advised about the wild monkey that inhabit the temple grounds, and was told to remove anything that hangs from your person like jewellery, spectacles, etc, and take good care if you were wearing slippers (Yeah, you heard right). These monkeys are real pros here, and they have a thing for slippers. I remembered laughing out loud when I heard that.

The passageway seemed serene enough, with a wide access to allow throngs of worshippers as well as tourist to pass through.

The passageway ends in a junction where our guide took us to one end so we can view the temple from far. The scene along the way was already breathtaking.

Check out them waves ... man, they look beautiful, inviting but beware. Those waves are powerful.

We then made our way to the Central Courtyard to get an up close and personal feel of the temple. That meant more walking ... uphill.

And then I saw this. Sika, our guide wasn't kidding about the slippers. And that's an adult slipper there. I was told these monkeys literally snatch your slipper while you're still wearing it. Makes me wonder how they do it. Bad monkey.

This picture was taken when I am literally out of breath from all that walking. Surprisingly the day wasn't too hot and humid, and the coastal wind made the tour very pleasant.

Worship in progress. Note the warning sign.

A small passageway by the walls led us to the outer sanctuary of the temple where we were able to get better view of the coastal structure.

I was going to go to that far end and take some more pictures when I noticed a platoon of monkeys were hanging around there. Oh well, guess this angle will have to do.

There was going to be a traditional dance at the Central Court area and we were suppose to go have a look, but look at all that crowd. We decided maybe next time when we're here.

On the trip down, I saw another monkey with its prize. And that primate was giving me the stare when I took this picture, like its saying "go find your own slipper"

Dinner was held at one of Bali's famous seafood beach restaurants. You can see from my pictures (which aren't very good unfortunately - those four photos were the only ones that are at least plausible to view) that the place is literally crowded with tourist. I was told locals will not patron here as they can't afford the prices.

The picture below is that of a Taiwanese couple. Check out how much they ate.

Besides the moving band above, we were also treated to traditional Bali dances at the stage area.

We were hoping my camera was able to catch those monster waves from the background. From where we were seated, those waves seems to rise a good 7-8 feet high, plough back down unto the beach but the water doesn't come up to the shore line. Its like there's something there preventing the waves from coming in.

We retired for the night back to our hotel, Rani Hotel at Kuta, had our complimentary drinks there .. and decided to walk Kuta Town a bit looking for HardRock Bali (wifey wanted to buy a badge from there to complete her collection). The roads were narrow, and at certain stretch they were blocked by indiscriminate parking or road construction, while other areas were just simply dark, but wherever we went, everywhere seem to have some kind of activities on. A real happening place.

Smoking section is outside the room. They provide me with nice comfy chairs and an ashtray, the wife makes sure I smoke outside.

There's lots of shops around with cafes and pubs lining up the streets. As you walk along the roadside, be prepared to get honked at like a million times by passing cabs asking if you want a lift. We passed by this cute looking coach where I thought it would be neat to take a picture of, but looking at the traffic condition out there, I doubt I am willing to try one anytime soon. Along the way, we also visited Bali's Discovery Mall, and discovered lots of imitation goods there. The eating spots in there weren't too bad, and the other end of the mall is already the seaside.

After securing the badge for my wife, we decided to hobble back to the hotel. I have never done so much walking for such a long time that I had to force myself to get a shower before I passed out. The next day held more promises - or so I keep telling myself. Wife complained that I snored too loud though.

Next - Day 2. Kintamani / Besakith / Lovina Tour - that's the other side of Bali

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