Saturday, August 13, 2011

Bali: Temples

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In Bali, there is a temple on practically every other block; the Ubud area is particularly infused with them, most famously the Sacred Monkey Forest Temple--my bungalow was located on Monkey Forest Road.

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The monkeys were everywhere, scampering around, squabbling, stealing food (do not attempt to secrete food of any type on your person, they will literally rip your clothes to get at it). The tumble-down atmosphere had me singing "Yeah, I'm the king of the swingers, oh, the jungle VIP ..."


But it felt a lot more like being in "Willard".


After finishing my visit to the Temple, I was enjoying a beer at one of the establishments near the bottom of the hill (Coffee & Silver) when I noticed some escapees hanging around.

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Not far from Ubud is Goa Gajah, known as the Elephant Cave Temple, but no one is sure if that's because of some relation to Ganesha or if it's because the Elephant River runs nearby. The site dates from the 11th century. though there is vidence of an even earlier Buddhist temple on the site. Shortly after the site was discovered by Dutch archaeologists in the twentieth century, it was buried and re-buried by successive volcanic eruptions.

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There is nothing much to see inside--the cave makes a "T" about ten meters in, and there is a small shrine at each end. That is all. The series of fountains by the entrance are supposed to bring youth and beauty to those who wash there. I'm waiting.

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A few miles further on is Yeh Pulu, a water-bearer shrine, known for its rock carvings from the 1300s. My guide Ketut and I were the only people there. The carvings are 300 m along a pathway which overlooks some rice paddies.

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The images appear to depict everyday life: first you can see a man carryng two jugs, perhaps full of palm wine (tuak), following a woman who appears well-to-do judging from her jewelry; the second photo involves an alms- or gift-giving; and the third shows a man wrestling with a wild animal, probably a bear.

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At the end of the wall, a little old lady, who is perhaps a caretaker, extorts 5000 Rupiah off you, which I'll grant you is only 50 cents.

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The site was uncovered in 1925, and is thought to represent daily life in Old Bali, but another theory posits that, when read from right to left, the relief tells the life story of the Hindu god Krishna.

5 comments:

조안나 said...

I consider myself a fairly daring person, but I would not put one foot in that Monkey Forest. From the outside I saw one guy getting attacked as he tried to feed them bananas. My friends who were daring enough to go in said someone even got bit by the monkeys (and then laughed and said, "hey! It bit me! hahahha" and if the same had happened to me I would have been looking for the nearest hospital to get my rabies shot. No monkeys for me, thank you. But, otherwise, temples in Bali are amazing!!!

ps. I changed the comment form on my blog, I hope it's working better for you now...

Max Diaz said...

Steve, these Bali posts have been very well done. I need to give that place a visit. Any plans on tackling Mongolia as your next destination?

Tanner Brown said...

Damn yo I ain't even gone be believin you played wid a gang a monkeys, dat shit be like ridikulus, eating on some fruit and pickin fleas off each otha an shit. Yo, monkeys be tight. Peace!

Tuttle said...

J-A, one certainly doesn't want to get bitten by one of these monkeys, but they're not interested in you if you have no food.
Max, my next vacation time isn't until February, and I'm thinking the Philippines. Mongolia is definitely someplace I want to ro, however.
Tanner, peace out.

Foreigner Joy said...

Great posts. Looks awesome.