Our highlights of the day had to be the temples. I swear the parking attendant and person guarding the bathroom are making up their own positions. I’d love to set up at a park at home and charge tourists to use the facilities. And be sure to pay after you use the bathroom not before otherwise you will get stopped and asked to pay again. I stood firm though, I wasn’t about to pay another 23 cents!
Also, the women working the shops before the temples are very convincing that you need a sarong prior to entering the temple. In that respect they are correct. They fail to mention that free ones are available and encouraged. Those sneaky ladies want to charge you 20,000 rupiah too. It doesn’t sound too bad at $1.50 but if you keep going you’ll hear 10,000! I eventually heard two for 10,000. Obviously my face reads sucker because I would have paid the 20k.
Michael’s on the hand reads local. With his darker complexion, big eyes, and prominent nose he fits right in. The Balinese have a Filipino look to them and are quick to talk to Michael. Once they see his scared and confused face they try again, obviously disappointed and in English “where are you from?” I swear this happened more than a handful of times. I get “your face like Asia yeah? Japanese?” 👩🏻 yes Japanese. “You speak?” No.. (more disappointment)
I think thats why we weren’t really approached in the temples. I often saw guides and overhead men explaining to tourists about the history and culture but assuming Michael knows what he’s doing we weren’t offered any help. It was fine though and we enjoyed ourselves nonetheless.
The first temple was Pura Tirta Empul or a holy water temple built around or over a natural spring. Tourists and local alike come for its cleaning properties. The baths were very full and looked very cold. We were told it’s clean but the amount of people packed in there did not convince us. Many Balinese people go there to cleanse themselves and pray or we also observed them talking the water back by the gallon. Our driver said that is very common and many people come here.
Next was Gunung Kawi Temple known for the large carvings in the cliff face and surrounding rice fields. Oh man but they made you work for it. Flights and flights of stairs going down and heavy breathing individuals coming up. The shops selling sarongs and trinkets also lined the stairs. It was definitely worth the trek with many parts to the temple. On our way up we bought two sodas for 40,000 rupiah which I was like hm sounds expensive… but I’m thirsty whatever $3. About 10 min later when we arrived at the top, a man was yelling 5,000 rupiah! 5,000 rupiah! For a can of soda… I was like damn. But easy going Michael just said she obviously needed it more than us- so don’t worry about it.
We also visited Goa Gajah or Elephant Cave. It was much smaller than Gunung Kawai Temple but the rock carving was still amazing. While roaming around we found a small temple in the back. And small old woman was there prepping her flowers and incense for prayer. She called me over and two others to be included in her small ceremony. I loved it. I had no idea what was going on but felt it felt so intimate. She gave us flowers, sprinkled water on us, and put rice on our neck and heads. I asked our driver what it meant and he said it was a prayer and the rice symbolizes “clear mind.”
By now it late afternoon early evening and we’re told it’s probably best to head to our hotel because it was getting dark and the temples won’t be open for much longer.
So we say good bye to our driver Agung,
check in, and look for dinner. After all the walking I can’t help but look for a massage. While not as prevalent as Thailand, it’s still available and still ridiculously cheap. For an hour foot massage you can expect to pay about $5-8 USD. And don’t accept sticker price. Weasel them down!
Tomorrow we have an bike tour planned so we’ll need some sleep…