I have been very fortunate this past week, as my mom and sister were able to come out to Indonesia to visit me. My mom arrived first and went site seeing about the city while I was at work during the weekend. Then my sister joined and the three of us went to Bali for the weekend.
Bali is a beautiful island with cultural aspects that are distinct from those here on Java. With a Hindu majority, Bali has countless temples. It seemed like almost every street had its own temple. Even where there wasn’t a temple, there would be a shrine tucked away in some corner. It is most famous for its seven sea temples that draw thousands of tourists every year.
We stayed at a hotel on the beach while there, with a prime spot for picking through the coral that washes up the shore. The first day we went to Tanah Lot, a rock formation off the coast of West Bali. There were a few temples there, one of which is Puna Tahna Lot, a pilgrimage temple. You can access the temple by foot when the tide is low, but it is other wise surrounded by water. It is believed that poisonous sea snakes protect the temple from intruders and evil spirits.
The next day we went to a Batik a shop where craftswomen demonstrated the fabric art. They draw the outline of the design on the fabric before applying beeswax over it. Next they dye the cloth in a dye bath. They then apply a second layer of beeswax and dye it again. They continue this process a number of times, depending on the desired coloring. Once the wax is removed, the wash the fabric, leaving behind the completed design.
Next we went to the Sacred Udung Money Forest. The forest contains three Hindu temples and hundreds of Balinese long tailed monkeys (also known as crab eating macaques) that roam the woods. The monkeys are perfectly used to the human tourists and in fact swarm around them waiting for food. I got the chance to feed a few monkeys some bananas, one of which perched contentedly on my shoulder as it ate. They can be a bit naughty though. Later, one monkey saw me holding a water bottle and climbed up to steal it from me. When I initially wouldn’t let it go, the monkey started to bite at the bottle trying to get at its contents. I finally let go, but then the monkey gave up its endeavor. Despite their mischievousness these monkeys are tamed compared to those at other temples on Bali that are known for swiping and destroying people’s belongings, such as prescription glasses.
Afterwards, we visited another Hindu and Buddhist temple complex. This one was nestled down by a river and featured small waterfalls, caves with carved faces, and a zen-like garden. Unfortunately we didn’t have much time to explore further and we left from there back to the airport. Along the road back, we passed by numerous artisans, from painters, to wood carvers, silver workers, glass blowers, stone masons, and metallurgists. I now understand why Bali is considered the artisan hub of Indonesia.
The weekend was a nice break from the bustle of Jakarta life. I got to spend some valuable time with my family and relax on the beach. I look forward to visiting Bali again at some point in the future, hopefully with more time to explore all that the island has to offer.