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bali – 5

August 10, 2009

perfect pond flower
Yesterday was temple day for us.  It was an eight-mile drive to Tampak Siring and the most impressive ancient site in Bali, Gunung Kawi.  The site sits in the Pakerisan Valley, through which runs the same river we live on in Tegallinggah.  We parked our car in the lot next to all the seller’s stands, paid the parking checker 1,000 rupiahs (ten cents), and took the stone staircase down into the river valley.  Half way down we stopped to wrap our sarongs and belts around our waists.  We then explored around the ten candi (shrines).  Twenty-six feet tall, they are carved into niches in the rock of the cliff sides.  Each candi is believed to be a memorial to a member of the 11th Century Balinese royalty.  The legend about them says they were carved in one night by the mighty fingernails of Kebo Iwa.

After the long climb back up the steps, we drove to Tirta Empul (holy springs), and the temple next to the springs, Pura Tirta Empul.  This pura is one of Bali’s most important temples.  The springs, believed to have magical and curative powers, bubble up in a crystal clear pool within the temple, and flow through spouts into a bathing pool where people stand in line in the water, waiting to stand at a spigot to wash and gather some of the special water to take home with them.
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There was a great deal of activity, and I was fortunate to see two different dance groups – a boys group and a girls group – and to hear the gamelan orchestra.  Colin McPhee was a musician from North America who came here to study the music in the 1930’s, and since finishing the book A House in Bali, I have been anxious to hear a performance.  It is beautiful music, quite remarkable and enchanting to my Western trained ear.  There are different size drums, large gongs, cymbals, and the small, xylophone-like gangsa.  This looks like a small pot without the handle.  Different sizes make the different notes, and they are played with wooden hammers.  There are abrupt changes in tempo, and contrasts between silence and crashing cymbals.  The boys performed a warrior dance – two groups mirrored each other in dress and movements.  They wore ceremonial helmets and swords in scabbards on their backs.  The girls’ dance was in two lines, all in the same costume, and their graceful hand and foot movements and the expressions on their faces told the story.  The expressions on the faces of the audience also told a story.  The children watching the dancers were as enrapt as any American child you might see glued to a video game.
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D cooked an Indian meal last night, a real feast.  Samosas –  little pastries stuffed with potatoes, peas and spices that were baked in the oven.  Yellow, mung bean dahl served over yellow rice with peppers, cashews, green onions, and yogurt on the side.  Green beans, again! stir fried with the ubiquitous garlic, Thai peppers, and shallots.  There was a fig chutney on the side, which was a tasty contrast of sweet and sour.  And steamed pumpkin with butter and spices.  It was all yum.

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5 Comments leave one →
  1. August 10, 2009 11:31 pm

    Love the final shot of the long beans “on hand,” so to speak, as I have loved every word–and picture–of your description of this trip. Vicarious travelling has its pleasures, too. Thanks for sharing your very real ones.

    Isn’t the hand great? My cuz uses it to hold her cook books open.
    Thanks for coming by and traveling vicariously with me! I love reading travel stuff, too. I really want to bring some beans home with me, but I don’t think customs will go for it….

  2. August 11, 2009 5:46 pm

    I’m always curious about such springs – how did they gain their reputation? Curative powers is self-explanatory, but what kind of magic do they work?

    There’s nothing more magical than your photo of the pond flower, though. And if laughter is the best medicine, the curative and restorative powers of that photo of the green beans can’t be beat!

    I have daily photos of that pond flower, Linda. The color was so gorgeous against the muddy, poopy water of the prawn pond. Once I have my first cup of chai in the morning, I go for a walk before the sun is too high and bleaches the color out of everything. Around the prawn ponds, along the river, and across a few rice terraces. I check on the banana and papaya trees for any ripe fruit, watch the farmers standing in their rice field yelling, “coo, coo, coo,” to chase the birds away from the ripening crop, and then back home again.

    As far as the magic of the springs, I don’t know. I think it is probably found magical that the water just bubbles up out of the earth with some force, and it is clear and clean.

  3. August 11, 2009 11:48 pm

    The colors in these images are gorgeous! It sounds like temple day was a big success, I’m glad you were able to go.

    And I LOVE that Big Hand!!! 🙂

    Yup, the big hand is way cool!

  4. August 12, 2009 1:55 am

    These photos are fabulous — especially that pond reflection. I learn so much when I visit you and now I find I must catch up!

    I went to France with you – you went to Bali with me. That’s what friends are for!! 😉

  5. August 14, 2009 6:03 am

    DingDingDingDingDing!!! I found the key I needed to unlock a new post here this evening!

    It will take just a bit, but I’ll let you know when “your” post goes up 😉

    Huh?

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