Sept 18 - A tour aound Bali

We hired a private driver for the day and toured part of the island. We didn't know much about Bali before our arrival, but used the internet and the Lonely Planet Guide, as well as talking to some locals here in Ubud, to determine what areas might be of interest. Leaving at 0900, our first stop was the Hindu Temple of Goa Gajah, the Elephant Caves. Built in the 9th century, there are carvings at the entrance that are thought to ward off evil spirits. Next was the 11th century temple of Gunung Kawi. There are ten shrines cut into the rock face, each about 20' high. After, we went to Tirtha Empul, the Holy Water Temple. The Balinese people go here for purification rites. Many legends exist about all these temples, all dating back more than a thousand years. We then took a break and had coffee at a local coffee plantation (Madu Pertiwi), where we learned a bit about the harvesting of the coffee bean and the spices they grow, as well as Luwak coffee (for those of you who don't know, this is coffee that is made from the poo of the civet, a nocturnal cat-like creature with an elongated nose like a mongoose or possum, that eats the coffee beans, and whose digestive juices work on the beans before excretion,then the beans are gathered, roasted and served....a cup of Luwak coffee is the most expensive brew around). Breaking for lunch, we had a wonderful view of Mt. Batur (1730 meters) and Mt. Agung (3142 meters), two nearby volcanoes in Penelokan, with a view of Batur Lake. We saved the big kahuna for after lunch, the Besakih Temple. This temple is the largest and most well known in Bali, and built on the slopes of Mt. Agung, a major volcano. A "donation" was asked (after the entry fee of $3.50USD for two), but we gave $5.00USD and a guide accompanied us and explained stuff that we wouldn't have been aware of attempting to cover the huge area ourselves. Twenty two temples are in the complex, and I think we saw most of them. Having worn shorts, I had to use their sarong and waist belt to be allowed in; Sue had long pants on, so she was allowed entry. We then drove thru areas of beautifully terraced rice paddies before finally returning to our bungalow at 1600 hours. Total cost for the day was $40.00USD, plus lunch. This has been a tiring day, but we feel we've seen just a bit of Bali and have a better understanding of the Hindu culture and history. We could easily spend more time exploring this beautiful island...but it's time to move on and return to Infini.

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