A Travellerspoint blog

Spiritual Cleansing at Trista Empul Temple

By Marty Way


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Some places emanate an energy felt only by a gifted few. These are the yogis, fakirs and mystics among us whose meditational-majesty and unshakeable grip on the present plugs them into an otherworldly current. Many of these sensitive people have deemed the Tirta Empul Temple a source of immense power, able to augment vitality, zap negative auras, foster prosperity, and thwart damnation…all while purifying oneself.
The Tirta Empul is said to have been created by the Hindu God Indra, sometime around 926 A.D., and the temple includes freshwater pools. The Balinese pilgrims come from all over island to bathe in the holy springs and thus cleanse themselves spiritually.IMG_6519

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Fortunately, the Balinese make the sacred pool available to us non-Hindus who may also be burdened with waning vitality, sticky negative auras and maybe a few lingering damnations. So, what do you need to purify yourself at Tirta Empul temple? A sarong is mandatory (if you don’t have one, you can rent one) and an offering of flowers food and incense for the Gods will stand you in good stead. Then make your way to the pools.IMG_6524.jpeg

Cup your hands to gather water from the spout to rinse your head and face. Repeat this move three times. For a more torrential cleansing and more protection and prosperity,  dip your head into the water flowing from the spout three times. Also, at each waterspout, place your hands together in the praying position and touch your forehead with your thumbs. Utter a short prayer or mantra three times (if nothing profound springs to mind, chant ‘OM.’ You see, ‘OM’ is thought to be the sacred sound of the universe encompassing all other sounds within it). Be respectful and follow your fellow pilgrims, left to right, through the three separate pools.

The first pool has 13 spouts, the second pool has two spouts and the third pool has one spout specifically for visitors. There are a couple of spouts used for purposes other than cleansing and are exclusively for the Balinese. You will be guided away from these.
I know what you’re wondering. Did your humble writer feel the jolt? Did the spiritual cleansing flush out those hard-to-reach crannies? Are the auras squeaky and radiating warm colours? Is there a renewed bounce of vitality?

Let’s just say that I feel much lighter.IMG_6523.jpeg

Posted by WayWayFar 22:59 Archived in Indonesia Comments (0)

Cruising Bali In a Vintage Volkswagen

By Marty Way


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Think of the line on the road as a skipping rope. Drivers cross it at a most opportune moment, then jump back again. From the passenger seat it seems like mayhem but there is an arcane rhythm to it. The key ingredient is trust: trust that your driver has cat-like reflexes to reliably miss nearby cars by millimetres, trust that other drivers cooperate as actively as yours, trust that your karma-bank has accrued a few ducats of interest lately, trust that today is not your day to die.

Our trust was rewarded in a ride from south-east Bali to Legian Beach in classic Volkswagen 188, open-topped convertible. The safety-features in this wanna-be beetle are consistent with those featured in 1967 (none), the year it emerged from the assembly line. But our driver/ owner meticulously restored this vehicle and is profoundly proud of it. (There is a club, in Bali, of mechanical-types whose passion is collecting and restoring vintage Volkswagens). Ignore the holes in the floor-boards and enjoy the wind blowing through your hair. It’s all ventilation after all.
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Cruising through the Balinese countryside, past villages, rice fields, durians for sale, stray dogs, and stone-carvers hammering statues and monuments out of volcanic rock is extraordinary. Local women making their way to the temple with offerings are quick to wave, as are children, in their uniforms, headed to school.c35acb9d-da10-40be-94ea-d99e79b3e065.jpeg

It’s been said that the most important part of a car is the nut that holds the wheel. When driving a vintage Volkswagen in Bali, the car-horn is vital too. One quick beep signals, “I’m about to cut you off.” Two beeps means “I’m beside you and going past.” A long honk and a wave says, “See ya! Eat my VW smoke.”

It was awesome.

Posted by WayWayFar 04:27 Archived in Indonesia Comments (0)

The Besakih Temple During the Largest Festival of the Year

By Marty Way


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The Besakih Temple is the largest and holiest temple in Bali and is known as ‘The Mother Temple.’ We were there on a day that coincides with the largest celebration of the year (the festival goes on for six days to enable Hindu worshippers from all over the island to participate). The lush gardens were manicured. Pagoda-like structures were decorated with fabric and streamers. Intricately carved stone gates and religious symbols were colourfully adorned with fabric and umbrellas. IMG_6630.jpegIMG_6641.jpeg

The faithful carry in large offerings to the Gods (flowers, food, incense). Because of the huge number of who show up here to pray, the offerings are also carried out at the end of the day. But this is family-affair; a celebration with parents, children, grandparents and relatives participating.
While the Temple may appear to be a cohesive, multi-tiered structure it is actually a collection of smaller temples, each dedicated to different deities and purposes. Therefore, a person from a particular village will commune with other people from their village at a particular temple within the Pura Besakih complex.IMG_6636.jpegIMG_6638.jpegIMG_6650.jpeg

The Temple is located on the lower aspect of Mount Agung, Bali’s highest and most sacred volcano. A hike to the top of the mountain takes six to eight hours and must now be done with a local guide and prior permission (there used to be public access to sacred Mt Agung but some profoundly disrespectful acts by foreigners, has closed access to foreigners).
So, we’re blessed to visit the Temple on one of the busiest days of the year during one of the most important annual festival. Even with thousands of people around the Temple has a calming reverse about it.

Posted by WayWayFar 03:06 Archived in Indonesia Comments (0)

The Monkey Forest in Ubud, Bali

by Marty Way


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The signs encourage visitors to not look the monkeys directly in the eyes or show their teeth (smile) as this can be interpreted as aggression. The monkeys don’t like having their long tails stepped on either.IMG_6546.jpegIMG_6540.jpeg.

The Monkey Forest, in Ubud, Bali, is a very scenic walk through an ancient forest. Here human primates are forced to consider the theory of evolution as they observe striking similarities between themselves and the smaller primates, the long-tailed macaques. Along the way the macaques may steal hats, glasses, jewellery, wallets, food or loose objects…and have learned to open zippers.IMG_6545.jpeg.

The monkeys get regular feedings, which keeps them in the monkey forest. During the pandemic, when there were no tourists in Bali and the monkeys were not being fed, they dispersed more widely into the community seeking food. But now all of the characters are back together in the park and it is serene, dynamic, unpredictable and often adorable.

I have also included some monkey-porn for those still wresting with that evolution theory.IMG_6541.jpege8c8ff84-ae43-4e3c-b906-f77b20f184ce.jpeg

Posted by WayWayFar 06:56 Archived in Indonesia Comments (0)

Hiking Mount Batur in Bali

The non-sunrise ascent -Marty Way


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The YouTube videos of hiking Mount Batur, in Bali, feature Gen-Zs rising at 2:30 a.m. to be transported to the volcano. Then they hike in the dark, 3.2 kilometres and 634 meters of elevation to witness sunrise from the second peak. Approximately 600 of them go each day.
Can there be anything more epic than squeezing your significant-other as the sun peeks over the horizon; the salty pungence of sweat, the throb of hormones and the buzz of drones over head. It’s an unforgettable Balinese experience to be sure.
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However, I am an old bastard and not about to hike in the dark in the wee hours or the morning. And fortunately am surrounded by like-minded, intrepid hikers. We arrived on the ridge of the caldera just before noon and had it to ourselves.
We all brought hiking boots and were glad that we did. The trail is uneven and has fist-sized rocks that roll around under foot. It can be precarious.
Mount Batur is a caldera with in a much larger caldera. The volcano erupted about 30,000 years ago, then the magma chamber collapsed leaving two concentric caldera. We hiked on the smaller one.IMG_6579.jpegIMG_6580.jpegIMG_6588.jpeg

Our guides insisted on hard-boiling eggs on steamy vent that presumably emerged from the hubs of hell; a reminder that the volcano under foot is active. But it was good to take on a little protein before the descent.
So, I’ve hike my first volcano and it didn’t erupt while I was there. It was a good day.IMG_6585.jpeg

Posted by WayWayFar 06:41 Archived in Indonesia Comments (0)

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