Saturday, January 31, 2015

Munduk waterfall and the Mengwi temple complex

After another stop to admire Lake Bayan and Lake Tambignan far below us our driver directed us across the busy road to a sign for the Munduk waterfall. We followed a path through the rainforest that became steeper and steeper. In fact we passed some fellows on their way back up who were literally gasping for breath. The path became more vertical with some horribly irregular steps that were well over a foot high. Finally, we arrived at the spectacular waterfall. There were only a few people there but one man was thoroughly enjoying himself standing in the spray from the falls.

I particularly liked all the lush vegetation from the delicate ferns to the huge palm leafs. The trip back up the steps and the steep hill provided quite a sweaty workout in the heat and humidity. It was with some relief that we reached the road.

After a quick stop for lunch overlooking more spectacular scenery we drove to The Royal Temple of Mengwi, which is one of the most important temples in Bali. Built in 1634 by a King of the Mengwi dynasty, this impressive complex stands on an island in a river, its inner temple surrounded by a moat. Its Balinese name means ‘Garden Temple in the Water’.

The temple had wonderful gardens. Walking around in Bali is like visiting the tropical area of your lonursery with many of the plants in bloom. As we entered the temple we watched a civet climb over the walls. I wanted to take its picture but it was far too quick for me.

This temple is part of a network of directional temples that protect Bali from evil spirits. It was built as a series of garden terraces with courtyards on different levels. The entire complex was designed to symbolize the mythological home of the gods, Mount Meru, floating in the sea of eternity. We walked around the gardens very carefully because of the very slippery walkways. Near the end of our tour we had to take shelter in one of the pavilions because of the tropical rain. After all it is the rainy season in Bali.

There was a large covered over pavilion with life sized models of the handlers and their birds at a cock fight. Cockfighting is a big sport in Bali. On a walk to the beach we will see several cages with roosters in them. Come later and we see the cocks taken out of their cages to be stroked and caressed by local men who sit together, enjoying the last rays of sunshine while discussing the qualities of their proud and elegant birds.

Bali, like many other nations, has banned cock fighting as a cruel sport, although the practice is still continued on the Island of the Gods for ceremonial purposes. These fighting birds are as much a part of Balinese Hindu rites as the burning of incense and giving offerings to the gods. The birds are sacrificed with their blood going to the soil before farmers can start planting their crops. Although illegal, cockfighting for gaming purposes still continues; the winner takes the loser home for the cooking pot!

Our sightseeing was finished for the day. Now it was time for the hour-long drive back to our hotel in the crazy traffic. Motor scooters were cutting in and out everywhere. The passengers on the scooters were completely covered by the drivers' plastic raincoats; they couldn't even see where they were going. Our van crept along finally crossing a busy intersection where the traffic can only be described as higgledy-piggledy. The amazing thing is no one gets angry and there is no road rage. Vans and SUVs squeeze by each other with centimeters to spare. Motor vehicles don't have all the dings that we see in Spain. It is quite remarkable. I must admit that I am always happy to get out of the traffic and return to the hotel.









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