When we were last together, I was telling you about Jakarta. While we hated to leave the friends we made there, Bonnie and I took a little personal side trip down to Bali which is just a 1.5 hour plane ride away.
Bali conjures pictures of beaches and hotel rooms that float out over the water. That is not where we were. Honestly, if you have to choose between “beach” Bali and “inland” Bali, I would choose inland. It is simply amazing. We stayed near Ubud, which is super central. Ubud is home to many things, including many beautiful temples, really kind people, picturesque rice paddies, shopping, and ELEPHANTS!
Since I hate pictures of myself, I’ll go ahead and get this out of the way. But seriously, look at that smile.
For a really long time I’ve had a love-fest with elephants. I’m not sure whether they love me, but I love them in a crazy, obsessed way. My living room hosts a small herd. Anyway, one reason I wanted to go to Bali (other than, you know, it’s Bali) is that there are several places where you can get really up close and personal with elephants, something high on my bucket list. After doing some research, I settled on the Elephant Park and Lodge in Tegalallang outside Ubud. You can see it here. This park seems to take the elephants’ health and welfare most seriously; I was sad to learn that some elephant parks around the world do not. This park is cool because you can actually stay there with the elephants if you want (hence the “lodge” part)(dur). The rooms look pretty fabulous.
They have different “experiences,” including bathing, riding, feeding, and swimming with the elephants. To me, it was wonderful just to be so close to them, watching them interact with one another. There was also a small museum of elephant art, mainly done by humans but also some done by elephants. Here are a couple of the former. The one on the right is a wood carving, so intricate.
We also saw this guy lying around:
We did get to feed the elephants which was SO fun.
The workers there who took pictures for us. They gave the elephants simple commands to do cute things like wrap their trunks over our heads or hang a lei around our necks. Another thing they did is give us a hug. Bonnie’s elephant gave her a really friendly hug:
Her face tho. Haaaaaaaaaaaa!
As Jakarta is primarily Muslim, Bali is primarily Hindu. There are temples absolutely everywhere. Each Hindu home has a temple. When someone builds a house, they have their local priest come and tell them where to put the temple. The temple is built first, and then the rest of the house is built.
Every Hindu person driving a car has one of these on their dashboard, and each restaurant has one just outside their door.
Isn’t this one beautiful? These are prepared each morning as an offering. Once the offering is created, whatever happens to it is ok. A bird can eat any food that is on it, or the wind can blow parts of it away or, in the case of the ones on the ground outside the restaurants, someone can step on it. The offering becomes a blessing to the bird or the wind or the ground. I thought that was lovely.
Especially since I stepped on one.
We visited the Turta Empul, a temple founded around 962 A.D. At the entrance there is this absolutely humongous tree. It was too large to capture in a photo, so here it is in video. Yes, I almost fell over taking this.
The Turta Empul has a beautiful ritual cleansing pool. One enters at the first fountain that you see at the bottom of the photo and then goes down the line washing at each fountain. I stole this photo off the internet because it is better than any I took. There are some fish swimming around in there, at least 14″ long. No, I did not go in.
There are lots of little temples within the big temple. One is way up there at the very top of this post. Here are parts of two more. They are so pretty. And sometimes scary!
Stay tuned for the next installment!