Indonesia: Pura Taman Ayun Temple; Bali

Our next stop for a couple of nights was to be Ubud. On the way, we stopped at Pura Taman Ayan Temple in the village of Mengwi which is about 17km northwest of Denpasar. This temple complex was built around 1634 by the then ruler of the Mengwi Kingdom, Tjokerda Sakti Blambangan. It was significantly restored in 1937.

As well as some wonderful traditional architecture, we were to find expansive garden landscapes that included lotus and fish ponds… plenty of photograph opportunities.


A small covered pavilion near the entrance.


A guardian, suitably decorated, at one of the temple entrances.


One of the decorative ponds that surround the temples.


The locals leave daily offerings at strategic places dotted around the complex.


Various traditional building styles are seen within the complex.  The terracotta coloured bricks contrast well with the grey stone carvings.


Detail of a demon guarding the corner of a building.


The public are not permitted to enter this sacred area. However, a high vantage point overlooks the complex giving a good idea of its extent.


Another demon god, this time “protecting” a shop selling tourist trinkets.


Another gate and ornate bridge over a surrounding canal.


Towering tiers of thatched temple shrines make up most of the profile of Taman Ayun. This area was closed to the public but there were good views from outside the walls.


This shiny mahogany-coloured beetle was attempting to get a little closer but…


…there were steps and walls impeding its progress.


Another view down the central axis of the complex.


Yet another view…


…and another.


Detail of the intricate stone carving…


…and some more newly restored carving.



Another guardian.  Interesting but the symbolism of the detailed carving is lost me!


The gardens are not only protected by traditional guardian stone sculptures… I think you’ll agree that the spiny stems of this palm in the gardens are not very welcoming.


The garden surrounding the whole complex were very well maintained.  This clump of tall bamboo still retained the sheaths that protected the new emerging shoots.


A bright yellow Heliconia stood out against its green leaves.


Ylang ylang (Cananga odorata), is a tropical tree that originates in the Indonesia, Malaysia, and Philippines.  The green flowers slowly mature to a deep yellow with a red throat.


Cananga odorata is valued for the essential oil that is extracted from its flowers to be used in perfumes and in aromatherapy.  This oil is credited with relieving high blood pressure, easing skin problems and is also considered to be an aphrodisiac. It’s often blended with other floral, fruit and wood scents to produce perfumes such as Chanel No. 5.

Here, in Indonesia, the flowers are traditionally spread on the bed of a newlywed couple. In the Philippines, its flowers are strung into necklaces worn by women. These strings of flowers are also used to adorn religious images.

The plant produces clusters of black fruit which are an important food item for birds, thus serving as an effective seed disperser.

This temple complex had proved to be an interesting visit on our way to our destination for the night at a resort in Ubud, Bali.  More of that anon.


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Indonesia: Petirtaan Jolotundo Dewasa; East Java

At the conclusion of our tour of the Resort’s extensive gardens, there was time for a quick sortie out into the nearby rice paddies and a walk to a village.


It was just a 15 minute walk along a very narrow path to get to the village. We needed to tread carefully as the path was along the top of an irrigation ditch.


Even here, beside the path, there were interesting plants and insects to find.


Unknown but obviously enjoyed the damp.


The various paddies contained rice at different stages of growth.  Some had not long been planted, while other paddies were nearly ready for harvest.


This crop was only days away from harvest…


…a fact that this hungry locust was more than aware of!


There were some attractive flowers of Mimosa pudica growing alongside the path.  It is a creeping annual or perennial herb belonging the pea family.  Its common name is Sensitive Plant because when touched or disturbed the finely divided leaves close up by folding together, thereby defending themselves from harm.  They re-open a few minutes later.  The plant is native to South and Central America, but is now a pan-tropical weed.


The small village was paved and very clean and neat.  The narrow roadways were lined with well looked after gardens.


A covered verandah sported a couple of tables made out of slabs of tree trunks supported by some old tree roots.  Nothing is wasted here!


Still unsheathed corn cobs, neatly woven into bunches, hanging up to dry.


Freshly cut and stacked bamboo, prior to being used for building purposes.


I guess this house belonged to a fisherman.


Interesting patterns and colours created by roof tiles…


…and stacked flat roof tiles…


…and split bamboo.


Bright yellow cosmos with their heads pointed to the sun.


Bi-coloured balsam… very attractive.


A couple of the younger members of the village were obviously interested us.


…and so was an older lady.


The whole area was rather wet as can be seen by the plant growth and water damage to the wall of this house.


Moss and ferns, another indicator of moist conditions.


Speckled flowers of the Crown of Thorns (Euphorbia wulfenii).


A busy wasp looking for moist mud to build its nest.


These lovely orange speckled flowers seemed to be common in the gardens we saw.


Another plant I don’t know… also enjoying the moist conditions.


The petals of this waterlily are still expanding after opening for the first time.


On our walk back to the resort for lunch, four of us decided there was time to continue on to a nearby Temple, Petirtaan Jolotundo Dewasa.It lies on the slopes of the 1653m Mount Penanggungan, a perfect cone that stands sentinel between the coastal plains and the volcanic hinterland.


 Along the way, we passed this abandoned shelter… the plants beginning to take over.


Jolotundo Temple is a centuries old Hindu shrine. It was built in 997AD for Udayara, a Balinese King, when he married a Javanese princess.


Nearby was a mosque.

Over many centuries and under successive dynasties, Jolotundo Temple has been a sacred place. Its still a place of spiritual power even today, long after Hindu-Buddhist Java gave way to Islam. The idea of bathing at this special bathing temple still brings pilgrims.


The temple precinct contains a series of stone pools filled with ‘holy’ water. These are filled with spring water which constantly runs and so replenishes any lost water. Many devotees travel quite some distance to bathe in the two separate pools, one for the ladies and the other for men. The spring water is supposed to possess ‘healing’ and ‘cleansing’ powers, so, after bathing, many pilgrims take containers of water away for later use.


A little boy and his dad at the men’s pool.


In the daytime these pools can appear to be a perfect family picnic spot. But, we were told, as darkness falls and the noise of the crickets rises, pilgrims arrive to burn incense, toss flower petals into the waters and bathe in prayer for healing, energy and good life. They come from many faiths… Hinduism, Buddhism, Islam and those who still have ties to ancestor-worship and animism. But, unfortunately, we couldn’t stay until night fell… we still had many miles to cover on this day.


By the time we made it back to the resort, we were really ready for lunch… delicious.


 Before we left the resort we watched a demonstration on how to make red ginger tea. After that, we left the resort at 15.00 for the next part of our journey, a nearly four drive to Yoschi’s Hotel near Mt Bromo.

The last part of that drive was in the pitch dark as we climbed up a very, very twisty road to our hotel. It was probably just as well that we couldn’t see much of the scenery that we were driving through… very steep sides to a very narrow road!  But we made it safely, had dinner and fell into bed… we had a wake-up call booked 03.00. The mini bus would leave at 03.30 for us to be in time to watch the sunrise over Mt Bromo… and we certainly didn’t want to miss that! More anon.


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Thailand: Bangkok : Wat Pho Temple a

After a very interesting cruise along one of Bangkok’s many klongs, we stepped ashore on Rattanakosin Island, which is directly south of the Grand Palace. We were to visit one of the many, many temples in Bangkok, the Wat Pho Temple.


Wat Pho is one of Bangkok’s oldest temples.  It existed even before King Rama I decided to establish Bangkok as Thailand’s capital.  In 1788, he began to rebuild the temple complex on an earlier temple site.  The marshy site had to be drained and filled before construction began.  Construction took over 7 years to complete.


In 1832, King Rama III began renovating and enlarging the Wat Pho temple complex.  It now covers an area of 10ha (22 acres).  This king was also responsible for turning the complex into a centre of learning, thereby creating Thailand’s first university.


I think you’ll find a wander here as fascinating and enjoyable as I did.  Some of the architecture and decorations are truly beautiful.


Entrances to temples are guarded by rather fearsome statues.  These are supposed to ward off evil spirits.  Usually, there is one on either side of the entrance.


A close up… carved in stone.  I’d be scared off!


Other statues are somewhat more benign.


Many of the small buildings are highly decorated.


A line of ornate swan-like necks support the roof beams.


Wat Pho is also known as the Temple of the Reclining Buddha.  It’s official name is Wat Phra Chetuphon Vimolmangklararm Rajwaramahaviharn.  Little wonder it has a couple of easier to remember common names!

This reclining image of Buddha, 15m high and 46m (150 ft.) long, represents the entry of Buddha into Nirvana, the place all Buddhist’s aspire to, the place where all reincarnations end.  It’s one of the largest Buddha statues in Thailand…. so big that it is extremely difficult to photograph!  It’s brick core is covered and shaped with plaster, after which it was gilded.


A close up of the face of Wat Pho’s Reclining Buddha shows how the right arm of the Buddha partly supports the head with its tight golden curls.  The pillows are of pill box design and are richly encrusted with glass mosaics.

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The soles of the feet of the Buddha are quite unusual… I haven’t seen anything like this before.  Just the size is amazing… they are 3 m high and 4.5 m long!  The sole of each foot is divided into 108 ‘boxes’, each one displaying an auspicious Buddhist symbol… flowers, tigers, dancers, white elephants etc… although I don’t know what they mean.  In the centre of each sole is a circle representing an energy point, called a chakra.

A close up of another of those bearded statues guarding the temple rooms. Attention to detail in these stone sculptures is incredible.


Outside in a small garden… another less ornate, less forebidding,  statue.


Wat Pho was considered the first public university of Thailand teaching students in the fields of religion, science and literature through murals and sculptures.  These wall drawings show pressure points that are the basis of Thai massage techniques.  There are many more around the walls.

That tradition of learning continues here with a school for traditional medicine and massage which was established in 1955.  There are courses in Thai massage, well known in many countries now, as well as Thai medicine, pharmacy and midwifery.


This fellow looks more than a little intimidating but at the same time, somewhat jovial!


Nearby, another small temple building with a superb roof… and an open door.


Inside… a buddha seated on a pile of cushions.  Just one of the many shrines in this very large temple complex.  There’s still much to see here… so we’ll explore more anon!


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