Indonesia: Exploring Around Ubud; Bali

The last ‘formal’ part of our whole adventure in SE Asia was a day spent travelling into the countryside around Ubud.


Narrow, winding roads were encountered for most of the journey.


The name ‘penjor’ is used to describe these tall bamboo poles.  They are decorated with coconut leaves which have been cut into intricate shapes.  They are used by Hindus in Bali for every important ceremony.

Penjors are the representation of mountains, particularly Mt Agung, the highest mountain in Bali.  The Balinese see them as a symbol of the universe.

Galungan is a Balinese holiday marking the beginning of the most important recurring religious ceremony.  This is the time when the spirits of cremated relatives return to their former home ancestral home on Earth.  It occurs at different times each year as it is based on the 210 day Balinese calendar.  Their living relatives have the responsibility of welcoming the departed back home by saying prayers and making offerings.  Offerings are made up of root crops, such as sweet potato, fruit of any kind, grains, leaves, traditional cakes and 11 Chinese coins

Penjor are erected to show devotion to the God of the Mountain.  The Balinese know that mountains contain forests and that these forests hold a lot of water.  This water eventually ends up in rivers which in turn supports all their irrigation needs.


We drove to an area of beautiful rice paddies.


Another view of the terraces on which the centuries old paddies have been constructed.


The rice was in excellent condition.  It was not far off flowering.  In an attempt to assure a good crop, this small woven bamboo platform held offerings to the gods.

DSC04997.JPGThe paddies stretched off into the distance.  Pockets of land were still covered in forest and coconut palms dotted the paddy bunds.  This method of farming constitutes a very sensible form of agriculture compared to the Western broad acre form of agriculture.  It is, however, very manpower / woman power intensive.

DSC05002.JPGWe came across these demon-gods stored in a covered area attached to a temple.  No doubt they are paraded through the streets on important festival days.

DSC05008.JPGEach family home has a number of ancestral shrines such as these.  They contain the ashes of deceased relatives.

From the rice paddy area we drove on to Lake Bratan.  It is known as the Lake of the Holy Mountain due to the fertility of this area. It is 1200 m (3937 ft) above sea level.


This out-rigger boat had seen better days.


On the edge of the lake is Pura Ulun Danu Bratan (Pura Bratan) which is a major water temple.  The temple was built in 1663 and is used to make offerings to the river goddess Dewi Danu as it is the main source of irrigation water for all central Bali.



The main temple, of 11 stories, is dedicated to Shiva and his consort Parvithi.


The temple complex is surrounded by very well maintained gardens.

DSC05029A Javan Pond Heron (Ardeola speciosa) wading through water plants looking for its favourite food of fish, insects and crabs.

Next, we drove to Tabanan, about 20 km, (12 miles) from Denpasar.  Here we were to look at the Tanah Lot Temple.


To get to the temple, visitors have to run the gauntlet of hundreds of ‘tourist shops’.  One, however, had a couple of civets on display.  These were of interest to us as a result of our earlier visit to the plantation where the civet’s scats were collected to produce the ‘most expensive coffee in the world’.


The pointy-nosed animals wouldn’t stay still for a second for a good photo.


On the way to the shore we passed this gate to a shrine.

Tanah Lot is actually a rock formation which in Balinese means ‘Land Sea’.  On it is built Tanah Lot temple, one of seven sea temples dotted along the SW coast of Bali.  Believed has it that the temple dates from the 16th Century and that the site was chosen because of its beautiful setting.  It is dedicated to the Sea God.  It is believed that venomous sea snakes guard the temple and that the temple itself is protected by a giant snake.

DSC05067In 1980, the Japanese government gave the Indonesian government a loan of about USD130 million to help with the restoration and conservation of the temple along with other significant projects around Bali. It’s a very popular place to visit!

DSC05064Detail of the top of the temple.  Only Hindus can actually visit it.

DSC05070.JPGPura Batu Bolong is another of the Pura Batu Bolong and is within sight of Tanah lot.  It sits upon on a rocky promontory.

DSC05063.JPGOne of the very ‘touristy’ things to do in Tabanan is to be within sight of these temples at sunset.  It was a partially cloudy day with clouds hanging on the horizon so it was decided that it was not worth waiting until sunset.  It had been a long day already.  We headed back to Ubud.

Unfortunately, I have to tell you folks that this is the last post for my Bangkok to Bali trip.  I hope you have enjoyed the journey as much as I did.

But the good news is that my next adventure is about to begin…. this time to Nepal to visit some hill villages west of Pokhara for a very interesting project.  So,please, keep following my posts for all the latest happenings.


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Indonesia: Artini 2 Cottages; Ubud; Bali

Our home away from home in Ubud, in Bali, was at the “Artini 2 Cottages” resort. It was a delightful place to spend the last couple of days of my Asian adventure before I headed for home after a month of fascinating exploring.


Artini 2 Cottages was our home in Ubud.  Each bungalow had a terrace and sitting area. There was a wonderful outdoor pool that was just the right temperature.  It served an a la carte breakfast but no other meals.  I noticed that the ‘Group breakfast’ people didn’t have as many options as the ‘full paying guests’ were offered. Nonetheless, it was more than adequate and it gave us an excuse to try something different in restaurants in the town.


These carved figures guarded the entrance to the resort.


Our room was large and airy.  It had a fan and an air-conditioner, but that was extra!  My sharing a room mate, Brian, and I managed quite well with just the fan.


This was the view from our balcony.  The rice paddies were in great condition.


Long bamboo poles supported flags of various colours, presumably to act as Asian scarecrows.  I think the birds would have been used to the flags by the time these rice plants produced their grain heads!


Looking sideways from our balcony, the pool was a great temptation after a day walking the town in the steamy, tropical conditions.


The view down onto the courtyard from our room.


Our resort faced this street.  It was usually full of people, cars and motor bikes.


An obvious sign.


How true of many of the current generation!!!!


Anybody for a lampshade?


This mural decorated one restaurant we visited. As there were the same number of monkeys as people in our group, it was hard not to match up images with group members!


Fried chicken, rice and a salad made even better with a Bintang.  What a way to finish the day.


Next day… a walk around the area…


Many residences had quite magnificent entrance gates.



Alleyways were always full of interest, what lay at their end?


Another grand entrance.


An entrance to a temple, a place to leave offerings to the gods.


A Buddha with lei of marigolds and offering receptacles.


A wander around Ubud inevitably brings one into an art and crafts precinct.  Ubud is known as a great place to find all kinds of crafts on sale from the mundane to expensive silver jewellery. In between are paintings, carvings, traditional clothing and all those things that look good in situ but you wonder whatever possessed you to buy them when you get home!  Perhaps, to make matters worse, many items don’t have price tags, so bargaining is a must.


Umbrellas are up for sun protection and to protect against the threatening afternoon showers.


Tables and trestles crammed with merchandise.


Pot-grown Crown of Thorns (Euphorbia wulfenii) adorn this section of footpath.


Everybody is finished with the pool for the day, not a ripple left.

Time for bed. More anon.


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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.


All photographs copyright © JT  and DY  of  jtdytravels

If you enjoy these armchair travels, please pass our site onto others

more of our travel stories and photos can be found on

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