Rice Terraces and Sea Temples
19.08.2010 - 19.08.2010 33 °C
The plan was to make our way to the Gili Islands, a ferry ride away from Bali, for a beach holiday. We lucked out here. Being peak season and with the riots in Thailand putting people off going there, there was absolutely no room at the inn for us on the Gilis. Fully booked, epic fail. We decided instead to stay in Bali and go to some beaches in the South. After all, we just wanted to spend some time together chilling out really. Our first stop was to be Sanur beach on the east coast and we thought we would take advantage on the way, hire a taxi for the day to take us sightseeing before dropping us off at the beach.
We agreed a rate with the taxi mafia (long story) and our driver Deddy took us to wherever we wished to go, well kind of..... It started off real well. Our first stop was the jaw-dropping incredible sight that was the Tegalalang rice terraces just outside Ubud. Bali is covered in beautiful rice fields and terraces so i was shocked when Deddy explained that Bali does not produce enough rice to sustain all the people of Bali but has to import some from other countries such as Thailand! This is not through lack or quality of crops but due to lack of farmers to work the fields! There is much more money to be had working in the tourism industry on Bali. Why work your ass off in a rice field for peanuts when you could be raking it in from the rich farang? This is a very different story to what i experienced in less developed parts of SE Asia, particularly Myanmar where harvest from the fields is their absolute lifeblood. As if to labour this point, as we left the rice terrace we were bombarded by touts trying to sell us all kinds of crap for ‘1 dollar, 1 dollar’, enough to buy kilos of rice I’m sure..
Next, we had asked to stop off at Goa Gajah, or elephant cave. Built in the 9th century as a sanctuary, the menacing figure heads carved out of rock to the entrance to the cave are designed to ward off evil spirits. As this area is sacred, we had to dress in appropriate respectful attire. For Scott this meant wearing a sarong over his shorts to cover his legs! Forested areas next to the cave lead to waterfalls, temples and treks. We trekked to one of the temples but soon regretted it as it was soooooo hot and we had seen much more impressive temples on every street corner in Ubud. The highlight of this trek for Scott was meeting a random woman doing her washing up in a stream along the way with her breasts on full show. ‘Yeah yeah so why do I have to wear this silly sarong when there is a woman here with her norks out?’ Scott complained!
Our tour of Bali then unfortunately turned into a ‘lets see how much money we can squeeze out of the tourist’ conveyer belt. First stop, which we had not asked for, was to a wood sculpture place where, yes some of the sculptures were impressive, but am i really going to carry these around the world with me? Next stop, which we had not asked for, was to a weavers where we were shown how they weave material from cotton or silk, then try to sell us some naff clothing made with it. No thanks. To complete the trio of places not on our wish list, we were dropped off at a silversmith. The jewellery here was really nice but way overpriced. All this time, Deddy was obviously getting a bit hacked off that we were not buying anything as he could obviously see his commission slipping away.
One place we had definitely requested to see was the Tanah Lot, temple in the sea, at sunset. We were dropped off at the temple site way too early for sunset, like at around 3pm. Deddy suggested we only needed a couple of hours there, ‘emm sunset is around 6pm mate?’ He was trying to pull a fast one, i think pissed off with us not buying anything. I just told him outright that we had agreed to stay til sunset, i have a text message to prove it so that was the end of it. Grrrrrrrrrrrrrr.. Anyway, we had a lovely time and the setting was stunning. We grabbed a bite to eat on the cliffs, took a walk to some rice terraces right beside the ocean, weird setting, then checked out tanah lot itself. Many many other tourists there but was gorgeous. Perfect sunset over the temple viewed from the cliffs nearby meant we left to head off to Sanur beach pretty contented.