Do you get those annoying, unsolicited credit card advertisements in the mail? We cannot be the only ones, so I’m actually hoping you all know exactly what I am referring to. Anyway, I typically shred them right away and never look back. We LOVE out Delta American Express (I was not paid to say that, but feel free to throw a few miles our way Delta!) so I usually do not give them the time of day. Until a picture on one caught my eye. A tall, layered edifice cloaked in fog and surrounded by water and mountains made me do a double take. I want to go there.
I scanned the credit card info to find photo credits. Nothing. Crap. I spent the next thirty minutes on the internet searching terms like “water temples” and “Hindu temples in the fog.” It was a stretch, because I was not sure the place in the picture was even a temple, let along Hindu. But, my persistence paid off. The place: Ulun Danu Beratan – Bali, Indonesia.
Three years later I found myself staring at the exact place in person. It felt full circle.
Ulun Danu Beratan was actually the second of a day in Bali full of temples and terraces – two words that describe Bali pretty darn well! Bali is exotic and so different from the US and I love touring the places that are so uniquely Bali.
Our first stop was Taman Ayun Temple. I could see the tops of something behind the concrete wall as we approached the site. However, I something I read stopped me in my tracks.
Well, then. Since we were good on that front, we kept going. Taman Ayun Temple was beautiful. Tall, layered structures dominated the views and lush, tropical gardens surrounded. The roofs on the buildings looked as if they were made of hair from a horse’s tail. I actually searched the internet to figure out what the material is. I still have no clue.
We stayed at the temple for about an hour. I am sure we could have found more to look at, but we were ready to leave. I mean, it is a beautiful place, but for us, we wanted to see as much as we could in our few days in the area! From here we stopped at a Coffee Plantation. Can I just say that I had no clue Bali’s coffee and tea would be so good! Lunch followed and then we were off to Ulun Danu Beratan.
As the fog settled around our vehicle and we climbed in elevation I knew we were close. I pictured the credit card advertisement and smiled. I love when a plan comes together!
Minutes later we pulled into a parking lot that looked like a shopping mall the day after Thanksgiving. Seriously, it was a zoo. My heart instantly sank. None the less, we parked and paid and walked in. I was not going to let a crowd stop me from experiencing something I flew around the world for.
Strip away the people, and Ulun Danu Beratan is breathtaking. Lush mountains jet into the sky, lake waters lap against the shore and fog cover the ground like a blanket. I was able to soak in the moment, despite the crowds, and enjoy the beauty of such a place.
While I’m a Christian, I truly believe all places of worship are sacred, because they are to someone. Not everyone thinks this way, so I stifled my frustration and tried not be angry or judgemental. Instead, I strolled the water’s edge, snapping pictures and thanking the God I believe in for such immense beauty.
Eventually, the crowds did get to us and we left. Just like with Taman Ayun though, after 30-45 minutes, you have kind of seen what you can for.
On the way back to our bed and breakfast, we stopped to see Tegalalang – the largest rice terraces in Bali. It is darn impressive that rice is grown in muddy fields and harvested by hand. Definitely makes me appreciate the little white grain more! It’s funny, I always complain that it takes 30 minutes for rice to cook. I guess I shouldn’t though since I did have to wade through mud and bend over to pick it before cooking it. Traveling really does check your priorities and attitudes.
I have seen other pictures since traveling to Bali and have thought that we did not see the most scenic terraces. But we did not venture off the main highway either. Driving in Bali is no joke, so exploring was not really an option as getting lost is very easy to do!
While I am not sure we will return to Bali, I can say that I enjoyed our time hiking and snorkeling while there. But the temples, uh, the temples! They were something so different from anything we had seen up until that point in our travels. Exotic. Different. Crowded. Beautiful. They were my favorite.