Sunday, 08 August 2010 dawned clear and sunny with white puffy clouds.
In 2007, my favorite place that we visited was Tirta Empul and I was excited to be going back again, especially on a Sunday when it would be busier than any other day of the week. Tirta Empul is in the village of Tampak Siring and it is one of the most beautiful temples in Bali. It is a holy bathing place that is over 1,000 years old. Legend has it that the sacred spring was created by the god Indra. His forces had been poisoned by Mayadanawa, so he pierced the earth to create a fountain of immortality to revive them.
An inscription dates the founding of a temple at the site to 926 AD. Ever since - for more than a thousand years - the Balinese have come to bathe in the sacred waters for healing and spiritual merit.
There are two bathing pools fed by natural spring waters that are said to have curative powers. The spring waters flow into the pools from seven pancuran and the water is very cold. On a very hot day, I am sure that it would not only be curative but also invigorating. The people pause at each one to pray and to receive the flow of water on their heads and faces. Balinese traditions are passed along to each generation and are followed by young and old. As in 2007, several of the young children were experiencing the cold waters for the first time. It was a delight to some and a freezing shock to others. A lot of laughter and a lot of crying but in every case, a lot of trust in the fathers holding their sons.
Overlooking the temple on a hill above is a modern building: the Government Palace, built in 1954. Originally a residence for Dutch officials, it was later used by former President Soekarno during his frequent trips to Bali.
As you leave the temple, you "run the gauntlet" of shopping stalls selling everything Bali. It seems that you can buy anything for "one dollar" unless you don't look like you are going to buy and then the price quickly drops to pennies.
The afternoon was spent in Semara at the market. Not many tourists and I got to photograph craftsmen shaping and polishing stones for the elaborate gold and silver ring settings at the open air shop. I chatted with one craftsman and one of his friends who spoke surprisingly good English. I found out why when he told me that his day job was as a policeman in Denpasar. We swapped stories and he assured me that when he was not in Denpasar at work, he was just one of the villagers. Quick with a smile and a laugh, I made a new friend.
One of the exciting aspects of being on the road again is that I get to meet and talk to so many new people. I hope to be receiving emails from these new friends. I have already received emails from Allan in Australia, Terje in Norway, and David in Bangkok.
As I said in my last email, I don't think it gets any better than this!
All is well, feel great, and there is much more to come.