2 February 2014
The Rock at the End of Bali Land
I would fight till the end. The first thing I looked for, after I had tucked everything away, was to equip myself with a weapon – a wooden stick. I wouldn’t allow myself to be robbed, let alone attacked. This was the site of another of the seven sea temples of Bali, the temple of Uluwatu (literally the rock at land’s end). Although it was still vibrant with Hindu worshippers, the area had been overtaken by hordes of aggressive monkeys, cunningly waiting to craftily deprive unsuspecting humans of their belongings or snatching whatever they could from the offerings left by worshippers.
The 11th-century temple itself is not impressive; it’s actually fairly small, reached after about twenty kilometres of scooter ride south of the international airport, on a road that ends up to be completely and surprisingly new – for there’s little traffic except perhaps to the well-known surf spot nearby. However tiny the pagoda is, its location atop a cliff plunging 70 metres below into the roaring ocean allows for the postcard-perfect image.
I did post-process the first and last pictures using the Google+ photo editor, adding some dramatic effect. I know some of you might not like it – I did spend about twenty minutes hesitating, clicking on the button to view the original photo and then again the processed one at least a few hundred times. The various angles I offer in my harshly-selected pictures hopefully still give you a good sense of the magnificence of this site and its surroundings.
Just like in Tanah Lot, the sunset is supposed to be exceptional even though my schedule couldn’t make time for it. It’s always a little annoying when one keeps reading that almost every landmark is wonderful at sunset, and sometimes also at sunrise, as if I could be everywhere at those unique moments in the day (it’s hard enough to wake up before dawn even if it’s every time worth it: Borobudur, Bromo, Papandayan). Sunset is also the moment when a Kecak performance is given, with those distinctively recognisable heady singing beats and arm movements:
The innermost temple grounds are however not open to non-worshippers even if they are clad with a sarong (a large piece of cloth wrapped around the waist). But notice how men wear a white headdress called an udeng usually tied in such a way that the knot is centred on the forehead. As often when it comes to hats, udengs come in different styles, also dependent on whether the wearer is a priest or highly ranked socially; there are also different interpretations on their meaning, from guarding one’s soul from evil spirits to the triangle representing the Hindu triad of Brahma the creator, Vishnu the preserver, and Shiva the destroyer. In any case, you can (should) leave your hat on – okay, not sure that was politically correct, but my post title did sound like a music title to me so I had to close the knot, the loop I mean.
Teaser: my next post, related to the big G, will be published on February 5th, that’s Wednesday in three days – can you guess why?