Day 358 : Rustic Backwaters of Batam

Explored a little around the coastal backwaters of the hotel we stayed in (Pacific Palace Hotel) and found the shore to be littered with floatsam and jetsam. Whiffs of rancid stink waved past my nose, breathing became something of a Fear Factor challenge. The poverty of infrastructure choking to keep up with commercialisation is apparent.

Day 357 : A Batam Hopover

Popped over to Batam for the weekend and the first thing that friends said when they heard I’m going is that I must be a sex tourist. This unflattering image is the result of many middle-aged taxi uncles keeping mistresses on the neighbouring Indonesian island just a 45-minute boat ride away. I used to hear stories like that in the past but I’m not sure if it is still true now that internet porn is widespread.

The last time I was in Batam was more than 2 years ago and although that place has little places of interest to offer, in my opinion, it’s a nice weekend getaway for a change of scenery. Took this photo of a boy playing in a muddy pool during one of our stops. When he saw me pointing my Casio EX-ZR1000 at him, he immediately smiled and did a James Bond pose.

And just like that, Batam became interesting for me. I’m glad I haven’t lost the ability to delight in simple joys 🙂

Bali : Things That Make You Go Hmm…

One of my favourite activities whenever I travel is to seek out the unusual. If I get a culture shock, that trip would be rated with an A+. With Bali, I’m giving it an A++ (Bangkok gets an A+++++). It may still be mild compared to Bangkok but Bali is definitely one of the more unforgettable places I’ve been to. There’s a sense of surprise, something different at almost every corner.

Here’s a collection of things I found rather amusing / funny / thought-provoking… things that gave me the “hmm” moment.

Neither do they have commissment to be honest. Be VERY CAREFUL when changing money in Bali and ALWAYS count the money again when you receive it even if the money changer had counted it in front of you. Always count again before walking off.

Can you spot the reckless massacre of the English language on this price board? Even though the majority of tourists on the island are Caucasian, English proficiency of the Balinese is generally low. And the Malay language used differs slightly from what we're used to in Singapore & Malaysia.

The stickers are loud and their proclamations are crude. And they're all over the place! There are even ones with your name on it and declares you are gay! If you're looking for something to make a bold statement, nothing beats these in your face stickers that costs about Rp 10,000 a piece.

Katy Perry must've gotten the inspiration for her new hit, Peacock, in Bali. Instead of being treated as smut, penises are good luck charms in Hinduism where the Lord Shiva is sometimes represented as a phallic-shaped edifice both large and small. The population in Bali is mainly Hindu so you can expect to see many of these key chains around. Also check out the mega-sized penis bottle openers when there!

Kamasutra is practiced as a Hindu ritual of love and sex to open the channel to nirvana through orgasm. I've seen Kamasutric positions shown through human form but not with what apparently looks like Buddha as depicted in this painting. Is Buddha turning blue from resisting the temptation?

Surprisingly, the nightlife in Bali is pretty dead. We went to the huge Double Six Club at almost midnight and we were the only ones there. Many of the other posh looking clubs were also empty on a Saturday night. On the contrary, a small club along the main road to Seminyak was happening and filled. The club, Alijoe, is patronised mostly by men (if you get what I mean). Drinks are expensive there and kinda boring if not for the rather amusing drag shows. Can you guess which diva is being impersonated here?

The best way to enjoy nature, is to do it al naturele! Seems like the Balinese don't have too much problems with nudity. Apart from these boys enjoying the cool rock pool, I've seen farmers urinating in their farms with their dicks hanging out, and old ladies with their breasts reaching their navels walking topless in the suburban outskirts.

Apart from the scary masks, colouful 3D kites and statues of Buddha, the other common sounvenirs one would find in Bali are highly decorated wood carved geckos. The gecko is a symbol of regeneration. When it loses its tail, one grows back. Just like when man conquers extreme adversity and comes out of it with a new self.

Bali : So Culture, Very Nature

Travel Period : 29 Sep – 5 Oct 2010

For many years, Bali eluded me. It was for me, what a transparent glass jar full of candy high on a shelf would be for a child. Or a very short person. Who likes sweets. I was that financially short person who never quite had the means to reach it. Bali isn’t an expensive place to go to from Singapore but when one starts realising just how hard-earned money is, spending it became a personal taboo.

I joined the workforce in 2000 and Bali has always been a place I wanted to visit. Friends who’ve been there all raved about it. When I saved up enough, that’s where I’m gonna go. Then in 2002, the Bali bombing happened and its appeal as a tropical paradise went up in smoke.

Handsome as it stands, the epitaph is an ugly keloid on the history of Indonesia that marked the worst act of terrorism to date. Extremism is a killer.

Who could forget that terrible turn of events on 12 Oct 2002 when religious extremists bombed Paddy’s Bar and Sari Club, two popular nightspots at the tourist district of Jl Legian in Kuta, leaving more than 200 dead and scores injured? Then 3 years later, on 1 Oct 2005, another series of terrorist suicide bombings exploded in Kuta and the neighbouring Jambaran beach resort. Holidaying in Bali became sort of a roulette suicide mission in itself.

But the terrorist situation seems to have diffused in the last couple of years with increased security collaboration between the Indonesian government and the various embassies, especially Australia. So I decided it’s time to visit this island of the gods.

AIRFARE & ACCOMODATION

My airfare was booked about 4 months in advance during a Jetstar promotion. For accommodation, we decided to spend 3 nights in Kuta and 3 nights in Seminyak. Kuta and Seminyak are along the same stretch of beach. While the Kuta area is more vibrant and messy, the Seminyak district has a laid-back feel with many nice-looking hotels and resorts. In-between the 2 is the Legian area where its beach is known as Double Six. It is possible to walk along the beach from Kuta to Legian to Seminyak in about an hour.

Jetstar Ticket : S$28.00 return – not inclusive of Rp 150,000 (S$22.50) airport tax paid when departing from Bali

Exchange Rate : S$1.00 = Rp 6,670 / Rp 1,000 = S$0.15

Tune Hotel, Kuta : Approx. S$25.00 per Single Room per night

The Tune budget hotel chain is great value for just having a place to sleep at night. I’ve stayed in Tune Penang and Tune Kuching and my experiences were always pleasant. This hotel choice is great when you’ve travelling with friends because the cheap rates mean you can get a room each rather than having to share.

Basic room amenities with no frills, Tune hotels are ideal for budget travellers who won't be spending much time in the room.

In Bali, there’re 2 Tune Hotels – Kuta and Legian. I don’t know about the Legian one, but the Single Room option in Kuta feels like a jail cell. A small window in the room opens out to a common corridor. In Penang and Kuching, the rooms have large windows that provided street or city views. Tune Kuta is about a 5-minute walk to Kuta Beach so it’s pretty convenient.

Harmony Hotel, Seminyak : Approx. S$85 per Deluxe Room per night

The Harmony Hotel resembles a collection of semi-detached houses facing a common pool. The rooms are spacious so it was very comfortable even for triple-sharing. There’s nothing really wow about the hotel but I love it that there’s free wi-fi and free use of the hotel’s computers that comes with Photoshop CS2 for image editing! The internet connection was pretty fast too.

Harmony Hotel Seminyak is a cozy & small hotel where you're very likely to know all the guests staying there within a very short time.

The staff was friendly, the pool relaxing and the hotel environment is clean and tidy. The only thing that sucked at this hotel was its boring breakfast which hardly had any variety in its menu. There were only 4 items and I had to pay when I asked for 2 sunny side up eggs.

TRANSPORTATION IN BALI

For tourists, the best way to travel around Bali is by hiring a car and driver. All hotels have cars for hire or you could just get a metered cab on the streets. Every few steps you take, there will be cab and private car drivers who will ask to take you around so there’s really no need to worry about transport. There are other modes of transport such as the bemo, which is basically a van, and buses that the locals ride in but I never saw a bemo or bus-stop so I have no idea where to get on or get off.

The flag down rate for a cab is Rp 5,000 (S$0.75); each increment per kilometer is Rp 4,500, and if you require the cab to wait for you while you visit the tourist attractions, a charge of Rp 30,000 (S$4.50) per hour applies.

Traffic in Bali : Skinny roads, fat vans & APVs, hundreds of motorcycles, few traffic rules... It's a science being a pedestrian here.

Generally, the cab drivers will try to get you to book their cab for the whole day to go sightseeing and they all come prepared with a chart listing all the attractions. They can also suggest an itinerary for you. Booking a cab for a full day of about 10 hours is around Rp 300,000 (S$45.00). If the places you want to go to cover long distances, the driver may ask for an additional petrol charge which ranges from Rp 50,000 to Rp 100,000 (S$7.50 – S$15.00). If you hire transport from the hotel, the petrol charges are mandatory but with transport hired off the streets, you can always negotiate with the driver.

On our first day, the 3 of us booked a 7-seater APV from Tune Hotel for 10 hours at the published rate of Rp 360,000 / S$54.00. We also had to pay a Rp 100,000 charge for petrol. But our day’s tour lasted 13 hours so we paid an additional Rp 100,000 for the over time. In the end, we paid a total of Rp 560,000 / S$84.00 for the day trip (S$28.00 per person) which brought us to Batubulan (to watch Barong and Kris Dance), Royal Family Temple, Goa Gajah (Elephant Temple), Gunung Kawi temple, Tirta Empul temple, Batur Volcano, Tegallalang rice terraces, Kokokan (bird watching) and Ubud Palace (to watch Legong Trance & Paradise Dance).

A great way to zip around Bali is the motorcycle. Most rental places don't ask to see your license but if you have no experience at all, better don't try because the traffic lacks discipline and the roads are not well sign-posted.

A 10-hour packaged day tour with a similar itinerary costs between US$35.00 and US$45.00, so booking our own transport seemed like cheaper way to explore Bali. However, when factoring in all the entrance fees to the attractions and meals, following a packaged tour if you don’t have many travelling companions may be a better deal. But of course, the good thing about having our own transport is that we don’t have to follow a group schedule and can take our time to see the sights and skip those we’re not interested in. The exception is if you intend to go white water rafting because it is more economical to join a package tour.

We also tried the flag-down cab mode of transport on our fourth day. After some negotiation, we paid Rp 300,000 / S$45.00 for an 8-hour day tour. The fare includes petrol and the cab driver suggested places for us to visit. We were brought to the center of Ubud where we visited the Ubud Palace, Ubud Market, had Babi Guling, visited the Monkey Forest Temple, Mengwi Temple, and Tanah Lot sea temple. Other than an occasional jam during peak hours, traffic in Bali is pretty smooth flowing.

This is Nyoman, our booked driver with the APV from Tune Hotel. On hindsight, it may be better to hire transport off the streets because with hotel transport, the drivers will bring you to eat at places where they probably get a commission from so you don't choice.

CULTURAL ENCHANTMENTS

As soon as I stepped out of the Bali airport, the first thing I noticed was that the air smells different. It smells of the sea. And the other thing I noticed was the distinctive motifs and cultural emblems used in Balinese architecture.

The whole island is one big intricately carved living museum of culture and arts. Everywhere we went, original modern art is infused with the traditional artistry of elaborate temples. The island should be called Bartli.

Saw the traditional Legong dance for the first time and I immediately fell in love with it. Totally mesmerised by the precision grace of the dancers and their big, expressive eyes.

The interesting thing about Bali is that it is a Hindu island in a Muslim country. That explains the strong Hinduism-Buddhism influences in its artistic heritage. Many of the stories and myths in the Mahabharata and Ramayana school of Buddhism comes alive in gigantic statues scattered around the island that mark the junctions of important roads, in traditional dances such as the Legon, Dagong and Kecak, and on carvings of thousands of beautiful temples.

The accentuated way that a day says "goodbye" was made even more spectacular with the 15th century Tanah Lot Temple.

One cannot be considered to have visited Bali if you have not seen the captivating Legong dance and the awe-inspiring Tanah Lot and Uluwatu sea temples. Especially at sunset. The magnificent blend of man-made wonder with Mother Nature’s splendid colours created a view so beautiful, I wanted to cry. Sunset in Bali starts at 6:00 pm so be there by that time to catch the best moments.

NATURAL AMUSEMENTS

I’ve always thought there’s nothing more to Bali than just temples and beaches, but I was so wrong when I realized just how many amusements parks of nature there are on the island. Rice terraces and never-ending stretches of corn fields aside, the island bleeds with countless rivers and waterfalls, and offers a wide range of activities to delight in nature’s bosoms.

Dense forests, raging rivers, wide beaches, live volcanoes and a whole lot of monkey business... Bali truly brings nature to your doorstep.

From close encounters with monkeys at the Sacred Monkey Forest Temple, to seeing live volcanoes, to jungle trekking and swimming with dolphins, I wished I could do them all. But alas, budget and time decided that I should not be greedy and save them for future visits to Bali. Yes, I’ll definitely go back again.

Bali is dominated by 2 volcanoes - Agung and Batur. The majestic Batur volcano (this photo) is still active and hiking trips can be taken to see its lava pools.

Of all the encounters with nature in this trip, my most memorable experience was white water rafting at the Tegala Wala river. I’ll share more about it later in a post dedicated to it because riding directly on the raw power of nature was just simply too awesome!

SHOPPING & FOOD

If there’s only one thing you remember about shopping in Bali is to BARGAIN. Everything can and should be bargained. And you can push the prices down as low as just 20% of the asking price. Yes, I’m not kidding. I have lots of anecdotes in being a fool to pay a higher price. The following are some examples…

Bali will put shopaholics into overdrive. There're tons of shops everywhere and the Ubud Market (this photo) will tempt even the most retail adverse to buy something.

Sunglasses – I bought a pair of sunglasses at a shop for Rp 50,000 / S$7.50. Then when I was at the beach, I was offered the exact same pair of glasses for Rp 20,000.

Straw Hat – The asking price for a woven straw hat was Rp 150,000 / S$22.50. I offered Rp 40,000. No deal. I raised it to Rp 60,000. Still no deal. I walked away. I was promptly called back and sold the hat for Rp 60,000 / S$9.00.

Henna Tattoo – I first got a rather large henna tattoo on my back for Rp 70,000 / S$10.50. On the next day, I got a slightly smaller but equally intricate tattoo on my arm for just Rp 20,000 / S$3.00.

Didn't really do much shopping but I did buy 2 henna tattoos, a straw hat, a necklace with a pendant that is the symbol of Bali, 3 sunglasses and a Bali t-shirt.

One of the best ways to bargain is when you already possess a piece of the item, eg. sunglasses. When the vendors on the beach saw me wearing the sunglasses, they asked how much I got it for. Even though I got it for Rp 50,000, I said Rp 40,000. And the next thing I knew, I was offered 2 of the exact same sunglasses in different colours for Rp 40,000. Same thing with the tattoo. They saw, they asked the price and offered a lower price to get more tattoos on me.

If they don’t want to lower the price, just walk away. There’re many shops and vendors selling the same things. They’ll likely ask you back. In fact, you can’t walk 2 steps without someone trying to sell you something or offer to drive you around. It can be irritating but I guess tourism hasn’t been reinstated after all the bomb scares.

The famous Ibu Oca Babi Guling (Ibu Oca roast suckling pig) near Ubud Palace is well deserving of its fame. I've never tasted pork of such soft texture, it's like liquid meat.

As for food, it’s generally not cheap in Bali. A meal will set you back for about S$5.00 even at the local warungs (foodstalls like Singapore’s local coffeeshops). The most expensive meal I had was at The Cruise restaurant at Jimbaran, a popular area for fresh seafood where you dine on the beach. The dinner for 2 set us back about S$55.00 for 3 dishes (squid, fish, and prawns) and 2 small glasses of white wine. Taste-wise, it’s not bad but not so unusual that I think they’re worth the price.

The best food we had was at Warung Murah in Seminyak. It is like a chap chye beung (mixed vegetable rice) stall in Singapore but the food is delicious at a reasonable price. I love the chicken skewer and beef curry there. Address : Jln. Double Six, No. 99. Another yummylicious place to eat is a fastfood outlet, Es Teler77, at Discovery Shopping Centre in Kuta. The avocado, coconut and jackfruit dessert is divine.

CELEBRATING LIFE IN BALI

There’s no reason to not celebrate or enjoy life in Bali. It may not be polished or offer the convenience of city-living but there’s a certain magic in the atmosphere where one can live it up, or find solace in the abundance of nature.

For a place that has survived terrible acts against the freedom of belief, Bali invokes a sense of peace that’s not to be taken for granted. While its people are friendly and cheerful, there’s no denying that life is pretty hard there. And the best way to forget about life’s troubles is to celebrate with the Kuta Karnival which is held every year around late September to early November to heal the 2002 tragedy.

Celebrate Life Lah! loves the theme for this year's Kuta Karnival which calls for a Celebration of Life!

For a first time visit to Bali, I can see many reasons to celebrate life there. If it’s not for the beaches, culture and nature, it is purely for the fact that a piece of paradise like this exists on earth. Please let peace prevail.

Batam – A Sampan Experience

Still a Seedling Batam scarred me for life. When I was 12 years old and had just gotten my BCG injection, I went to Batam because my father had a small business there.

I can’t recall what he dealt in, but it’s definitely not fatherly duties. Those days, Batam was pretty much undeveloped and brown-dirt roads were the highways. For leisure, the locals would drive into the forests and splash around in one of the many natural rock pools.

The water was so clear, I could see the bottom along with the small fish that were traumatised by our visits. I loved these excursions to nature but I didn’t yet know how to swim. And one time, someone pushed me into the waters.

I can’t swim. I struggled frantically and in the process, broke the blister of my BCG shot. I was rescued, but my punctured blister began to rot in the days that followed. I won’t go into details about the process but I ended up with maggots on my BCG wound and had to see a doctor to clean it up.

Twenty-three years later, I’m back in Batam. The roads changed, but the dirt remained. That old country feel still glowed, but somehow, it has lost its innocence. Insofar, it seemed a last minute bastardisation of commerce and natural landscape. Therein lies its charm and inconvenience.

Batam ferry To take a break from the many responsibilities of Singapore living, I returned to Batam. Unfortunately, I wouldn’t say that the place was worry-free. If not for the great company I had, Batam would be trying my patience for a 3 days 2 nights stay.

Here are the highs and lows of my recent re-visit to Batam. Hopefully it’ll provide some useful information if you’re planning to make a trip. As what we look for is different and every experience would be unique, take everything I say, good and bad, with a pinch of salt. And sometimes photos can make something look better than it really is.

NOT TOO BAD A WEEKDAY DEAL

We took up the 2-days-1-night weekday package offered by Transtar to Harris Resort Hotel and extended another night’s stay with KTM Resort. The Transtar deal costs S$98.00 per person and included the following :

– 2-way ferry
– 2-way ferry terminal to hotel transfer
– 2-way hotel to Nagoya transfer
– 1 night stay
– 2 breakfasts
– 1 hour massage each and free use of spa facilities
– 1 free pizza
– 1 free game of bowling

For KTM Resort, we paid S$100 for a Deluxe Cottage with breakfast for 2. It also offered a free transfer to the ferry terminal which was less than 10 minutes away.

While the resort hotels and some cabs accept Singapore dollars, the local businesses prefer Indonesian rupiah. The exchange rate was S$1.00 = Rp 6,750.

HASSLE-FREE HARRIS

Harris Hotel Facade Harris Resort is every bit the family hotel with loads of multi-generation activities right down to the children-friendly colours. The rooms are pretty big and they have adjourning doors so it’s great for large groups. My grouse would be the mildewy smell along the room corridors. The hotel looked like it could use a holiday itself.

But a new wing next to the yellowed-ager has just been completed and looks ready for singles and honeymooners. However, I suspect a pool full of shrieking kids would have the effect of turning champagne into beer.

The landscaped pool is the best part of the hotel. It is clean and lined with cuddle-baskets (or baby cots, depending on who’s interpreting the pool-side furnishing) and in the path of the sun so you don’t get building shadows marring an early morning or late afternoon tan (since skin cancer is purported to photosynthesize between 11am and 4pm).

And a nice pool IS IMPORTANT because the coastline around that area is so awful, even crabs won’t want to live in them. Even the water sports hub opposite the hotel is nothing more than a large pond dug into the ground. If you would like to see what a kampung scene might be like, you won’t be disappointed here. That’s the rustic charm; I imagined that the days of the sampans must’ve felt like this.

Harris collage

Harris Hotel is near the Waterfront City Ferry Terminal in Batam. Although it’s called a waterfront city, I thought Tarzan would’ve been more comfortable here. In front of the water it is, but to call the area a city requires a very lively imagination. Or delusion.

The star attraction of the Harris Hotel 2D1N package is the 1-hour massage at its in-house spa outfit, H Spa. It is located atop an annex building that houses a gym, karaoke, gift shop, bowling alley and billiard room. The place has the look-and-feel of the old Toa Payoh SAFRA, but H Spa managed to mimic, with some success, the ambience of a spa village.

H Spa setting

I tried the Indonesian massage and it’s pretty good. At least it didn’t feel like the masseur was trying to tickle me. But, the experience would’ve been much more enjoyable and relaxing had I been allowed to take a shower before being kneaded. Batam is humid. I’ve just returned from a half-day Nagoya town trip (and being trapped 45 minutes inside the hotel’s 12-seater minivan which broke down on our way back) and had perspired so much, the skin between my thighs was giving me a bikini wax.

I did request to bathe, but was told to do so only after the massage. But after the massage, we were promptly led out towards the exit until I asked about showering and the complimentary use of their spa facilities. Thankfully I asked. How does bubbling away muscle tension is an open-view jacuzzi while catching the golden hues of a sunset sound to you?

KTM RESORT – THE SAND POTENTIAL

KTM Resort main “Dear Darren… I think you look so funny.”

How did she know that?! So far, we’ve only exchanged about 5 emails and I haven’t even checked in to KTM Resort yet.

I received that response while trying to book a night’s stay at KTM. There is no online reservation function at its website and the only way is to email them. I tried approaching the 2 Singapore agents it listed, but I was turned away as they only made arrangements if I took a spa package that includes lodging. Yet the irony was, even if I had wanted to take the package, I couldn’t because all the spa therapists had gone home for Hari Raya Puasa. The Muslim holiday was on 20 Sep 09 (Sunday), my trip was from 23 – 25 Sep (Wednesday to Friday).

I wanted to stay at KTM on 24 Sep (Thursday) but the therapists will only be back on 25th, so I had to contact the resort directly to make a room-only arrangement. I emailed KTM weeks before my trip and waited another ice-age before I got a reply from a staff. Let’s call her S. I asked for a Deluxe Cottage at S$85 a night with free pick-up from Harris Resort (the room rate includes free breakfast for 2, and a 2-way free transfer from Sekupang Ferry Terminal). Her reply didn’t answer my requests.

So I wrote in again, waited, and finally called. I was told that they’ll confirm my booking by email. Then I got a reply giving me another room type. So I wrote in again to ask for the Deluxe Cottage, which I stated in my first email, at the weekday rate of S$85.00 a night (weekday and weekend rates are different). I waited again. No response. I called again. S told me she needed to confirm with her manager about the pick-up from Harris.

Getting closer to my travel date and still no response. So I emailed again and got the “you look so funny” reply with a confirmation to stay in the Deluxe Cottage at S$100.00 (weekend rate) and no free transfer from Harris. If I wanted them to pick me up, I had to pay an extra S$50.00 for the service (is it a loanshark hotel?).

KTM collage

I wrote in again saying 24th Sep, being a Thursday, should be charged at the weekday rate. The reply was that it was still the Hari Raya holiday period so it is a weekend rate. But, Harris Resort didn’t charge me a weekend rate! Anyway, I got the accommodation type I wanted without free pick-up and a breakfast buffet with only 3 choices – fried noodle, friend rice, and fried kway teow.

But despite all that, I thought KTM has great potential to offer a unique lodging experience. It is like a grain of sand, a potential seed to become a pearl. Or a yet to blossom lotus bud (lots of lotuses there since the resort has a very strong Buddhist influence).
KTM has a great seafront view, a supposedly therapeutic, natural seawater pool (though I didn’t try), comfortable rooms, close to nature (but beware the mozzies), and quirky landscaping that are attractions all unto themselves.

KTM Resort scenes

PURA AGUNG AMERTHA BHUANA

Pura Agung Main Having travelled to quite a number of places in Asia, I’ve come to the conclusion that regardless the destination, be sure to visit its religious monuments. These totems of man’s faith describe the size man’s fear of the afterlife and an attempt to exert control on fate, destiny, luck, or whatever we call it. I mean, aren’t prayers a way of telling or requesting the unseen for a desired outcome?

That’s a construct of hope. I guess. And I am a hopeful person. So I have no qualms in embracing the different triggers that make living more bearable. I’ve seen many Chinese temples, Muslim mosques, Thai wats, and English Churches, and their design and scale never stopped taking my breath away.

But in Batam, I encountered an image of Hinduism that was new to me. There were no rows upon rows of brightly coloured sculptures of deities and animals, but white-washed stone carvings of fearsome creatures. I’ve read of Shiva, Mount Meru and some mystics of Hinduism, but Pura Agung baffled me. What is that serpent-dragon?

My lack of knowledge notwithstanding, this temple is unlike what I’ve seen and the ‘no photography’, ‘no visit by menstruating women’, and the no going up the main stupa rule only piqued my interest further.

But please don’t think I disrespected the ‘no photography’ rule. When I was in the historic site, masons working to restore the temple actually encouraged me to take photos, and take lots of them so as to share and raise awareness about that place. Well, here’s my tribute to the great masonry.

Pura Agung scenes

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