Wednesday, 23 November 2011

Tanah Lot


Tanah Lot (image courtesy of island-in-bali.blogspot.com)

Our holiday included several guided tours and this day we went on the first of these. We boarded a bus in the hotel parking lot and after a head count by the tour guide we were on the road to Tanah Lot, a masterpiece of temples on the coast of the Indian Ocean. It is built on a little island just off shore and is accessible only at low tide. Despite an overwhelming presence of street vendors and stalls selling tourist kitch, this is still an awe-inspiring site. On the day of our visit, the temple had one of its many festivals. People from all over were on their way to worship and bring their offerings. A gamelan ensemble was playing the loud and clanging sounds of Bali, this music makes little sense to me, but the musicians all knew exactly when to strike their bells and drums. To me it was mostly noise.

Worshippers at Tanah Lot

On the drive to the temple our tour guide told us that the sunsets at the temple were the nicest on earth, but since we were there in the rainy season he could guarantee that the sun would set, but not that we would be able to see it. Once at the site we were not allowed to enter the area set aside for the worshippers, because it was a festival day and on these days the sacred grounds are only for believers of the Hindu faith. The ceremony sends out wafts of incense and flower petals are all over the place.

At low tide the temple is accessible

After taking in the sights and sounds of the spectacle, Shelagh and I went up the hill and found a little pub to sit down, enjoy the views, drink a cold beer and wait for the sunset. It was a cloudy day with rain now and then, but the setting sun broke through under the cloud cover and gave a magnificent show with such intense color bouncing from the ocean’s surface to the cloud ceiling above, it made you squint. Tanah Lot became silhouetted against the brilliant color; it was a picture I’ll never forget.

From our perch on the hill

We promised to return to the bus by 7:30 PM and once again the head count went on ‘till everyone was accounted for. Once back at the hotel we had a quick freshen-up and headed out the back way of the hotel grounds to the local pizzeria. We enjoyed a wonderful Italian dinner with cold beer followed by drinks in the hotel lounge. Tomorrow will be a pool day with plenty of R&R.

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