Monday, March 15, 2010

Exploring Ancient Bali

After a few days in Jakarta it was time to move on. JP had found a job in Jakarta so his journey ended there, for now. We flew down to Bali, continuing our search for work. We have been in Bali now for maybe about a week. A couple days in Kuta (a boring beach town near the airport, popular for drinking and clubbing), 5 days in Ubud and today we arrived in the beach town of Lovina.

On the second day in Ubud we did some cycling through the countryside and visited a few temples and sacred sites. On the third day we did a 10KM walk through some of the major archaeological sites around Ubud. We walked out of Ubud towards the village of Sala. Most of the way was down hill deep into ravines and then the strenuous climb up the other side. Arriving in Sala was a nice change, nice and flat! Rice Paddies as far as we could see. We passed through some of the important local temples and saw some of the different style of ancient Balinese architecture.

Not far from Sala we went to the Anthropology, Archaeology museum. The museum housed an impressive display of ancient pottery, weapons and tools that had been unearthed in the surrounding villages. The artifacts dated from as early as the 3rd century up until the late 18th century. Walking through the museum and seeing all the artifacts really gave me an appreciation of just how ancient this culture really is. The most amazing part is that the same people with the same culture still live on this island today. I can’t believe we can still see such ancient cultures so well preserved amidst all the modernization in the world

After we left the museum we headed to Goa Gajah (Elephant Cave). Yet another hot spot for anyone interested in anthropology or archaeology. Goa Gajah is a sacred Hindu cave which was lost in the jungle for many centuries and rediscovered by Dutch archaeologists in 1923. The cave is dated back to the 11th century, a time of major transition in Balinese ancient history. The cave entrance is carved into a demon face, the door to the cave being the mouth. A little frightening but that is common in Balinese Hindu style carving. In Bali temples and sacred sites are often guarded by statues of terrifying demons in hopes of scaring away evil spirits. After we went through the cave we headed down into the nearby ravine and caught a beautiful view of the jungle and the stone stairway that was carved in the side of the ravine. At the bottom of the ravine the river flowed around huge pieces of ancient temples that lay strewn along the stream bed. I think that maybe the temples were once high on the sides of the ravine and when they broke the pieces fell deep into the ravine. Some of the pieces were huge, up to 4 meters in diameter and the carving in the stone were still visible. After walking for many hours in 35 degree midday heat I was getting a little hot, so I cooled off by soaking myself in one of the waterfalls at the bottom of the ravine.
The craziest part was after we got out of the ravine, 2 km down the road we pass a new temple being built. Wait a minute this looks familiar, oh ya that’s likely because we just saw the same style of architecture IN THE RUINS OF AN 11TH CENTURY TEMPLE IN THE BOTTOM OF A GORGE IN THE JUNGLE. If that’s not the coolest thing ever than I don’t know what is. All said and done it was an amazing day, it was like going to see dinosaur bones at the nature museum only after you left the museum you found an intact tyrannosaurus skull in your back yard. And then after that, you turn around and there in front of you is a living dinosaur! lol That pretty much sums up how I felt after that day. Take out the dinosaur and add people and you get anthropology in its truest form. So ya, if your ever in Ubud. Do it.


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