destination
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holy places, sacred spaces in bali

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I love Eastern cultures. The vibrancy of the offerings, temples, songs, wardrobe… I am always just in awe of the amount of time and attention to detail that go into these aspects of life. It is truly as though your faith comes first, everything else is only secondary. I love that.
This was particularly true for Bali.
One day, we were taken to a waterfall that our driver referred to simply as “500 steps”. We didn’t count the steps down, but it certainly felt like 500 as we hauled our tired, jet-lagged, dehydrated selves back up to the top. We didn’t get in the water, except to wet our feet and feel the powerful mist of the falls from several yards away. We love to hike to waterfalls, but we pretty rarely swim in their pools.  I haven’t found a waterfall yet that feels like a bath tub, so alas, we enjoy from the distance.
But the majesty of the falls was something awe inspiring. The fact that this place was obviously something special to locals – they built 500 steps to get down to it – was enlightening. Tiny offerings were laid at the foot of the falls, and randomly on the steps. I just imagined a tiny, petite, older woman balancing a tray of offerings on her head while precariously climbing down these steps in her wrap skirt. Dedication.
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And we encountered other beautiful places, like the rice terraces I wrote of earlier, and the Tirta Ganga water temple in the east. This water temple was unlike the first we visited – there were fewer crowds, it was peaceful and quiet, and beautifully manicured. The ponds were filled with huge koi fish and lily pads; a Balinese man was strumming a guitar from a restaurant behind the walls. Our driver waited for us at the entrance, so we strolled to our heart’s content.. This was the only temple that I sensed a spiritual presence and reverence. Perhaps it was the time of day, but this sacred place felt sacred.
There were so many other places we hoped to explore but time was not our side. A month was not long enough to explore all of Bali’s great wonders. We never made it to the north coast, and did not spend much time in the southeast. However, our month on the island did open our eyes to a place we have grown to love and cannot wait to return to. We met some amazing travelers along the way, drafted a list of favorites and jotted down our memories on receipts and napkins as we experienced the vibrant culture of Bali.
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This entry was posted in: destination

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Chelsea is a marine scientist in Puerto Rico. Her interests include invasive species ecology, fish biology and ecology and marine protected area management. She is a co-founder of the only field course coordination company in Puerto Rico - Isla Mar Research Expeditions.

2 Comments

  1. papaya_and_lime says

    I’ve enjoyed experiencing Bali through your words and photos SO much Chelsea- you have captured the magic perfectly x x x

    Liked by 1 person

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