Goa Gajah or the “Elephant Cave” is a beautiful ancient Hindu complex near Ubud, Bali (what isn’t beautiful in Bali?) The entrance is a bit intimidating since it looks like a dragon’s mouth. A place to worship, the Inside of the cave is rather small and at one corner stands a small statue of the Hindu deity, Ganesha, who has an elephant head. Photography is not permitted, and visitors and worshippers, alike, must cover their legs (except children and this was good since it was so hot and humid, the cave was somewhat stifling!)
A bathing temple with fountains is also part of the lovely grounds. Another open air building stands nearby in the peaceful and serene setting. It is believed the spiritual complex was built around the 11th century as a sanctuary for Hindu priests.
Pura Taman Ayun Temple — or the Royal Temple of Mengwi in Bali, has structures that remind me of neatly groomed bonsai trees. I realize that does not sound technical, but who wants to sound technical when talking about such a spiritual and serene place? Balinese Hindu Temples have a calming effect — especially since the settings for many of these religious sites involve water. This beautiful open-air temple complex includes a moat, garden, terraced courtyards and holy shrines.
Even at our hotel in Sanur, Bali, we saw a lifeguard place a “Canang Sari” and sticks of incense on the cement pool deck near the waterside. These simple but beautiful baskets are traditional offerings meant to thank the Hindu gods, and you see them everywhere in Bali.
The baskets, made out of coconut leaves, contain flowers, rice and sometimes money. It is a comforting sight to see the Canang Sari and these offerings remind everyone, including tourists, the importance of following traditions and being thankful.
No kid car seats. I convinced myself this was no big deal as I looked in the eight-passenger seat van that had arrived to pick us up at the Denpasar Airport. Calm down.This is Bali and things are a bit different here. I asked the driver, Waylan, if there were some seats lying around that needed to be set up.
“No, I am sorry, we don’t have car seats for the little ones,” Waylan said as he hoisted up my three-year-old daughter Kasey and tickled her chin. He then leaned over to give her five-year-old brother, Eddie, a high-five.
“They will be fine,” he reassured my husband Kurt and me with a smile displaying the most reflective set of white teeth I’ve seen aside from a Crest White Strips ad. “I am an excellent driver.”
As anyone who travels knows, there are missteps, mishaps and misadventures, but then there are those perfect moments when we say: “yeah, this is why I travel.” A Travel Ahh..
When we visited Tanah Lot, a sacred Hindu temple in Bali, Kurt and I were excited to get a rice blessing at the site of a holy water spring below the temple. The Hindu holy men brush water on your forehead and then they adhere a few rice grains. After the rice cluster is secured, the priests place a plumeria behind your ear. It’s lovely event. I snapped the top photo while waiting for our turn. Even holy men need a break! The bottom photos are of our kids Eddie and Kasey getting their blessings.