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Published: July 24th 2006
After a hair raising hour's journey on my suicike (suicide bike), stopping around 5 times to get directions, I've finally made it to Bali's second most important temple: Pura Taman Ayun. Surrounded by moats and covered with lotus blossums this 'Garden Temple On The Water' is truely amazing.
Suddenly, out of nowhere came 30 Indonesia kids, surrounding me, watching me write my diary and laughing! I was a bit lost as to what to do. I tried conversation but with no luck, I tried showing them a map of Bali and indicating for them to show me where home was, but again their response was laughter. There was only one more trick I had up my sleave:
I'm from Man-ches-ter.
Success! The kids joined in with a chorus of
and conversation with the natives was established!
Soon we were joined by their teacher: Ida Bagus Made Dwisana. I know this precisely because he insisted on taking my name, address and date of birth down in exchange for his. Needless to say, I was a tad perturbed, not knowing whether he was going to steal my identity or turn up on
my front door in Manchester. Still, I'm sure Mum wouldn't mind - I'll have hopefully moved out by then.
Ida got up suddenly, all excited, clapped his hands to the kids and I was treated to a full rendition of some local song. It was so surreal, but amazing at the same time...and I've got it all on video - classic!
Anyway, I was pleasantly interrupted, back to Taman Ayun: It's dedicated to Widadari, the heavenly nymphs, sent down to bathe in its waters. In the center stands the tripple lotus throne or 'padmasana', reserved for the 3 principle Hindu deities, (odd, considering this is supposed to be a monotheistic religon, but who am I to argue?): Shiva, Vishnu and Brahma. Sadly they must have been out when I visted.
I scootered on, trying, unsuccessfully to stop in Tabanan for lunch, overshooting it and having to take my life into my own hands to navigate a u-turn on the hecticly rammed road. Kediri, just before the turn off to Tanah Lot sufficed and I stocked up on munchies: Mini cornish pasties that turned out to be filled with weird jam and something that looked like
Egg Bread but was really bread soaked and coated in a yellow sugar goo. Lovely, diabetes here I come.
2pm, finally arrived at Pura Tanah Lot a Tolkienesq temple magically positioned just off the coast to be battered by huge waves and thus only accessible at low tide. Spectacular! Check out those photos, this is the reason you should visit Bali.
I should just add a little note about the people I'm meeting, since these temples are of course tourist sites even for the Balanese. It's hard not to be shocked or at least taken aback by some their customs, for instance, it's fine, (and refreshing from a gay / sexual equality perspective), for 2 men of any age to walk down a street holding hands. Lads asking you if their girlfriend or friends can have a photo taken with you seems normal (and happened to me 3 times today) and during conversation it's perfectly acceptable to belch loudly or spit on the floor without even a pardon, irrespective of the fact that you're in a restaurant, surrounded by other diners.
Funny old world.
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