Pura Luhur Batukaru is one of the nine directional temples in Bali that are believed to ward off evil outside spirits and protect the Balinese people. Thanks to its relatively remote location it is also one of the most peaceful. There were no vendors lining the streets outside and hardly any tourists. Getting here from Jatiluwih was a short half hour ride but returning to Ubud - only 37kms away (about 23 miles) - proved entirely frustrating and took us about three hours!
We spent at least an hour walking the extensive grounds; wandering and discovering hidden walkways, moss-covered stairways and temples in the middle of a pond.
On our way out we noticed this sign. Guidelines, number 1, 4 and 6 are typical of all temples in Bali but this was the first we'd seen the others. Point number five had us chuckling for a while!
Feeling relaxed and thinking we'd be back in Ubud in time for lunch we set off in high spirits. What followed was our most frustrating ride to date. We now understand that traveling east to west in Bali, or vice versa is not that simple unless you're following a main road. The numerous rivers that cut through the land flowing to the ocean means you always have to find a bridge to cross them. And in the country, bridges are scarce.
We'd drive south for a while, find a bridge and cross it, ask for directions, drive north for a while, perhaps dog-log a few times, find a bridge and cross it, ask for directions, drive south for a while; repeat ... several times! Sometimes we'd find ourselves on a road that was perfectly acceptable to the locals but was beyond our skill level on the bike, especially with a passenger and luggage! The photos below are typical of the roads we did travel on.
There were times we weren't sure if we were making any progress and times we'd stop five times in five minutes to check that we were indeed going in the right direction. Eventually we learned that the key was to take baby steps; pick the next small town on the map and get there, then the next one and the next one. Even so, there were still moments when we felt completely lost! But we did see some very interesting things.
This procession, we're not sure if it was a wedding or a funeral, shut down the street we needed to travel on for a while. There was nothing to do but watch ... and take photos! Dennis stayed seated on the bike (top left). The men, dressed mostly in white, came first. In the photo below, notice the man three back on the left giving me a peace sign. I happily waved back, saying "Salamat Siang!" - Good Afternoon!
The ladies, all dressed so beautifully in a myriad of colours, came next.
At the point I took the photos below we were feeling lost. Not sure whether to go left or right I told Dennis I just wanted to get off the bike, look at the map for the zillionth time and stretch my legs. Everything always feels better after a good stretch! We still don't know what this lady was harvesting but she was intent on it until she spotted me photographing her; the smile lit up her face for a few brief seconds and then it was back to work.
As we got closer to Ubud, directional signs started appearing and traffic intensified. We made our way directly to the center where we'd previously checked out a really nice homestay. Not being sure of exactly when we'd be back we hadn't made any reservations. But luckily there was a room available and it was excellent value for money considering the amenities and location.
Sayong House is located at the end of a narrow alleyway. With the noise and bustle of the city in such close proximity the compound is amazingly quiet and peaceful. For IDR200,000/night (about US$16.00/night) we had a private room with en-suite bath and hot water, a really good breakfast for two and wi-fi (it worked!). There was also a lovely swimming pool, very refreshing after our frustrating day! We'd stay here again in a heartbeat!
Our room was close to the koi pond.
I took two photos so you could see the intricately carved wooden door to our room.
The view through our window into the family compound. It was a very well kept space with every effort made to present an aesthetically pleasing picture.
Note on current exchange rate: US$1.00 is about Indonesian Rupiah IDR12,160 is about ZAR10.60