Trip Start Jul 08, 2008
117Trip End Ongoing
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As it transpires when I was hiring my bike the guy asked me where I was heading to and when I said Pura Basakih he was like 'well you'll be ok on your bike as you can weave in and out all of the traffic'. It appears that in true Hindi style major festivals are no small events and a week and a bit later the festival was still going on. It was Sunday which meant that the festival would be very busy. It should have taken around 45 minutes to get there but in the end took me three hours. That said it was the most fun that I have had on a bike ever. About 15km away the traffic came to a standstill with all the coaches and mini busses trying to get there. For two hours I squeezed through the smallest of gaps, spent most of my time driving off the road or on the other side of the road dodging oncoming traffic. At one point I was even told I drive like and Indonesian! It was tough going though as when not on the wrong side of the road most of the time was spent off the road on dirt tracks alongside the road dodging in and out of people. Good fun though.
Pura Basakih is a series of temples built by successive kings and the location was impressive at the foot of Mount Agung. The volcano was not visible and shrouded by clouds but from the higher parts of the temple there was commanding views across Bali. In 1963 an eruption at Mount Agung killed around 1700 people but the lava missed the complex by yards - only highlighting the reverence of the temple to the Balinese believed the temple was saved by the gods.
The complex was packed. The place is made up of small lanes linking the temples together and there were lots of individual ceremonies going on with the temples. During these ceremonies a temple would fill up and then they would shut the gates until the ceremony was over and then let the people out and let a new set it. So one minute an alleyway might be empty or completely crowded as people waited to enter a temple or was let out of a temple. I was appropriately dressed in approximately 80% traditional dress, enough so could wander around some of the outer temples but due to the festival I was not allowed into the main temples with the ceremonies occurring. It was a nice place to just wander around and chat with people.
With dark clouds looming though I decided it was time to hit the road so that I did not get soaked getting back to Ubud. Bali is a great island for biking. Riding there I was not able to take in any of the views as all my concentration was on dodgy people and traffic but on the return journey I could soak in the views of the countryside. The tourist dollar means the island has decent roads and although now Bali has sacrificed a lot of its agricultural land for development to capture the tourist dollar there is still some stunning countryside on the island. One thing I was reading the other day is that Kuta beach is not even Kuta beach anymore. Development had destroyed the beach and the sand is now supplied from other beaches around the island. Hopefully Bali can find some balance to maintain the right balance and also distribute its income fairly as there are still plenty of a dollar a day people struggling for survival outside of the Kuta/Denpasar area.
Back in Ubud I spent my final morning chilling around the town before heading to Denpasar to catch my overnight bus back to Yogyakarta, Java for my flight to Singapore.