Indonesia is made up of more than 13,000 islands. Beautiful temples and shrines of all sizes are spread across the island, Bali is well known for its arts—traditional music and dance, painting, wood and stone carvings, silver jewellery and ikat and batik textiles. The island’s artistic centre is the village of Ubud which unfortunately was not on my tour.
I took a tour to rural East Bali. We began with a visit to Klungkung Kertagosa, the remains of an old Balinese kingdom, to see a building designed and built in 1710. The compound contains the Bale Kambang floating pavilion and the Kertagosa (Royal Court of Justice) with its elaborate ceiling murals. The latter also contains replicas of the chairs on which the King and his advisors, including a Hindu priest, would sit when deciding on cases brought before them.
Passing through the rural countryside with great views of the local area, we continued to Rendang where we had an Indonesian buffet lunch in a local restaurant overlooking the stunning rice terraces. Balinese cuisine which reflects Chinese and Indian influences, uses blends of aromatic spices to season grilled meats (though not beef because Bali is an island of Hindu culture in mostly Muslim Indonesia), fresh seafood, rice and vegetables and it was delicious.
We continued to Besakih, the Mother Temple of Bali, which sits 1,000 feet up the volcanic slopes of Mt. Gunung Agung. This is the island’s largest mountain and Besakih is its largest temple. It is comprised of 23 separate, but related, individual temples. The most important of these is Pura Penataran Agung, a six-tiered temple that is terraced up the side of the mountain. Only worshipers are allowed into the temples themselves, but it was still an impressive site to visit.
Lastly we visited Puri Agung Karangasem Palace, more commonly known as the Tirta Gangga Water Palace, built in the 19th and 20th centuries by the first king of the Karangasem Kingdom. The architecture of this palace combines three different styles: Balinese influence can be found on the carving of Hindu statues and the reliefs on the walls of the building; European influence is seen in the architecture of the main building with its large veranda; and Chinese architecture is seen in the style of the windows, doors and other ornaments. It contains a series of pools and a swimming pool fed by a natural spring and has many small beautiful garden areas.
My only negative comment but this tour was the inordinate mount of time that we spent travelling to reach these venues which in themselves did not take much time to visit.