We have some delicious Dadar Gulung pancakes (I just have to ask for the recipe) and some Balinese coffee with ginger. Right at Sandat we rent a scooter for riding up to the temple of Besakih today and also visit Goa Lawah.
The ride is harder than expected. Busy and winding roads with quite lots of slopes and potholes make the whole thing really exhausting. No way I had found the way on my own. There are hardly any signposts pointing in the right direction. The odor of the engines, the scent of incense, stench of burned (plastic) garbage and smell of food alternate on the way. 2 pleasant odors and 2 disgusting keep themselves in balance. Jing and Jang somehow… or here in Bali Lelong and Barong.
On a very winding road we then see an accident – the police is already on site, but has barely closed the area. A scooter lies right at the cliff next to the road, two persons seem to have been involved in the accident lying covered next to it, loss of control or accident with hit and run? None of them seem to have been wearing any helmet… Uff, I’m driving a bit slower and more cautious now…
We make 2 stops for resting and having lunch. Just before the exit to Besakih, we are be able to enjoy some Babi Guling suckling pig in a warung next to the street. An interesting dish… the pig skin is hard and crispy, the head-parts are greasy. Not quite something I need to eat on regular basis though. The last few kilometers are ahead… on a road that is even less maintained that the ones we drove on before with lots of potholes.
Before entering the area of Besakih, we approach a tiny booth, in which we pay the entry fee as ususal. So far so good. We continue for a while until we can see the cloud-covered mountain. On the left and right are lots of shops… and… suddenly someone jumps out of a house right in front of the scooter. That was REALLY close. I get stopped by this guy and told to follow him – the hell is going on here? Now there are some other folks asking me to make a donation for the temple. To back up their claims previous visitors’ donations were quite generous there is a conveniently forged donation book that gets shown to you (“donations” start at 500000 IDR (34.69 USD)), into which one should sign and write down his donation. I’m not that gullable – this really smells like bullshit… Also, there are some other visitors nearby that are more knowledgeable, so the the charade ends quickly. This book is not the official donation book. The maximal donation per person is 15000 IDR (1.04 USD) (which is requested with nagging and arguing). Whoever pays more is himself to blame, because these corrupt guys will fill their own pockets this way.
Unfortunately, the scam does not stop here: The temple complex is full by souvenir booths and street vendors, which often act quite agressive. As we finally arrive at the temple, park the scooter and take our first steps towards the temple, we got approached again: The temple area can not be entered alone, according to the (self-proclaimed) “guide” which has intercepted us. Quite fast on his feet when the human moneybags are around, eh ? If we’d go on without guide, we could only use the “outside” stairs to go up. For “only” 200000 IDR (13.88 USD) he’ll guide us. “My bullshit-sense is tingeling!”. We ignore him, he follows us, another “guide” comes along, talks to the first one, both gesticulate wildy, and the tone gets rougher. This starts getting funny . “Guide” #2 will show us the temple for just 50000 IDR (3.47 USD). Alright, if that keeps me from having to face the rest of the annoying people around here, fine. Pissed off, “Guide” #1 leaves us.
Honestly? No, I don’t have any problem with recognizing the value of a given service – that is, IF I want it. But this is simply not cool. Our “guide” seems quite there silent type now. You really have to ask questions to get him to open his mouth. After 2-3 attempts, I give up and and try to make the temple work on me.
The temple area is really huge, and having the mountain in the background makes it seem much more impressive… but somehow… it isn’t that fascinating to me. It feels more like a tourist attraction than a spiritual place. The higher we climb, the more decorated the buildings are – the individual temples here are also only accessible to the respective population layer castes. Back downstairs, we have a small break at the parking lot and meet an English woman. She has emigrated to this country and occasionally visits various temples. Like already expected, you don’t have to be accompanied by some “guide” here. Oh well, while I have already resigned on that, Elke really starts to use the phrase “fucked up” way more often than usual now .
After getting my tank refilled near Besakihs entrance with some gas from a Vodkabottle, we start to head back to Ubud. It’s a bit late for Goa Lawah. We have a stop at a village near the coast for a short walk at the beach. You can clearly feel the poverty here. The fishermen collect lavarocks and “spa stones” as a side-income. A complete different side of Bali. On the way home, an old man overtakes me on a moped at maximum speed. He got huge rice bushes strapped on both sides of his ride and occupies almost as much space as a car. Using his horn all the time and driving ahead he makes the way clear. Crazy.
Arriving at Sandat, we book a transfer to Gili Trawangan for 300000 IDR (20.81 USD) per person and I kinda toy with the idea of booking the “Sunrise Tour” to climb Mount Batur this night. We have dinner in the hostel “Bamboo 2F”. Since we both want something different than rice today, there is Pizza Capricciosa with chicken strips for me and Elke orders some pasta. Flavor explosion! Wow. Best Pizza ever. I did not expect that. On the way back Elke sees another transfer for 275000 IDR (19.08 USD). But the office is closed and I don’t feel like having all the hassle in the morning just for a few coins. Also, my stomach starts revolting. So, from the “maybe visiting Mount Batur” which I have indicated Mama Sandat my plans for tonight switch to “have you hugged your toilet today?” .