The Wonder of Ancient Temples
I'M BACK ONLINE!!! I flew from Jakarta, Indonesia to Gold Coast, Australia exactly a week ago and my friends who had hooked me up with a free bed in their house had no internet! But I just moved to a new hostel down the road and low and behold...I can blog again! :]
So, without further ado...I introduce you to the beauty of the ancient temples in Bali, Indonesia...
Coming from the Bible Belt of Southern United States of America, I was not introduced to other religions or cultures or other ways of life growing up. Things were white, Christian, Southern, and American in Knoxville, Tennessee. It wasn't until I traveled to Singapore last year, at the age of 21, that I saw my first real Hindu and Buddhist Temples.
I was blown away by them then, but the ones that I saw there weren't old. And absolutely nothing like the ancient Hindu Temples in Bali.
After meeting up with a friend of mine who is from Brazil, we toured all throughout the center of the island of Bali where most of the most ancient temples are located. And we were absolutely blown away by the details, the wonder, and the energy of each temple. Whether they were designed for the sea gods, for the monkeys, or for the mountain gods, they were simply STUNNING.
Yes, these places actually exist on Earth. Incredible, right?
I am not a religious person, but walking across these sacred grounds that have been around for thousands of years...truly humbling. I found myself stopping time and again to have a personal quiet time between me and who I believe is up above. It was very peaceful and an encouraging atmosphere for even the non-believers to experience what it's like to have faith.
BUT, there were a few big downsides to these temples.
1) They were absolutely filthy. All of Bali is absolutely disgusting, trash and rubbish piled up all over the streets and sidewalks. And I had hoped that being at these ancient, holy sites I would finally see the cleaner parts of the island...but I was sadly mistaken. Even at these temples there were giant holes dug throughout the grounds where they threw their trash before setting it on fire. But even those measures didn't clear away all of the trash and debris.
2) The Temples (at least the larger and more popular ones) have been turned into massive tourist hot-spots. Just to walk to the entrance of a temple you have to fight through a horde of women and children all trying to sell you some sort of trinket or sarong or bracelet. Then, even inside the temple there are vendors trying to sell you fresh coconut or Hindu statues everywhere. The desperate hassle to sell you something doesn't even stop there. And while the sites are still used for religious purposes, tourists are the majority of people inside the ground. Taking pictures everywhere and being loud, and completely ignoring the signs that ask you to stay away from certain holy areas. All in all most of the tourists treat these temples as just another place to take pictures...not caring that it is holy, sacred ground for the people of the area and Hindus everywhere. That really started to bother me at the last temple we went to. The blatant lack of respect absolutely sickened me. AND the fact that the Indonesian people allow things like that to take place. At the big cathedrals in Barcelona, Spain tourists were allowed into only the very front areas, reserving the rest of the space for the worshipers. I like that idea a lot better.
3) I've noticed throughout my travels through Asia that women are still deemed much less important than men, but it wasn't until I was reading a sign in front of one of the temples that I realized the full extent of it...
A woman during her menstruation is considered filthy and unclean and therefore, are forbidden to enter the "sacred" and "holy" temples. Now, allowing their temples to be overrun by trash and rubbish and vendors trying to sell you something at every turn is apparently acceptable...but a woman on her period? Well apparently that's where Hindus cross the line. Call me a feminist, but still...RIDICULOUS in my opinion.
But the experiences of touring through those temples, wearing the required sarongs, and running into the wild monkeys was definitely once in a lifetime.
And I promise you won't have to wait very long for my next post...so stay tuned! Because this girl has internet now!! :]
~Little Blonde Traveler