Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Christmas in Candidasa

The beauty of Bali continues at one of the sites I was most excited about seeing on the island by the name of Gunung Kawi.  It is a temple complex built in the 11th century and includes 10 Hindu shrines carved out of the face of a cliff.  They stand about 23-feet high and are thought to honor the Queens of King Anak Wungsu.  The approach to the complex was quite stunning. After descending quite a lot of stairs, we passed some rice terraces, crossed a river and traversed the lovely temple grounds.  There were two sets of carvings on opposite sides of the river, along with a few traditional altar structures and beautiful water fountains.

Rama Candidasa Resort planned a special Christmas Eve dinner buffet where we were serenaded by a local band.  We laughed at the hilarious pronunciations of the lyrics to familiar American pop music mingled with a few traditional Christmas carols.  It was a unique Christmas Eve experience, which ended with one of the most beautiful sunsets I've ever seen.

There were only a few tears shed on Christmas day as we thought about our children and grand kids with their in-laws, but they were quickly replaced with tears of joy as we visited through Skype video with our missionary son, Michael, in Nasca, Peru.  What a blessing to actually see and hear his voice and know that he is happy and well!

On Thursday, we arranged for another day of exploration with Kadek.  In Bali, you can hire a car and driver for the whole day for about 400,000 Indonesian Rupiah, or approximately $40.00.  The first place we went was a nearby traditional village.  At Tenganan, we got a glimpse of what the lifestyle of ancient villagers was once like.  Of course the tour ended with a high pressure sales push to purchase some of the products they make.  (We bought a personalized palm wood wall decoration and a woven fabric table runner.)  I have never seen such long green beans in my life!  The prickly plant which looks like aloe vera is used as a weapon during a traditional festival fight held each year.  The thorns pierce the skin and draw blood - a required sacrifice to their Gods.


Driving up the east coast of the Island, we were always under the watch of Gunung (mountain) Agung which we could see from Candidasa. This volcano is the highest point on the island and is still active. We took a quick stop near the Bugbug hills to catch a glimpse of the shoreline and spot a few monkeys.  From there we drove to Tirtagangga, which are royal pools which were built by the last Raja (king) of Karangasem  in 1946.  The place was destroyed by the eruption of Mt. Agung in 1963, but has been lovingly restored.

Puri Agung is the remains of the royal palace of the king of Karangasem, built by the Dutch late in the 19th century.   This was not much of site to see, although the crowned rooftops and beautiful doors were attractive.

This same King Anak Agung of Karangasem, built another water palace in 1919, which was also destroyed by the eruption of 1963 and earthquakes in 1979.  But it has been beautifully restored as well.  This palace is the most elegant of the three and was likely a favorite retreat for the king and his family.  He had 10 wives, 16 sons, 19 daughters and 90 grandchildren.  Now that's a busy father!  I guess it is appropriate that while there, we also saw a nurturing hen who must have had four or more chicks nestled under her wings.

On the drive back to Candidasa, we stopped at the beautiful White Sand Beach.  This is Bali at it's finest!  The island has a mix of both black sand beaches and pristine white sand beaches with crystal clear azure blue water.  We were told the east side of the island also has some great snorkeling and scuba diving areas, but while we were there, the water was a little too choppy for our liking.

Bali was a great place for Bob and I to relax and enjoy a wonderful Christmas together.  The food was quite inexpensive and we enjoyed some jazz-infused evenings at restaurants in Candidasa.  Although we will likely never return, we certainly endorse a visit to anyone looking for an interesting and relaxing island retreat.  And now, with another look at the most beautiful sunsets in the world, we'll say goodbye to beautiful Bali!

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