Wednesday, March 12, 2014

PICK OF THE WEEK: On a Tour to the Temple (and some other places)

As you will know, we're in Bali. So, for this Pick of the Week I couldn't resist posting an image made here. Just yesterday in fact. On a tour we went on for the day.

We are not great fans of tours, preferring to do the looking, seeing and experiencing on our own terms and in our own time. But, now and again, we feel the need. Tours can be okay for getting to out of the way places, to see the things we might not otherwise be able to and to get a kind of a general overview of where we are. So it was this time: we just felt a bit disoriented in terms of where we are and what's around us, so we booked the car and driver for the day to take us on the "No. 7" which was a day long tour to three temples, a palace, the beach, and through some very beautiful rice terraces and small villages.

Now, as you can imagine, tours don't necessarily present the best street photography opportunities. But, sometimes there is a scene that pops up and just asks to be photographed. This week's Pick is at a temple called Goa Gajah, also known as Elephant Cave Temple (apparently the carved entrance you see here looks like an elephant). It is an extraordinarily beautiful spot: gorgeous gardens complete with palm trees, lily ponds steep steps and ornate bridges, all surrounded by dense forests. And there is of course the cave temple itself. Just a few minutes before I saw this scene, I photographed the man in the photograph filling his water tank in the bathing pool, normally reserved for prayerful ablutions, and actually quite beautiful in its own right.

I say "normally reserved for prayerful ablutions", as if I mean to say that such mundane and "practical" matters such as filling a cleaner's water tank don't belong in such a holy place. While that was my first thought, it then occurred to me that this was wrong thinking. Why? Well, what could be more prayerful, more holy, than to gather water from a sacred pool to use for the cleansing of the temple guardian which this carved wall represents? It is an act of significance and of immense spiritual value.

But, what of the rest our the tour? Well, it was interesting; the countryside was so very beautiful and we got to experience a tropical thunderstorm in the "Mother Temple" at the foot of a holy mountain. Also, we now have a better idea of where we are and what else is "out there". Overall though, I would say that tours are still not really for me. Except for the Elephant Cave Temple. This place was the highlight of the day for me and will, I think, remain vivid in memory for a long time.

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