I’ve done a lot of day trips in my time as a traveler, but this is one that I’m especially proud of – it’s another step towards this traveling independently thang that every bodies’ talking about.
Usually I’ll hunt down a tour and let a company put it all together, but for my day out in Gianyar, Indonesia, I spoke to a private driver, shared what I wanted to see and let him do all of the driving. All I had to do was enjoy myself… and things were a lot better when I brought a new friend along.
There were three stops that I wanted to make – Goa Gajah, the Elephant Temple; Tirta Empul, the Holy Water Temple; and Tegallalang, the Rice Terraces. All three can be easily reached from Ubud which has been my base in Bali (I like the quiet).
Originally I was going to have to pay a lot more but this English girl I met in my hostel, Rochelle, asked if she could join in and your good Sheep was like, ‘Baa, why not.’ We were picked up at 9am by awesome private driver, Yansu, and were on our way with a little bit of Rihanna playing on the radio.
A bit of housekeeping first though; both temples require visitors to keep their shoulders and legs covered. A shirt will do the trick for the north, but for the south, both temples provide free sarongs at the entrances.
See those fashionable colours?
Quick note, there will be people outside said temples trying to sell you sarongs. Politely decline and keep going.
The Elephant Temple, Goa Gajah, was our first stop. It costs 15,000 rupiah to enter (the same will go for Tirta Empul) but the greenery is worth it. Seriously, I’ve seen more green here than in Ireland people!
There are no elephants here, just in case the name fooled you, but there is plenty of architecture, including a cave where offerings are made.
I grew up in a city that is known for it’s European style of architecture, so to see something with a Hindu flavour is quite nice. Add to that the natural elements and your good Sheep is in heaven.
Surfaces around the fountains and pools can be slippery (Rochelle and I almost found out the hard way) so be mindful of your steps.
The Elephant Temple was a great way to start the day. Now onto the next.
My cousin’s lovely wife recommended Tirta Empul and I’m so grateful that she did. Unlike Goa Gajah, the Holy Water Temple is what it’s name implies so there should be very little disappointment.
Hindus come to the Tirta Empul to bathe in the holy water, which in their belief is to be blessed by twelve deities.
All one has to do is wear a sarong (men can be topless) into the pools (it is slippery climbing in, freezing cold and there are fish swimming around your legs) and let twelve of the many fountain heads drench you (locals and repeat offenders will explain which ones).
I will explain now that women going through their periods are not allowed to enter the water.
Now prior to mine and Rochelle’s arrival it was my understanding that only Hindus could take part in this holy blessing. Thanks to Rochelle’s conversational skills, I quickly learnt that non Hindus could participate as well, and that special sarongs could be rented for 10,000 rupiah.
Not giving a shit about not having a towel or change of clothes (this is Southeast Asia, I dried out in no time), I rented one of these sarongs, asked Rochelle to take as many pictures as she could and got in for THE most cultural experience I’ve ever participated in.
Quoting Bran Stark, it was beautiful.
With my Hindu experience done and dusted (I seriously recommend it to everyone), we were on our way to the Tegallalang Rice Terraces, our final… and hottest… stop for the day.
The views cannot fail you! The colours cannot fail you! It’s the type of place where exclamation marks MUST be used to describe it!!!
After a quick lunch with said stunning view to make it all the more worthwhile, we were slowly and carefully making our ways down into the terraces. The walkways are difficult and can take its tole on those with leg problems so please. be. careful!
Upon making our ways to the bottom of the valley we crossed a bridge which leads up to the other side. Sitting by said bridge will be a kind old man who will ask you for a donation to continue on wards, as opposed to putting three riddles one’s way. Sounded fair.
The views are equally as nice from the other side and I did see a groom and bride getting their wedding pics taken (Was she a bridezilla? Who knows) so proof that you can do the walk in dress shoes and a full length gown is out their somewhere… possibly in eastern Europe.
Accompanying the Rice Terraces are a long line of shops where arts, crafts and clothes can be haggled for (I did MUCH better than I did back in Marrakech) so you might find something to your liking.
Rochelle made off with two dresses and I scored a Garuda figurine at a significant discount.
And that’s my Balinese day trip. Our driver Yansu had us back in about… six hours so the locations are convenient should you be using Ubud as a base.
This just goes to show what you can accomplish as an independent traveler so consider it sometime.
Additional photography provided by Rochelle Vyas