While I was on Java having fun, Jackie had been visiting another island and hanging out with energy healers and local spiritual leaders. Jackie had been invited to visit a water temple with one of her new friends (and a Russian woman they had met on a snorkeling trip) for a purification ritual. Jackie invited me to join and of course I said yes!
The driver was another spiritual leader in their ‘vibe tribe’ so the five of us ventured out of Ubud early Boxing Day for a full day of sightseeing.
After about a forty minute drive we arrived at our first temple. We put on our sarongs over our clothes and wrapped a colourful ‘belt’ of long fabric around our wastes to keep the sarong in place. At the entrance to the community temple in this random town, we were asked to pay an admission fee. It was nominal in Canadian funds (maybe $3.50) but three of us balked at such a rate: temples are for worship, after all, and this one being still in use was not a tourist destination. I wasn’t disappointed to walk away from another temple….seriously, I’m templed out.
By this time we were all a little peckish so when we stopped for a great view and photo op, we decided to make a longer stop of it and sit down for fresh young coconut juice and flesh. Overlooking Mount Batur, the largest volcanic mountain on Bali, we enjoyed the view as much as the rest and snack.
Next stop: natural hot springs. Well, that’s what the billing was. Even when locals speak English pretty well, there still seems to be a pretty big communication gap. Our driver and guide pulled the car up to the ‘hot springs’ and we all piled out only to discover that it was essentially a water resort with pools of hot water. I’m going to give the benefit of the doubt and say that maybe the water was originally from the hot springs, but there didn’t seem much ‘natural’ about the surroundings; we were at a resort. With touristy resort prices. Eighteen dollars later, which I understand is nothing in Canadian funds, is a bit of a rip off, especially when this was one of the many stops we were to make that day; maybe it would sit better if we were to spend the day there. Alas, about an hour or so frolicking in the hot springs and it was time to leave.
Next stop: A coffee and cacao plantation. Now this was a highlight thus far for the day. We had a guided tour (for free) that showed us the various plants and herbs that grow in the area and are used for tea, and the different coffee and cacao beans that are harvested on Bali.
Fun facts: Male and female coffee beans look and taste different. Accordingly, they separate the male and female beans or mix them in specific ratios for more refined tastes. Male beans are slightly bigger and rounder, while female beans are flatter. Male beans are also stronger in taste and caffeine content.
We also got to see the famous ‘cat poo coffee’. I had heard of this before as a ‘must try one day’ on my foodie bucket list. We saw both the cat and coffee bean filled poo. What’s it all about? The cat eats the coffee bean and as it passes though the GI track, the bean goes through fermentation with the high acidic environment. The result? Read on….
At the end of tour they brought us samplings of all of their tea and coffee. And we could buy some of the cat poo coffee to try. Of course we did. How can you not? I’m not a coffee drinker, but after tasting many of their other blends, I feel I can make a well researched comparison: the cat poo coffee was much more subdued in taste; not strong at all, and in fact tasted a big watered down (even though it’s brewed the same as the others). It also has less caffeine due to the fermentation process.
And so we moved on to the last, and most anticipated stop of our day trip: Tirta Empul Temple. A bit of background courtesy of Wikipedia: the Tirta Empul temple (Indonesian: Pura Tirta Empul) is a Hindu Balinese water temple located near the town of Tampaksiring, Bali, Indonesia. The temple compound consists of a petirtaan or bathing structure, famous for its holy spring water, where Balinese Hindus go to for ritual purification. The temple pond has a spring which gives out fresh water regularly, which Balinese Hindus consider to be holy or amritha. Tirta Empul means Holy Spring in Balinese. Tirta Empul Temple was founded around a large water spring in 962 A.D. during the Warmadewa dynasty (10th-14th centuries) and is dedicated to Vishnu, another Hindu god name for the supreme consciousness Narayana.
We paid our entrance fee, which includes a rental sarong and belt. I wore my shirt and bathing suit beneath it. The four of us headed to the first of the two pools. We left our flip flops at the entrance and eased ourselves into the frigid pool and waded to the back of the line. Each pool has a series of fountains; one by one (in a designated order) you pray in front of and stand under the stream, usually having the fountain stream wash over the chakra (I focused on the heart chakra, third eye and top of my head) as you pray and ask for healing. Two fountains we didn’t approach; they are designated for the terminally ill. With it being holiday season in Indonesia, there were longer lineups than usual, so it took us at least an hour to make our way to the dozen fountains in the first pool and then the one main fountain in the second. The water was cold, we stood barefoot on pebbles or sometimes slipped on the bigger slippery rocks, and there were coi fish swimming everywhere, often quite big. And yes, despite my shivering, it was an experience I will remember for a long time. And who knows, maybe I’ve been purified of the chaos of 2016; I definitely felt overcome with gratitude and felt my heart wide open. A good head start to 2017.
When we got home I was still cold, so after a very hot shower and some peanut sauce covered veggies and rice comfort food, I slept well.
Today I was still feeling the effects of a long day yesterday, so roamed around Ubud and met a woman from LA in a similar line of work as me. We walked along a path in the country on the way to her spa appointment, chatted over a freshly squeezed juice and will meet again tomorrow when she’s getting together with some other women entrepreneurs she’s met for a 2017 planning session. Exactly what I’m here for. A relaxing day today full of great scenery, great conversation and some more healthy food.
Off to bed now for another relaxed day and an afternoon of planning tomorrow:)