In the Garden of the Gods – Ulun Danu Beratan Temple Complex

The drive from Bali Barat National Park to Ubud was four hours of long curvy roads. We, and more importantly the guide and travel agent, knew that the kids could not do that in one go, especially during the daytime. So we factored in two stops, The twin lakes and Ulun Danu Baratan Temple.

Our first stop was a brief overlook of Lake Buyan and Lake Tamblingan, the twin lakes of Bali. Set high in the mountain still, it’s an amazing sight to be able to see two lakes so close together. Our guide let us know it’s becoming a popular stop for local tourists, and these “Instagram” spots are popping up with swings and frames to capture the perfect shot of you for “the Gram”. We chose to stay away from those, and went to a simple overlook spot to take in the beauty of the lakes. We took a few picture, but mostly we enjoyed the sight and the rest from the relentless curves of the roads.

We all admired the beauty of the twin lakes*

About 20 minutes later, we were at Ulun Danu Beratan, the stop we were waiting for. While most of Indonesia is Muslim (in fact it’s the most populous Muslim majority county), Bali is almost entirely Hindu. The Hinduism they practice is similar to the Hinduism of India (They believe in the same gods, it’s a Sanskrit based language, etc.) but there are a few differences. One is in the temple culture. Where in India, everyone goes to the local temples, and may have a small shrine at home for their gods, in Bali it’s a bit different. Each home or family compound will have a small temple inside. Then, each village will have a temple. Then, there are public temples for all to use. People will make offerings and prayers to ALL of these temples. Ulun Danu Beratan is a series of Hindu temples set aside for the public. And since we were there near the festival of Galungan (similar to the festival of Diwali in India), the temple was decorated to the nines with tons there making their visits, both religious and touristy.

A beautiful temple complex you can explore for hours

I had noticed my daughter was a little uncomfortable during the ride, but I hadn’t realized how green she looked until we got out of the car. She immediately complained that her tummy hurt and I knew the tell tale signs. She was carsick. She had never gotten carsick before and now I was looking at a girl who was ready to bring up everything she ate for breakfast. It became very clear none of us would enjoy this trip if we didn’t do something. Our wonderful guide ran to the canteen and bought her a Sprite. With some coaxing, we got her to drink it. As she walked, felt the cool breeze, and drank the lemon-lime soda, she began to feel like her old bubbly self.

She started out sick, but was back to her normal self soon

We entered the complex through the Dalem Purwa temple gates. Our guide informed us that these gates symbolize good and evil, light and dark (similar to the yin and yang). It is what provides balance in the universe.

A picture in the gates is a must in Bali

Once through the gates, we were in the complex of 5 temples. The temple is on a lake, and build such that when the tide is high, it looks as if the temples are floating on the lake. In particular I loved the statues of the two world serpents, Basuki and Ananta. The main temple, Lingga Petak, is meant to look like Mt. Meru, the great mythological mountain from the hindu stories.

The world serpents, Basuki and Ananta*

The beautiful representation of Mt. Meru

Soon it was time to head out and finish our ride to Ubud. We rode a few minutes down the road, and then my daughter quickly proclaimed she was going to throw up. Guide said a few quick words in Balinese to our driver who pulled over. She, thankfully, didn’t loose anything, but we decided to play it safe and have her sit in the front the rest of the ride. I sat next to her and thought of the comedic scenario that was playing out. My poor girl was staring, concentrating on the road ahead while clutching a plastic bag, and my son in the back was loudly protesting that it wasn’t fair that she got to ride in the front with no seat belt (there wasn’t one in the middle seat) while he had to sit in the back. Don’t let anyone fool you, traveling with kids is not as glamorous as it seems…

The concentration, the clutching of that bag…

We made it to Ubud without anyone getting sick and were happy to be welcomed into our new hotel. We couldn’t wait for the adventures that awaited us in Ubud and the rest of the journey.

*Stared photos by Atma Photography

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