The countryside on this part of the Bukit (southern peninsula of Bali) is gorgeous and we were pleasantly surprised at the condition of the roads, freshly paved and smooth. As we zoomed along, up and down curving our way closer, I was excited to visit to my first Hindu temple. I had heard from friends who had been to India about their temple experiences and was anxious to have my own. We easily found the nearly empty parking lot surrounded by small Warungs (shops/restaurants) and proceeded to do the sarong wrap (too difficult to ride on a motorbike with sarong on) and agreed to hire a guide to take us through the monkeys to the temple.
Our guide Wyrung carried a large slingshot and had to merely think about pointing it at the monkey’s who wouldn’t move from our path, and they scattered, I assume they had felt the twang of a pebble launched from his slingshot in the past. Smart monkeys. We were quickly taken in by the incredible view of the Indian Ocean crashing at least 1000 feet below us. I could easily see why this was considered a “directional Temple” that guards Bali from evil spirits from the SW. The blues, greens, whites of the ocean churning below were spectacular. We stood in a hypnotic state for a bit, silently watching and taking in where we were standing. Had we really just been at the foot of the Rocky Mountains yesterday? We continued our walk along the wall of the outer most temple to the Pura Luhur Uluwatu Temple with its black coral rock and more spectacular views. I kept looking for the “temple”, and our guide kept pointing to an open courtyard. Not exactly what I had pictured as a temple. No ceiling and low walls, a large elaborate entrance gate area, many stone statues and an open courtyard. This was the typical Balinese Hindu temple. Later I learned the lack of roof makes it easier to communicate with the gods. Famous not only for its unique position, Uluwatu boasts as one of the oldest temples in Bali, built by a Javanese Hindu priest in the 10th century. In the 15th Century the great pilgrim priest Dhang Hyang Dwijendra, who established the present form of Hindu-Dharma religion, chose Pura Uluwatu as his last earthly abode: history records that Dwijendra achieved moksa (oneness with the godhead, in a flash of blazing light) while meditating at Uluwatu. This wasn’t too far of a stretch to imagine that happening here.
Through the heat of the day we began our decent over the west side of the temple, pausing in the shade to take in this sides’ view, we spotted far below in the raging waves and rocks, really? Surfers?! They must be crazy, how did they get there? After a cooling coconut and drink at a Warung we hopped on our motorbike and headed over to Uluwatu Beach. Down many many narrow steps you arrive to a small slit of sand with the ocean churning between two steep walled caves. This is the entrance and exit to some of the best surfing around, granting of course you can get through this gauntlet during high tide. We took a quick dip to cool off and even wading here was treacherous as the waves pushed you to and fro with all their might. This beach is well known for its surfing movie-making angles and perches, and in nearby hostelries, its full moon rage parties. A popular surfing spot for the very experienced, and for us not so experienced Uluwatu offers a wonderful vantage point to watch. We had lunch at one of the many warungs perched on the cliff and surveyed the vast Indian Ocean full of daredevil surfers. We oohed and awed over our burgers at each surfers ride and subsequent wipeouts.
As we made our way back home to Villa Soma I understood why our malas and jewelry carried the energy and essence they do. Just having this first day in the neighborhood where our designs are created and made, a day of spirituality, history and surf really made sense as to why our products are so incredibly unique. Bali Malas pieces are made in one of the most culturally rich, historically strong, geographically beautiful, inspiring places on the planet I’ve ever visited. When I got back to the offices at the villa I named one of our bracelets Uluwatu Surf Bracelet and put it on. It has sat on my wrist now for over four weeks. The colored thread has faded and mellowed and the salt water of all the ocean swims has worn off, but as long as I wear this I will feel the push and pull of the Uluawtu beach caves, the heat of the temples, the thrill of the surfers and the warding off of the evil spirits.
P.S. surf lessons will have to wait for another day.