We arrived at Denpasar airport in Bali and headed to pick up one of Icha’s friend’s in Sanur. The four of us then set off northbound for the mountains in north central Bali. Traffic was heavy in the south, but time flew as I stared out the car windows at all of the houses, shop and street we passed. It was a world like I have never seen before: so much intricate architectural ornament, so many vibrant color, an abundance of lush vegetation. It was a picture of paradise. I quickly became fascinated by the offerings. In front of houses, at shop entrances, on car dashboards were beautifully composed gifts for the gods. Indonesia’s religious majority is Muslim, but the island of Bali is an exception being predominantly Hindu and this is reflected in the unique architecture, sculptures and temples, which are specified as Balinese Hindu. Sometimes the offerings were placed into a niche moulded into the stone or brick architecture. Sometimes they were woven basket-like constructions attached to a wall or a pole. Other were simply little reed plates placed on a sidewalk or motorbike. They were filled with fresh flowers, ripe fruits and small crackers and cookies.
In about two hours we reached the largest town in the region Bedugul and finally stopped in the neighboring village of Candikuning. There we first visited a Hindu Temple called Pura Ulun Danu Bratan built directly on Lake Bratan in 1663. The landscape was breathtaking. Across the water were high mountains but the fog hid most of them. We wove through the complex of shimmering red and gold with stone zoomorphic sculptures in black and white checkered cloth skirts flanking entrances. We walked towards the lake and reached the water’s edge where the oldest temple structure stands. It is dedicated to the lake and river goddess Dewi Danu. We toured the shore and then decided to rent swam paddle boats for views from the water.