One of the first views of Gunung Kawi
One of the first views of Gunung Kawi
One of the first views of Gunung Kawi

During holidays it can be difficult to escape the crowds, and I wasn’t expecting to do so on my final day in Bali. The goals for the day were to see the area around Tegalalang and Uluwatu, the latter of which was packed with tourists. Tegalalang wasn’t on the original itinerary, but the driver my companion and I hired suggested it as part of our 12 hour tour (wasn’t expecting the tour to last that long, nor only cost about $12).

After running into our driver’s brother-in-law at Pura Desa Batuan, we drove down through the terraced rice fields of Tegalalang to find Gunung Kawi, a beautiful Hindu temple surrounded by the wilderness of the region. There are supposedly three temples in Bali with the name Gunung Kawi–the full name of this stop was Obyek Wisata Gunung Kawi Sebatu Tegalalang.Gunung_Kawi2

This temple has amazingly clear pools of holy water that are filled by a natural spring. After leaving, I was told it would’ve been OK to go in the water–I didn’t because I thought it might offend someone (even though there was no one around).

I don't think I've ever seen water so clear
I don’t think I’ve ever seen water so clear

With the trees all around it’s easy to find a respite from the oppressive sun of Bali. It would be a great place to sit in the shade and relax for a day–I just wish I had more time to do so. Really, if I could live there for the rest of my life, I would.Gunung_Kawi_pool

As we arrived shortly after noon, there was only one other couple with a guide in the temple. We guessed everyone else was out to lunch, but we didn’t see anyone on the way out to look at the rice terraces either. How could no other tourists be interested in such a beautiful place?

Flowers of Gunung Kawi Temple in Tegalalang, Bali
Flowers of Gunung Kawi Temple in Tegalalang, Bali

It made the experience more peaceful. It was also next to impossible to take a bad picture in Gunung Kawi, which is why I have so many (it was surprisingly difficult to choose photos for this post).

On the way out of Gunung Kawi, through Tegalalang, we stopped off at plenty of woodcarving shops. These shops had some very nice work for a fraction of the price of those at Ubud market. There was one shop that specialized in carvings of Garuda, one of which was enormous (if I remember correctly, the artisan only wanted about $10,000 for it and it sounded like a bargain).

I’m not usually one to want to return to a single place–I prefer finding new destinations first–but Bali is one of those rare destinations that make me want to return again and again (live the rest of my life happily, perhaps?). Do you enjoy returning to previous destinations? What makes a destination worth revisiting?

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