The Water Gardens of Taman Ayun

The next day, we spent at home in Ubud literally watching the rice grow from our balcony at Oka Wati's. The rice in the nursery bed to the side of the main rice field outside our room had been growing steadily since we arrived. Every day the rice farmer would come and slosh around in the main rice field, raking over the mud at the bottom and making sure it was fine and ready for the rice.

Today the day had come for him to transplant the new rice shoots into the main field. The farmer had a sort of boat that floated next to him, which held the rice shoots, as he planted each shoot individually in regular rows in the water. You'll have to click on the photo to see the rows of rice plants going in. He had a friend - apparently a westerner, maybe someone also staying at Oka Wati's - who would always sit at the side of the rice field and watch him. Another friend watching was tenkek, the bright blue Javanese kingfisher with his startlingly red beak, sitting on the telephone wire looking for frogs being stirred up.

The next day we were to go to see the temple of Tanah Lot, the temple by the sea. The time to see Tanah Lot, we were told, was sunset, when you could watch the sun go down behind the temple, so we didn't need to leave until the afternoon. In the morning we went over to Linda's, dropping in on Justine and Steve on the way. Steve was feeling much better, so we went on to Linda's together. The gamelan instruments we were renting had arrived, so we played for a while. It was really nice to be playing gamelan again, and in Bali, with a beautiful view over the forested canyon outside Linda's terrace.

Our driver came at about 2:30 - a new driver this time, called Made, since Dewa had a family ceremony to go to. On our way to Tanah Lot, we stopped at Mengwi to see another temple - Taman Ayun and its water gardens. Taman Ayun is a large temple set in beautiful grounds, almost like a botanical garden, and surrounded by a sort of moat. There were pavilions in the gardens where people could rest in the shade and just enjoy the day. Here we are all dressed up with our temple sarongs - Astrid, Julia and me.

One of the interesting plants we found in the gardens was this one - the Sekar Sandat. We play a piece - one of our favorites - which is called "Sekar Sandat". The Sekar Sandat is an offering flower, used in temple ceremonies - it's one of the flowers you use when you pray, and afterward tuck into your hair or your headwrap. We'd played the piece "Sekar Sandat" for years, so it was neat to actually see a Sekar Sandat flower for ourselves.

Another interesting thing at the Taman Ayun temple was the kul-kul tower. Rather like a western church steeple with its church bells, the kul-kul tower contains several kul-kuls - vertically hanging split gongs - which are used to summon the faithful to prayer for special temple ceremonies, to warn of danger, or for other special occasions.

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Photos: Astrid, Martin and Julia Randall
All content copyright (c) 2002, Astrid, Martin and Julia Randall