Tanah Lot - Magic by the Sea

Tanah Lot, with its magical-sounding name, is the stuff of postcards and travel posters. Perched on a rocky outcrop at the sea's edge, the temple is accessible only to Hindus, and evidently only to those associated with the temple. Tanah Lot is one of the most sacred temples in all of Bali. Apparently at one time the temple had been open to visitors, but because of the disrespect shown by a lot of tourists - not dressing appropriately in sarongs, and snapping holiday shots of the priests at prayer - upset the normally patient and tolerant Balinese to the point that they made the temple off-limits.

Some Japanese tourists took this picture of us overlooking Tanah Lot - Dan, Julia, Astrid and me. As you can see from the number of people on the beach, Tanah Lot is quite a tourist destination for both foreigners and Balinese alike. It was quite cold for us at the coast, after being in the hot inland parts of Bali for the last week or so.

This is a view of the neighboring temple, a few hundred yards along the cliff-top from the main temple of Tanah Lot.

The temple of Tanah Lot, silhouetted against the setting sun. At the foot of the rock is a spring of holy water. I put on my sarong, plucked up courage, took an empty water bottle, and went up and asked the priest if I could have some. He was quite impressed that I'd taken the trouble to dress appropriately, and gladly filled up my bottle, giving me a splash and a prayer to go with it. We still have the Tanah Lot holy water at home.

It was actually fairly overcast, so we were disappointed that we weren't going to see a glorious sunset. Still, it was quite a nice view as the sun went down behind the clouds. There are a line of strategically placed terrace cafes along the cliff-tops, just where the best sunset views are, so you are more-or-less obliged to join the tourist hordes and stake a place at a table before all the best views are gone. The Balinese take this opportunity to sell you overpriced drinks, as well as other souvenirs. A lot of Balinese children selling postcards - 300 rupiah each, or 3 for 1,000 rupiah, which didn't seem to make much sense!

We were actually getting some nice dramatic cloud shots as the evening wore on and dusk drew in. Clouds of bats emerged from the caves along the cliffs, and circled above us looking for their evening meal of mosquitos - who were meanwhile making an evening meal of us! The sunset was magical - not as clear and golden as it might have been, but beautifully soft and pastel.

This was about the last picture we could take before it got too dark. It had been a wonderful evening.

We left by 7, back in Ubud by 8 and time for an incredible dinner out at a new place - Batan Waru on Jalan Dewisita, newly opened and run by an American-Balinese couple, Karen and Gusti, who were wonderfully welcoming and made fantastic food. This was a place we'd go back to.

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