As we drove through the countryside of Bali we watched the people preparing for the Hindu festival of Galungan. Our driver explained that this festival is as important to the Hindu’s as Christmas is to Christians.

Galungan marks the beginning of the most important recurring religious ceremonies. The spirits of deceased relatives who have died and been cremated return to visit their former homes, and the current inhabitants have a responsibility to be hospitable through prayers and offerings. The most obvious sign of the celebrations are the penjor – bamboo poles weighed down by offerings suspended at the end. These can be seen by the side of roads. A number of days around the Kuningan day itself have special names, with particular activities being organized.[2]

Driving through Bali is very different than in South/Central America. It seems like every meter along the road was filled with homes, villages and shops; all preparing for the big festival.


All along the roads were these ornate decorations, lining the way while hundreds of people laboured in front of their homes to make them.

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This temple was across from the coffee plantation.

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When I looked at this temple I thought “wow, it must be a special place”. But my perception was wrong, it was no more special than thousands of other Hindu temples that are scattered everywhere.

The Balinese take their temples seriously, spending copious amounts on building temples everywhere; on roads, attached to villages, in the centre of villages, randomly located in a remote jungle location or in their homes, as the quality of the temple in your home is a statement of wealth.

This spectacular and ornate temple was no different than the others.

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And it was unlocked, welcoming any visitors. Too bad it was raining or I would have gone in.

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We stopped at an Art shop while touring in Bali. We bought a piece (a rice field), and I am sure that we overpaid. You always leave wondering how much should I have paid? But  we loved the piece so such is life. The price of art is all relative.

The good thing is that we were first in and their culture is all about making sure that the first people buy as they believe that it influences the day. If you buy, they will have a good day. If you don’t buy, it will be a bad day.

As I bought, he let me take a few photos of the shop. As Galungan was quickly approaching, they we decorating everything.

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A distinctly Balinese form of art (that we did not buy, but was interesting to look at) below. Reminds me of a “where is Waldo?”

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In Bali, temples are everywhere and people who have the wealth, invest in family temples within their homes. At the art shop, they were decorating their temple for the festival.

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Parasols are a common decoration.

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The Balinese go all out.

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A wonderful time of the year.



It is hard to plan a trip to a country that you have never been to when you live in a country where no one speaks English. We asked questions, read reviews and researched through Tripadvisor and Lonely Planet  .. with a final itinerary as follows …

We booked a car with Sila Tours (Highly recommended. They are not tour guides, but $55 a day for a new van and a driver is fantastic) and set out a rough goal of seeing these things:

  • Mt. Batur, the volcano.
  • Rice fields
  • Bird Sanctuary near Ubud
  • The Monkey Forest
  • A few temples, with Gung Kawi and the Water Palace being the two options
  • An Elephant reserve

This is more than we normally do as we definitely do not subscribe to the “as much as you can” philosophy. We like to do less, but really enjoy where we are. As most of these were nature trips, the learning/history element (which is time consuming) was not as big a factor.

Many people stay in Ubud, we stayed in Nusa Dua which meant driving through the traffic laden streets. In other countries that would be an issue, but not in Bali as the countryside is fascinating. I was enthralled looking out the window as we went from town to town. The people, the shops, the never ending temples on every street corner and at every house. Fascinating. I would have loved to spend more time wandering through small village streets.

My only mistake was that I should not have relied on the driver to help us order the trip over the 2 days that we toured as their sense of time and directions is a little deceiving. When I would ask “how far to the next place” I always got the answer “30 minutes”. 30 minutes later I would ask for an update and get “20 more minutes”.

If you are heading there, enjoy. Great place.