Snorkeling only kick-started our little adventure. Last night Joya overheard someone talking about a beautiful nearby temple with 1,000 steps leading to the top. While stopped for lunch we asked the restaurant owner if he knew of the temple and he nodded his head yes and told us it was called Lempuyang Luhur. It’s pretty close to where Jo and I were riding the scooters yesterday, so we more or less knew how to get there and set off shortly after snorkeling. Later we would find out the temple is one of the six major temples in Bali, located on the top of Belibis Hill, northeast of Mount Agung, in the Karangasem regency.
The last bit of road to the temple was nothing short of amazing. Halfway up we were shrouded in clouds and mist and it seemed like a complete other world. Once at the top we attracted quite a bit of attention. Seems it’s not everyday three white girls on scooters come into the village. Before long we had a whole crowd of very curious men around us. They all seemed friendly and welcoming but it was a bit of an uncomfortable scene, so we quickly said good-bye and set off to climb the 1000 steps to the top of Lempuyang Luhur.
Immediately we were greeted by friendly and welcoming locals. This place had an unexplained magical atmosphere to it and there’s no way to quite describe it. It was serene, magical, mystical, calming. The entire way up we were happily greeted by locals and it seemed every step we were clasping our hands together, bowing, and exchanging “Salamat Sore” with smiling faces. Salamat Sore means good day and is a common greeting here in the late afternoon. A few stopped to ask us where we were from and everyone was interested in saying hello.
The steps were indeed never-ending and the humidity increased the further we ascended. The fog also continued to thicken on the way up. When we finally reached the top the views were unfortunately shrouded in the clouds, but nonetheless; it was beautiful. After taking a few pictures of the outside of the temple, two men at the top invited us inside to look around. One of the men had an incredible aura about him. I can’t really put it into words but he was magnetic. He had a presence and something about him seemed divine, special, unique.
He told us he had been to the States, had traveled some, and had even been to Seattle. It seems that many Balinese do not travel. Finding someone who has is rare. Maybe the fact that he was traveled made him seem so wise, but there was definitely something very special about him. He told us that Lempuyang Luhur is considered the temple of the East, the abode of god Iswara, keeper of the peace. Perhaps that explains it’s eerie calm and peaceful tranquility. After giving us a brief history of the temple he invited us to sit for a blessing. We took turns sipping holy water and affixing rice to our foreheads and temples.
I’m far from a religious person, having been to church once in my entire life, but I do consider myself a spiritual person and the ceremony was quite humbling to partake in. It wasn’t until afterwards that I realized how lucky we were to have been asked to participate. Many Balinese make pilgrimages here to obtain the sacred holy water of the temple. Only the lucky ones actually obtain it. I guess it’s not everyday that visitors receive a blessing from the priest.
We were the only people at the temple when we got there. It was almost like it was waiting for us. On the descent we had the good fortune of walking down with the priest and exchanged some English lessons for more Indonesian language lessons. Once back at the parking lot we were a little dismayed to find not only darkness approaching quickly but also a thick fog. We took off carefully on the scoots and after a few wrong turns in the dark were back on the road to Amed.
Hilariously enough, every time we encountered an intersection and were unsure of which way to go, we’d stop at a corner and there would be a large group of people eager to point us the way to Amed. We’d ask “Amed?” and everyone would excitedly point their arms in the direction we needed to go. It was like everyone was helping us along our path today! Over dinner we marveled at how perfectly the day was laid out for us. We swam with schools of beautiful fish then received a special blessing from a priest in the clouds. How can you possibly ask for more?