Dewa, our driver, ran towards the kiosk-cart. It was time for his lunch. “Give me a shout, when you guys have seen the palace. I am just around.” We turned around to see where he headed for.
“Bakso Babi 100% Haram” read the signage on top of a cart. Babi means pork; and bakso, meatballs with broth. No wonder he ran like a predator about the ambush a sitting duck. I wondered the feasibility of such marketing ploy in the Jakarta or Dubai!
The Ujung Water Palace was located, five kilometres from Amalapura, in the village of Seraya. Raja of Kargasem had built the palace. He was the same king who had built Taman Tirta Gangga Palace. (Read here – https://biswadarshan.com/2014/12/29/a-dip-in-balinese-ganges/ ). May be, His Highness had developed a set of gills.
The site was built around an original pool called the Dirah pool, which was an exile for black magic practitioners. Two other pools were built along with the palace at the centre. Its construction was completed in 1921. During the Dutch rule, the palace was opened to public and was promoted as the Royal Water Garden Complex.
Just after us, a group of schoolchildren entered the palace grounds. They must have been on a field trip. As essential the school trip was for the kids and their exposure to their heritage, it was not a picture perfect scenario for us, opportunistic tourists. It was pointless to rush, as it they swarmed like locusts. We just gave in. They were a part of the experience, I guess.
A while later, we saw that the children had lost interest in the palace and its pools, instead they congregated under a tree. It was time for their lunch. Phew! It was a picnic and not really a tour.
To the east of the palace were paddy fields. It reminded me of the rice fields, Jatiluwih . We had driven by the village to catch a glimpse. These rice fields were a testimony of the traditional subak irrigation. Subak meant a co-operative. The people of the village managed it. Under the subak system, the canals were linked to the mountain temples with lakes. In Western Bali, the responsible temple was Pura Batu Kau; and the temple Pura Ulun Danu, the north, east and south of Bali.
The terraced rice fields have been declared a UNESCO World Heritage site in 2012. Sadly, with rampant urbanisation and with over-exposure to tourism, the terrace fields have faced a lot of difficulty. Main reason being, the farmers themselves were responsible for the upkeep of the ancient irrigation system. If only, the future were not that bleak…
A short hike to the top of the Bukit Bisbis, a hill to the north of the palace, added some perspective to our trip. The Ujung beach and the Bali Sea lay in front of us. We realised why the place was associated with magic; for us it was the view – for Dewa , Bakso.
P.S – Thanks to Shannon Kretschmer, (http://www.capture-the-spirit-photography.com/),for being my travel partner and for sharing his images.