“Don’t speak to any of the villagers” Dewa, our driver, widened his eyes and continued, “you guys are with me”.
The instructions given before heading for the Mother Besakih Temple reminded me of stories involving secret societies. The temple complex was infamous for louts forcing tourists to hire local guides who then extorted high fees from the naïve targets. Any resistance by the visitors led to aggressive vocal display of expletives.
On our way to the village, our car was stopped by a few women who held plates with flowers and incense. They demanded monetary offerings for our safe passage. I handed them the smallest possible rupiah note. They demanded more. I looked at Dewa “No more! I come from India; This is extortion!”
The gang backed off and let our car go.
Moments later, we made a pit stop to wrap sarong around our waists. Dewa changed into a figure of piety by dressing in white. Continue reading
Goa Lawah or Bat Cave
I moved towards the cave; a gush of rancid breath emanated from its bowels and gagged me. The black mass on the ceiling moved unsynchronised with the cacophony of countless squeaks. It was the realm of Basuki, a massive serpent, the guardian of Earth’s equilibrium. Had I been a few centuries earlier, I would have been terrified.
Goa Lawah was a bat cave set in a hill called Bukit Tengah on the south east coast of Bali. As per popular belief, the cave was connected to Mother Temple of Besakih, Mecca of Bali, which was 30 kilometres away. The site was revered by the Balinese Hindus; and opening of the cave had a shrine dedicated to Shiva, God of Destruction.
Goa Lawah Temple