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Finding balance in Bali

Stepping out of Ngurah Rai International Airport and into the hot sticky heat of Bali,  I was met by an overwhelming sea of faces waving signs, name cards and calls of  “taxi? taxi?” from local drivers.  It was  a welcomed relief to see a young, smiling Balinese man, holding a sign with my  name on it.  His name is Mully, the  transfer driver from the hotel I was to stay at, Waka Maya.

After quick  introductions and bags loaded, we were off to the hotel.  Even on the short drive from the airport to  Sanur, Mully’s in depth knowledge and conversation about Bali was  impressive.  So much so, that I asked if  he could show me around this culturally rich and diverse island known as  Bali.  Thankfully he agreed, and in the  coming days, set off to not only explore this wonderful place, but learn about  its people, religion and culture in more depth than I could have hoped for.

The first day began with a visit to Tirta  Empul Temple.  The Balinese believe the  springs at Tirta Empul Temple are that of an infinite creation and hold  miraculous healing powers. Tirta means “The holy  water” in Indonesian language.   Watching the bubbling spring mixing up a mystical mist of loose gravel  and somewhat luminous green algae that lines the rectangle stone pond, Mully  explains the legend behind what causes this magical holy water.

“Long ago, Bali was ruled by an arrogant and powerful king,  Mayadenawa.  Believing he was more  powerful than the gods themselves, he poisoned the waters to kill all that  challenged him. Legend has it that the God Indra managed to defeat the evil  king, and turns the waters from poison to pure and holy, with a pierce to the  ground with his arrow.”

To honour Indra, the  Balinese built the temple around this water source.  It is here in a long stone pond, lined with  rich green algae and the odd lotus flower; you can see the place Indra’s arrow  pierced the ground, as the waters bubble and spring to the surface.

This magical story of good winning over evil captivates the mind  as I walked around in the sensation like you have been transported back in  time, engulfed by the magic of the mystical tale, exploring the bathing pools  and surrounding temple.

After giving an offering made of woven bamboo, a mix of colourful  flowers and some Indonesian Rupiah on top, I walk away with a bottle filled  with this holy blessed water, to later splash over my head with the belief it  will purify and heal.

The following days were occupied exploring Kintamani  and the active volcano of Mount Batur, sunset at the temple on the sea, Tanah  Lot, and an impromptu visit to the local healing and medicine man, Mr Ketut  Liyer (who became popular due to the recent Julia Roberts movie, Eat, Pray,  Love) who told me of promising future fortunes.

Shopping is unavoidable in Bali, so in between  sightseeing; I bartered my way around the markets of Melasti, Mataharia,  Poppy’s Lane and the traditional Badung markets in Denpansar.

My last evening was spent taking in one of the  most spectacular sunsets I have ever seen, as the sun filtered through an array  of pinks, purples, oranges and yellows, before slowly disappearing on the  horizon at Kuta Beach.

Amongst all the beauty and wonder of the  island, I learnt the balance the Balinese people find in life through their  culture and beliefs. I learnt that sometimes no matter how hard you try barter  down, you just won’t get that Bintang shirt any cheaper, that you should only  have one Arak Mojito a night, and that a hand held fan is the best 10,000  rupiah you will ever spend in Bali.

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