Sunday, September 16, 2012

Elephant Cave (minus the elephants)

Shopping-- thanks for the candid picture Danna!

After lunch, shopping, and sightseeing, in Ubud, we headed to our final destination for the day -- the Elephant Cave! I am really excited to share this post with you because it is not at all what I expected.

My entry ticket cost only 15.000 Rp which is about $1.50

For starters, some background... The Elephant Cave is also known as Goa Gajah. It gets its nickname from its entrance, which supposedly resembles that of an elephant! See??

Entrance to the Elephant Cave

Okay, yeah. I can't quite see the resemblance either.. looks more like a demon to me.. It was built in the 9th century. It is actually mentioned in an old Javanese poem from 1365 called Desawarnana which was dedicated to a former Javanese king.

Like my sarong?

Before we could even enter this holy site, we had to make sure we were covered appropriately as a sign of respect. Since it was hot, I like most tourists, was wearing a tank and shorts so I was immediately wrapped in the pinkish sarong above. I didn't quite know what was going on. One minute I was looking at a sign that goes on and on about inappropriate clothing...

Sign in Ubud

 ... and the next moment I had a man wrapping this garment around my body! As we walked down what felt like endless concrete steps, we were immediately greeted by what appeared to be old ponds. They were actually ancient baths, believed to ward off "evil spirits." They had all sorts of fish swimming in the pond. People stepped down and took many pictures. I was bored with it and went to look for the Elephant Cave instead.

Bathing place

Fish in the bath

It was after the bathing places that I saw the amazing ELEPHANT CAVE! Now, this whole time I was thinking I was either going to see elephants or that the cave would at least fit an elephant inside! Wrong. I felt like such an idiot. Oh well, that's what I get for not reading up beforehand.

The cave itself was amazing. It was obviously carved by hand and had this eerie feeling to it.. just walking around and seeing all the indentations large enough for an adult male to sit in and meditate was surreal.. these holes were actually used.. and the original pots that held the flames to light the cave were still there! There were also many statues inside that were decorated and surrounded by offerings. There were many carvings inside the stone of the cave as well.

Offering inside cave

Clay pot with wick for fire

one of the many ornate gods

crevice for meditation -- there were at least 8 or 9

After we were done touring the sanctuary and snapping photos, we followed a stone path through a rice paddy (these are EVERYWHERE in Indonesia) to some shops that were privately owned and selling various handmade crafts.

Path to shops

Rice paddy

Rice.. up close, lol

One of many shops!

I can't go into much detail because I did some Christmas shopping here and don't want to ruin the surprise, but I think I did a pretty good job.. and hey, I even got to bargain. :)

Another one of my favorite things about the sanctuary was this amazing tree. It was like something out of a fairy tale. Words cannot describe the beauty!

Me and Nicole and our fancy sarongs on the fairy tale tree!

Alas, it was time to go back to the hotel and rest up after a very successful trip in Ubud.

Here's an excerpt from Danna's blog (which you should check out to the right of this page "Teaching in Indonesia").

"After nearly fighting a monkey in the Monkey Forest, we walked around Ubud for a while, down some very beautiful streets, and then finished out day at the Elephant Cave nearby. This cave is apparently from the 11th century and looks like a giant demon head coming of out a hillside. You walk inside and there are a few alcoves with statues, include Ganesh, the Hindu god of education, as it is. The cave was worth it alone, but the surrounding area was also awesome. There were some absolutely beautiful paths that ran around hills and past boulders and waterfalls. I only got to explore part of it, but it really looked like something... I don't know... out of a National Geographic, on a postcard, but 20xs better. All in all, our day in Ubud was great."

Some of the scenery Danna was talking about

Moss covered rocks

Steep steps to waterfall area

Another ancient statue

Later this week, I'll finish up with some more stories about Bali. Here's what's to come!

  • jogging in Bali with Eduardo
  • fish that provide services in a spa
  • Potato Head Restaurant
  • dancing the night away with some Aussies!

Until next time..

xoxo amber

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