Driving scooter on Bali is quite comfortable and safe, even route Amed – Tirtagganga – Pura Besakih proved to be bearable, although it was winding and quite bumpy. Friends drove with backpacks from Denpasar to Amed. So it can be done.
Along the way beautiful landscapes, hills, mountains, wonderfull rice fields, straw ornaments along Balinese villages.
The next stop after the water palace was Besakih Temple – Mother Temple. First you reach kind of a military point, buy a ticket and go a little farther ahead. There you have to stop at the scooter parking next to the group of talkative men who finally propose a smooth entrance with them as guides to the temple, where we will be “assault” by locals. We read a lot about problems with the cheaters in this temple and had been warned about that (Marta thx 🙂 ). The worst thing is that even when you know they cheat you cannot do much, because there is no police, and you rather not start to argue with them. However we decided to look around first, if we were pushed to pay we tried to sneak in instead of paying right away. So we go a little farther along the stalls and park there. Before we could take off the helmets we are already pressed to buy sarongs in the “super” prices with information, in not too Balinese kind of smile, that without them we won’t be let in. We take out our own ones, ladies look very disappointed but luckily they give up quickly 🙂
On the way to the main stairs one can buy a.o. postcards, figures and ice cream. We are stopped successively by “guides”. We think it will not be so bad because they quickly resign. However, at the very stairs a group of men sit and watch the entrance, they approach tourists and try to convince them (they even have an information board at the entrance which is a lie !!!) that without them you will not enter the premises of the temple. “Guides” seem to be not nice at all, they have menacing expression on their faces. We are missed by first attack then one man comes to us but when we play the fool he directs us to a side entrance. We go obediently and observe the situation, we walk that dead end passage and when we cannot go any further we gently look around. When “guides” diverge just for another round of snatching we quickly move unnoticed, or maybe they just do not want to chase us on the main stairs. During the tour we meet people with their “bodyguard”. They were not lucky or either they do not know they are being deceived. We also read about forced, huge donations, for example around 40 dollars per person. (TripAdvisor).
What is interesting the main temple was guarded by very nice gentleman who asked if we want to learn how to pray and led us into the temple giving the basket, showing what and how we should do – even though it seemed to me that we should not be allowed going there. He showed a box for donations and disappeared, without pressure, quietly. Very unexpected in this place 😉
The mother of Balinese temples – Pura Besakih – located in the village Besakih at an altitude of about 1000 m on the slope of the Agung volcano. It is the greatest and holiest Hindu temple in Bali. It has a terrace system, its first buildings were erected in the eighth century AD. When after the devastating eruption of Agung in 1963 it turned out that the temple survived Balinese deemed it as a miracle and began to build new shrines and expand the temple. Currently it has 22 complexes (or 23 according to other sources), about 200 buildings. Complexes are actually a separate temples but all very close to each other. Centre place is the pagoda Penataran Pura Agung, which symbolizes the cosmic Mount Meru (per wikipedia: “mythical mountain, which constitutes the axis of the world according to Hindu and Buddhist cosmology (…)”) and Padmasana – three lotus thrones symbolizing the Hindu trinity: Brahma, Vishnu and Śiwa. From 1995 UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Ticket – IDR 15,000. Open from dawn to dusk.
It’s a shame that at this point the Balinese are still working on the most popular description of attraction “Worst experience on Bali”. The authorities are reportedly struggling with the described situation, but it have not worked well yet.
Some tips for avoiding scams around the temple complex:
Guides are not necessary: Locals will tell you that certain temples are “closed” or that you must hire a guide to see “sacred” parts of the temple. Nearly all of the Pura Besakih temple precinct can be explored independently. Unofficial guides may demand a tip to continue halfway through your tour.
Take your own sarong: Proper dress is expected inside of Hindu temples; men must cover their legs with a sarong. Sarongs can be rented at the entrance of each temple, however purchasing your own in Ubud is a better idea.
Do not overdo donations: Upon entering each temple, you will be pressured to give a donation. A logbook of previous guests will show exorbitant amounts of $10 – $40. A typical donation to other Hindu temples in Bali is typically around $1.
Expect Inflated Prices: Food, drinks, and souvenirs around the temples are outrageously priced – wait until you return to Ubud to enjoy delicious Indonesian food.
Once we returned to Amed we took a ride to the nearby hill to enjoy beautiful sunset with Agung overlooking the island.