Replies: 13 - Last Post: Aug 19, 2013 7:59 AM Last Post By: ManuP222
Nov 7, 2012 12:45 PM
Besakih TempleI can't say i was not warned. Countless numbers of people on Trip Advisor and my taxi driver elaborated on it...but my visit to Besakih Temple left a very bad impression on my mind. I'm afraid i alienated a lot of touts and so-called tour guides but the bugging and the cheating seemed epidemic. My understanding is that this has been going on for years. Are there not authorities (temple or government) who can cope with this? Perhaps a Bali resident can comment. Aside from Besakih, my Bali experience was awesome. I admire the people and their culture and the food and the beauty of the environment. I should've started going there 50 years ago...
Edited by: beelZbubba
Nov 7, 2012 5:03 PM
1"Perhaps a Bali resident can comment."
Yes, and I'm happy to do so.
You are not alone with your comments, observations and experience. I used to feel exactly the same way when I first moved here to Bali. To me it seemed appalling that the most sacred place on Bali should be reduced to a center of such abject commercial activity.
The fact is though that in Bali, all temples and temple ceremonies involve commerce. They always have…it’s a part of Balinese Hindu Agama life. At any temple ceremony anywhere on Bali, and at any given time, there will be temporary warungs set up offering anything from drink (often including beer), cigarettes, souvenirs and food. At Besakih, these commercial entities are not temporary, as there are always people coming there. It is after all, our mother temple.
In Bali, temples are as much a center of life as they are a center of spiritual expression. In fact, it is at temples where community most frequently comes together as one, and temple ceremonies are as much an important social engagement as they are a time and place for spiritual engagement.
Go to any important ceremony at any Balinese temple and in addition to the very serious and devote religious activities within the central core of the temple, you will find entertainment (dancing and gamelan music) gambling (cock fighting and other games), eating, drinking and a great deal of socialization.
Don’t think of Besakih (or any other temple on Bali) as either Saint Peter’s Basilica in Rome, or Notre Dame in Paris…both of which ironically have their own commercial aspects.
Nov 7, 2012 5:28 PM
Nov 7, 2012 5:36 PM
Nov 7, 2012 5:44 PM
Nov 7, 2012 5:58 PM
Nov 7, 2012 6:10 PM
6Being born, raised, educated, and living in a western environment is pretty much a useless resume when living in SE Asia. And that is particularly true if one comes from the USA…as I do.
Nothing in my background, education, or life experience in the US prepared me for life in SE Asia…aside from the expectation of a fortune being offered within a cookie at the end of a meal.
No complaints…that’s just the way it was, and to some painful degree, still is.
In the past 15 years I’ve seen a ton of expats come and go here in Bali. As I often write, they “ebb and flow like the tide.” And they do.
At the core of each of these failures…those who flowed, is one unarguable reason…a lack of willingness to adapt and re-boot. It isn’t easy…that’s for certain, but it is essential.
I highly doubt that this will change as time goes on, because if anything, these days I see more and more pie eyed westerners moving to Bali who are clueless as to what is needed to enjoy a great life here.
Globalization does not mean dissolving all cultures into one pot…and too many folks fail to understand that. And on that note, thank the Gods that Obama was re-elected President, as he surely understands that and that is the main source of the great love we have for him over here.
Nov 7, 2012 8:25 PM
Besakih is an important temple for Balinese Hindus but I always tell people if you are not a Hindu or not going there for a ceremony then you can give it a miss. There are so many other great temples that fly below the radar that it's often more rewarding to take interesting roads and see other temples that may have lesser designations than "Mother Temple" but which are very important to that particular village or have unique architectural or design points.
Next time to you come to Bali hopefully you will come upon a temple ceremony and can see the more spiritual side of the Balinese Hindu life.
Do not worry about "alienating touts." They know people ignore then because they are too loud and crazy but then they are working the numbers.
(from me, another foreigner "Bali resident")
Nov 7, 2012 9:35 PM
8Excellent point Putri, and if you’ll allow me to expand on it…this older post does precisely that:
Whenever Eri and I go to Besakih, with or without guests, we always enter from the back side…the priest’s entrance, as we always seem to have a priest or two along with us. We avoid the juggernaut of touts as well as the long climb up the hill and steps. Moreover we can park a whole lot closer to the temple.
Besakih is best only if undertaken with a Balinese host who can avoid all the local guides and touts. It is very well worth seeing, especially the inner complex, although the vast majority of visitors only see it from the outside…looking in.
Nov 7, 2012 10:47 PM
9What a pity this situation spoiled your visit. But, like other posters have commented....you did the right thing to ignore. Had the same experience at Borobudur temple last month........hundreds of market stalls around the temple and hawkers everywhere. The "authorities" even shepherd tourists towards the hawkers and markets on the way out. It kind of takes away from the experience (spiritual or otherwise) of these magnificent structures. But you also have to remember that the people are trying to make a living. They dont take offence at being ignored or told "no thankyou", its the way they operate. Unfortunately, sometimes our own values are imposed upon people with different values.
Also visited Prambanan temple....both close to Yogya...and had a totally different experience.No markets, very few hawkers, and stricter controls on where they can operate. A MUCH nicer experience.
Nov 7, 2012 11:15 PM
Nov 8, 2012 2:49 AM
11I first visited Besakih temple with my parents about 40 years ago when there was no hawker around and we were the only tourists that afternoon. Bali was still a hidden paradise then.
Will visit Bali again in a few weeks with my son and unfortunately will give Besakih temple a miss.
Nov 8, 2012 9:25 AM
Aug 19, 2013 7:59 AM
13Besakih Temple is the worst place to meet balinese people in Bali. The local mafia makes the visit horrible. The price is now of 15 000 IDR per each and NOT more. The Tourist Police is unable to identify this mafia as it disappears each time the Police comes and stays a few days. The best is to take pictures of these fellows and send them to the central Tourist Police of Bali to allow an identification. This is the best to help the balinese people who try to welcome foreigners.
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