Not for the faint of heart or flimsy of shoe, a visit to the idyllic Gunung Kawi temple in Tampaksiring requires descending nearly 400 steps, which is fine until you realize there’s no way out but back up. As Balinese never miss a merchandising opportunity, the steps down to the temple are lined with fierce hawkers (watch out for the women) of sarongs, jewelry, and all the standard Balinese bric-a-brac. Whatever you do, don’t buy until you’re almost out of the place. The Balinese have what can only be described as a smell for consumers. One particularly feisty shop keeper grabbed my hand and wouldn’t let go until I bought something (I didn’t). They are all intent on selling you a sarong to meet Hindu standards when temple-going, but a less cumbersome sash will do, and is provided with the cost of admission. Every second building in Bali is a temple of varying size, but it’s easy to see why this one is a sort of mecca for locals. A crystal clear stream runs through the center and a small waterfall is tucked in the corner. It looks like the set of “Indiana Jones” where some frightening ritual sacrifice might be performed, but alas devoted Hindus were offering the usual floral and incense basket which can be found in the millions around the island.
Not having seen any others like this, I am convinced this Ubud rice terrace is the most impressive. This wedding couple seemed to think so, risking life, limb, and merengue dress for a piece of the dramatic vista.