Winter Wonderland: Batty in Bali

Day 3 : Part 3/3
December 6th, 2018

the Bat cave

No I am not talking about the cave under Wayne Manor, I am talking about Pura Goa Lawah or the bat cave temple which was founded in the eleventh century, on Bali’s south east coast. It is one of Bali’s key nine directional temples and serves particularly as a guardian against dark spirits from the ocean. It may also be listed in the “six sanctuaries of the world”, the six holiest places of worship on Bali. According to Balinese beliefs, they are the pivotal points of the island and are meant to provide spiritual balance to Bali. But the list varies depending on which region you are in.

The complex has shrines from various historical periods. One notable shrine is a bale pavilion adorned with motifs of Naga Basuki flanking its steps. Naga Basuki is a primordial dragon who is believed to keep the balance of the cosmos.

We were enthralled by the cave so thick with furry nectar bats. These bats and the insects attracted by their guano are a rich food source. It wasn’t long before Felix found a fat python or three, tucked into the many cave wall crevices plus many happy lizards.

According to some tales, the cave has a secret pathway up to Besakih temple in the north at the foot of Mount Agung, discovered by a Mengwi prince when he took refuge in the cave hiding from enemies.

black and white

The Balinese believe in mutual dualism, like the Chinese yin and yang, They believe that there is no joy without sorrow, no night without day.

Everything goes back to the Balinese philosophy of balance called Rwa Bhineda. This philosophy of balance and harmony can be found everywhere in Balinese everyday life and it is symbolised in the black and white trademark textile of Bali.

This textile is called saput poleng. Saput means ‘blanket’ and poleng means ‘in two tones’. In the cloth there is an equal number of alternating black and white squares. Together they symbolise the coexistence of opposites and the ultimate goal of harmony.

When an object is wearing this cloth, it means that a spirit resides within. The cloth keeps the spirit and its energy inside and also protects the people from being disturbed by the spirit.

Tenganan Pegringsingan

After that, we looked around an intriguing traditional village, with combat roosters and an angry turkey.

We admired the many intricate crafts on display such as wood carving, basket weaving and stone work. I was facinated by the ancient fangipani trees here and the famous Balinese canon ball fruit.

Tenganan Pegringsingan is a village in the regency of Karangasem in Bali, Indonesia. Before the 1970s was known by anthropologists to be one of the most secluded societies of the archipelago.

Houses in Tenganan Pegringsingan village are built on either side of the north to the south concourse with their doors opening on to it. The entrances of the houses are narrow, only allowing one person to enter or leave at any one time. One enters the village through the gate on the southern end. On either side of the entrance are two small temples. Across from these is the long balé agung, where the administrative decisions for the village are made. Next to that is the drum tower, kul-kul. The kul-kul is beaten 21 times each morning to start the day. Up the center are a series of communal pavilions (balé banjar) for formal and informal meetings, ceremonial gatherings. At the northern end is the village temple Pura Puseh, the temple of origin.

The people of Tenganan Pegringsingan are called Bali Aga — the original Balinese. They descend from the pre-Majapahit kingdom of Pegeng. There are strict rules as to who is allowed to live in the village. Only those born in the village can stay in the village and become full members of the community. There are rules regarding marriage and anyone who marries outside of the village has to leave. A strict protocol regarding marriages among the kin groups have steered the Tengananese through the genetic perils of intermarriage although with increasing contact with the outside world these rules have relaxed somewhat.


Whilst here we saw a photo of one of the most famous ritual combat ceremonies of the Aga people –mekare kare, the ritual blood sacrifice. This ritual fight is held as part of a temple ceremony in Tenganan, around the fifth month of the Balinese calendar. The participants carry a rattan-woven shield and a bundle of thorny pandan leaves, used to scratch the opponent’s skin until it bleeds. Before the fight begins, participants drink tuak, fermented local palm, to symbolise brotherhood. But when the ancient selonding music fills the air, a volley of fierce shouts descends and the fighting begins. The fighting is judged by a mediator and usually lasts only a fierce 5 to 10 minutes. The first person to draw blood with the thorny weapon wins. The injured are treated with traditional liquid medicines, and once all fighters recover their strength, the whole village prepares food and drink for an elaborate feast which must follow the Balinese sacrifice of human blood.

Keramas aero Park

There was a blackout at home, and we were already late, so we quickly made plans for dinner out with our host’s family. They surprised us with an amazing Boeing 737-400 restaurant, where the eight of us had a great final dinner together before heading home and packing up for our early morning flight out tomorrow.


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