An important part of our service trip to Bali is building the working relationship within our team and immersing ourselves in the local culture before we visit the schools. Today our group toured small villages in the Ubud area on bicycles. Getting off the busy roads with their constraint drone of motorbikes is a great way to appreciate the true beauty and tranquility of the island.
After the bike ride, our team continued their adventure on a rafting trip down one of the many small rivers which run from the volcanoes to the sea.
In the afternoon we made all of the last minute arrangements for the sponsored student’s party at Iluh’s house in Munduk. With 66 students (we added 3 more today!), their parents and random siblings, the party has the flavor of a military operation. Each student writes a note to their sponsor, receives their backpack and has their photo taken. Luckily we have 8 members of our team so everyone has an assignment.
In the evening, we went to the water temple for the highlight of our stay in Ubud. This is the first time we’ve been to the temple after dark and the experience is really different. We start the purification rite by changing into sarongs which are required to enter the temple compound. Our friend Wayan leads us through the ritual, first by entering the pool where the sacred water flows out of decorative spouts.
At each spout we splash water on our face three times before immersing ourselves completely and saying a prayer. Even though we’re at a Balinese Hindu temple, the similarities to a Christian sacrament are remarkable.
When we emerge from the pool, we take small offerings into the inner temple area and sit before one of the priests. The priest leads us in prayer and then offers us each holy water to drink and sprinkle on our heads. After the prayer ceremony, we quietly leave the temple grounds.
It’s been a long day but we grab some dinner and enjoy the quiet walk back to the villa. Tomorrow will be a day in transit as we head up to the mountains.