Friday, 26 October 2012

Bali: Sea Temples

Although Indonesia is predominantly Muslim, the main religion in Bali is Hinduism, though it is very much a local variation infused with animist elements. The island is said to have over a thousand temples. This is no exaggeration as there are important temples belonging to the island as a whole, at least three in every village, and most family compounds have their own. In addition, there are little shrines with floral offerings everywhere.

Some of the most important and spectacular of Bali's temples are the sea temples honouring the sea gods. Each sea temple is reputedly visible from the previous one forming a chain around the island. In addition, there are nine directional temples protecting Bali from evil spirits, which are located at auspicious sites from mountainsides to caves and cliff tops.

The 11th century temple Pura Luhur Ulu Watu on the Bukit peninsula in Bali's south is the only temple that is both a sea temple and one of the directional temples. I headed out there last weekend during the three day stopover in Bali I had on my way home and was floored by the beauty of its surroundings.

Pura Luhur Ulu Watu

Gateway flanked by statues of Ganesh, the elephant-headed god

The headland immediately south of Ulu Watu

One of the wildflowers growing near the cliff face. I'm guessing some kind of milkweed, which is an important food source for the larva of some butterflies, particularly the monarch, and there were some spectacular butterflies around.

The headland looking to the north from Ulu Watu

In the distance are a handful of tourists photographing the resident monkeys, but I was intrigued by the forest in the background. At the end of the dry season in the tropics, many flowering trees lose their leaves and burst into flower.  Back home in Brisbane it happens most noticeably with jacarandas and the poincianas.  I don't know what kind of trees these are, but I suspect that in just a few weeks this backdrop could be spectacular.

This young macaque was fascinated by the hole in the fabric.

Temple guardians

On my earlier visit in June, I visited what is probably the most well-known and most frequently photographed of the sea temples. Pura Tanah Lot is said to have been established in the 15th century by a travelling monk called Nirartha. It is built on a group of rocks at the end of a headland, which becomes an island as the tide comes in.

The priests give a blessing signified by a few grains of rice on the forehead in return for a small donation.

Then, on the very next headland, yet another temple Pura Batu Bolong. My fear of heights overruled the temptation to cross the land bridge for a closer look.

Whenever I am lucky enough to return to Bali, I would love to visit more of the sea temples.  There are seven important ones, so that's at least five to add to my bucket list.  And then there are the directional temples...

Monday, 15 October 2012

Singapore Botanic Gardens: the orchids

On the fifteenth of each month, Carole from May Dreams Gardens hosts the Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day meme, which provides an opportunity for gardeners all over the world to share what is happening in their garden.

Once again I am far from home for this month's GBBD, though not for much longer: I fly out this week. However, a week ago I was lucky enough to visit Singapore for the day. This is my third post to share the blooms, planting combinations, and landscaping that I saw at Singpore's Botanic Gardens.

In this post, I have focussed on on the orchids. The National Orchid Garden is located within the Botanic Gardens, and the blooms on display are absolutely spectacular. Unfortunately, I didn't manage to record as many of the names as I did in my two previous posts, and I will only speculate in the broadest terms what variety I think it is. After my visit it became very clear to me that the more I learn about orchids, the less I confident I am about broadbrush stroke identification due to the extent of hybridisation between the different orchid varieties, especially here in Singapore where orchids are an important industry.

Beautiful blue Vanda orchids

Golden Oncidiums like the 'Dancing Ladies' I grow in Brisbane

The gold here is repeated in the helconias in the background (possibly 'Golden Torch)

A pretty pastel Dendrobium

Singapore's national flower, Vanda 'Miss Joaquin'



Many of the orchids on display would just be located in position while in flower. Here you can see the loose fibre around the pink dendrobiums that covers up this detail.  I love the heart-shaped foliage plant to the right. Does anyone know its name?


Another dendrobium
This Dendrobium is a little like my state's (Queensland) floral emblem, the Cooktown Orchid.



A potted Vanda with pretty two-tone effect with wood-rose flowers and lavender on their reverse.



White dendrobium

This is one of the blooms that makes me nervous about the correctness of some of my 'identifications', particularly of the Vandas. According to my notes, this is Ascocenda Yingluck Shinawatra.  The Ascocendas result from crossing the smaller Ascocentrum variety with Vandas. As an orchid novice, I would find it very difficult to distinguish this from a Vanda were it not for the tag.

Spathoglottis Phillipe 'Mathilde' named for the Belgian princess after her 2008 visit.

Massed white dendrobiums



An unusual apricot-coloured Phalaenopsis

Richly coloured Vandas in the mist house

An exotic antennaed Oncidium


Finally, my kind of golden arches...

Hope you enjoyed the visit and a happy Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day. To see more GBBD blooms, click here.


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