Uluwatu is the one we’ve all heard of right? I had never heard if Tanah Lot until my Indonesia friend and her local friend took me there. It wasn’t even on my little bucket list, big mistake. I loved this place. It just makes perfect sense to have a place of spiritual purity and prayer by the ocean. There is no place that reminds you more of how small and insignificant you are. Its enchanting looking out to the lonely rock amidst the swell of frothy waves. The excitement of having to cross through knee deep tide to wade your way out to the rock. The way they accept you to a degree, bless you with holy water in their traditional way yet keep their place of worship closed off to your ignorant eyes. I felt so much respect, acceptance and awe here and I would 100% recommend a visit, even if you had to prioritise Tanah Lot over the infamous Uluwatu.
Uluwatu was no doubt beautiful in its own right. The rocky descent of the cliffs into the most serene blue surf. The colours are insane and if you make it for a clear sunset (which I was unlucky with) it might just be something purely magical. But where Tanah Lot has its abundance of open space for the crowds of tourists, Uluwatu and its smaller spaces were almost unmovable, a fight to get to each photo opportunity spot and always a random tourist in the background of your selfies (how selfish). Every evening they put on a performance, a traditional balinese dance showcasing some of their tales of gods and spirits. It sounded impressive but with the amount of people and the quick filling up of the amphitheatre we ended up giving it a miss. It’s such a tourist problem to be bothered by other tourists at a touristy hotspot.
Temples are obviously not a rarity as you drive through the island, their intricate beauty dons every street whether surrounded by a group of tin worn huts or hotels and fancy restaurants. The little offerings to gods are never amiss outside any place with inhabitants, their brightness speckles the narrow pathways, sits risen on holy sculptures. The magic of a place so in sync with their spirituality and religion isn’t so recognisable when you’ve grown up somewhere like England where your countries religious heritage is tainted and the beautiful religions which have found their way their are ridiculed and terrorised. This is a place where religion is peace and the locals live their modern lives, inspired by generations of religious practice. The arts are rife, painting and dancing, all to incorporate the tales they won’t let die. Even in open dance, the idea of a tourist spectacle doesn’t take away from the beauty of the movements. These two main temples are different in the ways they announce themselves. Tanah Lot to me just seemed a whole lot more of a unique experience, though that may have just been because I hadn’t knowingly sought it out. So if you’ve not planned to see it definitely do and if not enjoy the examples of Bali’s spiritual core along every street you walk and be careful not to step on the offerings.