My Life as a Traveler



Today, after breakfast, I will become Hindu again and visit the renowned Tirta Empul Holy Water Spring Temple with Ketut and Kadek. It’s sort of a Hindu baptism. They visit the temple a couple of times a year to pray and make offerings, but also to bathe in, drink, collect, and bless the holy water that comes from this sacred spring. They then take the blessed water home with them and share it with their family members so they may also be purified.

We’re here!

The temple was built around a clear spring in 962 AD during the time when the Balinese king reigned. People came from the entire island to worship here. Some call this the Balinese Ganges, and I get that, seeing the line of people patiently waiting to get to the sacred fountains. Nowadays, people come from all over the world. It’s especially nice to go with Ketut and Kadek, because they are not just taking me there, they are allowing me to participate in this ceremony with them. Actually, it turned out that Ketut was the one who led me through the process.

Decorated for ceremony


First, you pay your approx $1 to get in. Balinese get in for free. I noticed a group of Asians wearing Harley Davidson t-shirts pass by us. Then K&K took me to the side of the temple, where Kadek produced a not-so-fancy sarong and sash for me to wear. T-shirt was ok. That gets us into the temple area. We went up to see the place where the underground spring gushes out, took some pics, then off to the lockers. I take my shirt off and tie the sarong around my neck, making sort of a dress. Bra stays on. We’re ready to take the waters.

I get by with a little help from my friends


Kadek stays out to take pictures, so I hop in the water, following Ketut. The line is long, mostly Balinese with the assorted western or Japanese person thrown in. The temperature of the water is cool, but after the first moment, it feels nice. It’s a little cloudy today, though, not as warm as usual, and soon Ketut is freezing. There are 13 fountains altogether, and there is a certain order of visitation. Ketut has brought a huge jug, and I am persuaded to buy a small jug of my own to take home. It takes about 45 minutes to get to the first fountain. There are large fish, koi, I hope, swimming around my legs. I think I felt him take a nibble of my leg. Eeek.


The locker room

When you finally get to the first fountain, here’s the drill: face the fountain and say a prayer. Each of these fountains is good for something different – there is a Sanskrit word written on each of the fountains and the water passes over it as it gushes out. I’m sure the Balinese say a different prayer at each one, but me, I’m just thankful, and happy, and want to continue to be so. After prayer, cup your hands, right over left, and drink 3 times. Then dunk your head underneath. Then, take your jug and put it under the fountain, getting a little water inside, but not filling it all in one spot. You want water from each of the 13 fountains, so be sure and leave room. Repeat this process, skipping the two fountains that are only for funerary purposes only. Ketut follows me. Out we go to another pool where there are 2 fountains. At this one, we do the same process, but Ketut tells me the last one is for Om Shanti. I sing/say out loud, Om, Shanti, Om, and receive smiles from the Balinese around me.

The line is long when we first get here


But we’re not done. We get out of our wet clothes, change into some dry ones, and go to the inner temple where Ketut prepares the offerings. We bring our jugs to the altar, stuffing the offerings through the jug handles. Then we find the right place to sit, make prayers (the bowing, drinking, sprinkling, and rice on the forehead), then grab our jugs and go. Kadek says I should share this water with everyone in my family; it’s extremely special and healing.


After visiting the source of the spring, we take our jugs and join the line

I’m pretty hungry now, and ask K&K if they want to stop for some grub, my treat. Their favorite restaurant serves Babi Guling, suckling pig, and rice. They order and for less than $6 we all get a plate of rice with different parts of pig: meat, skin, sausage, and a couple of chewy things that uh, I really don’t want to know what part of the pig it came from. Spicy soup sauce is on the side. And there’s orange soda. It’s really good.


They drop me off at the Nest and head home to their kids. I like to think that my spirit is a little more cleansed after this experience. What I know for sure is that I am extremely thankful and happy. Thankful for K&K and all the people I’ve met here so far, thankful for my friends and family back in the US, and grateful for the opportunity to be here, alive, and happy.

First, to pray


Next, to drink


Third, to cleanse the outer body

Then a bit from each one for take-out


Now prepare the offering for the jugs, leave them on the altar and pray


Dinner time!


Parking lot of the restaurant




6 responses

  1. Julie:
    Looks like a great adventure. Kathryn and I have always wanted to go to that temple. We usually go to the one closer to Ubud first thing in the morning before anyone else arrives.
    It seems like you’ve settled into the Ubud scene pretty easily. The Nest sounds perfect for your home base.

    May 21, 2015 at 12:04 am

    • Thanks! Yes, this was a great place for me!

      May 22, 2015 at 5:51 am

  2. kpschlesinger

    I definitely have Bali fever! have loved reading and seeing your pictures. We will need the Nest contact info for our future trips. Kathryn

    May 21, 2015 at 12:23 am

    • Thanks! I booked this place through and it is a great place for solo travelers to be away from the main part of town, yet meet like-minded people.

      May 22, 2015 at 5:52 am

  3. Julia Lewis

    I have so enjoyed reading of your adventures. You are amazing and I love that you can enjoy all of these experiences with a grateful heart! Love the pictures!

    May 26, 2015 at 8:17 am

    • Hey thanks! Haven’t been able to post further Bali adventures as I am driving my stuff in this big truck to Oregon. But there is more to come!

      May 26, 2015 at 1:22 pm

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