Woke up to sunny skies - perfect since I was planning on hiring a car and driver and driving around the surrounding countryside. Quickly did email - I was hoping for it to be quicker in the morning, it wasn't. Bought some more beautiful handmade books, unlike the other ones I bought I have no idea what I'm going to do with these - just send them home I guess. Negotiated a nice air conditioned car and hit the road. Drove up in the mountains. The vegetation was almost unbelievably lush, and as we rose higher the clouds seemed to descend and soon it was raining - oh well.
Up in the mountains we went to Pura Ulun Dano Bratan, a beautiful Hindu / Buddhist temple, located on the shores of an alpine lake (Bano Bratan). The luckily the rain had stopped as we drove into the little valley. The temple was a maze of intricately carved stone creatures. Their well weathered lines, a patina of moss, and the misty mountains made for the perfect (if a bit surreal) setting. The thatched multi level / roofed temples almost seem to cascade down into the lake (and in fact several are located in the lake - or on very small islands a few meters off the shore).
Drove out of the mountains, stopping to watch some of the many gray monkeys, back into Singaraja. I had the driver stop at the bank (nearest ATM). After some difficulty got some money out. This is the fourth time I've driven through Singaraja, but the first time I've really paid any attention. There are many - or, were many - government buildings here. They were all burned down in the rioting last month. It's amazing to me that people so relaxed and mellow as these seem could be driven to such measures!
Drove to Banjar, some distance southwest of Kalibukbuk. It was pouring rain by now and the hilly roads were sometimes difficult to drive on given the amount of stuff washing over them. Stopped at Air Panas and natural hot spring fed series of pools. The baths are located in meticulously maintained gardens and feature twelve carved nagas (dragon like heads) that the water flows from (eight into the first pool and then six more that channel water from the first (upper) pool to another lower pool. There is also a third pool with the water falling from fifteen or twenty feet up - just the thing for a massage! I was starving so I ate lunch at a great local restaurant overlooking the gardens and pools. After lunch I went and soaked. It was perfect in the rain. I think that on a nicer day they would have been packed with people - not to mention to hot. But in the cool rain with no more than ten other people it was pretty close to heaven! Unfortunately I didn't bring another pair of shorts and the light colored nylon board shorts I was wearing are virtually transparent when wet... I left wearing my sarong - luckily totally acceptable in Indonesia.
After an hour of soaking we hit the nearby (and Bali's only) Buddhist monastery, Brahmavihara Arama. The monastery was surrounded by the typical intricate carvings, but really couldn't compete with the last temple. On the plus side proper attire was required - and my sarong passed. Plus, the view down the valley to the sea was spectacular. Small red roofed temples dotting brilliant green rice paddies and the ocean in the background.
I had intended to visit one or more of the local waterfalls as well, but given the rain (and the resulting mud!) I opted to go home. Back a the hotel wrote in my journal and made plans to depart tomorrow. Diner was at the same fantastic vegetarian restaurant, but with a mostly new group of people. It turns out that Dawn and Jodie are heading to Ubud tomorrow as well, so at least I'll have company. After diner a group of us - mostly the newcomers went for a swim in the pool - the warm water is perfect for night! At midnight I went back and spent an hour and a half packing.