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Photo Friday – Sandalwood

September 12th, 2008 · No Comments · Destinations, Photos

Discovering sandalwood with Dean at Pura Taman Ayun, Mengwi, Bali.

Meg & Mirielle discovering sandalwood with Dean at Pura Taman Ayun, Mengwi, Bali.

While in Bali, we stopped at the royal temple, Pura Taman Ayun. Our outstanding driver and guide, Dean, was telling us about its history as we walked the perimeter of the inner temple. He stopped and pointed out a plant. My husband took this picture as he did. Dean said it was a sandalwood tree. In most of the Balinese temples, sandalwood trees are found because the flowers are used in ceremonies, usually for sprinkling blessed water. He picked a flower and handed it to me. It was greenish-white with eight long, narrow petals, broadly spaced looking a bit like a spider. It seemed perfect for delicately spreading water. (I am Catholic, so, I’ve seen my fair share of sprinklings.)

I held the flower to my nose, took a deep breath and a smile came across my face. (It was too hot and humid to exert energy on a smile all the time -even in a place as wonderful as Bali. Really, it was HOT!) The distinct woody-sweet smell filled my mind. I used to make perfume of sandalwood, ylang ylang and lemon, but stopped as the price of sandalwood rose. In Bali, it grew everywhere!! If only on temple grounds, temples are everywhere in Bali. (I am still harboring hopes that I can grow some in the SF Bay Area.)

I believe smell is the most powerful of the senses, especially in travel. Just think about the smell when you walk off a plane onto the jet way – jet fuel and humidity, cold, diesel, air-con or cleaning fluid, depending on your destination. Or the smoky-newsprint smell of a subway; or a crisp and pungent smell of a market; or the tarragon-roast beef smell of a particular restaurant; or the stone and air-con smell of a museum; or the cardboard and old fish smell of a Chinese medicine store (will always be Hong Kong for me); and how all of these evoke such a strong memory of a place.

I guess this is a picture of smell.

Note: I am participating in DeliciousBaby’s super cool Photo Fridays, where everyone is invite to link to a travel photo. Please click here to see more of this week’s photos & stories.

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