The Hero of the Viral Video from Besakih Temple Shared his Version

Many have probably already seen the video in where the temple guards purportedly eject a tourist from the main Balinese temple, Pura Agung Besakih, for violating rules. According to local media reports, the man with children entered the temple area from the east side, bypassing the main gates, and did not pay the entrance fee. Furthermore, when the staff pointed out that the children were dressed inappropriately (t-shirt and underwear), he allegedly reacted aggressively and refused to return to the entrance to get sarongs (mandatory attire for temple visits).
"They were intercepted twice by security when they tried to enter the Pura Agung Besakih temple through one of the secret paths, but the officers had to back down because the foreigner was being aggressive," said Gusti Lanang Muliarta, head of the agency managing the sacred area of Pura Agung Besakih.
He also added, "After quite lengthy arguments, the foreigner finally decided to descend and not return."
We tracked down the man who became the main character of this video and asked him what really happened and why he decided to disregard the rules for visiting the temple. The hero of the video is named Ivan. He is vacationing in Bali with six children. The family came to the temple to get closer to the island's culture.
Photo: Ivan
Ivan: The video only captured the beginning of this story - but in reality, we didn't try to illegally enter, deceive anyone, or anything like that. We were invited there and even allowed to pass through the path we took. Yes, where we entered, there was no opportunity to pay for tickets or get sarongs. Therefore, when the temple guards met us and said we needed to change clothes, it was already difficult to do so. It was a kilometer back to return. And how could I go back with a small child? And I tried to explain to them that we are not tourists at all, that I collaborate with the  Geographic Society, publish in National Geographic, and sometimes I have the opportunity to visit interesting places. We are often invited to places where others are not allowed to enter. This time we had an invitation from a Balinese family. And the guard who met us just didn't know this; he had one task - simply not to let us in. I didn't violate the rules out of arrogance; we just hadn't entered the temple yet, I thought it was a free common area because I saw people walking purposefully somewhere.
BL: But you understood where you were going, why didn't you think about the rules right away, didn't clarify everything the day before the trip?
Ivan: We went there completely spontaneously. In general, that day we were planning to go to the [Agung] volcano. Only when we arrived at the foot of it, we didn't feel like climbing up anymore - the weather wasn't great, and we realized that it would take half a day. Besides, the children had already been to various volcanoes, and the scenery there is more or less the same. And then we noticed that the temple, which the kids also wanted to visit, was very close by, so we decided to stop by, especially since our Balinese acquaintances told us about the festival planned there for that day.
BL: Who are these acquaintances? Didn't they warn you that you needed tickets and sarongs? Didn't they accompany you?
Ivan: They're just a Balinese family we met the day before. They invited us. I don't know exactly how it works; I didn't deal with this issue, but that's why we didn't need tickets. There was definitely no question about that. And with this family, by the way, we still haven't met. They invited us again. They said let's go together next time to avoid any problems.
BL: Did they tell you about this secret entrance where they don't ask for tickets?
Ivan: Listen, I have no idea if there's one entrance or two. I entered the point I needed into the navigator and went. At some point, the road we were on was blocked by the police; they showed us the way around. We followed it and arrived at the temple, without hiding or sneaking - everything was open there. You see, I wasn't trying to bypass the rules, but nevertheless, I believe that visiting temples anywhere should be free for everyone. We pay quite high taxes in various places, so everything for children, for large families, should be absolutely free. I myself very rarely charge for entry to my events.
BL: So how did it all end? Local media write that you were kicked out of the temple.
Ivan: No one filmed further. Actually, we found sarongs almost immediately after meeting the temple guards. We literally walked 100 meters. There was a very friendly Balinese family selling them, but they gave them to us for free. The woman and her daughter gave them to everyone. I explained to them that we were just going to attend the service and return them. They agreed easily, although they saw us for the first time. Overall, we only had pleasant impressions from visiting the temple. They even let us attend the ceremony, and they helped us do everything right there. And afterward, they treated the children to fruits. So we didn't experience any discomfort. And this video made us very popular among the local population. Some Balinese recognize us, greet us, and invite us over.
According to Ivan, this story ended well for him. Nevertheless, tourists should pay more attention to local rules. Sometimes, serious violations can lead to deportation from the island, even if the traveler had no malicious intent.
Photo: Ivan 
After this incident, Gede Pitana, a tourism professor at Udayana University, once again reminded that many Balinese temples are still active and primarily serve as places for prayers and religious ceremonies.
"In fact, in principle, no one is allowed to enter the temple unless it is related to prayer or religious ceremonies," he noted.
However, if regular tourists want to enter the temple grounds, they need to know and adhere to a set of rules. One of them is that travelers must wear decent clothing. Pitana explained that proper attire should cover the chest and thighs. Accordingly, appearing in places like this in shorts, bikinis, or short tops is impossible. But even if the knees are covered by clothing, there is a rule for all visitors - to wear a sarong.
In addition, every visitor must wear a scarf or a cloth tied around the waist.
This also applies to hair. Women and men with long hair should tie it up. Even better - use traditional headgear.
As for the secret routes, one of which Ivan managed to use to enter the temple, security has been strengthened there now, and a new rule has been introduced: no verbal disputes with tourists anymore. If someone violates the rules, the police will be called immediately.
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