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Published: November 9th 2015
After another class at Prana, we stayed there for breakfast in their serene courtyard restaurant. It was a treat for the senses: a wonderful peaceful atmosphere, far removed from the hustle and bustle of the streets, delicious fresh food, and the beauty of Prana itself. Even the bathrooms are decorated in that stunning Moorish style with mosaics, colourful glass lampshades and wall paintings.
We had hired a driver to pick us up after breakfast and take us out and about for the day. Wayang took us south to the Nusa Dua area on the Bukit Peninsula. Bukit means ‘hill’, and nusa dua means ‘two islands’. It’s a rather soulless and unattractive place with all kinds of watersports on offer. There’s parasailing, banana boating, jet skiing, fly fishing, snorkeling and glass bottom boat trips. We chose to take a boat to Turtle Island, expecting this to be the turtle sanctuary that we had read about. Instead, it was a horrible setup with all kinds of animals – from porcupines and monkeys to bats and toucans – kept in tiny bare cages. Tourists were allowed to get into the cages and you could tell how unhappy and defensive the animals
became. Reptiles and birds were kept chained up outside. There were turtles too and tourists were permitted to pick them up out of the water and take photos whilst the poor animals were flailing around in distress. It was a cruel horrible place and very expensive to get to, so I urge other travellers to skip this one, thereby voting with the absence of your business.
Next, Wayan took us to the Garuda Wisnu Kencana (GWK) Cultural Park. This is a weird one. The massive complex is still under construction and, once complete, will feature a 66 metre tall statue of Garuda, another statue of Wisnu, a shopping mall and a gallery. So far, Garuda’s large bronze head in on display, as is Wisnu’s torso. There are also various restaurants and a large amphitheatre where you can watch performances. We saw a traditional Balinese ballet, which featured the story of Garuda who went on a journey to find Tirta Amerta (the water of eternal life) to liberate his mother from slavery. The soundtrack was rather questionable, but the costumes were exquisite.
The good thing about GWK is the view that you get from the
top. It’s quite peaceful up there (probably won’t be once the park is completed) and you can happily wander around the enormous area. Dean had a drive-around on a Segway and enjoyed very second.
Next, Wayan took us to Dreamland Beach which, sadly, is heavily polluted and very busy. It’s right at the bottom of another enormous complex that is being built to attract tourism. We are told that the land is owned and the complex is being built by the former dictator of Indonesia who forced many local families out of the area in order to erect hotels and shopping malls etc.
Our next stop was Uluwatu Temple (Pura Luhur Ulu Watu) which is definitely worth a visit. This temple is perched on top of sheer cliffs at the Bukit Peninsula’s south-western tip. The wonderful views of the ocean below are breathtaking, and the build of the temple itself is very interesting with lots of little pathways and seating areas. It even features what looks like a miniature version of the Great Wall of China. We took in a performance of the traditional Kecak and Fire Dance, which is performed daily at sunset.
The hour’s drive back to Seminyak passed in a daze and we fell into bed thoroughly exhausted. There were some nice highlights but to be honest, this was the one day of our holiday which was the least enjoyable. It’s just a reminder that, despite being a tourist, you don’t have to do the touristy thing to have a good time. We generally prefer to go off the beaten track, explore, connect with fellow travellers, and chill out. So that’s what the rest of the trip will be all about.
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