Whilst in Bali we found the best way to visit the culture was with a local knowledgeable driver on a series of ‘tours’ based around where you are staying. I would highly recommend this; you can spend 8 hours on a tour with a driver for around 800,000 rupiah or £40, plus very minimal charges for parking and of course entry into certain attractions. We spent one day concentrating on the beautiful South of the island.
Turtle Conservation Project
Whilst I do dislike beginning the post on a low note, I thought it best to keep the day in order for clarity of the route taken. We arrived bright and early at essentially an overpriced water sports centre offering jet skiing, banana boat riding and most notably parasailing, amongst other activities. If you go with a driver who is spending the day with you do bring him in, we would have been utterly ripped off without him, he helped us negotiate a fairer price. Feeling somewhat worse for wear after our surfing excursion the previous day we chose the more gentle sounding fast boat to a turtle conservation project which was what this experience was advertised to us as. I had pictured a remote picturesque island with large turtles roaming freely around huge beaches and perhaps some large covered baskets protecting baby turtles from predators until they were big enough to be released into the open ocean. Maybe even also an information centre detailing the conservation methods and history of the animals there. Unfortunately this was not the reality. Up to fifteen very large turtles were kept in what seemed a very small pen built into the muddy sea. There was no beach for them, just concrete. The baby turtles were kept on land in a small enclosure the size of a bath tub and in order to compete the ‘tourist experience’ of the island several other animals including a bat, an iguana, a couple of owls, a snake and a toucan were kept in cruel inappropriate conditions, simply to be handled be tourists and photographed. A baby monkey called Lily was kept on her own and was so clingy with the handlers it made me sad she wasn’t with her parents. I know nothing about turtles, indeed, I wanted to go on this excursion to learn about them and the methods used in a conservation project to help and protect them which I can’t say I did. Although I do not know what this should involve, the conditions all the animals were kept in made me uneasy and uncomfortable, and I left feeling concerned for their welfare. We chose this tour on a complete whim, and this highlighted to me the importance of fully researching excursions involving animals beforehand, as I usually normally would. If you do visit this centre, go for the parasailing I would say, that did look incredibly cool if not chaotic, over the busy harbour.
Nusa Dua beach
On to better things, next we visited the extreme Southern tip of Bali, Nusa Dua. This is undoubtedly the ‘Monaco’ of the island, with some of the most expensive hotels and boutiques. Even driving around the area feels luxurious; the wide roads are treelined with beautiful pruned shrubbery and flowers. Our driver was very enthusiastic about this, taking us to see the cleanest beach in Bali behind one of the most luxurious hotels. He was quite right, it really was beautiful, honestly the classic holiday brochure shot.
Seafood at Jimbaran
I believe this place was called Ganesha. We were told Jimbaran was the best place for the freshest seafood on the island and we certainly weren’t disappointed. This restaurant employed the novel method of ordering at the ‘fish bar’ whereby all the freshly caught fish are presented on ice and weighed in front of you, as the fish is charged by weight. They had prawns and live lobsters and crabs swimming around, as well as several varieties of fish. Lunch with a beautiful view.
Of the many temples we visited this was one of my favourites, even more so than Tanah Lot which I thought would be the runaway winner. Once there, Uluwatu to me was the more beautiful. The cliff face facade was the most enchanting aspect, the actual temple itself when you climb to it is quite small and understated. I imagine the sunset is genuinely stunning from here. For sure the high point of the day.
On our way back to Legian we were lucky enough to visit the local ‘art supermarket’ and I am so annoyed with myself for forgetting to photograph this. The indoor market had endless rows of ornate wood carvings, batik sarongs and clothing, coffees, teas and crispy crackers and countless other items at such frankly unbelievably low prices it was impossible to restrain oneself. We are talking around 10,000 to 50,000 rupiah here, essentially in the range of 50 pence to £2.50. I came out with a huge bag of wood carvings and was enormously pleased with myself.