I had no more than a sneak peak at this beautiful coastline that wraps around the island but it was enough to make me understand why sun-seekers and surfers the world over love it here. This part of Bali reminds me quite a bit of Boracay in that it is divided into seaside neighborhoods with multiple personalities and price points, a la Stations 1, 2 and 3.
Seminyak, which I am told is like Nusa Dua on the eastern coast, is for the true hedonist and the discerning traveller. This is where you go if you're Brangelina or just want a first-class hideaway. Spa resorts are juxtaposed with chic designer boutiques and elegant restaurants.
A little too flashy and glam for you, maybe? Head south until you step onto Legian sand where, while still patronized by the affluent crowd, the snob appeal is turned down a notch. It is classy, yet hip. Think Ibiza with a spruced-up set. For most it's the happy medium.
Slowly encroaching into Legian territory is Kuta beach, which is like Legian or Boracay or (enter name of any popular beach here) on steroids. It is a surfer's paradise, where everyone comes for the cheap rooms and cheap eats and the all-night boozing and partying. It is generally loud, frenetic and overly crowded. Hawkers cram the tree-lined path next to the road selling refreshments and souvenirs. Across the road from the beach is a multitude of budget-friendly establishments and alleys leading to hostels. The beach is no less beautiful though and we were fortunate enough to catch our last Bali sunset here (photo below) before heading to the airport.
We hiked up the dunes towards the popular La Lucciola, a classy beachfront restaurant recommended by an Australian lady we met. It was mid-afternoon and we had some time to kill before heading to Ulu Watu temple for the sunset so we had some cocktails. Rina & I shared a gorgeous prosciutto, apple and gorgonzola pizza topped with arugula. It was thigh-slappingly good! I washed it down with a blueberry margarita, which turned out to be very interesting.
Bikini-clad girls and guys wearing nothing more than board shorts and flip flops filled the sidewalks, among them Indonesians from Java selling their wares and plying their trade, yes that of the fleshy kind included. Gusti pointed out the vacant lot where the bomb went off on Oct. 12, 2002 killing over 200 people. Those who lost their lives are honored with pictures on the perimeter wall and at the memorial across the street. I felt deeply saddened for the innocent people who met their fate here and said a silent prayer for them as we drove away.
The Pura Luhur Ulu Watu is a multi-tiered structure of thatched roofs and is one of Bali's directional temples. It is perched precipitously on a cliff where it wards off evil spirits from the southwest. It is especially famous for it's unique sunset. A stone wall snakes along the cliffs on both sides of the temple. We walked along both walls, enjoying the view of the temple from both sides. Gusti rapped his stick on the ground to scare away the monkeys who dared approach us. Whenever one got too close, he protectively shielded us from it with his body and hissed at it while waving his stick menacingly. We felt safe. The other tourists were not so lucky. A guy next to us had his sunglasses swiped from his face and I spied a monkey running away with someone's camera case.
The sunset was indeed spectacular! The temple was silhouetted against a sky painted shades of pink, purple and red. It was a shame we couldn't stay longer for the Kecak or ancient fire dance. We still had to drive to Jimbaran for dinner and we didn't want to end too late. We had a 6 am walking tour of the rice paddies the next morning.
And this concludes my Bali series. I hope you enjoyed it as much as I loved to relive it by sharing my stories. :)