Bali Diaries 3 – From Gilli to Seminyak
It was a 2 hour drive from Padang Bai port to Seminyak; 50 kms of farm land and black sand beaches. After the boat ride from Gilli to Padang Bai, we were more than grateful for the little pleasures offered, one of which was the air-conditioner in the car that took us to our destination.
A little homework on Seminyak, in Southern Bali revealed that its’ an upscale area with luxurious villas, chic hotels, fine dining restaurants, fashionable boutiques and beaches. The description of Seminyak couldn’t have been more perfect except for the fact that I wasn’t sure if it would be a haven for shopping, if it only had pricey boutiques.
But Seminyak was not just wide roads, a diverse choice of cuisines and regal resorts and two storey boutiques. It had small shops selling boutique clothes at reasonable prices.
Tip : If you can manage it, let Seminyak be your last stop in Bali so you can shop till you drop and fill bags to take home. I’m telling you, you won’t be disappointed.
Tukad villas Resort was set in a quiet neighborhood, 10 minutes (by car) away from town. An unobtrusive board in front of the resort was totally a misrepresentation of what lay in store.
A stone path lined with trees and around 10 villas on either side of the path is what meets the eye as one enters. White walls, solid wood entrance doors to each independent villa, over which creepers grow, a wooden deck from the entrance door to the modern styled villa with French windows, an independent outdoor pool, beach chairs, a cabana with big blue cushions in a private garden of green trees with flowers and fruits is what you get if you stay here.
You wake up to yellow-white flowers fallen over the dew-kissed deck and the sun glinting in the waters of the pool. Well… yes, it is romantic. And even die-hard critics would be touched.
The villas have spacious rooms, four-poster beds, a living room and the big bathrooms have a tub and a more traditional shower area with black stone walls and a black stone floor. That’s where the problem was. But only for me. You see, the roof over the shower area is half cement and half glass through which you can see the sky and the trees above. Its actually beautiful except that after my episode with the sea-krabi, I found the black walls in the shower and the glass panel on the roof frightening at night. I had the eerie feeling that I’d find a snake dangling from the roof and this time I wouldn’t be able to escape. I didn’t tell the kids because I didn’t want to freak them out. Nothing could help me allay my fears. I believed I’d get over it once I moved back to Mumbai city. However, fortunately, this fear wasn’t a dampener and we enjoyed our stay .
The villa was more than perfect. The walls around it are so high that you get all the privacy you need. Shop or go sightseeing during the day and then have a swim in the evening in the lit up pool under the stars.
Tip The resort has a car service which offers free rides to guests wanting to go to town. You need to come back to the resort on your own which is fine because there are loads of taxis. (You need to ensure you know the approximate price to pay (check at the hotel) and then you can take any taxi; not just the blue taxis which are metred taxis. All you have to do is agree with the driver on the price before you get in, in case it isn’t a blue taxi.)
Having stayed at Gilli islands, we decided to skip the beaches at Seminyak and instead decided to see the places around Seminyak like Jatiluwih rice terraces (a Unesco heritage site), Tanah Lot Temple, Ulan Danu Temple each of which is built uniquely; one on a lake and the other on a cliff.
Jatiluwih Rice Terraces
600 hectares of rice fields along the Batukaru mountains is a photographer’s delight. A trek around the rice fields takes around 2 – 3 hours. But if you’re not tempted to go on the trek, like we weren’t, its perfectly fine. You can still take beautiful photographs of the fields, the women harvesting the crop (depending on the season you visit) and the traditional water management system called ‘Subak’ which is recognized by Unesco and dates back to the 9th century.
The truth is its only when you visit a farm or a plantation, do you realize the hard work that goes into it. Acres of land, the sun beating down, the women bent picking each stalk of rice grain, making a bundle of it and stacking it. Its a slow, repetitive process and there’s nothing exciting about it except the fact that if they didn’t do it, we wouldn’t have food to eat. And yet they are the poor ones and we the rich. And sadly we don’t think twice before binning it.
Tanah Lot Temple
This ‘Pura’ (meaning temple) is revered by the Balinese people as the most sacred sea temple. Tourists are not allowed to enter into the temple but can walk around on the premises and take photographs of the temple complex.
Standing in the premises, as one looks towards the temple and the land on which it stands, one is more aware of how inconspicuous one is before the mighty ocean, the rugged cliffs and the crashing waves. The temple is surrounded on three sides by the ocean. The temple was built sometime in the 16th Century!
A walk from Tanah Lot temple brings you to Batu Balong temple which is in the same complex. This temple is connected to the shore. Visitors are not allowed in the temple.
Lunch at Beratan lake
It was a warm day and a visit to the sea-temple although beautiful, did drain us. So we stopped over for lunch on the way to Ulan Danu Temple. While the lunch was good, it was the view from the restaurant that was breathtaking – the lake and the mountains beyond them could have easily been mistaken for Lake Geneva. There are boating facilities at the lake. Its’ a fun place if you have younger kids who need a break from temple visits and don’t care too much for picturesque places. 🙂
Is on the western side of Lake Beratan. Its’ again a very picturesque temple and one of the most visited sites. Lotus flowers and water hyacinths float in the waters adding to its beauty.
The last stop for the day was Uluwatu which is 2 and a half hours away from Tanah Lot. The time to reach Uluwatu takes longer if its a weekday because of the traffic . We had to get there before sunset that’s approximately 6.30 p.m. not only because we wanted to view the sunset from Uluwatu, as its spectacular from there but also because we wanted to see the Kechak dance which begins immediately after sunset and last for around 30 minutes.
It was around 3 p.m. when we started after lunch and we reached just in time at around 6.15 p.m. The car needed parking which took around 10 minutes because of the crowds. We had to wait for the driver because we hadn’t booked tickets for the kechak dance and he needed to pull strings. So, tip : Please book your tickets in advance for the Kechak dance.
Uluwatu temple is situated on a cliff, 70 m above sea-level. The parking lot and the area around the temple are filled with monkeys so one must be careful with their things.
‘I could see a thousand sunsets and yet never tire.’
With anguish, I watched
Her go down
The sky, a bloody crimson, the sea, a brilliant orange
She glided, painting the silken waters
In her hue
And we watched
All of us, different faces, different races
Stunned into silence, united
I watched her leave
I felt a pang
‘Why did she have to go?’
I received a message
That you were waiting
On the other side
Off the Pacific
To see her
And I rejoiced
My joy knew no bounds
It isn’t in vain
sinks into the deep waters
For I know
You are waiting
On the other side.
I wrote this poem the next day when I shared a picture of the Bali sunset with my sister and in return she sent me a picture of her in Canada- waiting solemnly for the sun to rise.
After the sunset, we got to see the Kechak dance. Our driver managed to get us in. We didn’t get a seat but got a place on the ledge of the enclosure where the dance was performed.
The Kechak dance is an enactment of the Hindu Epic ‘Ramayan’. The story is enacted by a few major characters like Rama, Sita, Ravana, Hanuman to the sound of drum beats and around 50 people (belonging to the troupe) sitting around saying ‘Kechak,Kechak’ continuously. The pace increases and drops based on the scene and its definitely a watch because its different.
The remaining 2 days in Seminyak went in shopping, eating, swimming, posing and enjoying the resort. With that came an end to a beautiful holiday and the promise to return again.
I hope you enjoyed reading the blog and it was informative. I love comments, so do write back :). If you’re planning to visit and need any additional information, I’ll be happy to help, if I can.
In case you missed reading the previous two posts in the Bali series, you can click on the links below:
*I have taken creative liberty to refer to the Sun as ‘Her’ in the poem, while in many cultures, the sun is believed to be a source of male energy.
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