A bet­ter side of Bali

The Advertiser - SA Weekend - - FRONT PAGE - words and pic­tures david nankervis

Bwhere we would spend the ma­jor­ity of our 10-night stay in Bali – with the ho­tel and it was all aboard for a trip on the large peo­ple mover the next day.

We de­cided to take a round-about route to our des­ti­na­tion on the east­ern side of the is­land. As we had younger chil­dren in tow, ALI can get a bad rap with im­ages of boozy bo­gans run­ning amok – but if you are pre­pared to get off the beaten track your ef­forts are re­warded with a beau­ti­ful ex­pe­ri­ence. You’ll find stun­ning beaches where you are not rou­tinely has­sled by ama­teur masseurs, sari sell­ers or be­ing within earshot of some­one from “Sinny in ‘Straya’’.

Given the aim of my over­seas hol­i­days is not to be sur­rounded by fel­low Aussies, Bali may seem a strange choice for a win­ter sun es­cape. But I con­vinced my good mate that Bali would make a per­fectly re­lax­ing hol­i­day for our fam­i­lies, away from the madding crowds.

Our oa­sis was Li­pah Beach, on the east­ern side of the is­land along the coast of Amed, which is about three hours drive from Bali’s in­ter­na­tional air­port in Denpasar. It was stun­ning – a palm fringed had a com­pet­i­tively priced restau­rant with a mix of western and lo­cal cui­sine. De­spite the main en­trance be­ing off a main road, noise was never a prob­lem and ac­cess to the main drag at the nearby Sa­nur beach was via a back laneway.

The walk to the beach past eater­ies, a gro­cery store and beauty par­lours took less than five min­utes and an­other five min­utes along the fore­shore brought you to the white sand of Sa­nur beach, dot­ted with ex­pen­sive tourist ho­tels.

Our two fam­i­lies strolled down there on the sec­ond morn­ing and found our­selves shar­ing the long stretch of beach and warm sea wa­ter with just two other cou­ples – and not a hawker in sight.

We bumped into some coun­try­men but the ma­jor­ity of tourists in our ho­tel and around this lo­cale were from Europe and East Asia.

We or­gan­ised our trip to Li­pah Beach – beach framed by lo­cal fish­ing boats with a rain­bow of co­ral and trop­i­cal fish lo­cated just me­tres off­shore – all over­looked by our two-storey, dual bal­cony beach­front villa.

It’s al­ways a bit of a punt book­ing on­line based on re­views and promo pic­tures but we struck luck at the Co­ral View Vil­las.

My plan was to travel to Bali with my fam­ily and that of my good mate Jayco to thaw out from the Ade­laide cold.

Our first stop was Sa­nur, which had two ad­van­tages – it was only a half-hour drive from the air­port and it wasn’t Kuta.

We were stay­ing a couple of nights to re­cover from the late night ar­rival flight from home.

Again, the pic­tures of the grounds, ac­com­mo­da­tion and two pools looked good on the in­ter­net and so were the re­views.

Sri Phala Re­sort was built and land­scaped in tra­di­tional Ba­li­nese style and

Tourists feed fish at Ta­man Ujung Wa­ter Palace we de­cided to make our first stop at the Bali Bird and Rep­tile Park at Batubu­lan, just 20 min­utes drive from Sa­nur.

Af­ter be­ing used to pay­ing around $10 a head for restau­rant meals and less than $2 for a take­away tin­nie of beer, stump­ing up more than $100 for a fam­ily ticket was a shock but the fa­cil­i­ties were first class and the pre­sen­ta­tions pro­fes­sional. There were 1000 birds from more than 200 species on show – in­clud­ing ex­otics like the su­per colour­ful ma­caws, tou­cans, African horn­bills and even Aussie cas­sowaries. The star at­trac­tion of the rep­tile park was the mini­di­nosaur – aka In­done­sia’s own Ko­modo dragon, as well as some big mon­i­tor lizards.

We joined the may­hem of Ubud – famed as the cul­tural cen­tre of Bali but over­run with tourism, de­signer shops and never-end­ing traf­fic jams. Af­ter a visit to a tem­ple and the main mar­ket – with its wooden phal­lic bot­tle open­ers – we headed to our sea­side des­ti­na­tion of Li­pah Beach.

We ar­rived at the ho­tel in the dark with some trep­i­da­tion, af­ter a trip down a rough road in what felt like the mid­dle of nowhere. But this was soon ban­ished by the size and style of the vil­las. Al­though Co­ral View was opened in 1995, the well kept ac­com­mo­da­tion and beau­ti­fully land­scaped and award-win­ning gar­dens were gor­geous.

The next day we headed out to snorkel among an abun­dance of trop­i­cal fish and co­ral lit­er­ally me­tres off the beach. There were only a few other snorkellers off the beach, which was strewn dur­ing the day with tra­di­tional, colour­ful cata­ma­ran fish­ing boats. A couple of days in, the seas swelled and the surf was up, so we switched from snorkelling to body surf­ing. This also made us more ad­ven­tur­ous, so we headed out on day trips, in­clud­ing lo­cal for­mer royal palaces.

The Wa­ter Palace of the last Raja of Karangasem was built in 1948 in a fu­sion of Ba­li­nese and Chi­nese styles. It is set in beau­ti­ful scenery amid ter­raced rice fields and is sited on a nat­u­ral spring with pools filled with fish and sur­rounded by sculp­tures. The Raja also built the larger, more spec­tac­u­lar Ta­man Ujung Wa­ter Palace closer to the sea. The lay­out of the lakes here seemed to gen­er­ate nat­u­rally cool breezes and the views of the sur­round­ing moun­tains and sea were spec­tac­u­lar from the com­bi­na­tion of Euro­pean and Ba­li­nese in­spired ar­chi­tec­ture.

The next day we took an­other, shorter trip to a vil­lage nes­tled in spec­tac­u­larly land­scaped and lush rice pad­dies. Af­ter the driver gin­gerly ne­go­ti­ated the track held to­gether by pot­holes, and pass­ing women labour­ing in the fields in top­less Bali tra­di­tion, we ar­rived at the vil­lage which fea­tured five sa­cred springs. The trip was an eye-opener of a typ­i­cal farming com­mu­nity, com­plete with nu­mer­ous tem­ples, ba­sic liv­ing con­di­tions and friendly, gen­er­ous peo­ple. A short trek through the fields into the hills brought us to the ven­er­ated source of the spring, which was marked by a small al­tar and daily of­fer­ings.

It seemed a mil­lion miles from our fi­nal onenight stay near Kuta with its fast food, bars, shops and Water­bom recre­ation park’s wa­ter slides.

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