Sunday, October 6, 2013
Greet the sun as she gradually rises from below the horizon radiating the most brilliant colors over Sanur Beach, while the soft white sands embrace the oncoming waves: a perfect picture of a beautiful sunny morning, where nature displays her fascinating features at the tranquil, laid back retreat of Sanur, east of Denpasar, capital of the fabled island of Bali. Located just 25 minutes from the international airport, 30 minutes from the Kuta area, and 15 minutes from downtown Denpasar, Sanur is renowned as Bali's first beach resort and is actually where the early tourism industry grew on Bali. Sanur is also recognized as the largest village in Bali where its people - as with the rest of east Bali- are particularly friendly, welcoming and accommodating. Despite the locals’ activities and the abundance of restaurants and accommodation, it is surprising how un-crowded and peaceful Sanur is. There are many activities to try as well as beach resorts and restaurants but these are all spread along a long coastline, creating a secluded feeling where the action goes unnoticed to sunbathers and loungers on the unspoiled beaches that continue to maintain the traditional Balinese feel. Sanur beach is a long stretch of beautiful white sand lined with palm trees that shade dreamy footpaths, market stalls and relaxed beach cafes. Along the beach are traditional Balinese Bale (raised shaded open verandas for lying down or relaxing). Most are no longer in use although a few are sometimes occupied by fishermen who fish in these waters. The waters of Sanur are protected by a long string of offshore reefs, creating large, warm shallow, safe lagoons that are perfectly clear and excellent for swimming, snorkeling and a whole array of water sports. Surfers will be pleased to know that the reefs around Sanur produce some of the best waves in the world in the right conditions although they can be very shallow at low tide. But there are more consistent waves beyond the reefs good for surfing. Sanur is also the launching pad for visitors who want to dive and explore the splendors of the nearby island of Nusa Lembongan. Nusa Lembongan is approximately 8 square km in size, and is one of three neighbouring islands, the others being much the larger Nusa Penida and tiny Nusa Ceningan. Many areas around the island are good for diving and snorkeling, with abundant marine life and healthly corals. Surfing can get a bit crowded, but the waves are good. There are several white sand beaches away from the main centers which are virtually never crowded. Sanur Beach was first introduced by A.J. Le Mayeur, a renowned Belgian impressionist painter who arrived in Bali in 1932 and soon immersed himself in the culture of the island. He married a noted Balinese Legong dancer named Ni Polok and made her his model. Here he created some of his famous masterpieces. Today, the house of Le Mayeur has become a famous museum where visitors can view some of his artworks and gain an insight into the romantic aura of the time when Le Mayeur was one of a handful of expatriates. As a place where tourism first flourished in Bali, Sanur has some of Balis’ historic hotels. Built in 1965, the Inna Grand Bali , formerly called Bali Beach Hotel, was the first five star and the only high rise hotel in Bali. After its construction a new law came into force where in Bali no hotel may be built higher than a coconut tree. Here are also the Sanur Beach Hotel (Initialy called Hotel Garuda) and the Bali Hyatt. All of these hotels still operate until today with that certain touch of modernity that offers that nostalgic ambience for those who knew Bali decades ago before the onrush of tourism. But even today Sanur still maintains that pleasant ambience with places shaded by high and age old trees that continue to radiate the serene magic of Sanur.
Friday, October 4, 2013
For more than a thousand years, Balinese worshipers have been drawn to Pura Tirta Empul, whose sacred spring is said to have been created by Indra and to have curative properties. The tradition continues almost unchanged at the temple today. History Legend has it that the sacred spring was created by the god Indra. His forces had been poisoned by Mayadanawa, so he pierced the earth to create a fountain of immortality to revive them. An inscription dates the founding of a temple at the site to 926 AD. Ever since - for more than a thousand years - the Balinese have come to bathe in the sacred waters for healing and spiritual merit. What to See The Tirta Empul Temple includes the traditional Balinese split gate along with shrines to Shiva, Vishnu, Braham, Mt. Batur, and Indra. There is also a large open pavilion in the main courtyard, useful for relaxing in the shade. But the main attraction here is a long rectangular pool carved of stone, filled with koi and fed by the sacred spring via 12 fountains. Worshippers first make an offering at the temple, then climb into the main pool to bathe and pray. Many collect the holy water in bottles to take home. Nearby there are two smaller pools fed by the spring. Overlooking the temple on a hill above is a suprisingly modern building: the Government Palace, built in 1954. Originally a residence for Dutch officials, it was later used by former President Soekarno during his frequent trips to Bali. Pura Tirta Empul is located in the village of Tampak Siring, accessible by public transportation from Ubud. The souvenir stands outside the temple specialize in the local craft, carved bone jewelry.