Screaming Garuda jets disgorge hundreds of visitors daily at Ngurah Rai International Airport, set astride the narrow isthmus that connects the southern Bukit Peninsula with the rest of the island.
Most of these paradise seekers then retire to one of the three nearby beach resorts provincial capital, has experienced un-precedented economic and population growth during the past decade partly as a result of this tourist influx.
But don’t be deceived by south Bali’s patina of development. The south’s temple festivals are legendary for the intensity of their trance dances and the earthiness of their ritual. Denpasar’s palace ceremonies rank amongst the most regal on the island, and Kuta Beach – more St. Tropez than Mandalay – host highly professional dance performances nightly. Meanwhile, Sanur’s loyal band of hirsute and holy priensts continue to maintain cosmic order admist the condominia.
The region’s most illustrious temple, Pura Uluwatu, chosen by theBalinese saunt Pedenda Sakti Wawu Rauh as the “stage” for his moksa reunion with the godhead, is unrivalled on the island for sheer grandeur of site and elegance of architacture. Giant sea turtles swi, in the ocean 300 metres (984 feet) below the temple’s clifftop perch, and a nearvy beach is at the same time gazetted in the top ten Indonesian surfing spots. Moreover, during Nyepi (the Balinese New year), south Bali becomes a pilgrimage point – as thousands upon thousands of villagers, arrayed in their ceremonial finery, flood to southern shore bearing offerings of food for the performances of melis purification rites.
Sybaritic Sanur Beach: It is the south’s beaches, however, that have captivated generations of foreign tourists. Sanur, ten kilometres (six miles) to the southeast of Denpasar at the lagoonside end of the fertile Renon Kepaon Legian rice crescent, was once an enclave of fisherman and holy Brahman priests, more famous for its demon and magic than its scenic delights. During the 1930s, however, Sanur’s spectacular beaches attracted a colony of western intellectuals and artists that included anthropologist Margaret Mead and painter Walter Spies.
Mass tourist began in the early 1960s with the construction of the massive Hotel Bali Beach complex, but the real boom got under way only during the 1970s, with the construction of over a dozen exceptionally comfortable accommodation.
These range in size from the Bali Hyatt Hotel, a regal complex sprawling across many acres of tastefully – landscaped beachfront, and the medium – but friendly sized Sanur Beach Hotel, to more intimate cottage sized establishments like the Tanjung Sari Hotel – nominated, for the 1982 Aga Khan Award for excellennce in Islamis Architecture, a dream garden of Balinese antique and grottoes.
Mountainwards, north of the Hotel bali beach, where sand turn mysteriously black (and the last stop on many of the south’s processional trails), nestles the Le Mayeur Museum.
Once the home and studio of the talented Belgian impressionist and his dancer wife, Ni Pollock, the museum now contains luscious images and vivid colours on canvasses framed in an Edwardian Chamber with a breathtaking view over Sanur Bay to East bali, with majestic Mt. Agung rising in the background.
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