By: Iris Clamor
One is either foolish or overly optimistic to think that a few days in Bali is enough. With only five days to spare for our family trip, I prefer to think we were the latter. Either way, we had to make do, which demanded very precise planning and a strict itinerary. Freediving and surfing were foremost on the menu so we spent most of our days out at sea, but I made sure to save one special day to see what dryland Bali had to offer, too. Without hesitation, we chose Uluwatu and its surrounds.
The tour began with our guide picking us up from our Nusa Dua villa. After a quick briefing of where we were going and what we were doing (and an admonishment on why we chose such an obscure and hard-to-find villa), we were off!
Our first stop was the token souvenir shop in which we spent half an hour browsing but didn’t buy anything and immediately regretted it. (More on that later.)
Eager to get on with the program, we then proceeded to Abian Subak Agrotourism, which would turn out to be one of the highlights of the entire tour as we are all avid coffee drinkers.
We were given a quick tour around the camp where they grew a variety of produce--all of which eventually makes their merry way into artisanal coffees.
We were then given a sampler tray of 12 tea and coffee variants, which were all available for sale in the camp’s shop. I personally took quite a liking to the vanilla coffee, so I just had to pick up a bag.
The camp is also a large producer of the famous kopi luwak, or civet coffee. In a nutshell, this is coffee harvested from partly digested coffee cherries defecated by a species of civet endemic to this part of the world.
The camp had several of the poor animals in captivity, which made me very uncomfortable as I’ve read enough of the practice to be unsupportive of it. However, I would grudgingly admit that the coffee itself is delicious, so I can see why there’s a burgeoning industry for it. Still, it’s a practice that borders on the inhumane and should be re-evaluated.
Adequately caffeinated, we then moved on to our next destination, Padang Padang Beach. This was where all hell quite literally broke loose. Out of nowhere, the Balinese skies dumped what looked to be a week’s worth of rain right on top of our heads. We were all quite soaked--and we didn’t even plan to do any swimming! Nevertheless, Padang Padang Beach was calm and gorgeous with soft white sand and gentle waves. We could see how it would be a great spot for a lovelier day.
From Padang Padang, we drove straight to Pura Luhur Uluwatu, a Balinese sea temple built right on top of a cliff, overlooking the sea. By then, the rain has tempered down to a light, manageable drizzle. We took our time climbing up the temple, stopping every so often to admire the monolithic architecture and sculptures and just generally taking in the majesty of the place (and getting photos taken, of course).
Of course, there’s no way you can ignore the true rulers of Uluwatu--the monkeys! They were everywhere! And if you want to keep your wits and possessions about you, you best not forget that you are in their turf. The entire time we were there, we witnessed several cases of blatant thievery with the primates stealthily taking everything from eyeglasses to baseball caps. It’s quite funny--though probably not if you were the victim.
In Balinese, ‘Uluwatu’ literally means ‘land’s end rock’. You can’t really grasp how appropriate that moniker is until you are there, standing at the edge of the cliff with the Indian Ocean stretched out as far as the eye could see. It is a truly humbling experience, and if you embrace it, it can offer a fresh perspective on how you see the world. Which is probably what the Javanese had in mind when they built the temple hundreds of years ago.
It started raining hard again, and we were informed that the Kecak dance presentation that was meant to end the tour had to be cancelled. We were quite disappointed about that as we were looking forward to catch a glimpse of ancient Balinese culture through this famed dance. I have no doubt that witnessing the dance would’ve been a profound experience, but really, just being in that mystical, primal place was more than enough. I’m happy to say that, personally, I had my fill.
With the dance cancelled, we had quite a bit of time left over. Our guide suggested that we end our tour with a lovely seafood dinner at Jimbaran Beach, and of course, we were all on board. But before that, we decided to go back to the souvenir shop and pick up some mementos for our trip after all.
The rain had finally stopped by the time we got to Jimbaran Beach. The food was so delicious that I forgot to take note of the name of our restaurant. We were also treated to a gorgeous--albeit, cloudy-- sunset and cultural shows from the neighboring restaurants.
With our hearts and bellies full, we finally made our way back to our villa. Despite the rain and its inconveniences, it was a magical day still, as only a magical place like Uluwatu can conjure.
Iris Clamor is a writer and all-around Internet slave who is constantly on the verge of an existential crisis. She writes for thelostones.net and iriswrites.com.