Resort and Hotel Areas
During the 1930's several Europeans settled, in villas along the beach : Artists Le Mayeur (who married the famous dancer Ni Pollock), Donald Friend and Arie Smith were amongst those who chose to live in Sanur . Much of Walter Spies and Beryl De Zootes research for "Dance and Drama in Bali" was based on Sanur dances, and the rich culture and tradition of the area is recorded by many other writers during this period - Miguel Covarrubius, Donald Friend, Hookyas, Margaret Mead, Jane Belo, and Katherine Mershon, to mention a few.
The Sindhu Beach Hotel and The Narmada Hotel, built in the fifties, were the village's first experiments with tourism. Early travellers were delighted with the secluded seaside village, and Sanur began to attract a steady flow of international elite. The Hotel Bali Beach was built towards the end of the Soekarno era, with war compensation funds from the Japanese. The construction of this luxurious multi-storey building, Bali's first ever high-rise, caused a great stir. It became the most popular "obyek" of domestic tourism, and truckloads of Balinese came to Sanur on holidays to gape at this symbol of Bali's entrance into the world of modernity.
Legislation ruling that no more buildings be constructed higher than the coconut palms led to a trend towards more traditional style bungalows hotels that blended into the landscape of luxurious vegetation. Balinese traditional architecture and decor based upon the local arts and crafts became more popular. Tanjung Sari Hotel and La Taverna set this trend to some extent, as the haunt of the early jet-setters of the sixties, favoured by celebrities, artists and musicians. By the end of the decade tourism was already booming, with the addition of two more large hotels, the Bali Hyatt and the Sanur Beach Hotel. Such was the rate of growth that during the PATA Conference of 1974 hotels in Sanur alone were able to provide around 1,600 rooms.
Alongside this onslaught of tourism the culture of Sanur seems to be quietly thriving, in fact it is hard to find detrimental effects . Every Banjar (village meeting hall) has its own gamelan, dance troupe, Barong or specific entertainment. Tanjung Sari Hotel sponsors the arts in providing lessons by the most famous classical dancers for the young children of three Banjars, and Abian Srama Hotel likewise provides a venue for the youngest dancers of the local banjars with classical dance evenings every night of the week. The Barong Dance of Taman with its Telek or Sandaran imps, the kris dance of the Black Barong of Singgi the Baris Gede trance dance of spear-bearing warriors belonging to Banjar Belong and the Topeng mask dance of Banjar Puseh are still very much an integral part of Bali's classical dance repertoire.
Sanur's temple festivals are still. extravagant 3-day affairs that commence with magnificent processions and culminate in nightly dances and shows, with temple courtyards packed for the duration of the ceremonies.
Meanwhile Sanur has earned an elite reputation as a luxury resort in the Far East. Indeed it is hard to imagine a more picturesque spot. The curving coastline forms a placid lagoon, sheltered by a coral reef that makes it a haven for local jukung, outrigger sailing canoes. Mount Agung towers across the bay and the sun rises over the dramatic silhouette of Nusa Penida and its sister islands. On clear days the outline of Lombok's Mount Rinjani forms an etherial shadow on the horizon.
Sanur's beach market offers a maze of mini-restaurants and craft shops and little enclaves of souvenir shops cluster around the hotels at intervals along the beach. The road that winds through the village is now dotted with international restaurants, bars, money changers and photo studios. Six years ago a large highway was constructed connecting Sanur to the Airport and Nusa Dua, cutting through the rice fields behind the village and reducing traffic flow through the resort.
After dark, Sanur takes on a magic cloak Gamelan music echoes on the sea breezes, and lights flicker along the shore. Cosy enclaves like the Hyatt's Piano Bar and the Tanjung Sari's Beach Bar come alive as darkness falls, and there are traditional dance performances in the restaurants and hotels to be seen. Elegant night spots like the Bali Hai Supper Club on the rooftop of the Bali Beach Hotel and the sumptuous Matahari discotheque at the Bali Hyatt offer dancing and entertainment till the wee small hours.
The first European presence in Kuta came in 1826, when. a certain Captain T.S. Wetters on a mission from Batavia to recruit soldiers for the Dutch set up a trading post. Both he and his successor, Pierre Dubois, met with little success in their trading ventures, and after only five years they closed down the station. On July 30 1839 the Blora, a sailing bark manned by NHM employees, arrived in Kuta carrying trade goods and construction materials to set up a new company warehouse. On board was also a token rhinocerous as a present for the Dewa Agung at Klungkung, which caused all sorts of problems in its delivery to the east coast kingdom. The expedition began with an immense faux pas and was fraught with difficulties from its first arrival. The Raja of Badung had requested a cannon and a hundred pikuls of lead from the previous Dutch emissary, being more practical than his eastern neighbour, and when he heard that his gift was not on board he gave them a very cool reception. The Dutchman Schuurman was allocated a simple pavilion at the rear of the royal palace and several months went by before he finally managed to persuade the Raja to assign him a tiny scrap of property in Kuta. Schuurman's factory did not prosper, and he was no happier than his earlier predecessor.
The Danish Trader, Mads Lange arrived in Kuta also in 1939, having lost most of his wealth in a five-year trading venture in Lombok through political intrigue between the warring rajadoms of Karangasem and Mataram. On the edge of the Dawan River, which flowed into the sea near Tuban, bordering the village of Kuta, he assumed command of a small trading post that had for several years been barely surviving, and expanded it into a large factory and gracious residence. In no time at all he befriended the local populace and established cordial relationships with the Raja of Badung and the powerful Dewa Agung of Klungkung.
Under Lange's personal direction. the trading post flourished, and he developed his residence into a refined and luxurious establishment designed for efficient business as well as gracious living. The compound was surrounded with high walls, with an imposing stone entrance, and had a mounted brass cannon for signaling ships. The Balinese-style pavilions and halls provided spacious offices and public areas for the numerous staff, residents and visitors, including Lange, his three brothers, visiting ships captains, his English doctor, his two wives and a retinue of servants. Lange's residence was an enclave of cultured. European society, and his lifestyle was not unlike that of some of the famous White Rajas of the east. His music room was the scene of many a musical. evening. Lange played the violin and his brothers were adept at the flute, cello and piano. He also had a billiards room, a formidable wine cellar, and his cooks were trained in Balinese, Chinese and European cuisine. Lange was host to some of Bali's earliest European visitors.
The major trading commodity Lange dealt with was rice, which he exported in 1,000 ton quantities to Java, Singapore and China. He imported gambier, an ingredient used. in great commodities for betel nut chewing, as well as Chinese coins. These kepeng had circular perforations that allowed. large quantities to be strung together, and they constituted. Bali's first currency. Purchases were usually made on a basis of equivalent weights of coins.
Lange is said to have purchased huge quantities of kepeng in China at a rate of 1,400 to the Singapore dollar, and sold or traded them in Bali at 100 per cent profit. The Balinese market rapidly adapted from barter to cash payment, and the coins also were used. in the offerings and temple decorations. He also dealt in English and Indian textiles, silks and porcelains from China, firearms, ammunition and opium from Calcutta and Singapore, and he supplied the visiting trading and whaling ships with provisions and commodities from the local markets.
From 1839 to 1849 Lange established himself as a success in both business and as friend and influential ally to the local Balinese rajas. He acted as advisor and peacemaker to both sides in the Dutch-Balinese wars. Once the wars were over and the Dutch colonialists in power, the steamships arrived, Batavian concerns became more aggressively monopolistic than ever, and the days of independent traders were numbered. As a result, Lange's activities declined and he was considering return to his homeland when he suddenly died in 1856. It was the end of a saga, and all that remains of this bright episode in Kuta's history is the Lange brothers'grave in a small cemetery by the road to the Kuta night market. The first encounters with touriLsm for the village of Kuta came in the late 1920's, when a Miss Manx, better known as "Surabaya Sue" or "Ketut Tantri", joined with American Robert Koke in opening a small beach hotel there. It wasn't long before she split with Mr. Koke and opened another, more luxurious hotel nearby. This was Kuta's first debut as a beach resort, and the sleepy little fishing village with its palm fringed shore and grass paths was barely awakened to its future destiny.
A steady flow of long-haired peace-loving "flower children" came to Kuta in the 1960's, giving it the reputation for cheap accommodation, hangout of the hippie generation. Families began to take in guests, and add on extra, rooms in their compounds to that purpose, and the "Homestays" of Kuta earned fame throughout the world amongst the younger genera- tion of budget travellers. Breakfast was generally included in the fare - Bali coffee and bananas - and the daily ritual of witnessing the psychodelic sunsets came into being. Made's Warung opened in the late sixties, and became famous the world round for its nasi campur and black rice pudding. This establishment, which still maintains the old favourites alongside a gourmet cuisine and offers the best music in town, is the heart and soul of early Kuta, where strangers can sit down and become acquainted in a bohemian atmosphere and swap travellers tales.
By the 1970's Kuta had been discovered as a playground of the international jet-setters who still preferred to stay in the luxury of Sanur but couldn't resist the zany atmosphere of Kuta where afternoon sunsets often developed. into jam sessions on the beach and parties would go on until dawn. Many a famous Rock Star of the time added to the fame and memory of Kuta names like Prophecy, Mick Jagger and Keith Richards of the Rolling Stones, David Cassidy, Deep Purple, Oscar Harris and Shirley Bassey. It was rumoured that Mick Jagger had even composed the lyrics for a new song that was be called "The Last Bemo to Kuta".
The massive line of waves that pound Kuta's extensive coastline has proved to be one of the resort's major attractions. Surfer from all over the world, especially neighbouring Australia started to trickle in for budget holidays in the 1970's, and Bali fast developed a reputation in the international surfing world for board-riding thrills the year round. A rash restaurant, pubs, boutiques, art shop, discos, tour agencies and motor-bike rental appeared from one end of Kuta to the other, and the contagion spread as far as Legian in response to the increasing demand as the flow of holiday-makers steadily increased.
The first international standard hotel to be erected was the national oil company's luxury complex, Pertamina Cottages, situated on an extensive garden property just a few minutes' drive from the airport, designed to host VIP guests and Heads of State in royal style. It wasn't long before a number of up-market bungalow properties appeared, as the potential of the resort became more obvious to both foreign and domestic investors, and the end result has been an amazing range of accommodations and resort facilities from super-simple cheap to deluxe top-of-the-market, catering to all imaginable levels of the tourist-holiday traveller kaleidoscope.
The streets of Kuta now dance to the chaotic pace of seasonal tourism. Cassette shops pour out a steady beat of rock music, and reggae, gamelan and classic, in counterpoint to the noise of the traffic. The atmosphere is buzzing, cosmopolitan, and full of piquant contrast. In the midst of all this anarchy a grand procession of offerings borne by stately women in rich batiks and brocades, incense wafting and cymbals crashing, will cleave its way miraculously to the beach, bringing traffic to a standstill and leaving the onlookers gaping.
Just a few minutes' drive northwards from Kuta, past Legian and Seminyak, the verdant rice fields stretch like patches of luxurious carpet in descending order to deserted beaches. The Bali Oberoi Hotel, with its lotus gardens and traditional style cottages offers peace and seclusion to an upper echelon of travellers who want to get away from it all. The historic sea temple of Peti Tenget is just nearby, famed for its magic box bequeathed by the wandering hindu-Javanese priest, Danghyang Nirartha. This is a particularly powerful haunt of the spirits according to the local Balinese.
This fish-shaped appendage of land is connected to the main part of the island by a narrow isthmus, squeezed between the sweeping Jimbaran Bay to the west and the estuaries and mangrove swamps that surround the Benoa Harbour to the east, a sheltered anchorage protected from the open seas by the island of Sakenan and the cape of Tanjung Benoa.
By 1970 tourism in Bali had come to represent a major support to the economy and in the consequent bent towards development the government was seriously concerned as to the right direction to take to minimize the negative effects on the culture, maintaining cultural interests and values, and protecting Bali from interaction and change. A World Bank sponsored survey was initiated and Bali Tourism Development Corporation (BTDC) was established to implement results. Plans were drawn up for a luxury holiday resort in Nusa Dua that would eventually support a maximum. of eleven hotels and extensive servicing facilities. A new highway was constructed connecting the resort to the airport, Kuta and Sanur and construction began on the first hotel, the palatial Nusa Dua Hotel, owned by Garuda's Aerowisata Hotel chain.
With its almost baroque rendering of Balinese architecture set in lush gardens with huge expanses of fountained lily ponds, it has become showpiece of Nusa Dua, and in 1986 earned international repute by hosting the President and First Lady of U.S.A. Meanwhile the small but cosy Hotel Bualu, previously an appendage to the Hotel Training School, was taken over by the Keraton Hotel Management Company, completely revamped, and converted into a "Hotel Club" which features a multitude of sporting and leisure activities offered free of charge to inhouse guests. In 1984 the Putri Bali Hotel was opened, a large property with a range of restaurants, relaxation and active recreation pursuits, owned by the Hotel Indonesia chain. The Spanish-run Bali Sol Hotel followed a year later in grand style complete with conference and entertainment facilities, the first of the Sol Group's overseas, properties.
Latest addition to the Nusa Dua Resort has been the Club Med's Bali Holiday Village on 35 hectares of land, with its extensive variety of "gently organized" activities. This is the French company's third holiday village in Southeast Asia, and since its official opening ceremony in June 1987 has already proven the popularity of the unique club concept. Further plans for Nusa Dua are the construction of a championship golf course and a huge convention centre, facilities which will no doubt attract further investment, from foreign hotel companies. All concerned, the well laid out Nusa Dua Resort, with its extensive colourful landscaped gardens and network of manicured driveways seems to be slowly but surely driving itself into a future of exclusive luxury holidays for those who can afford to indulge in both extreme comfort and the exotica which is synonymous with Bali.
Artists Walter Spies and Rudolf Bonnet settled here in the early 1930's and together with local patron of the arts, Tjokorda Gede Agung, founded the Pitha Maha artists' commune to guide and stimulate local young artists, providing them with materials and encouragement and effecting a veritable renaissance of the arts. By introducing European techniques and styles they influenced a break away from the rigid traditional and decorative art forms. The introduction of perspective and vibrant new colours revolutionized the former two-dimensional wayang style of painting, and artists began to experiment with new subject matter. The scenes of nature and everyday Balinese life which are so popular today and the naive "young artist" paintings in bright pastel colours which line the galleries of Ubud evolved at this time. In the early 1960's Ubud had already attained fame as a unique artists' community and the village was becoming a popular place to stay for tourists and travellers who wished to escape the conventional role of the tourist, delve in the arts and to experience at close range the life of the Balinese people.
Accommodation was then limited to a number of small hotels. The local palace, Puri Ubud, opened rooms to the public and the Hotel Campuhan, where Walter Spies had once dwelt in a tiny cottage on the steep gorge overlooking the Campuhan Valley, opened several cottages based upon the Spies prototype. Family compounds became homestays, the Puri Muwa and Tjanderi's on the Monkey Forest Road among the first to attain international fame on the young travellers' network, and Ubud's early days of tourism began.
With the advent of a constant flow of visitor arrivals the trend to supplement the family income by taking in guests became more and more popular, and the number of two to ten room establishments quickly mushroomed in response to an increasing demand. By the mid-seventies modern conveniences such as electricity and running water became possible and a number of local entrepreneurs started to add extra facilities to their properties. However, the vast majority of Ubud guests seem still to enjoy the homeliness of simple homestay accommodation with its recipe of genuine family hospitality that compensates for any lack of material comforts.
Just as art galleries have come to dominate every home and shop front, so have restaurants appeared in strategic places along and just off Ubud's main street. Dining out in Ubud, once a choice between the national rice dishes nasi campur and nasi goreng, now offers a cosmopolitan selection of anything from Indian lassi, Australian barbecue, American hamburger and Italian pasta. Idyllic spots such as Murni's Warung, by the antique swing bridge at Campuhan and Cafe Lotus, in the central Ubud royal lotus gardens, cater in both peace and tranquility as well as excellent food to day-trippers and semi-resident holiday-makers.
Evenings in the village are, generally quiet, and Ubud is no exception, except for a few small bars and cafes that stay open until the guests go home. Only during temple festivals, or if there is a movie or performance in the local theatre, do the crowds from far and near throng the main thoroughfare and food stalls line the wayside. A number of classical dance groups in Ubud give regular performances. The Panca Arta Dance Group perform. at the Banjar in Ubud Kelod, on the road to the Monkey Forest, presenting Classic Gabor Folk Opera, Parwa and other solo dances. There is a regular Barong and Kris Dance on Friday evenings at Puri Saren Palace, performed by the Sada Budaya music and dance troupe, and in nearby Pehatan Classic Legong Kraton performances are regular Friday and Saturday night fare.
The Tirta Sari Group that performs at Banjar Teruna, Peliatan, was originally established by the master of Bahnese performing arts, the late Anak Agung Mandera, who led the first Balinese troupe of dancers and musicians to Europe in the 1930's. Today's dancers are the second and third generation of dancers in the troupe, which has maintained its elite reputation and made trips to Japan and Australia in the past few years. Other students of the same master have formed the Gunung Sari Dance Troupe which performs Legong at the hall of Pura Dalem Puri, Tebesaya, Pehatan. Apart from these regular performances in and around the Ubud area, religious theatre attached to ceremony and ritual is a permanent, if unscheduled, fixture on the calendar, and this is part and parcel of the Ubud experience.
In order to assure that guests are kept informed on cultural events, and both regular and unscheduled performances, a group of Ubud youth run an information centre known as Bina Wisata, which has a tiny office, in the centre of Ubud. Born out of a concern for cultural and environmental preservation, the Bina Wisata Foundation offers information and reservation services free of charge, arranges cultural performances and exchanges with visiting foreign dance and drama groups, and has a small print-shop which turns out made-to-order visiting cards and T-shirts in order to support the activities. They also arrange guest speakers and experts to give information to visiting study groups, and will provide information on cultural happenings in advance to interested parties. (All letters should have stamped addressed envelopes or international reply coupons enclosed).
Bina Wisata is a non-profit organization, and all proceeds from the shows and performances which they arrange go into the maintenance of Temples and Historic places and the protection of the environment. This spirit of the Ubud youth bodes well for the future of a carefully guided cultural tourism within the area. As the radius of the Ubud holiday resort rapidly extends (bungalow properties can now be found in Peliatan and Pengosekan and a rash of development is taking place in Sangingan, Sayan, Kedewatan and even further north) this kind of coordination is essential to ensure that the local people reap the benefits and avoid the pitfalls of tourism, and Ubud retains its amazing cultural harmony.
The gentle coastline of Candi Dasa has in miracle time undergone the metamorphosis from deserted beaches and lines of towering coconut trees where cows roam. freely to a fully fledged budget traveller resort, complete with thatched beach-side cottages of all. shapes and sizes, restaurants and shops, water-sport facilities, a token boutique or two, and even a regular "party-night". Despite this sudden rash of activity which has resulted in quite a boom in local economy and chased away some of the expatriate "weekenders" for whom Candi Dasa had become a popular weekend retreat, the little resort has retained its delightful village atmosphere and laid back pace of life. The fisherman scoop the gentle waves with nets for tiny "nener" fish which are taken to the salt-water ponds and grown in captivity. Outrigger canoes ply the coastal waters for fish, their twinkling kerosene lights sparkling on the horizon during fair-weather nights. During the day they can be hired for snorkelling trips. Gradually more and more water sport facilities are becoming available.
The first accommodation to become available at Candi Dasa was a tiny Gandhi Ashrama, perched on the strip of land dividing the temple - side lake from the sea. Here a strict routine of meditation is followed by select guests, many of whom practise yoga and follow strict vegetarian diets. Now little restaurants and homestays cluster in the coconut palms along several kilometres of road and beach, and tourists have become a common sight riding motorbikes and bicycles along the quiet country roads.
The first homestay accommodation in the area was at the former residence of the foreign-educated son of the Raja of Buleleng, who abdicated his throne in order to follow the Christian religion. Amongst the coconut palms he built a small retreat, naming it Tasik Madu.... "salted honey", where he used to take in the occasional house guests. As more visitors, came to the area, locals saw the need for accommodation and restaurants, and over the past twenty years, the beaches, of Lovina, Kalibukbuk and Tukad Mungga, fringed by at least eight kilometres, of lush rice-fields that run parallel to the main road, have developed small. hotels which offer both individual rooms and bungalow accommodation. Simple dining facilities, are provided by most hotels, offering a limited variety of tasty Indonesian and bland European dishes. There are a number of beachside restaurants that offer excellent seafood, and others offer regular dance performances.
The atmosphere is friendly and casual, and the cool sea breezes make the hot, dry climate quite comfortable.
Not far from Lovina Beach, at the village of Labuanhaji, a small Muslim enclave, the road turns off to the Singsing Waterfall. About a 200 metre clamber through the fields, and the cascading waters come into view. The deep pool is the perfect spot to cool off on a hot day, with yet another falls higher up, equally secluded.
Bali's only remaining Buddhist monastery is just a few kilometres off the main road, up on the hills overlooking a patchwork of verdant ricefields, to the sea. Nearby are some hot springs, "air panas" which flow through a bathing area and into the river.
Further along the coast in Pura Pulaki, a large temple overun with monkeys looks, out to sea. This temple has a fascinating story connected to the arrival of Dang Hyang Nirartha and the loss of his daughter, the beautiful Dewi Swabawa (see Of Dragon...). The road continues to the town of Seririt, which was flattened by a terrible earthquake in 1976. This is a grape-growing area, and supplies the rest of Bali with sweet purple table grapes, during a large part of the year.
Over the other side, around the rim of the immense crater that looks over Lake and Mount Batur, are a number of small hotels and home-stays that range from simple to comfortable, many of which have terrific views over the volcanic panorama. Bathrooms are mainly the simple, Indonesian style "mandi", so be prepared to adjust to the local method of ablutions. Here also you need warm clothing, and maybe an extra blanket for the chilly nights. It is mostly impossible, to book in advance, and walk-in guests are most common. In peak season you will generally be directed to the next available accommodation in the case of a full house.
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