Of course, I had no intention of wasting Day One in afternoon slumber. After a cocktail-induced power nap, I hurriedly booked a cab to Tanah Lot, West Bali – sleep deprivation and mild hangover be damned.
I can’t say I wasn’t warned about the sprawling Saturday traffic. And with sunset being less than two hours away, my odds of arriving at a leisurely pace were slim.
Fortunately, my assigned driver had keen sense of direction – in addition to being the second coming of Steve McQueen.
We managed to arrive minutes before sundown. How we managed, I couldn’t tell. I was just thankful to make it on time. Not wanting to miss the glorious sunset, I immediately hopped off the cab and paid the RP10,000 (Php36) entrance fee.
I sprinted past the ornate gates and statues leading to the temple proper. As expected, what greeted me was a majestic sight.
Tanah Lot is one of Bali‘s most visited sites. It is recognized as one of the most important sea temples in the island by both locals and travellers alike. It’s not surprising that the shoreline was packed by both tourists and worshippers. Despite the congestion, the vibe was anything but suffocating. In fact, it was the complete opposite.
The fragrant scent of incense blended with that of sea foam, while Hindu chants echoed all over the beach. The atmosphere was extremely hypnotic. The low tide revealed hues of brown, blue, and green, courtesy of the dark sand, ebbing waters, and masses of iridescent algae. Meanwhile, the sky glowed with a mix of purple and orange, signalling that the sun had already sunk. It was a psychedelic mix of colors. Couple those visuals with the aforementioned sound of chants and it was almost like being in a trance.
After a good half hour of imbibing the entrancing atmosphere, it was time for me to head back. On the way out, I had more time to check out the surrounding shops. Considering that they were about to call it a day, the market was still rather busy.
The journey back to Kuta took even longer, once again, thanks to the traffic. On the bright side, I used the time to salvage some sleep, which had eluded me since I arrived in Bali. I woke up upon reaching Legian. The streets are now very much alive and bustling, swarming with scooters and inebriated surfers, among many other clashing elements. This is Saturday Night Bali, in a nutshell.
My last stop before calling it a night was the Bali Bombing Memorial, which is just a quick stroll from Hotel Bounty. It’s hard to imagine that a pub once stood on that same spot. Closer inspection of the memorial reveals that most of the casualties were Australian.