I spent most of my last day on Bali‘s southern tip. Prior to that, I checked out of Bounty Hotel in the morning and met with my cousins in Seminyak. I was running late, so I nervously opted for the motorbike. With backpack hoisted on my shoulders, ill-fitting helmet on my head, and carry-on snugged under the rider’s feet, I breezed through the Monday traffic and started my day.
In hindsight, the fare was rather steep at Rp60,000 (NOTE TO SELF: Learn to bargain!) and the rider asked for an additional tip. Still, I must admit that the decision put me at a slight advantage: I made it to Made’s Warung 30 minutes early.
My cousins were surprised to see me settled down when they arrived. They chuckled when I told them about the motorbike experience. Lunch was spent daydreaming about where our next chance encounters should be. We said our goodbyes and I promised to visit them in Melbourne one day.
I booked a quick stay at a B&B near the airport for the sole purpose of having a depository for my belongings before my early flight. Upon check-in, I wasted no time booking a cab ride to the Bukit Peninsula, my final stop for this trip.
It took me an hour and a half to reach Uluwatu. Unlike last Saturday’s Tanah Lot visit, the ride was less frenetic and the traffic, less congested. It was unusual for a weekday afternoon.
The entrance to the temple costs Rp20,000/Php71. Just like any other Balinese temple, Uluwatu requires a proper dress code. Luckily, sarongs are available for rent at the gates, free of charge. Although tourists are normally warned of wandering monkeys, I didn’t encounter any. The extended leisure time allowed a more intimate glimpse at the worshippers.
Pura Luhur Uluwatu or Uluwatu Temple is another key pillar of worship. Located on the island’s extreme southern tip, this revered temple towers 70 kilometers above sea level. The steep cliff provides an overwhelming view of the Indian Ocean and a horizon that defies expanse. It feels like the edge of the world even when, in fact, Perth is 2571km away. I could gaze at that view all day.
Soon, the sky shifted to an iridescent orange glow, signalling the start of the Kecak Fire Dance. Considered a mandatory companion piece to the Uluwatu sunset, this must-see ritual narrates the epic Hindu story of Ramayana. You don’t need to understand the chants to know the story. All you have to do is enjoy the 8-part spectacle.
Admission costs Rp100,000/Php355. At first, I was a bit thrown off by the performers “breaking the fourth wall” on occasion, sitting with the audience and taking selfies mid-performance. For me it screamed “Disneyland”.
Darkness fell and the dancers set the floor ablaze, providing a jaw-dropping close to the performance. Despite the aforementioned fourth-wall-breaking moves, it was still, overall, a dazzling production.
Thus concludes my maiden Balinese adventure. To say the least, it was a remarkable experience and I’d love to visit again under less frantic circumstances. There’s still so much more to see in this mystical island; no wonder it’s the “Love” in Eat Pray Love.