Pierre-Brice Lebrun - 2011-02-07
The Bukit Peninsula is reputed for its coves and world class surf spots which include Uluwatu, at the foot of one of Bali’s largest temples, the Pura Uluwatu Luhur, with its famous troop of wild rhesus monkeys.
We had been warned! The monkeys of Uluwatu Temple, the friendly looking rhesus macaques, are expert thieves. I can say farewell to my glasses!
Now it’s a lot clearer why on June 11, 1948 the forerunner of NASA chose to send a rhesus monkey into space thirteen years before Yuri Gagarin. They called him Albert 1st and he was joined by four of his fellow rhesus, all baptised Albert. If I ever catch the one that stole my glasses, I’ll send a fifth one into orbit!
The Temple of Sea Spirits
Bukit Peninsula, south of Denpasar, the capital of the Indonesian province of Bali and of Kuta, is one of the famous 3 Ks - the favourite hippy destinations along with Kathmandu and Kabul. It is best known for its coves and world-class surf spots which include the beach at Uluwatu, at the foot of one of Bali’s largest temples - the Luhur Pura Uluwatu (Ulu means "point" Watu "rock" and Luhur "divine origin”), where a famous troop of monkeys runs wild.
The temple, which now only exists as ruins situated at the tip of the peninsula, is overgrown with abundant vegetation (with every step we almost expected to see Mowgli!) It overhangs the Indian Ocean atop a seventy metre high cliff. The view is magnificent and the sunsets here are extraordinarily beautiful. You have to leave your scooter at one of the guarded car parks (allow 1000 RP for the attendant). This mode of transport is probably the best option for touring the South of Bali, even though it can be dangerous. It costs around £3 per day for renting a 100 cm3 scooter, helmet included.
The vaulted entrance to the temple is magnificent and is a tribute to Ganesh – the son of Shiva and Parvati, the god of wisdom, intelligence, education and prudence who is depicted as a four armed man with an elephant’s head. To visit the temple you have to cover your legs; a sarong and a sash can be hired at the entrance (3000 Rp).
Surfing seven metre high waves
A small path enclosed between two steep cliffs descends towards the beach. It winds up and down at the whim of steps carved into the rock. Along the way there are plenty of little huts known as warungs, which contain cheap eateries, souvenir shops and shapers (the famous surf board sellers and repairers) frequented by a host of tanned surfers.
The path leads to a white sandy beach separated from the ocean by a cave that can only be crossed by running between two sequences of waves. Only the pros dare to face the impressive wave tubes that roar on the other side!
Everyone else is happy to watch the show and the paradise-like creeks, carved out by the receding waves, where you can lie and relax for a while.
You can also take the opportunity to enjoy a nasi goreng (Rp 15,000), a delicious local specialty of rice fried with meat (at times), small vegetables (always), and an a fried egg.
The long and powerful waves crashing regularly against the foot of the cliff can easily reach six or seven metres whilst few of them are less than three metres. Surfers who ride the waves for 20 or 30 seconds, (which perhaps doesn’t seem like much, but is in fact very long) have to make certain they don’t slip up as they have no guarantee of a soft landing!
Uluwatu is one of the island’s most famous surfing spots probably because it’s also one of the most dangerous. It offers no fewer than seven different breaks, not far from the equally famous spots of Padang Padang and Impossible. Bali has roughly a dozen spots on offer for the enjoyment of surfers of all levels.
Holding back the night (and the tide)
We finish the day at a warung in Teluk Jimbaran, a bay that opens out into a white, crescent shaped sandy beach. There is a series of huts here with one in the north (the best known), one in the centre (the smallest) and the other to the south (the prettiest, at the foot of the Four Seasons Jimbaran Bay.) They all serve fish (10,000 Rp to 20,000 Rp for the barramundi), lobster and crab (20,000 to Rp 50,000 per 100 gram) or prawns (15 000 to Rp 25,000). You can dine here on the beach, under the stars, your feet in the sand, watching the amusing ballet of waiters, who have to clean up gradually as the tide rises. There’s not a monkey on the horizon! You can eat here in peace!
Where to eat
Fish restaurant on Kedonganan Beach
Where to stay
A clean hotel with a great location and excellent value for money (equivalent to a 3 stars).
From £35 to £60 for a room (via Internet.)
43, Jalan Semawang Duyung in Sanur, on the other side of the peninsula, opposite the island of Nusa Penida
From £20 to £40 + taxes + £3 in high season.