GWK

On a balmy Balinese morning, we journeyed south from our villa at Seseh to experience Garuda Wisnu Kencana Cultural Park. GWK, as it is known, is a 60 hectare park devoted to the Hindu God, Wisnu and his mythical half-man, half-bird companion, Garuda. There are different areas used for various art & cultural performances. We first encountered Kura Kura Plaza, or Turtle Plaza. The turtle sculptures are believed to guard the earth from natural disasters.

1.Kura Kura Plaza

The views were spectacular from the elevated position of the park, looking over the ocean and Denpasar.

2.view-Denpasar on right

There is an ongoing project at GWK, the creation of one of the largest statues in the world. The finished copper and brass monument, portraying Wisnu riding on the back of Garuda, will apparently be 120 metres tall and Garuda will have 65 metre long wings.

3.Garuda Wishnu Kencana

Started in 1997 by Balinese sculptor Nyoman Nuarta, some parts of the statue have been completed. The first sight of the 20 metre high Wisnu was absolutely breathtaking.

4.Wisnu

Wisnu Plaza is on the highest part of GWK and is the setting for traditional Balinese art performances.

5.Wisnu Plaza

It must be awe inspiring to present a show under the watchful eye of Wisnu.

6.Wisnu

We passed this Hindu shrine

7.shrine

on the way to Garuda Plaza.

8.Garuda Plaza

This part of the statue was not as tall, but equally as impressive as Wisnu.

9.Garuda Plaza

The largest outdoor venue in the park is called Lotus Pond. It isn’t actually a pond but the massive limestone pillars around the perimeter make it a fascinating venue for big events such as music concerts.

10.Lotus Pond

It is also the perfect setting for a Segway ride. Michael soon mastered the balancing act and there was no stopping him.

With the beautiful limestone columns as a backdrop, Nyoman Nuarta has weaved his magic again. The magnificent Peace Memorial is dedicated to all the Bali bombing victims in the hope of uniting the world into a peaceful, harmonious community.

14.Peace Memorial

Seseh Beach

Our first morning in Bali, we walked the few hundred metres from our villa to Seseh Beach.

1.towards beach

Undaunted by the warnings,

2.warning

we continued on past neighbouring properties

3.villa neighbours

to the lure of the ocean ahead.

4.just down the road

As we neared the beach

5.seseh beach

we were surprised and somewhat disappointed to find, not the expanse of untouched golden sand one might imagine, but a beach of black sand.

6.seseh beach

This western coastline is among Bali’s favourite surf spots, though not conducive to relaxing on the beach. The volcanic rock formations were fascinating

7.seseh beach

and the flotsam intriguing.

8.seseh beach

The fishing boats of Seseh village were patiently awaiting their next adventure.

9.seseh beach

We strolled back, past curious doorways

10.doorway

with intricate carvings.

11.another doorway

Returning to the villa, we were welcomed by the familiar shrines at the entrance.

12.shrines at villa

Tepi Laut Villas

Unlike a great percentage of Australians (according to Redgum in 1984), we never had a desire to visit Bali. We don’t cope very well with heat and humidity and weren’t too enthused about the crowds. When our friends from Darwin said they were going with the family and renting a private villa with room for two more, it was the perfect opportunity to spend time with them and experience the culture across the sea. After a long day of travel (it’s a fair distance from Tasmania), we landed at Denpasar airport along with, it seemed, every other flight from across the globe, just before midnight. After obtaining a visa (that’s another story), we stepped outside into the stifling heat and, just before we were overcome with secondhand cigarette smoke, we spied our friends. They had come to rescue us in the villa car which was, thankfully, air-conditioned. Sitting in the middle of the back seat of the SUV, I had a perfect view of the chaos that is Bali traffic. I closed my eyes to prevent my heart from stopping and we eventually arrived, dazed and disheveled, at the villa. It was Nirvana. Awakened at 6am by the chanting from the temple in the neighbouring village, I peered over the balcony

1.from balcony2.from balcony

and made my way downstairs. The open living area was beautiful, there was no doubt we were in Bali.

3.living area4.living area

Our room was upstairs on the right,

5.outside

an air-conditioned sanctuary from the heat of the day.

The bathroom was exquisite, every amenity catered for.

There was plenty of space for lounging around the pool,

and the secluded bale was inviting on a hot afternoon.

The edge of the water feature at the entrance (or exit, depending on whether you are coming or going), was dotted with fresh frangipani blossoms.

17.entrance

There were five villas in the group at Tepi Laut surrounded by rice fields, away from the madding crowd, at Seseh Beach.

18.exterior

Our villa, Villa Sungai, was on the edge of the complex overlooking a river and the small fishing village of Seseh.

19.exterior

It was a pleasure to return to the tranquility after a day out,

the villa dog was probably the luckiest dog in Bali.

22.villa dog

The night lights were cute, like someone hiding in the foliage wearing a hat.

23.exterior

A relaxing dip in the pool was always welcome

24.view from the pool

and offered a different perspective of the garden.

We were well looked after by the wonderful villa staff and enjoyed some fabulous meals

28.dining table

prepared and cooked in our own kitchen.

29.kitchen30.our villa staff

We experienced a spectacular monsoonal downpour one day, a brief respite from the heat.

31.rain32.rain

It was fun to return after a day out to find a new menagerie awaiting us. Apparently, it is known as towel origami.