Seseh village

Our villa accommodation on the west coast of Bali was nestled adjacent to the tiny fishing village of Seseh. One morning, we walked the short distance to have a closer look at our neighbours. The main street was quiet at that hour of the morning,

1.main road

the children heading off to school.

2.off to school

We passed colourful shrines

3.shrine

and regal roosters

4.rooster

on our way to the centre of the village. Like most villages in Bali, Seseh practices the daily rituals of the Hindu faith. We awoke each morning at 6am to the pre-recorded call to prayer, repeated again at 6pm. There appeared to be so many beautiful temples in the village, it was hard to discern if it was one very large temple or numerous smaller ones.

The detailed carvings and decorations were magnificent.

At the edge of the village, we reached the beach.

18.Seseh Beach

Revered by the Balinese as a sacred beach, Seseh had a relaxing sense of tranquility.

22.Seseh beach

If I lived in Bali, I would like to live in this house.

24.house Seseh Beach

We wandered back through the village, the landscaped gardens

25.village street

a sharp contrast to rural life.

26.village life

The imposing stone gateway at the entrance to the village marked the end of our excursion.

27.village gates

Sandridge Bridge

I have never really taken an interest in the unattractive steel footbridge with the unusual sculptures that crosses the Yarra River, until our last visit to Melbourne.

1.Sandridge Bridge

Enjoying a late afternoon beverage at Southbank, I was captivated by the light and reflections on the water and started to appreciate the obscure beauty of the structure.

2.Sandridge Bridge p.m.

I have since delved further. The original bridge and railway line was built in 1853 when Port Melbourne, then known as Sandridge, became a thriving hub thanks to the Victorian gold rush. It was also the first passenger rail service in Australia. The bridge was replaced in 1857 with a timber trestle bridge, built at the oblique angle to redress the issue of the existing tight curve. The current bridge opened in 1888, one of the first in Melbourne to use steel girders rather than iron. The support columns are hollow iron filled with concrete, set parallel to the flow of the river, in groups of three. On closer inspection, each rivet seemed a work of art.

3.Sandridge Bridge p.m.

Even the ornamental pediments are made from cast iron.

The morning light of the new day offered fresh reflective images.

6.Sandridge Bridge a.m.7.Sandridge Bridge

The railway bridge was last used in 1987 and remained, as something of an eyesore, until Melbourne City Council committed $15.5 million for its restoration in 2003. Sandridge Bridge was relaunched in 2006 as a celebration of the indigenous and immigrant history of Victoria, a tribute to those who made the journey by train from Station Pier to Flinders Street Station. Artist Nadim Karam created ten abstract sculptures, representing the different periods of immigration, using more than 3.7km of stainless steel. The artwork is titled The Travellers and the figures move slowly across the bridge in a 15 minute sequence. I must admit, I have never noticed them moving.

8.Sandridge Bridge sculptures

A series of 128 glass panels line the walkway, each one offering information about the origin of the immigrants, in alphabetical order, from Afghanistan to Zimbabwe. It can take quite a while to cross the bridge, a rest along the way is sometimes in order.

9.welcome swallow

From the north side, nature’s reflections resemble graffiti

10.Sandridge Bridge

and the intricate angles are more evident.

11.Sandridge Bridge

Unlike nature’s graffiti, that of lesser mortals is unsightly and unwelcome.

12.painting over graffiti

Sandridge Bridge may not be the most appealing landmark in Melbourne but it is certainly a great memorial to those who contributed so much, not only to the state of Victoria, but to the nation of Australia.

13.Sandridge Bridge

Canggu: Tugu to Seseh

We had heard about the popular surfing beaches of Bali, one of them being Seseh, the location of our villa. In order to discover more, we asked the driver one morning to take us a little further down the coast so we could walk back along the beach. He dropped us off at the back entrance of the Hotel Tugu, about 3 km away.

1.Hotel Tugu

A paved path led toward the beach, past old rustic buildings

2.Hotel Tugu

and the hotel grounds behind the wall.

Sun lounges looked inviting and we could glimpse the specks of hopeful surfers in the water.

6.Tugu Hotel

Just as well it was too early for a cocktail, the bar appeared in need of restocking.

7.Tugu bar

Barongs were on guard to repel the evil spirits, possibly to protect those seeking slumber.

Canggu, as well as being a small village, is the name given to a stretch of coastline between Seminyak and Tanah Lot. From Hotel Tugu, we walked along the black sand of Batu Bolong Beach.

The waves didn’t look particularly impressive to us but what would we know?

13.surfer

Volcanic rocks loomed out of the water making interesting obstacles for unsuspecting surfers.

14.Batu Bolong Beach15.Batu Bolong Beach

Looking beyond the modern villas, we could see the hint of a temple.

16.Batu Bolong Beach

Pura Batu Mejan is a Balinese Hindu sea temple, guarding the coast and giving its name to the beach, Pantai Batu Mejan.

17.Pura Batu Mejan temple

One of Canggu’s most popular surfing beaches, Echo Beach is the nickname given to this stretch by the wave riders.

20.Echo Beach21.Echo Beach

We watched them in action while we lunched at Echo Beach Club.

22.surfer Echo Beach23.surfers Echo Beach

The local transport didn’t look too reliable

24.bicycle

so we made our way down to the beach for the walk back to Seseh.

26.Echo Beach25.Echo Beach

This family picnic looked lovely

27.picnic

but I don’t know how they keep their whites so white.

28.picnic

It seemed like a bad choice for me to wear with the black sand.

29.white pants copy

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

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.