Serendipity and a Journey to West Bali 2008By Kevin A. Stoda
Over these past two weeks I returned to Bali for a vacation at a pair of resorts, each of special character, first South Bali and then in West Bali.
I had stayed in Kuta an Legian in South Bali several times before, but this time, I stayed in Tanjung Benoa at the Peninsula Resort for a week prior to moving out to West Bali and staying in the isolated Medewi Cottage Retreat near Pekutatan.
This latter resort in Medewi was so isolated it had neither internet nor telephone access. This Medewi Retreat is located amongst a village hidden off the main west-east roadway and with in walking distance from the black sand beaches of Medewi, where surfing and body surfing are among life’s simple pleasures.
Meanwhile, the hotel at Tanjung Benoa was special because from it, I had access to local bicycle journeys and boating journeys—including a rafting trip northeast of Denpasar one day.
I have been planning to stay at Medewi for several years—since I first bought property at its partner resort on Gili Meno island off the cost of Lombok in Indonesia. A year ago, on a day-trip I had visited the area near Negara to see the Bugi boats of the Muslims at Pengambangan village.
Those Bugi ships, originally from Salawasi three and arriving to Bali three centuries ago, are famous for their bright colors and the miniature mosques above their bows--and for the fact that the Bugi’s owners’ ancestors used to serve as pirates and protectors of the Bali Kingdom’s past.
The nearby and larger western town of Negara is the largest town in the West of Bali but still has wonderfully cute horse-drawn carriages serving as taxis.
Negara is situated between Medewi and the Islam communities of Pengambangan. For far and wide, Negara also has the only public internet service. The city and region has historically ignored by the greater Balinese society along with the leadership of Suharto of Java who dominated the politics of Indonesia till quite recently.
Only in the last five years or so, has Negara and West Bali received state-sponsored colleges and training centers of the level of educational offerings from Bali’s central government.
Although one of the oldest and most important Hindu temples and shrines, Pura Rambut Siwi, is located near Medewi, I believe that there are many more mosques to be observed along the west coast roads and villages of Bali than in many of the eastern and southern coast towns near the capital of Denpasar (or near the cultural centers of central Bali, like Ubud and Mas).
This year of 2008, I had planned to immerse myself in Christian books and relaxation in the West Coast of Bali. Prior to arriving in Bali this winter, I had only one excursion planned.
This was a pair of journeys I intended to make to the famed (or infamous) Christian settlements of West Bali: Palasari (Catholic) and Blimbingsari (Protestant).