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Sanur

Save for a few scattered villas owned by lords and heiresses, during the thirties Sanur beach was left in seclusion. Pandy's Art Gallery was then an aquarium and coffee shop. Tandjung Sari was a solitary temple on the cape, and Hotel Bali Beach had not neared its conception. The only surviving home of those times is that of the Belgian painter Le Mayeur, who moved to Bali in 1932 and lived there for 26 years. The house, with its statued gardens, luxuriant gold and crimson carvings, and Le Mayeur's own paintings is now cared for by his widow, Ni Polok, once a renowned Legong dancer and famed beauty-the ideal Balinese of his paintings. On his death Le Mayeur willed the house to the Indonesian Government. A guidebook is available. The house is situated close by the Hotel Bali Beach.

By the fifties, the first cluster of bungalows was built as a small hotel. The villagers were amazed that someone would want to settle by the ocean, as beaches were traditionally shunned by the Balinese because of spirits. Yet Sanur continued to attract an international elite and today is a prominent luxury resort area in the Far East.

The Hotel Bali Beach was opened in 1966. While the Hotel Bali Beach expanded into a new wing and bungalows (called the Bali Seaside Cottage), more than 30 hotels opened their doors up and down the beach.

When the Hotel Bali Beach first opened, and even to this day, it was a source of wonder to the Balinese. They came from all over the island to set eyes upon what, to the modern world, were everyday matters, sky high rooms, running water, electricity and elevators.

The Bali Hyatt and Sanur Beach are the next largest hotels. The building boom reached its peak for a PATA Conference in 1974 when hotels at Sanur alone provided about 1,600 rooms. A new, open highway now links Sanur to Denpasar and Nusa Dua. The volume of traffic to the Bukit Peninsula has increased since more luxury hotels opened at Nusa Dua resort in 1982.

A wise government regulation that forbids buildings taller than a coconut palm has allowed Sanur to retain much of its village character. The luxuriant vegetation soon covers building scars, and moss transforms a new stone wall. The regulation encouraged the growth of bungalow-style hotels based on the style hotels based on the Balinese norm of many small buildings within the one-house compound. The hotels of Sanur are all comfortable and elegant. The bungalow-style hotels are popular with tourists who enjoy the peace of garden settings.

Built along the beach, the hotels of Sanur are ideal in the early morning, for the coast there faces the sun rising over Nusa Penida. On the clearest days, Lombok's Rinjani volcano floats distantly above its collar of clouds, with Bali's own Gunung Agung closer by. Elegant triangular sails of fishing prahus glide on the calm sea. These boats are called jukungs and there are many for hire for trips along the shore. At low tide, the waters recede leaving great swathes of sand and coral that stretch for hundreds of meters to the reef, It is then that villagers wander among tide pools to collect coral, which they burn nearby to make building lime. At night, fishermen wade by torchlight to catch shrimp and small bait. Sanur is famous, too, for its magic, because of the many B rahmana families that live there and its proximity to the sea. Its farmers are reputed to grow the most delicious rice in Bali, formerly reserved for the tables of kings.

It is easy to spend a day around Sanur: lazing by the pool-side, walking on the beach, or following paths through the surrounding hamlets, rice fields and coconut groves. You can take a look at the coral pyramid in the sea temple or the old pillar inscription at Belanjong. In the evening the choices are several. Relax on the beach (especially around the full moon) or on the porch of a bungalow. Wander down to the beach market and try the local food stalls. Watch a dance or drama (your hotel can tell you when they are on) Or if it is action you are looking for, there are night clubs at the three largest hotels.

 

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