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A Well- Manicured Paradise

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Nusa Dua and Tanjung Benoa are Bali's modern tourist resorts - a government-run dreamland of coconut palms, white sand beaches and pristine waters located near the island's southernmost tip. Geologically, the area is quite different from the rest of Bali, and even from the rest of the Bukit peninsula upon which it rests.

Instead of rice fields or limestone cliffs, there is sandy soil reaching down to a long, sandy beach protected by a reef. Coconut trees are everywhere - Nusa Dua was once a huge coconut plantation. The climate here is also drier than the rest of Bali, freshened by a mild ocean breeze.

Genesis of a beach resort

Nusa dua areaOnce upon a time, the Balinese giant and master builder Kebo Iwa decided that the Tanjung Benoa marshes should be transformed into rice fields, so he went to the Bukit and picked up two scoops of earth. While shouldering them along the coast, his pole broke, dropping the earth into the sea. Two islets appeared: the "Nusa Dua."

The marshes were never to become rice fields the bay remained a bay with a long cape, Tanjung Benoa, jutting into it. Nevertheless, Kebo Iwa, who created the area, is now engaged in a new venture - luxury hotel development.

Making Nusa Dua into a tourist paradise was a consciously implemented government policy, designed with the help of the World Bank. Two main concepts underlay the project: to develop an up-market tourist resort, beautiful, secure, easy of access, with the most modern facilities, while keeping the disruptive impact on the local environment as low as possible.

Bualu was chosen both for its scenic location as well as for its relative isolation from densely populated areas. By 1971, the master plan was ready Construction began in 1973. The first hotel, the Bualu Club, was completed in 1979, initially as a training ground for a Tourism and Hotel School (BPLP). Several luxury hotels with over 4,000 rooms have opened since then.

The early days

The project did have its teething pain. Tenants would not leave the land - Balinese custom distinguishes rights over land from rights over trees! And the trees have soul Fishermen would not leave the beach. And then there were all the temples.

These questions were all eventually settled - tenants got land, fishermen take tourists sailing for a fee, and the temple festivals continue.

The entrance to the complex consists of a tall candi bentar split gate. Facing it 200 meters away is a modern-style candi dwara pala pala fountain-gate surmounted by a monstrous kala head. The outer split gate separates while the inner gate unites. The cosmic complementarily of Bali and tourism in a nutshell.

The hotels are landmarks of the new Balinese architecture. The design committee specified that buildings be no higher than the coconut trees and that their layouts be based oil Balinese macro and microcosmic models. Thus, the Club Med has its head in a Padmasana shrine to the northeast and its genitals and bowels in the discotheque (naturally!), with the kitchen to the southwest.

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Tanjung Benoa: revamped port

For centuries, the natural means of communication between this area and the rest of Bali was by boat from Tanjung Benoa, as this was easier than the overland route via Jimbaran. Tanjung Benoa, which appears isolated at the tip of the peninsula, was in fact a trading port for Badung and the eastern Bukit, with a world outlook extending right across the archipelago. Its population bears traces of this mercantile past. Chinese have lived here for centuries: a "Ratu Cina" shrine in the local temple of death bears witness to their long presence.

Although most families have moved to Denpasar, they still maintain a Klenteng temple here, where local fishermen now inquire about the secrets of the stars with a Chinese abbot. The village also has a Bugis quarter, with a small mosque.

Bualu village

Compared to Tanjung Benoa, the village of Bualu, where Nusa Dua is situated, was a sleepy village subsisting on copra, fishing and coral collecting. There were two noble houses and no brahmans. As elsewhere in Bali, religion was ever-present.

The area had, and keeps, very special features. Its best-known ritual is an appeasement of the sea, to protect the land from any incursion by the fanged monster lurking beyond the waves - Jero Gede Mecaling harbinger of death and illness. People present him with offerings in his many shrines along the coast.

The region around Buala is also dotted with sea temples, some within the perimeters of the luxury hotels. And pengelem duck sacrifices to the sea are offered under the eyes of passing tourists.


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