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Bali, Beyond the Beaches

I am so ecstatic for Vincent and Felicia's wedding--best excuse ever to go to Indonesia. Plus, I get to go with my closest friends from college, double win. While some of my friends peg me for a city girl, some know that I'm equally obsessed with the outdoors. I won't lie, sandy beaches are not a number-one-destination in my book, but some of these culturally rich, and deeply intriguing places, are currently topping the charts. Besides, Bali has more than beaches-- oceans, rainforests, history, religion, food. I cannot wait to explore all of it.

First, I'll start with the obvious- the temples, the shrines, and the holy places. Here, I've highlighted just two, because honestly, they show up in every list in the Bali-seeking-universe.

The Tanah Lot Temple along Bali's western shore

Photo courtesy of Extissimo Travel

The rock outcropping, Tanah Lot, is along the western side of Bali and is swimming with legend, mythology, and religion. The Pura Tanah Lot (Temple Tanah Lot) sits on these rocks, built in the 16th century thanks to the now-mythologized holy man, Nirartha after telling nearby fisherman it was a holy place. Pura Tanah Lot is one of seven sea temples along the

shore, paying respects to the guardian spirits of the sea. It is said that the sea snakes that dwell in the caves of the rocks protect the temple from evil spirits along with legendary sized snakes that swim the nearby depths of the sea. Blessings from a sea snake in one of the caves is one of the attractions here, I'm not entirely sure what that means, but I won't be the first one in line for that.

Photo courtesy of Mastahanky

The Goa Gajah (pictured at left) is also on my list of cannot miss places, the incredible "hellmouth" leading into the place of meditation is stunning. I have lots more research to do on this subject.

Moving onward. Next, we have the "wouldn't it be rad" destination. In all likelihood, I won't be visiting the Ghost Palace Hotel, also, more formally known as PI Bedugul Taman Rekreasi Hotel and Resort. On Atlas Obscura, the "know before you go" guide tells you where to hop the fence to avoid the guards... I'm not so down with hopping fences in other countries. Not even sure I'm about that in my own country.

Photo courtesy of photographer and traveler Anton Burmistrov

But, that doesn't change how fascinating abandoned places are. This hotel was commissioned by the youngest son of former Indonesia President, in the 1990's, but due to being jailed for corruption charges (he put a target on a Supreme Court judge convicting him of corruption, awkward) the funding was interrupted, so construction ceased. Anton Burmistrov can make it feel like you were there though-- he has an incredible photo journal and video that are completely immersive. So I'll just live vicariously through his adventure, and follow all of his other ones on his instagram account.

So, that leads me to this next gem-- the Ibuku complex of Green School and Green Village.

Ibuku's Green Village, a private residential complex in Bali

Photo courtesy of Ibuku

Green School, Heart of Building by Ibuku

Major Nerd Alert here, you can even take workshop courses at the Green Village--I'll get

to learn about jointery and how to make bamboo architectural models. Or, you can do a 3-day session, learning how to build a bamboo home! So dreamy, you can read more about it here.

So, perhaps this isn't the most typical list of places I hope to see in Bali. The temples are a given, I am not currently an expert, but I've got some time to sort all of that out. If you have any must-see places (that are different than the top 10 I'll find in whichever travel guide I buy), please, do share in the comments below!



Samantha is an avid traveler and architecture addict. TRAC, the Travel Record of Architecture and Culture, came about when planning the next great adventure and she wanted to find a resource with modern and historic architecture in one place, mapped out. By day, she's living the dream, working at an architecture firm in downtown San Francisco.  

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