Why do some call Nusa Penida the ‘egg of Bali’?
You can see by this map that Bali is vaguely chicken-shaped. Nusa Penida is the large island to the southeast.
Nusa Penida (‘Island of Priests’, in a Balinese dialect) is very relaxing after cosmopolitan Ubud. We read somewhere ‘Nusa Penida is what Bali used to be like 50 years ago.’ It’s certainly scenic.
We stay at the Casa Ari in the village of Toyapakeh, probably the best deal in Nusa Penida. New, clean, quiet, and a bargain for the island.
As usual, we make friends with the locals.
We rent a scooter for three days. Some of the roads are well-paved, but no wider than a bicycle path.
One of our first stops is the Pura Goa Giri Putri cave temple.
The entrance is tiny. You have to crawl on hands and knees to get inside. We’re sure this has some kind of ‘birth/rebirth’ symbolism.
Once inside, it’s huge. (I was going to say ‘cavernous’.)
We walk a dimly-lit walkway a few hundred metres that leads to another entrance on the other side of the mountain.
The Hindu priests sit around checking their phones, like everyone else on the planet.
We continue down the coast.
‘To the mainland Balinese, Nusa Penida is virtually unknown except
through legend. To almost all it is a place that is generally Angker, a term that is difficult to translate into English. About as close as you can come is to say that it is “scary”, or even “terrifying”, because of strong and mostly evil practices that is associated with the island. It is a fearful place, a source of disease, bad luck, and evil spirits.
The center for this evil influence is Pura Dalem Penataran Peed, sometimes spelled Ped, located on the northwest corner of the main island. Quite a few Balinese make the trip there for the odalan of this temple, which, as Budi aptly puts it in his mixed Balinese-English, is the “Angkerest” place in all of Bali because it is the abode of Ratu Gede Macaling, one of the most powerful and potentially destructive and evil of all of the various gods, or, to be more accurate, manifestations of God, to be found anywhere in Bali.’
Mind you, this dates from 1986. Things change in 30 years, and we don’t get the impression that locals feel the island is in any way ‘cursed’.
As is the case with many places of interest here, the last five kilometres or so are down terrible, bone-jarring, scooter-destroying stony goat-paths.
Perseverance rewards us with a stunning view of Atuh Beach, nestled between two cliffs.
As we walk back up the trail, we look down and see three baby sharks, each one a metre long, swimming in the bay, invisible to the people paddling unconcerned nearby. (They are not a threat. The baby sharks, that is.)
Next day, we visit the Peguyangan waterfall and temple. This means taking a steep metal stairway down a cliff face.
We watch three or four Cadillac-sized manta rays swim gracefully in the sea below
The temple hugs the cliffs at the base.
Maria samples some of the purifying waterspouts.
Another day, we take the scooter to Crystal Bay.
This is popular with snorkelers and other visitors.
We take a walking trail at one end of the beach to see where it goes.
The trail leads to a small white sand beach, with crashing waves of clear water and no other people. We have the beach entirely to ourselves.
Sight or Insight of the Day – Nusa Penida
The Balinese are among the most observant believers in their religion. They spend a lot of their time constructing and placing offerings just about everywhere as part of their observances – gateways, doorways, steps, crossroads.
Worship and purification take up a large part of every day.
It’s all very pretty and quaint.
And yet – at our guesthouse in Ubud, the owners have several cages of birds on the property. One in particular contains a couple of mynahs. The only drinking water they have is a ceramic bowl on the floor of the cage, old and murky with filth and droppings. We casually mention several times ‘maybe you can change this water bowl today?’ ‘Yes, yes, OK, OK.’
But it doesn’t get done. We ourselves look in several pet stores in Ubud to purchase a couple of cage-mounted water dishes. The shops only have dog and cat supplies.
The point is – people spend hours of every day propitiating invisible and (probably) non-existent spirits while – in the real world – remaining oblivious to the genuine physical needs of a living, breathing creature in their care. It’s kind of like the nature of all religion writ small.