Sometimes as a traveller all your decisions turn out to be great ones – that random restaurant you choose proves to be a delight, a little museum turns out to be an unexpected gem, or you pick up some unexpected bargains along the way. Well, today proved not to be one of those days.
Not wanting to venture too far from the ship, we chose a new temple to go to, a museum to visit, a shop to browse, and a restaurant to eat at. It was all well researched, but they each turned out to be disappointing on different levels.
First, we went to the ornate Jagatnatha Temple in Denpasar, which was very picturesque and had some good carvings, but was curiously empty of people and lacking in atmosphere. Then, we went next door to the Bali Museum, a place that we last went to 17 years ago, and had no memory of. Maybe there wasn't much to remember, because what could have been a really interesting introduction to Bali's unique culture and history, turned out to be a fairly random collection of unexplained artefacts that gave you very little context. Sadly, we were reduced to giggling childishly at the collection of physically unfeasible phallic objects.
With Christmas coming up, we wanted to buy some of the lovely Balinese rattan baskets that we've bought in the past in the inland villages, but it appears that the shops of Denpasar (despite being the capital) doesn't do much beyond T-shirts, sarongs and tourist knick-knacks.
Never mind, our day would be saved by a lovely lunch – wrong! The highly recommended restaurant that we'd selected in Seminyak turned out to be opposite a new building site, so it was empty, noisy and dusty. The nearby beach looked great, but the beach bars were all serving pizzas and burgers, which is not what we wanted. Instead, we headed away from the commercialised coast to a place our driver knew that was at least serving Indonesian food. It wasn't very inspiring, but at least it was a slice of something local.
We all have days like this when it doesn't quite work out as we expected. At least we know that Bali can offer much more than this. Next time, we will get away from the congested south of the island, and try to experience more of what makes this island so great – sublime temples, quality crafts, and delicious food.
There's always a next time.