Tag Archives: Kuta

Riding on the sea: Amazing Bali Mandara sea link


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It is not yet five years old, as it was opened only in September 2013, but it certainly leaves tourists coming to Bali in an awe. Almost 13 km in length stretching across the Gulf of Benoa, the Bali Mandara sea link is often referred to as pride of Indonesia. This beautiful sea link runs over sea and some part of it through protected mangrove forests, making it a beautiful experience to drive. It gives wonderful views from the road and the sea as well! It is claimed to be one of the “most beautiful” road stretches in Indonesia. The name Mandara is an acronym for Indonesian words — maju (move forward), aman (safe), damai (peaceful) and sejahtera (prosperous).

Toll gates with Balinese architecture style
Toll gates with Balinese architecture style

Bali Mandara Toll Road or Nusa Dua-Ngurah Rai-Benoa Toll Road is a toll road carried by a bridge 12.7 km in length. This highway connects the city of Denpasar and South Kuta, Badung Regency, Nusa Dua and Ngurah Rai International Airport, thus providing additional link to northern and southern parts of Bali. The reason behind construction of Bali Mandara Toll Road would have been to prevent traffic jams on the Ngurah Rai By Pass Road, but slowly it has also become an attraction of sort. This toll road was officially opened on 23 September 2013 by Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono. Whole project took just 14 months to be completed. It was an amazing feat, considering that there was no sort of foreign help involved at any stage.

Aerial view of the sea link
Aerial view of the sea link
Aerial view of the sea link

Numerous academics, scholars and environmentalists had voiced serious concerns over the construction of the sea link, which could have deviated from its approved environmental impact analysis and perhaps dangerously affect both the mangroves and surrounding marine habitat. Local fishermen and nearby fishing villages also no longer have access to their previous fishing grounds. Indonesian authorities however claim that this infrastructure masterpiece was built with environmentally friendly and advanced technology. Undoubtedly, the views from the toll road are breathtaking. Even the local norms and traditions were respected during the construction. You can see the water below the road and green mangrove forests all over the place. To minimise the impact of construction almost 16,000 pieces of mangrove trees were planted after the construction of link was completed.

Mangroves around the road
Mangroves around the road
Approaching the beautiful mainland

Want to know about India’s oldest sea link? Read: Pamban bridge enters hundredth year!

smooth traffic on the toll road
Bikers in the two-wheeler lane

The road runs over the sea and was built using 33,835 concrete columns, some of them through an area of previously pristine mangrove forest. The road has a separate lane for motorcycles on both the sides, thus providing separate drive ways for two wheelers and four wheelers and making it more safe. The length of Bali Mandara Road is equal to Penang Bridge in Malaysia which too is 12.7 kilometres in length.

Massive structure on the sea
Many loops, flyovers on the link road
Already an attraction for the tourists

The road runs through a fragile environment and rough seas. Hence, there are many checks and controls involved. There are strict speed limits and all activities are thoroughly monitored. There is exhaustive system of CCTVs and also a wind monitor to keep measuring the wind sped. Anemometer are installed at every toll gate (Nusa Dua, Ngurah Rai, and Benoa). If the wind speed reach 40 kph or more than the movement on this road is controlled or stopped temporarily.

Travel with me to this Bali Mandara sea link through this video on my YouTube channel by clicking on the thumbnail below-

So next time you visit Bali, get a driving experience on this Bali Mandara toll road. It will certainly be worth.

Have you driven on this amazing Bali Mandara Road? How was your experience? Let us know in the comments section below.

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Finding Nemo while walking underwater in Bali Sea

It is indeed one of the most adorable and loved  fishes of silver screen and also of aquariums thereafter. Orange Clownfish Nemo has been craze of kids world over after that landmark film – Finding Nemo. Hence watching Nemo in its natural habitat in the sea is indeed filled with a lot of excitement. But of course, this is not about Nemo, it is about walking under the sea and feeling the nature’s bounty around you. Sea Walking is a gem of an adventure for all those who don’t want to go in nitty-gritty of diving. And there can be perhaps no better place for sea walking than beautiful waters of Bali in Indonesia.

Orange Clownfish ‘nemo’ in its territory

Sea walkers are the latest craze for the under water adventure seekers and what a place can be better than Bali to do this. Tanjung Benoa in South Kuta district of Badung Regency in Bali is the hub of water sports activities in Bali and it has lot to offer. One of the best among them is the Sea walker, where one walks few metres under the sea with the help of special helmets filled with oxygen. While you walk, you see the fishes and corals around you. You can be under the water for 20 to 30 minutes or more. A thrill and lots of fun, if you are not afraid of water.

Boats in the sea to take you down

The host of water sports activities in the region include snorkelling, sea walking and diving besides the regular ones like parasailing, jet-sking, water scooters and lot more. Sea Walking is fairly new but interesting adventure.

Under the sea for a stroll!

For this activity, once at the beachside base, you are registered. After the paper formalities, one has to change-in in special suits. Then they are transported by speed boats to offshore docking stations which are actually boats anchored in the sea away from the coast.

Once you reach at the docking station, you are given instructions on the process, which is mostly related to sign language that has to used with the instructor. Walkers are given a helmet to wear, which provides oxygen supply through pipe attached to docking station. Walkers are supposed to breath normally. It is a walk, not a dive or a swim. Special rubber footwear are also given here (these are not flippers as of divers).

You go down the sea through a ladder attached to the boat. The instructor than pulls you down further from the ladder and parks you on the sea bed, where you can stand holding specially fixed rails and ropes. Now you are ready for the walk.

With directions from the instructor you walk on the sea-bed holding rails and ropes, enjoying corals and fishes around. You will be seeing many of them for the first time in your lives, as was with me.

Enjoying corals

What is interesting that, you even carry bread with you to feed the fishes so that they gather around you and one has the few of being surrounded by the fishes under the sea.

After spending around 20-30 minutes under the sea and walking around, you are taken back to the boat, through the same ladder.

Back to the boat after thrill

Its an exhilarating experience and good one for first timers who don’t have an exposure of going under the sea water. With safety of life jackets and oxygen helmets, it is a safe activity for even those who don’t know to swim.

You can watch a video of my sea walking experience on my YouTube channel by clicking on the link below:

With many competitors around in the Tanjung Benoa area of Bali, rates are often bargained. We did this activity for 600K Indonesian Rupiah (roughly 2800 Indian Rupee). Don’t forget to carry your water proof cameras for capturing memorable experience, but if you don’t have it, than sea walking operators will click your images with their cameras, but of course for a handsome amount.

Getting pulse of Bali’s buzz!

Well, Mercure Legian Bali hotel is located in the area, where heart of Bali beats. When we were in Nusa Dua area, we were in a sort of exclusive zone with all sort of luxury and privacy. But this hotel lies in an area, where as soon as you step out of the hotel, you find yourself in the hustle & bustle of a busy tourist destination like Bali. Hotel is just a five minutes walk from the beach. Hotel is close to Legian, Seminyak and Kuta areas. Mercure has two hotels in the area. There another property Mercure Kuta Bali is located right on the Kuta beach and is slightly away from the, what few people may call as, chaos of Legian area.

Hotel is located on a busy intersection on Legian street. Running parallel to a long coastline this street is just a five minutes walk from famous Legian and Kuta beaches. This street is quite close to Bali’s international airport. With hotels suiting all sizes of pockets in close vicinity, this place is famous among tourists who prefer being close to beach. That makes it one of the busiest places in Bali.

You will find constant stream of tourists from all around the world, flowing up and down the street. You will find here everything- from massage parlours to money changers and from souvenir shops to 24 hour departmental stores. Street is lined up with number of restaurants offering all types of cuisine to take you to a rich gastronomical experience. Being one of the best places for shopping, you need to bargain hard to get best prices.

Also remain aware of the strangers offering services of escorts and ‘more’. Its a busy tourist place so all the pros and cons of such places are to be taken care of. There are many shops selling tour, tattoos, clothes and spas. A lot of people will try to stop you for a sale. Need to be careful about, whom to cater and whom not. Since Legian is more famous for some street shopping, therefore more serious shoppers might like to go to Kuta or Seminyak markets nearby.

The way to beach passes through the busiest tourist market of the Kuta area. So staying at Mercure Legian is like enjoying everything day out and night and then relaxing in comfortable environs of your room.

This hotel might not be so spacious like hotels in Nusa Dua area or Ubud region of Bali but it still provides enough luxury to enjoy stay in romantic destination like Bali. Rooms are descent and service is excellent. Highlight is the rooftop pool and the nearby bar. Either go for a poolside room or a room high up with a balcony to get best of views. There is another bar near restaurant at lobby level. We didn’t had the opportunity to dine here, but had breakfast in two mornings and they were quite relishing. Overall, we had a thoroughly enjoyable experience of stay at Mercure Bali Legian.  We didn’t dine here, as we tried some Indian food at Queens.

Well, it might quite be OK if you are a non-Indian and searching for an Indian restaurant in Bali and land at Queen’s. But if you are an Indian and love your taste, than you will feel a bit disappointed here, especially for the taste of Indian foods you love. Ambience is good but lot more needs to be done for the food items and also in terms of service. The staff needs to know about Indian food, when they are serving in an Indian restaurant.

Sea on fire : Sunset at Bali beach

In an earlier post I had showcased some Sunset silhouettes from the Kuta beach in Bali. But I haven’t included the actual sunset photos in the post and saved them for later. Here they come, few of the selected ones.

Bali Sunset1

Well, sunsets are never enough. For me, going to a beach destination essentially means to watch the sunset. But then so has for any other destination as well. Sunrises and sunsets always catch your imagination.

Bali sunset2

As I said in the earlier post, sunset at the Kuta beach in Bali was the only second sunset of the whole trip that I was able to capture. First, one being the sunset at Prambanan Temple near Yogyakarta. Although we landed in Bali in the late morning  but it was only in the evening when we managed to check in our hotel close to Kuta Beach. Having left with very little time before the sunset, I had no other choice then to leave everybody else behind and rush to the beach with my cameras. I am glad, I did so.

Bali sunset3

I was on beach minutes before the sunset and I managed to capture some satisfactory images. You can see some interplay of colours during the moment in these photos-

What attracts you more at sunset time on a sea beach is the sudden surge in the waves. The sun and the sea look like proving their might by trying to outdo each other. See for yourself in these images-

And then sun goes down and things suddenly start to calm a bit-

Bali sunset18

On the other side, a plane gets ready to land at the Denpasar airport in Bali-

Bali sunset19

For me and many others, it was time to be back-

Bali sunset20

Sunset silhouettes at Kuta Beach in Bali

Kuta is one of the most happening places in Bali. Earliest place to get commercialised in the island for the sake of tourism. This was my second sunset in Indonesia, first one being at Prambanan. This was first one at Bali. It is always very overwhelming to watch sunset at a beach- nature’s two most powerful forces merging into each other to give such a soothing effect. Standing alone and still, calmly watching the sun taking another dip in the ocean is so fascinating, as we can see the person in the image below, so soaked in the moment.

Silhouette10

For me, photography has always been the attempt to capture the moments. So here are few of the silhouette moments at Kuta beach in Bali. Few of these are the couple moments- let’s play love…

Few other are some lonely feelings, reflecting at life: (click the images to enjoy the fullest!)