Water (Garden) Park

The first full day in Bali, we toured a tropical botanical water gardens. I tiptoed through acres of flora I’d never met before. Glorious mists permeated the warm air. There were waterfalls and sweet little rattan tables with umbrellas, tons of food (we had someone crack open a fresh coconut for us) and fruity drinks and… and… waterslides. Okay, so we were at a waterpark. (It’s a family vacation after all.) But I preferred to think of it as a botanical garden, which was easy since the place was bursting with colors and giant leaves and butterflies. I was a fan of just laying in a tube on the lazy river. It passed under real banyan trees and palms and banana trees in climates that actually allowed them to flourish naturally. Novel for the waterparks I’m familiar with. The flora was covered in this post, so on to my people-watching escapades. 

Aussies make up the lions share of Westerners here (Darwin is just a two-hour flight), and based on today’s survey, they aren’t far from Americans for girth. Often found over-baking in direct sun (Aussie lobsters, anyone?) in scant swimwear a few sizes too small. Their general tourist antics included hovering at the edge of the swim-up bar for a few too many and seeing how much of the path they could coat in the contents of their stomachs. I think it was their spring break week or something. Or one can hope. On the flip side, about half of the attendees were locals, or at least Indonesian/Islanders. So many petite, gorgeous, golden bodies in swimwear. Not far off of my perfect (Magnum PI) vision of Hawaii, really. Thinner, with more tattoos. And quite possibly the ultimate human contrast to the specimens of Australia we saw. I’m not a tat person, but one Balinese man, bronzed and sinewy, had Hindu gods inked all over – Shiva, Vishnu, Ganesh. All in monochrome except hints of red. It covered his chest, shoulders, upper arms and back in incredible detail. And on his shin: Jerry Garcia smoking a joint (to match?). Yes, I was staring, but I was on the lazy river and, well, he was nice to look at. As Indonesia is a Muslim country, (Bali holds its ground as the only Hindu island of the archipelago), I also learned what a Muslim swimsuit looks like: Full coverage, much like full rain gear, but closer fitting… and it works. And was interesting enough that I took it in with my eyes rather than from behind my camera.

I spent most of the day floating on the lazy river under giant fig trees, hibiscus, plumeria and so many flowers I’d never seen before. There were even giant bees to match – about 2 inches long. But the sheer numbers of new flora was beaten out (narrowly) by the plethora of new foods I ate for the first time that day: fresh passion fruit, mangosteens (man, those are heaven!), Indonesian fried rice, traditional Balinese chicken something, achars, chutneys and salsas that I can’t even begin to describe effectively, spicy avocado gazpacho, Indonesian curried lamb, two bitter veggies I couldn’t identify, and, get this, beef bacon. Who knew you had to travel to a Hindu island (where cows are sacred?) to be offered beef bacon.

The little guy with a fresh passionfruit

But I still perfer to think of it as a tropical water garden. With food and tattoos.