We left Sanur again on a rented motorbike; this time our destination was the Bali Bird Park and the Setiadarma House of Masks and Puppets. Stephen found a villa between the two sites both of which are close to home.
Saturday morning met us with showers but we set out nevertheless and fortunately didn’t get very wet before things dried a bit and provided the cloudy shade we needed to keep the heat down. It took about 45 minutes to cover the 12 Km (7 miles) to the bird park. We got there before the crowds and when the birds were most active.
The ten acre grounds are lovely where over 1000 birds of 250 species are housed in a diverse tropical forest. Many of the birds, including brilliant Golden pheasants, exotic Australian pigeons and African crowned cranes roam the grounds and are calm among the cameras and visitors. Others are housed in cages, of course, and are well labeled with names and descriptions including origin, range, diet and nesting habits. There is an immense aviary where lories and other birds fly about. The collection is entirely tropical but includes specimens from South and Central America, Africa and Japan but for the most part the birds are from nearby places like Borneo, Papua, Java, Sumatra and Sulawesi. There is a collection of birds of paradise including the 12-wired and the red bird of paradise. A girl, with a group of students all dressed in native attire, got to pose holding a pair of Wreathed Hornbills (the male has a yellow sack under his bill, the female’s is blue). The revered White Starling unique to Bali is well represented and the park has an active breeding program here; we were able to see mature birds as well as the young and eggs in incubators. It is easy to understand why so many of these tropical birds have been captured to near extinction for the exotic caged bird trade, they are simply gorgeous.
Birds are hard to photograph even when they are confined to cages; they are always moving, flying what’s more. Stephen got the little eye of her cell phone up close to the wire mesh so the camera could see what we could not, namely a clear unobstructed view. One parrot was so needy he wouldn’t let the camera stay at the edge of the cage without trying to eat it but plenty of other birds stayed hidden among the foliage.
There was a Komodo Dragon on the grounds and a much larger collection of reptiles in the adjacent reptilarium. Snakes from giant pythons to slender venomous green tree snakes disguised as hanging vines were there to spook you out. There was a Gila monster from the US southwest. There was a crocodile the size of a truck lying peacefully on the other side of a wall. Let’s go back to the bird park.
Before leaving we stopped in the Bali Starling Restaurant for something refreshing and in normal Balinese fashion they couldn’t deliver a fruit drink without some kind of decoration; this time it was a cucumber peel cut in the shape of a swan.
The GPS got us to Anulekha Resort and Villa with only a bit of backtracking. This villa like so many on Bali has taken over what was formerly a rice field. More and more the economy shifts from agriculture to tourism where foreign visitors can enjoy luxury resorts like this one at bargain prices. Gobbling up acreage, electricity and water for their swimming pools and luxurious baths they are taking their toll on the island. It’s easy to spend in a weekend what the average Balinese makes in a month or more. The tourist industry provides the major source of revenue as well as much of the employment.
Hotel and restaurant staff are well trained and always graceful, usually dressed in native costume. Meals are wonderfully prepared and always beautifully presented with blossoms or decoratively cut vegetables like carrots or cucumbers. Our room was set with the ubiquitous and fragrant blossom from the Frangipani tree, called Jepun in Bali, three on the bed, one on the TV remote, another on the AC remote, several in the bathroom, another on the complimentary bowl of fresh fruit. You wouldn’t think there would be any left to be placed in the hair or behind the ears of the staff. Fortunately they grow on large trees and are everywhere, falling onto sidewalks and into swimming pools and used in the continuous offerings made to the spirits both good and evil.
After relaxing in the pool and watching the sun set over the palm trees we got some rest and were ready for the mask and puppet museum the following day.