The shuttle service to the Bali Safari & Marine Park departs from Kuta at 9:15am, so we woke up early and jumped on a taxi to Gloria Jeans at Kuta Square. We have made reservations through the hotel for the shuttle service to and from the Safari, the elephant ride (which Aina had been anticipating so much), as well as the regular tour of the safari on a bus. We had a few minutes to spare, so we had a light breakfast while waiting for the shuttle bus.
After the hour-long drive, we finally reached the ticket office at the entrance. Apparently, we found out that there was a bit of a mix-up. Our hotel had made reservations for our entry tickets but had not booked a slot for the elephant ride. Since each ride lasts for about 30 minutes and there were only about 8 elephants, there was a new scheduling system in place to avoid disappointments. Anyone who had wanted to ride the elephants had to book a time slot 24 hours in advance. The problem was not that there wasn’t any slots left that day, but the only slot available was at 5pm and the last shuttle back to Kuta leaves at 6pm. Obviously, we wouldn’t have made it back to the main gate in time if we took this slot. So we called the Adi Dharma hotel to complain about the situation, and finally they agreed to send a car to pick us up at the Safari and take us back to the hotel – free of charge 🙂 So finally, we got our entry tickets using the elephant ride package and were off to explore the park.
It was beautiful inside. We took another shuttle to go to the Barong Lobby, where we continued our journey on foot. There was a nice little temple nearby, but we walked on over the Naga stone bridge and towards the shops at the central courtyard called the Bali Village.
There was a lady teaching kids Balinese dance at an open gazebo. We knew Aina was tempted but too bad we couldn’t persuade her to get over her shyness and join in.
At the camel ride however, she didn’t hesitate at all. There was a Daddy, a mommy and a baby camel. The baby camel didn’t actually carry people on her back. She just followed her mommy round and round the walking path. Aina couldn’t get enough of the camel family.
Then we boarded the Safari Explorer ride to tour the park.
With the exception of the sweltering heat, which caused most of the animals to hide in shades, it was really nice. From African herbivores like zebras and hippos, to cheetahs and the Sumatran tiger, and finally a baby elephant with it’s mom.
Afterwards, we had a quick lunch at the Hanoman Court. Since we still had a long time to spare until the elephant ride, we decided to watch the Bali Agung show. It turned out to be nothing short of amazing. A Balinese mythology about the Barong Landung – it was a modern live-action play with shadow puppetry combined with animatronics, and live animals from the Safari. It was very well produced and narrated as well. Unfortunately, we weren’t allowed to take pictures.
After the show, we walked around the eastern part of the compound. Past the amusing Waterpark…
…and the Fun Zone was a half-hearted and deserted theme park. It had the charm of a long forgotten Coney Island but without the history, and ironically, the running theme there was prehistoric bones.
Finally, it was time for the elephants. We watched the elephant show first for 15 minute, which was quite entertaining.
And then all 3 of us climbed on a mature female elephant called “Selfi”. With our bamboo farmer hats on, we sat inside a metal crate on Selfi’s back, while the driver sat on her neck. She was very gentle and obedient.
Aina dropped her favorite hair band (the one with the red bow on it) when we were climbing on, and our driver asked the driver of the elephant behind us to get it. That driver pointed to the ground and his elephant picked up the hair band with her trunk precisely, without missing a step. Amazing… Because of her size though, every time Selfi took a step, we were all shoved left and right. I never knew that riding an elephant requires much more stamina than riding a horse. Maybe it was also because I had to hold on to Aina the whole time so that she doesn’t slip off to the side. But it was a lot of fun riding on top of the biggest animal in the safari. We went though bushes and up and down small creeks. Other animals in the safari stayed away from us, even the rhinos and hippos.
After the elephant ride, we went to the car and headed to the hotel. We took a shower, then headed to Warung Made in Seminyak to have dinner with Amelia. The food was ok there, but the restaurant was really nice. An old colonial building adorned with beautiful wrought iron detailing and turn of the century posters.
By the way, on our way home to Legian, our taxi driver told us that there was a roadblock in Kuta due to a bomb scare. According tohim, an anonymous suitace was left on the sidewalk near Paddy’s club since this morning. “It was just there right next to my car”, he said. He drove off in the afternoon when the police started to investigate the area. So he told us that he could only drop us off at the Jalan Arjuna intersection and we had to walk the remaining few blocks. Sure enough, as we neared the area, there was a massive traffic jam. Cars on the street was left driver-less as people rushed all around us. The hotel’s reception claimed that he didn’t know anything and it might be a routine weekend blockage common in that area – then again, he could just be saying that to keep the guests calm. So we don’t really know if it’s a real bomb or not.
anyways, for more photos of the Safari trip, it’s in the Bali Safari & Marine Park, Bali ’11 photo album.