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Since I was travelling with my Mum this time, I was more of a tourist than I normally am when I travel, but boy did I have fun. On all previous trips to Bali, I had managed to avoid most of the tourist traps but a few weeks before we left, a colleague of my Mum had just returned from Bali and raved about her day trip to the Bali Safari and Marine Park.
I jumped online to take a look to make sure we weren’t going to, what grum likes to call, an “awkward safari”. You know, one where they don’t treat the animals quite as well as what we’re used to back home, and you end up spending the day feeling awkward about enjoying yourself amongst the less than happy animals. Bali Safari and Marine Park wasn’t completely free of awkwardness, as they did have elephant back safaris plus opportunities to have your photos taken with tigers, both of which I don’t feel quite right about and would never participate in myself. Besides that though, the Bali Safari and Marine Park actually has a huge focus on animal welfare and conservation which shows in their enclosures and also in the many educational shows that they run throughout the day.
So once I looked around the website a bit, I decided on the Tiger Package which included transport to and from our villa, entry to the park, the Safari Journey, tickets to all their shows and lunch at one of the restaurants. Since I was buying it as a special treat for my Mum, who was super excited to be going, I got the most expensive package with the most added extras…..HOWEVER when we got there we realised that there was an even higher package called the Rhino package which gave you better seats at all the shows (it also may have given you more but I can’t seem to find reference to it on their website when I wanted to check!) But to be honest, if all you get is slightly better seats, I would stick with the Tiger package.
My best piece of advice would be to arrive there early. Our driver picked us up at 9am for the 30 min drive from Ubud, so we arrived there not long after the park opened and it was blissfully quiet. All the popular shows and animal feedings work to a schedule so, before that all started we went straight for the Safari Journey which is something that you can do at any time you like during the day, but by the looks of the area where you line up, it can get super busy and you can be waiting for over an hour. We were the first ones there so we trotted to the front of the line and waited about 10 mins for our tour bus to come around and grab us.
The Safari Journey goes for around 30 mins or so and you are driven in a very comfy air-conditioned bus around the open enclosures so you can get up nice and close to the animals. There was a Indonesian, Indian and African section, each with dozens of species of animals. If you have never done this style of zoo before, it is a whole lots of fun (and great if you are a little lazy and prefer not to be walking in the humidity) and this one was no exception. We drove through the water, over very narrow bridges and we had a hippo walk not more than a metre from our window. A HIPPO, GUYS. IT WAS AMAZING AND HIPPOS ARE NOW MY FAVOURITE ANIMALS AFTER DINOSAURS. By the time we got back, there was already a small line forming, so again, if you find yourself at the Bali Safari and Marine Park, I would suggest you do the Safari Journey first before exploring the rest of the park.
GIANT RHINO PLUSH TOY. Do you think he’ll fit in my carry on?
So tropical and so lush and isn’t my Mum just adorable?
Disclaimer: not a real elephant
The schedule of shows and feedings are spaced out as such, that it gently prods you through the park, but you never feel too rushed. Following our Safari Journey we went and watched the Animal Education Show which is a cute 20 minute performance with some of the zookeepers and their animal counterparts.
We saw an orangutan who liked to do rapper-esque poses, some poodles, a bunch of cats (one of which missed his chance to get through the little trapdoor at the top of the tree and therefore had to spend the rest of the performance just hanging there), a snake, some strange sloth like things that weren’t sloths…….okay so it was about 400 degrees by this point and we were standing in the sun (we got there a little late so if you want good seats get there early) so I don’t remember much except that it was hot and the animals were cute.
Once that was over we meandered past excited tourists feeding bunches of carrots to elephants and found ourselves at the front of the line for the Elephant Conservation Show. We had learned our lesson and we were there early and armed with cold bottles of water. The elephant show was spectacular, fun and not at all mean to the elephants. In fact, all the humans in the show were pushed far more than the elephants were. I have some great video footage of that which I will get around to posting sometime.
By this time it was getting close to lunch and our bellies were beginning to rumble. We flashed our Tiger wristbands at the Uma restaurant and helped ourselves to the delicious buffet. It was very Westernised food, and I thought rather delicious, but there were still some tourists poking at the little chicken dumplings, screwing up their noses and asking what the heck they were. You’re in Indonesia dudes, stop complaining that not all food is sausage rolls. I mean I love sausage rolls too, but Indonesian food is also really darn delicious.
To help our lunch settle, we took a stroll around the rest of the park because we had a couple of hours to kill before the big final show of the day, the Bali Agung Show. On our stroll we found this……..an almost completely abandoned fun park, with some rides that were operational (but no one on them) and some completely abandoned, strewn with debris. If was kinda creepy to be honest.
Aw, don’t I look good as a tourist? I think so.
Tezzy bones! I am glad Terry was at home for this trip, as he doesn’t like to see the bones of his kin.
Ummmm, point number 1 is……….interesting?
I came to a Safari Park and somehow I found an abandoned, and slightly creepy, bumper car ride.
Close up of the creep, Mr Lion
Safari Poo Paper – where they make paper out of poo! So watch out when
you’re using paper over there, as it may have come from an elephant’s butt.
Van selling toys and various other souvenirs
Our strolling done, it was finally time to enter the MASSIVE building that dwarfs everything else in the park , the 1200 seat, mega-stage theatrical complex called the Bali Theatre. It is the newest and most grand building I have been inside of in all of Bali. I couldn’t quite comprehend how large and shiny it really was. Unfortunately you will have to take my word on it, because you had to check your phones and cameras at the door.
Once a day they perform the Bali Agung show which is like those traditional dance sagas that you can attend all around Bali BUT 7 MILLION TIMES BIGGER. Apparently it is an internationally produced show and boy does it show. At one point they even have 4 elephants on the stage along with around 120 people and the stage is still not full. There’s lights, there’s real live birds flying overhead, there’s shadow puppets. It’s glitzy, it’s shiny and lacks all the traditional charm of a small productions performed in a local temple, but wow was it fun to watch. I would definitely recommend it to anyone.
Mum about to bravely set forth over the rope bridge.
After the show, I picked up a giraffe tshirt from the gift shop, checked out the fresh water aquarium and then we called up our driver, who actually sits around all day and just waits for you, and headed home.
Twas my most touristy experience ever in Bali and, sure it isn’t particularly cultural or Balinese, but I loved it and so did my Mum. In fact it may just have been our favourite day of this whole trip.
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