Bali has undergone rapid development in the last 20 years focusing on tourism. Kuta, Legian and Seminyak have seen tremendous growth and now other parts of the island are seeing that too.
One area of Bali that has long been popular with surfers is the Bukit (hill) peninsula at the southern end of the island. This limestone plateau has Uluwatu on the western end and Nusa Dua on the eastern, with not much in the middle.
Outside of Nusa Dua the biggest construction project is GWK (Mandala Garuda Wisnu Kencana), the cultural park carved out of the limestone rock. To get to GWK from Kuta, you go to the roundabout at Simpang Siur and headed for Nusa Dua. After 15 minutes, take the right turn to Uluwatu and follow Jl. Uluwatu up the hill, eventually coming to GWK on the left side. Don’t worry you won’t miss it, there is a huge driveway and massive sign.
GWK was conceived to be a cultural center / events park and is privately funded. The 2002 bombing affected the pace of construction.
Arriving at the small ticket booth in the parking lot, you pay 15,000rp and received my ticket. This entitles you to stroll around, view the statue of Vishnu, the Hindu God who is the protector (part of the Hindu trinity Brahma the Creator, Vishnu the Preserver and Shiva the Destroyer), the statue of half man half bird Garuda and the other points of interest including the art museum, open air stage and amphitheater.
Walking up the hill, you can check out the view, it’s great! You can see Kuta Beach, the bottleneck of Jimbaran and over to Nusa Dua and Benoa. A little ways further, you come to DeMiMiDi restaurant a pretty swish looking place with a great view. The food was international and main courses were running about 60,000-70,000rp.
Continuing on, you ascend some stairs, and see the head and shoulders of the Vishnu statue which is currently 23 meters high. The plan for GWK was to have a 146 meter gold plated Wisnu riding his winging chariot Garuda and have the whole thing on top of an 11 storey entertainment complex.
The planners of GWK envisioned arriving airline passengers, would view the landmark as a warm greeting to Bali. Unfortunately not everyone is over the moon about it. Religious Balinese, sometimes complain that this massive statue, will disrupt the natural balance in Bali, as it tries to compete with the highest spot, Gunung Agung. Also the purely commercial nature, does not feel right to some people.
Walking around GWK, which toakes altogether 1 hour, including stopping for a drink and viewing art, you will be impressed at the size of the place, and the effort that had been put in. There is a weird kind of atmosphere with this place, almost like its waiting to be a Disneyland of some kind, but hasn’t got it together yet. Walking through the open air stage section, you think, ‘Wow, what an awesome place to have a concert.’ (Michelle Leslie knows all about that) Across the way, you can meandere down alleys, created by cutting chunks of the limestone away. There’s no limit to what they could build at GWK, with the newly exposed areas offering more space.
The art museum is located close to a small shop selling drinks. The museum features local contemporary works of art. Nothing too special in there, and it seems a bit bare. Entrance is free. There are couple of souvenir shops too.
For evening visitors a kecak dance is performed on Tuesdays and Thursdays admission $5.I think that in future, this place will be a thriving business, the location is too good for it not to be. I can see concerts and performances being a regular thing, and the growing number of foreigners building houses in Jimbaran and on the Bukit will help support this.
•What is GWK?
A cultural / entertainment park
•Where is GWK?
•How far is it from Kuta?
•Best time to go?
Any time is good for a look around. Great place for concert.
•When it is open?
GWK is open daily from 8am – 10pm.
•Who would GWK be good for?
People exploring the Bukit and wanting something different / a pit stop for food. People who want to see a concert in a really cool lpace.
•Who would GWK not be good for?
People who like lively places. People who need a ton of stuff to buy / browse. People who don’t like leaving the Kuta area.
Parking, toilets, restaurant, gift shop.