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Nusa Penida | Indonesia

A Walk on Black Magic Island

The feeling of adventure comes as you take your attention away from the destination and open your heart to the beauties around you present now.

A distinct energy can be felt wandering through the jungles of Ubud, past the myriads of temples, the graceful and beautiful women carrying on their heads hundreds of offerings, colourful sarong around their waist, watching every step to avoid marching on a small palm basket filled with gifts for the Gods. Bali is known as the Islands of the Gods, but it wasn’t always so.

At some unknown time in history, lived in the small village of Batuan a powerful warlock; I Macaling. For his practice of black magic, he was exiled! He was forced to live on what came to be named the Island of Priest; Nusa Penida. Unbowed and with vengeance in mind he continued sending illnesses and disruption to the main island. It was then decided that the high priests of Bali would venture across the deep seas to clean the island of dark spirits and demons. But they were unable to fully subdue his energies.

Nusa Penida therefore became a place of pilgrimage for every Balinese Hindu. Once during a lifetime, the journey must be made to visit the temple of Pura Ped whose vibrations and energies brings a balance between the positive and negative forces of the Divine. In more recent years, the Klungkung dynasty used the island as a jail for robbers, delinquents, trouble makers and political prisoners, their own version of Robben Island. 

As I leave the beaches of Bali, I venture off on my own ‘pilgrimage’ attracted by the tales of unreachable paradise beaches. In a small boat accompanied by a handful of tourists, I feel a sense of adventure overtake me; it could be the deep seas crossed on a boat powered by three intense engines. The smell of gasoline overcoming the resistance of the odour provided by the scent trees. The fading breeze gifted by the open windows needed to be shut to avoid the splashing water. The absence of a dock where one needs to carry his bag above his head, pull up his shorts in order to avoid damage.

Stepping off the boat onto a floating dock built by an extremely commercialised resort for day trippers and short stays, I feel a strange energy. 

But I continue and perhaps the energy and the sense of adventure comes from it’s rugged roads, where the future of the journey can be dictated by a single rock sharper than others. Every second is governed by another hole to steer by. Tired eyes watch the road, the directions and the scenery; unknown as to which of them deserves the most attention. It could be the incredibly steep roads where thoughts of going back up are brushed aside.

It could be the beautiful locals seen on the road. Carrying wood, rice or any number of things on their head. Returning a smile a hundred folds. It could be the magnificent villages you come by. The many temples worshipping gods and nature. It could be the kindest moment when the stall keeper offers you a gift full of love. 

Whatever it may be, whilst I explore the sense of adventure deepens, a special energy can be felt. Somewhat disorienting and troubling. Perhaps it is the energy of the castaway demons.

Whatever it may be, discovering this island is a gift. The most dramatic and beautiful cliffs can be seen. Towering hundreds of meters above the crystal waters of the ocean; where binoculars are not needed to see dancing manta rays. Schools of fish floating in the depth. Handfuls of rays seeking food. It truly is a magical place. The sense of adventure continues as you climb down and back up the steep porous limestone cliffs. And perhaps what leaves an even stronger trace in fading memories is the incredible kindness of the locals.

Nusa Penida may be thought of as the Black Magic island but what makes it truly attractive and beautiful is the attitude and kindness of the locals. The dramatic cliffs and stunning beaches are for many the goal, the reason they come, the reason I went. This may be used as a compass and with an open heart the journey becomes the most memorable part. The locals remind me that with pure intentions and with love, all human beings can be a beacon of light in the seemingly darkest of places. 

[If by any chance someone from Bali reads this, please do not hesitate to contact me if you feel that my historic and religious understanding is incomplete, terima kasih]

The Universe is the balance of light and darkness, one cannot exist without the other and as in our life, balance must be found by working with opposing forces

Images provided by Jeremy Perret. All rights reserved.

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