Secrets in Sanur

Some things are better left forgotten.

We always assume that when something or someone has been forgotten, it’s a catastrophe. Forgotten birthdays, forgotten anniversaries, forgotten kids at school, or forgotten meals on stovetops. It usually doesn’t end well. But what about forgotten places? Too often a forgotten place leads to disarray, chaos and danger. But sometimes a forgotten place can lead to beauty & wonder.

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That’s what I found when I recently discovered a forgotten amusement park in Sanur, Bali. Originally it had been designed to be a vast entertainment complex just a short taxi ride away from tourist town, Sanur. It only opened for 3 short years. But since closing it’s doors in 2000, it’s been left to the wild. And the wild has been good to it.

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I didn’t even know where to begin. I saw the remains of the old ticket booths at the entrance, and made my way inside. Doorways had been broken down, and the trees had begun making their home inside. Several structures still remain, like an amphitheater, an old pond covered in lily pads, large multiple story buildings that could have been hotel-like properties, and even an epic vaulted crumbling ceiling multi-purpose space. Graffiti, like the trees, has overrun the buildings. There’s hardly blank spaces left on the walls anymore. But it adds to the abandoned feel of the whole place.

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Small paths lead off from the main areas, and fear somewhat gripped my heart as I walked down these unknown roads. Every few feet, I’d see something new. A signpost, an old bathroom with no walls, another smaller theatre building, and large areas of unbroken concrete which skateboarders seem to love. In one section, I looked up and saw a huge net stretching through the trees. And I realized that the remains of the building below was probably an old aviary, home to exotic birds. The most eerie section to me was an large man-made pond, which had been filled in with stones. Legend says that when the park closed, the wild animals that were part of the entertainment were never collected, like the birds, and even crocodiles. And that after awhile, the crocodiles turned cannibal. Was this large stone pond the home of cannibalistic crocodiles?? I got out of there pretty quick.

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The Balinese are such a creative people, and Taman Festival did not lack in typical Balinese creativity. Ornate stone carvings lined many buildings, and detailed statues guarded entry ways. Brightly colored tiled mosaics could still be spotted on stone pillars throughout the park, and intricately laid into the walkways. Details and careful thought had gone into this place. And it stands empty, a shell of what it was destined to be.

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I think the same thing can happen to us. When we forget what we were created for, who we were destined to be, we become walking and talking relics. What gives us life? What gives us purpose? Find it and live it. That’s only way to remain truly alive anymore. Our generation refuses to settle for status quo. We are a generation of more. We are a generation of finding ourselves. But once we find it, we gotta live it. I love getting to live life in Asia. It fills me and fuels me. What fuels you?

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