Go Eco at Sanur Village Festival

by Mallika Naguran

If you happen to be wandering around in Kuta with a massive hangover, trying very hard to remember if you were good last night and thinking if cheap booze, sleazy bars and annoyingly pulsating Bob Marley renditions are all there is to Bali, well, trip up to Sanur.

Just half hour from Denpasar on the eastern side of the island in the south, there is a festival of sorts to bring you back to life, and ahem, civilisation. Sanur Village Festival 2008 from 6-10 August covers all grounds – culinary, sports, culture, art, beach games, cycling tour, kite flying and music, like jazz, enough of reggae already!

The celebrations are dotted along the coast that stretches from Sindu to Sanur beaches, including Inna and Jalan Segara Ayu, which lines art galleries.

Traditional sailing boats, nearly 120 jukung, transform to sitting area and a floating stage, where artists will perform traditional music. Sanur in Bali is famous for dazzling beaches and amazing sunrises, so the extra festivity is a rare treat for tourists and Balinese alike.

Sports sponsored by Stiff Chilli takes a chunk of the buzz starting from today, with paddle surfing as well as wind and kite surfing competition at Segara Beach. Rugby fans can make their way to Inna Grand Bali Beach soccer field on 9 August.

In its third year, the festival takes on an environmental theme "Going Green". These would be daily activities such as a three-hour Sanur Village cycling tour, Bonsai and Adenium exhibition (near Inna Grand Bali Beach Cottage) and coral plantation.

Ida Bagus Sidharta Putra, chairman of the Sanur Development Foundation, the festival co-organizer, said, "It is a must that we should campaign for the urgency of preserving the environment such as by protecting our beaches from sea erosion and reef preservation through both the work of art and an actual reef rehabilitation program."

Protecting the marine life and conservation of biodiversity is at the heart of the coral plantation program, started by hotelier and adventure tour operator IB. Agung Partha, or Gus Agung as we know him. This man has to his agony seen the slow deaths and destruction of corals along Bali coastline over time, largely due to coastal development, sedimentation, over fishing and irresponsible tourism.

“I had to do something, because there was nothing to see anymore. All the fishes were gone,” he shared.

Gus Agung uses a simple method to help grow corals since 2005. The procedure is simple; attach a coral fragment to a substrate and plant it onto a fixed structure. In time, the fragments show signs of life. 

“The corals started growing and the fishes came back – it’s truly amazing!” Gus Agung beamed as a proud father would as he considers the corals to be his children. Running a Seawalker tours outfit through Club Aqua, his company sees scores of tourists mainly non-divers attempting to see what the underwater is like without the fear of the deep. Using the Seawalker, he invites all to have a go at coral planting.

He hopes to secure a better future for his new corals by minimizing fishing impacts surrounding them, by promoting awareness and educating the fishermen and local communities. Gus Agung also organises the village bike tours which he hopes to get people off their bums to see the real culture of Balinese, and runs Bali International Rafting.

So, if you had enough of Kuta and mindless pub crawling, why not explore the greener side of things at Sanur.

Photos by Aqua Club, Bali.

Festival website http://www.gotosanur.com

Schedules: http://www.gotosanur.com/sanfest-schedule.shtml

Tune in to Gaia Discovery next on Biorock Technology for coral reef restoration and the man who makes it happen around the world, Dr Thomas Goreau.