It’s hot in Bali. Scorching, in fact. Year-round, temperatures hover between 28-33 degrees celsius. So, you have three options. First, follow the crowds and flock to the beach for surfing, swimming, sunbathing, and selling (well, you get approached a lot by people trying to sell you everything from pineapples to beach mats – like how I managed to get all the verbs start with ‘s’?).
Second, you can chill by the hotel and laze by the pool, presuming that you have one. And third? Arguably the most fun of the three is to spend the day at Waterbom Park in Kuta.
Bali Waterbom has more than 17 waterslides and leisure facilities, ranging from the placid to the scream-worthy. Open from 9 am to 6 pm year-round, the park sits upon 3.8 hectares surrounded by tropical Balinese gardens and prides itself not only on building rides that are maintained to strict international standards but also on its ongoing commitment to environmentally sustainable operations.
Showing up on yet another fine day in Bali, Michael and I arrive just before lunchtime amid a sea of people queuing up to spend the day splashing about.
Admission is US$26 (US$16 for children under 12), which doesn’t include locker hire, towel hire, food and drink, or some of the additional rides (these are a water blaster game, a euro bungy and a 10-meter high rock climbing wall).
Rather than carrying around your cash and or credit card though, visitors wear a waterproof wristband that can be topped up with cash. When making a payment, this is simply scanned by staff. To check your balance, multiple barcode scanners are available, and any unused funds are refunded at the end of your stay. Meanwhile, there are obviously no paper maps in sight – the park is well signposted though and it’s easy to find your way around.
Stripping down to our swimwear, Michael and I first checked out the “Lazy River”, grabbing a bright orange floatable “donut” and making our way downstream. We didn’t float down for long though – the screams of people making their way down waterslides were too enticing.
Most of the slides are in the same little tower – check out “Smashdown” for an eight-story slide at a 60-degree angle, reaching speeds of up to 70 kilometers per hour. Then get on those floating donuts for a winding slide down the “Macaroni”. Or go head-to-head with a friend on your stomach down a specially made sled to see who gets to the finish first in the “Boogie Ride”.
For more thrills, the “Boomerang” on the other end of the park gets the heart pumping, as you twist down a sheer 20-meter drop before being swept back up again. But the park’s claim to fame is the newest ride, “Climax” – so freaky that peoples’ legs have buckled at the top and they’ve actually turned around and walked all the way back down the tower, while grown men have been heard to squeal as they zoom down, shocking and cracking up witnesses.
With height and weight requirements as well it’s not for everyone – you stand in a small chamber 19 meters above the ground, as the door is shut (and locked) on you. Then a woman’s voice counts down…3…2…1… before the trapdoor opens up beneath you and you are sucked down a near-vertical dip, then up and around before finally sliding to a mighty splashing stop at the bottom.
At 2.5 G-force speed the ride is over soon enough, but not before you skip a heartbeat or two – I screamed the first time but it was well worth a second (and even third) go! For guys that have metal anywhere on their board shorts (e.g. zippers, pockets, etc), they will need to turn their shorts inside out (Michael had to), while girls – watch your bikini tops and bottoms when you get to the end!
For those not keen on rides, there are plenty of places to wade, sunbathe and just relax in the sun – even VIP-designated areas to laze about, sunken pool bars, and massage parlors.
The only downside? Walking around in our swimming suits all day meant that we had no pockets – and nowhere to put our locker key. While the key is on a band, this isn’t adjustable and Michael did drop it somewhere in the theme park, which meant 20 minutes of fruitless searching at the end of the day. Fortunately, someone stumbled upon the key and handed it in to lost property, saving us from having to pay for a replacement. But after a day of sun and water fun, how trivial does this sound?