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Home of superstar dancer Mario (immortalised by Miguel Covarrubias), there’s little else to attract even the most optimistic tourist. The coast north of Soka is different however, like another Bali. That’s because the whole place is wilder. Sure there’s still some paddies, but it’s mostly big rivers streaming down from Batukaru, fine black sand beaches, untamed jungle, drier landscapes, and a much rougher Indian ocean. Highlights include Balian beach with its homely little complex of villas and eateries, Medewi beach, and Negara, inhabited by Bugis (Muslim pirates from Sulawesi) – it’s also one of the few locations on the island to host the traditional buffalo races (mekepung).

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