Image of Place of Trunyan, Bali


During the last decade, the Trunyan has been overrun by tourists whom a curious sensation overwhelmed them. Trunyan population was shifting cultural significance, which had a tradition of purely ceremonial religious-based beliefs previously to become a little obsessed bringing tourists through the tradition. Unpreparedness of tourism destination management of Trunyan, makes this special interest tours area  to be a bit neglected, Trunyan people only focus on making money from tourist arrivals, without taking care of the facilities and infrastructure of the tourist areas. Poor services and dirty areas were more paid attention by tourists rather than the culture itself. Nevertheless, local and foreign tourists gave a positive image of the destination. Based on their experience, tourists write their impressions into a web site, it will be proven that the tourists has individual image of the Trunyan.

Addressing Trunyan, people who never been there tends to envisage how dread this place. However, from the comments we have got, the tourists mostly did not perceive that way. Reference to the sense of place dimensions emerge in tourists’ comments toward Trunyan. For instance, Janet G, Melbourne, Australia:

“Very good cultural experience!” We were a little hesitant about going to see this unusual cemetery after reading that visitors were not welcome. This is definitely not the case, and we were so glad we did come. The scenery is lovely, and the village is right on the edge of the lake. The cemetery is very small, and you can’t venture any further onto the island, beyond it. It was very interesting to see how the dead are laid out, and not at all gory, or creepy. When we arrived back at the village, we were given a tour, and realized that the money we paid to see the cemetery, actually went to support everyone at the village, so we didn’t mind paying so much. We were told that the villagers were very happy to have visitors, and we certainly felt welcome.

A similar response comes from Thea B, Copenhagen, Denmark:

“Local culture at its best!” If you’re looking for a real cultural experience, visit the Trunyan cemetery in Bali! We had a driver who reluctantly drove us to the “harbor”, and a 15-20 minute boat ride took us out to the cemetery, where the locals don’t bury their deceased but lay them under a huge tree that smells like citrus. You are allowed to walk around the little area, and also take pictures with the sculls which are on display – don’t take them with you though.. I strongly recommend doing this if you have the opportunity.

It is thus clear from the above narratives that the image of Trunyan was built from the experience that tourist had. In this case, tourists showed the enjoyment of Trunyan. However, some tourists sensed contrarily. The other felt the bad experiences such the comment from Laura H Reading, England, United Kingdom:

“Sad that this is a tourist attraction” Trunyan is a fascinating place, but it is not really for the tourist. It seems horribly wrong for tourists of another culture to traipse around gawping at the dead of this small village because their custom is to leave the body out in the open to rot. So wealthy over privileged tourists from some of the richest nations on earth can come and get their kicks by viewing the dead loved ones of the villagers of this poor village…how sick is that?? No wonder there are scams going on here! The locals hate the tourists and with good reason. I felt pretty sad at myself for not thinking it through before my visit…don’t visit this place…it is not for you.

In describing their sense of place, tourist explicitly comment on ways in which the emotion reflects an opportunity to think about their image of place, particularly expressing how memories could construct a sense of place. The following comment from Manju S, Sydney, Australia, clearly typify this point:

 “Horrible Experience” We visited the cemetery last week and we found that we had a horrible experience. We arrived there in a taxi. The driver negotiated with boat person for Rp500.000, – The boat was terrible very scary. As our guide mentioned that there is no smell but definitely was. There is hardly any smell of trees. There were lots of rubbish i.e. pots, shoes, plates etc. It is scary as well. It was raining so the guys at the wharf handed the umbrellas and while returning we had to pay Rp5000, if we knew that we would have carried our own. The beggars were everywhere i.e. kids, old men and old women. It was a good experience as we have never seen like this before but we would not go back there. (Memories)

Some tourist narratives actually emphasized about the lack of management of this tourism destination. Such as the comments below.

“Cemetery okay, but Aga Village is a disgrace1” The official carrier wasn’t very cheap, but okay we were to visit an ancient and original village. At first it took us to the cemetery. So far so good. But when we went to the village it was a big disappointment. It was filthy and all the people, children as well as the elder were begging for money, some of them aggressively pulling our hands. The place looked filthy and neglected. We were surprised when we saw tourists by car as we were told the only way to get there was by boat. Some people were nice but in the end they also asked for (extra) money. It was the only place in Bali where we were confronted with mendacity. Even the guy who brought us there by boat asked us for more money after receiving a good tip. So go by car and avoid visiting the village. Go straight to the cemetery. [Rai, Australia]

It obviously proves that the image of place will be different between people because they have different personality, memories, and emotion, as the following narratives portray the circumstance of one tourist was really annoyed with the local while the other one was not:

There was so cool place with Batu Lake. I was really afraid when I read review at TripAdvisor. All people said there was worst experience with deals. I am sure our deal was not bad, almost best deal. At first, we stopped Kintamani view point with driver’s comment and the village people came to us and then made a deal as 500,000 for 3 person included return boat, donation without beggars. We drove till harbor of the village more than 5 km and then took a paddling boat with 2 local people. While we was boat there was so perfect scenery for 30 mins. It feels very peaceful and relax. When we reached the cemetery the local people let us for enough tour. I saw the big tree, skulls and dead body. We didn’t pay more money, few beggars came to us but it was not annoying. We paid money when we return back the harbor. After tour, I have checked the price from two harbors, it’s about 515,000 per 1 person at Kintamani harbor, 263,000 per 1 person at the village harbor for only boat trip. I am sure it was best trip in Bali. I was also so afraid it was a nightmare but it was so nice experience! I can say the place is ‘must go’ place in Bali now. [Mei, Indonesia]

Moreover, the intention also determines the image of place. The following narrative potently indicates ways in which motive elements were utilized to express forms of image of place:

Sam Paul from Melbourne “We wanted to learn about Trunyan beliefs and culture, but didn’t” Trunyan – Isle of the dead. Will challenge your values about the dead, and the reverence we feel for their actual remains in Western culture. There was a recent death – with an elderly member of the village placed into the graveyard – i.e. there was a real dead body there. And once bodies are moved out of the ‘graveyard’ many bones are put onto a pile that included rubbish (challenging to Western mores). As a day trip, there was not enough to justify a full day. It would also have been improved by learning more about the beliefs and culture of Trunyan. Our local guide – the Trunyan community member we picked up in Trunyan to guide us – had limited English, so they couldn’t explain much. The Bali Exotic Tours (BET) guide (who picked us up in Seminyak and travelled with us) had no knowledge of Trunyan or their beliefs. It would have been better if our BET tour guide had provided some education, in advance, on the long drive to Trunyan. In effect, our BET guide didn’t really speak to us at all, she just jumped into photos that her colleague took, presumably for their next brochure, to show how much fun the tour is – Poor value, too long a day, with little to do. Has great potential, if joined with another activity, or if greater education is provided.

Tourists narratives vividly signify an individual image of Trunyan is varying based on their experience, attitude, memories, emotion, and intention. It accentuates that Relph concept of image of place is worthwhile. Any of these comments of the tourists will be very useful for better managed Trunyan in the future.

This tourism destination actually has a big potential as an attraction especially for foreign tourists, due to of its uniqueness in how to handle the corpse. Mainly tourists refer to “cemetery” and “unique culture” in terms of describing Trunyan. However, the lack of good services should be improved, as sadly many of tourists frequently mentioned “high-priced tourism” and “not worth of effort” for representing Trunyan.