On first glance, the town of Kerobokan might just be seen as the layer of glue between glam Seminyak and residential Canggu, but a closer inspection reveals that this busy area, clogged with traffic by neighbouring Denpasar, has a life of its own.
The main attraction in Kerobokan is not a temple, as is the case in many other areas of Bali, but rather the infamous Kerobokan Prison. Dubbed ‘Hotel Kerobokan’ by author Kathryn Bonella in her book of the same name, the prison is home to a procession of notorious inmates including the Bali bombers, a Balinese king, Gordon Ramsay’s brother Ronnie, the Australian heroin traffickers that make up the ‘Bali 9’, British grandmother and drug trafficker Lindsay Sandiford, and, up until recently, Gold Coast beautician and convicted drug smuggler Schapelle Corby. The prison serves as a reminder that Bali is not always the ‘Island of Gods’ that travel agents promote it to be.
Beyond Kerobokan Prison is the town’s main intersection, Lio Square, well known for its roadside police stand. The square also doubles as a night market selling local foods and products, with an additional fruit-only extension open during the day.
Jalan Marlboro, one of Kerobokan’s main streets, extends from Lio Square and leads right into the centre of Denpasar. The other main street is Jalan Kerobokan: a stretchy road with one end dipped into Seminyak and the other in the direction of Tabanan, a large area not often visited by tourists except to see the rock formation and temple at Tanah Lot.
Jalan Kerobokan is dotted with numerous stone-carving warehouses, textile factories, antique or pseudo-antique furniture outlets, glass, brass, bamboo and ceramic shops, and garden supply centres. The street, along with Jalan Mertanadi, which runs parallel to Jalan Kerobokan, is a one-stop destination for interior designers working for villas, hotels and other commercial properties, as well as for those tourists in Bali on homewares shopping trips.