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I was just to Bali for one week and was totally charmed and amazed. I started my stay in infamous Kuta and let me tell you it did not start off well. I wanted to check out some spas here as well as the beach, which is renowned for it’s surfing. When I arrived in the evening I didn’t have a room booked so I went to one of the so-called tourist information stands outside the airport for a recommendation. I ended up booking the cheapest room on the list, thinking I would move from there the next day if need be. The Hotel Sanjaya is right by Ground Zero, the Bali bombing memorial. The lobby and grounds were a little run done but not so bad. Then I got shown to a room, then another and another and was totally deflated. Not since my stay in the Delhi backpack area have I experienced a room the likes of this: run down, dirty, with musty stained walls. Luckily I was so tired that I had a good sleep regardless and found a much nicer place close by for the next couple of nights .
I immediately fell for the scrumptious Indonesian food. Babi guling, nasi campur, nasi goreng, beef rendang……they sound strange but these are all music to my ears now and a joy to my taste buds. It’s interesting that the Balinese are mainly Hindu but it is quite different that the Hinduism in India, especially on the food front. They eat everything!!! The dishes are so flavourful, love it.
I would describe the people of Bali as artistic, hospitable, beautiful,spiritual and ever-smiling. One place I stayed was about 10 minutes walk out of Ubud in the rice paddies. Access was by a path barely wide enough for two scooters to pass. There was a construction crew of 7 or 8 women that I met on the path countless times as they were hauling tubs full of gravel on their heads to the construction site. They almost always met me with big, contagious smiles on their faces. Now when you are a tourist you are often met with a smile by waitresses, clerks,etc and you wonder if they just want your business. But what reason did these women have to smile at me but to spread the joy of Bali? Another interesting thing I noticed is that when they weren’t busy most of the shopkeepers would be making little offerings for the next religious ceremony rather than doing nothing like most clerks around the world do. These people really seemed to derive joy from their religion. Now Kuta on the other hand is quite different from peaceful Ubud , kind of like the Wild West, and not all the people there were a treat. I would have to say the Kuta vendors are some of the most aggressive I’ve met. Show the slightest interest and they are on you like white on rice. I was often on a fake phone call as I walked by them to try keep the sharks at bay 🙂
Bali is renowned for it’s spas and I had a look at quite a few. There are definitely some jaw-dropping resorts here. The most amazing was Ayana resort (formerly Ritz Carlton). What a spectacular place set high atop a cliff with a wonderful ocean view. One of the highlights of the trip was having a drink at their Rock Bar, which is built halfway down the cliff. I am sure it is close to 30 meters up from the waterline but the powerful surf could still reach up and splash people. The service here is impeccable and everyone was greeting me as Mr. Brad 🙂 On the other end of the scale there are tons of places for massage in the touristy areas and good ones too. I got a good hot stone massage for under $10 USD including tip….sweet!
The scenery is amazing: too: verdant rice paddies, temples, volcanic mountains and beautiful beaches but I will let the pictures do the talking there.
I surely do want to return to Bali, one week was definitely not enough. Unfortunately Bali is fairly overrun with tourists and I don’t like the feeling that I am part of that problem. If I am lucky I will return to Bali but spend time checking out some of the other amazing places in Indonesia as well.