“With its pounding surf, emerald-green rice terraces and exceptionally artistic culture, the small volcanic island of Bali has long been Indonesia’s premier tourist destination.” - The Rough Guide to Southeast Asia.
Bali has long been a favourite holiday destination for Australians, akin to the way Irish and English flock to the resorts in Spain. Most remember Bali being in the news for all the wrong reasons in 2002, when 2 bombs rocked a nightclub and an Irish bar in Kuta, Bali’s most famous resort, killing over 200 people, the majority being Australian holiday makers.
Having read about how reprisals and religious conflicts did not ensue, due in part to Bali’s composed Hindu leadership, and that tourist numbers were healthier than ever, we were confident of our safety travelling around the island.
The news of more bombs going off in the capital of Jakarta, only a couple of weeks before we were due to hit Bali, did not deter us but did make us more cautious and we were assured that security measures in Bali, and particularly Kuta, were very high.
We had decided to split our 12 night stay in Bali into 4 nights in 3 different places.
And quite different they were too! First stop was the infamous Kuta. It really has adapted itself to the Australian holiday-makers’ needs. Plenty of bars, restaurants, clubs and global fast food chains to go with its natural surf beach and hot weather. Not to mention the large inexpensive shopping malls and the market stalls, with pushy owners to go along with the extremely cheap souvenirs and replica sportswear. The security measures that we were told about were in full view around Kuta. Each entrance to a major shopping'mall has armed guards outside, randomly checking bags. The big hotels have security checkpoints on the way into the grounds to check for bombs, no vehicles are exempt. Suffice to say any lingering doubt we may have had about our safety floated away soon after our arrival.
Ubud further north was our second stop. Known for its dancers, musicians, painters and craftspeople, Ubud is Bali’s cultural hub. It was quite a different experience to Kuta, the shopkeepers and taxi drivers only half as pushy and more polite! Though it was easy to taste Bali’s culture in Kuta, Ubud allows you to immerse yourself in it. The sheer volume of art and craft
shops was hard to comprehend, and the quality of the pieces was second to none. At times we wished we were going straight home from there, to enable us to load up on quality works of art and expertly carved pieces as mementos of our visit.
Ubud’s best known tourist attraction is its Monkey Forest Sanctuary which is filled with long tailed macaque monkeys. These guys are mischievous and friendly in equal measures. Bananas are sold at the entrance for tourists to give to them, and boy do they know it. They watch people buying the bunch and then follow them until there are none left to share. Throwing one to them isn’t enough. They can hold three, and still pull out of your shorts and t-shirts for more. Never mind actually climbing up you! The pictures show that Lynsey found this out 1st hand.
Due to its more central location on the island, we used Ubud as a platform to tour other parts of Bali on a day trip. And the locations were stunning; as I’m sure you’ll agree from the pictures. The trip took in Goa Gajah - The Elephant Cave Temple, Tampak Siring - The
Holy Spring Temple, a view from high of Lake and Mount Batur, a stop at Bukit Jambul to take in a view of a large rice terrace, Klunkung to see the floating Old Court of Justice and the highlight, the Besakih Temple. Besakih is situated on the slopes of Gunung Agung, the holiest and highest mountain on the island. Balinese Hindus believe that the gods occasionally descend to reside in the temple, during which times worshippers don their finery and bring them elaborate offerings. We were overawed by the place. It stretches for almost 3km and the setting truly adds to its beauty.
Our 3rd place in Bali was a complete contrast to our first 2. We booked ourselves into a 5 star all inclusive resort in the resort town of Nusa Dua. We figured we’d treat ourselves to some nice relaxation before we started some serious travelling throughout South East Asia. With its private beach, swim up bar, 3 on-site restaurants and café bar, we were truly living it up. Nusa Dua is a purpose built tourist village, consisting of all inclusive resorts and one large shopping mall by the beach. Four days all inclusive by the pool
did manage to get a little boring at times, if you would believe it. This proved to us just how much we like having things to do and see.
Plenty of both there would surely be in Singapore, the next stop.
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