BALI: The most famous Island in Indonesia is often referred to as an “exotic paradise. This is no exaggeration and may still not be doing it justice with the incredible sunsets, great food, beautiful beaches, rich culture and impeccable service that is all on offer.
Once you get to Bali, you realize that there is so much to do, and many ways to live out the paradise fantasy. Whether you want to laze around the pool side or you are looking for an action packed vacation, you’ve got it.
A natural landscape of colorful flowers and palm trees, cliff views of the Indian Ocean and thousands of rice paddies give aesthetic beauty to the charming “Island of the Gods, as it is often called.
The island is small, 130 to 80 square kilometers, with more than three million smiling locals living there all year around. The weather is tropical so it is always hot (around 30 degrees Celsius) but they have two seasons: wet (October to March) and dry (April to October).
The Island is far from virgin as it is quit commercialized due to its popularity. These days, however, it s quieter than usual; the tourism has declined lately due to the bombings in 2002 and 2005 and the Tsunami scares in the region.
When I first arrived in Bali, I was overwhelmed by the general attitude. Taking care of people seems to be a pleasure to the Balinese staff everywhere you go. Anything you ask for is answered with “certainly as they press their hands together and do a bow for you.
No matter where you stay or what you do, the service is flawless.
Accommodation is available for every style and budget. You can rent a modern villa, with a full staff, swimming pool and a beach view, or a primitive house in the mountains. Of course hotels from one to five stars are all over the island.
Although the island is small, it takes about a half an hour from one area to another. Taxis are affordable, but for longer journeys and particularly sightseeing, you can rent a van, driver and tour guide for $20 or less.
For a taste of local culture, the famous center for arts and crafts is called Ubud. Different areas have different attractions, like hand made jewelry, mainly silver, and semi-precious stones. Batik is a local method for print, you can watch the seamstress hand-make fabric, and of course you can buy a scarf or a blouse which make great presents. There are also many art galleries, so you can buy an art piece to give an Asian touch to your home.
Of course, you have to bargain with your money; there are no set prices for anything. Otherwise you will be royally ripped off.
Sightseeing is an abundant pleasure on the island: From picturesque rice fields to ancient volcanoes and black sand beaches to temples full of monkeys. For those looking for tourist-like activities, Bali is packed with things to see.
For adventure seekers there are elephant rides, white water rafting, marine activities and water sports. Not to mention surfing; it is one of the draws for this island because of the excellent surf at most of the beaches.
The beaches are out of this world. Avoid Kuta as it is too commercial and very crowded. Head for the surfing beaches instead as several of them even offer massages as you relax and enjoy the scenery.
The drawback of many of the beaches is that you have to walk down, and unfortunately up again, about 200 hundred steps. It is truly worth it though. The beaches down the cliffs, complimented with natural greenery, are absolutely gorgeous.
For a whole new definition of pampering, you can not possibly miss going to a spa. So many are available, and like everything else in Bali, there is something suitable for every budget.
One of the highlights is the drinks, whether alcoholic or not. The fresh taste of pineapple or coconut, drank from the actual fruit, is refreshing and adds to the exotic feeling.
The food is also impressive. Many good restaurants are plentiful around the island especially in Seminyak, which features several contemporary outlets. Highly recommended is the seafood restaurants which are abundant on the seashore of Jambaran.
As for the nightlife, it is as sparkling as any other tourist destination. From little bars to huge and modern nightclubs with international DJ’s, packed with vacationers ready to party until morning.
Whether you are going to Bali to relax or party, surf, sightsee, get pampered, or just to try something new, there is one thing everyone shares: the magnificent sunsets. No matter where you are at 6:00 p.m. Bali local time, you will see a pink colored sky with white clouds and the sun setting into the sea.
So that’s why they call it paradise. Bali is one place where it is hard not to be satisfied. It’s nice to feel like royalty.