Bali - there is so much to love on this beautiful island, and unfortunately much to dislike as well. The trouble with Bali, or Island of the Gods, is that it’s a victim of its own success. The tourists who flock to Bali feed the need for more development. The unchecked development threatens the very reason that tourists began arriving on its shores in the first place. Add to that the very ugly behaviour of some tourists (unfortunately a large proportion who happen to be Australian), and you can understand why opinions can be divided about this island.
And yes, I understand the irony of saying that since I was a tourist myself. But the tourist attractions I’m talking about (water theme parks, shooting ranges etc) don’t really reflect what Bali is all about. I know it sounds rather judgemental, but the reason I take my kids on holiday to a new country is to experience a new culture, not to “entertain” them at a theme park or to eat at McDonalds. We can just as easily do that at “home”.
This (not very good) photo, sort of captures the balance between tourism and daily life in Bali. (Bikini clad tourist in front of a temple ceremony.)
Anyhoo, we fall in the camp that loves Bali, and here are a few reasons why:
The natural world - being a tropical island, there is much greenery, both wild and cultivated.
Rice paddies in Canggu
The deep, underlying spirituality of the people - just walking down the street, you’ll notice the little offerings set out on the footpath. Feast days and holy days abound for the largely Hindu population.
We were there on a day when all metal things were taken to the local temples and shrines to be blessed. Metal objects included cars, motorbikes, and even guns!
Sunset at Tanah Lot
Kecak dance at Tanah Lot
Waves - while the beaches in Bali may not be the cleanest, and the sand can be quite alarming colours (eg. black) due to its volcanic origin, surfers don’t really care. As long as there’s a good wave turning over, that’s where they’ll head.
Bali is a bit of a lucky dip for food, options range from warungs (local streetside stalls) to fine dining options. One of the most memorable meals we had was at La Lucciola in Seminyak. It was a “last day of holiday” treat we gave ourselves for lunch and it was wonderful. The view, the service, and the food. Nothing to complain about here.
The view from our table
Dessert - Banana tarte tatin
Traffic in Bali however, might make even the most patient complain. So the best way to get around is to hire a car or a van with a driver. We would definitely recommend Dewa (dewa(at)balicarservice(dot)com) from Bali Car Service, he was patient, helpful, and a wealth of information. If you're a surfer, the bonus is that Dewa surfs too and can take you to the breaks, and he isn’t averse to the dawn patrol run. (The surf run done at the crack of dawn while more sane mortals sleep in)