Bali Luxuriating in Endless Pleasure
By Jered Barclay
When you think of Bali - do you think its all pre-pubescent, overly made-up girls with flickering eye movements, spiraling gold headdresses and slow body undulations? Or the sweet invitations of the gamelon orchestras? Or the peaked centuries old temples that beg investigation. All that is true. But there is more. A lot more.
The scope and variance of Bali is astounding. The dazzling colors, the pleasures of its visual beauty, its sounds, and its worship of beauty are endless. The treasures are highly accessible to everyone even on a short visit. I recommend a week to drink it all in. Less is a waste of your time. Bali is a manageable island 3 1/2 hours drive from north to south or from east to west.
The magnanimous attractions are the literally hundreds of ornate Buddist temples, the multi-tiered rice fields that allow you to experience the varieties of color green in ways you cant imagine until you witness them in person. The exquisite ritual of the highly trained and precise dances with many styles and variations are riveting outdoors on a cool night. Its difficult to get even a mediocre meal all the way from the street vendors to the most elegant restaurant. Although Balis beaches are not its signatory calling card , it has some excellent ones, which include the world famous surfer paradise Kuta Beach. The beauty and the delicacy of the women are fabled worldwide and are well deserved. The number of establishments that sell art, crafts and furniture seem to equal the entire population of the island.
Find a place in Kuta, Seminyak, or Legian, near the airport and operate from that base. You can get rooms for $30 a night and up. I had a superb up at The Ahimsa Villas in Seminyak. A boutique hotel with only eight villas, (villas are much more common than rooms in Bali) each with a private walled compound, a private entrance and welcoming stone statuary covered with fresh flowers. Inside, a private swimming pool yes a private swimming pool, and a pleasant garden which leads to two air-conditioned bedrooms and baths. In the morning, two boys immaculately dressed in crisp white and whose mahogany skins were stretched over the bones of their handsome faces to a perfect conclusion, made breakfast for me on my marble veranda. The choice was either Nasi Goring (a delicious eastern noodle dish) or a western breakfast. Their service was exemplary. Service in Indonesia is superb, far advanced from our western standards. The price $215 per night.
Less expensive but still central are: Run of The House Luxury Villas (six rooms only) good for small groups: 1 bedroom units $80 and Casa Padma in Kuta from $60.
Recommended restaurants in the area: Antiques - international cuisine difficult to spend over $8 for a complete and savory dinner, Ku De Ta snazzy, upscale and sophisticated, The Living Room international in its style has a surprisingly good wine list for a country not famous for its wines. Street cafes are omnipresent on the roads around the island - all varied and quite inexpensive. Expect to pay less than three dollars for a breakfast of a pot of delicious Bali coffee, juice or killingly fresh sweet fruit, eggs, pastries and a genuine smile.
For the ever changing new new new in nightlife, here are the latest hot spots: De Jay Discotheque at Kuta Center, Jl. Karita Plaza Bali late late dancing; A Club Jl.Raya, Seminak; Paddys Jl.Kuta, Legian. Kuta, Legian and Seminak are all within a ten-mile proximity of each in the tourist packed Southwest Bali.
One of the most important centers of culture, art, and cuisine in the world is the crown jewel of Ubud. Why Ubud? Because it embraces all that is essential and beautiful in life and lives it. As Westerners, we put art in a museum; we take dance and music and put it in a concert hall. We put our trust in the new hot restaurant. In Bali, and especially Ubud, all of this needless separation between art and life is solved because the arts, culture and practical living have been totally and completely integrated into the tapestry of their lives for many centuries.
Try to time your visit to coincide with a local ceremony, which happens seemingly every 15 minutes. The Full Moon Ceremony happens guess when every month. The Bali Arts Festival, the Food Festival, the Kite Festival, the Festival Ritual Ceremony of Festivals (just kidding about the latter) but like many warm countries, any reason to celebrate or remember is embraced. Particularly spectacular is their new years celebration Nyepi in which giant effigies of evil spirits are paraded down the streets at night and burned at the end of the ceremony.
DONT MISS: Pura Besakih, the reigning queen of temples, but go early to avoid the crowds and before the mid morning mist engulfs the mountain on which it sits The seldom-visited temple across the river from the Hotel Tjampuan in Ubud. With luck you can see it by yourself and avoid a busload of Burt and Berthas from East Dot, Ohio .Any ceremony, wedding, tooth filing, whatever. A once in a lifetime experience. Steven Spielberg would kill to have a spectacle as lavish as a cremation ceremony which costs up to two million dollars Walking in a rice field. . The gigantic Pura Taman Ayun , with its graceful moat and surroundings, an arts center, and a restaurant with a view that gives a feeling of what life was like in the 17th century. Tanah Lot Temple at sunset ..Anyplace that faces west for sunset . Scubadiving around Nusa Dua and river rafting (yes river rafting) in a surprising number of places.
AVOID: The standstill traffic in Ubud. Walk, or most hotels have free round trip shuttle service to shopping and restaurants Any hotels that are on the main road that circles the island unless you have an unlimited supply of earplugs and surgical masks.
You can put this all together however you want but I suggest a tour operator that is located in Bali and can be there to deal with whatever problems might come up at the moment. I had Bali Rainbow Leisure tel/fax 62 361 722 483 . email: firstname.lastname@example.org that I trusted because of quality and quantity of service.
A travel agency there : Media Tours tel: 62 361 28 66 84 fax: - 62 361 28 75 31 email: email@example.com
Go. Immerse yourself in pleasure.