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Promise yourself that one day you will wake up in Bali

Sandeep Lele
Monday, March 23, 2020
Promise yourself that one day you will wake up in Bali

Having worked and visited several countries in Africa, Europe, Middle East, North America etc. we have a natural fervor of travelling and tasting the local culture of the country by mingling with the local crowd, eating local food, roam in the lanes and by- lanes to have the authentic feel of the country. We strongly believe that every country has always a unique item to offer, not found elsewhere.

Far East was on our to- do list for a long time but we were not coming across an opportunity to visit. This year we decided to visit Far East and several choices of the country to be visited were jot down. We were vying for some relaxation and adventure trip and finally zeroed in on Bali.

Bali is a province of Indonesia and is widely known for earthquakes, volcanos and the sea. The particular attraction was to visit and witness volcano which is not available in most parts of the world.

Plans were made afoot and action started. First phase was to check Bali’s weather in July. Upon searching on internet, July was found to be the best season with moderate temp. However, July is incidentally the peak touristic period. Detailed research was done on places to be visited, must visit places, activities one can do in Bali, choice of stay, beaches, food, transportation, mobile SIM card, etc. The trick is to pack as much as possible as per your interest in the given time frame. No tourist can cover each square inch of any place. Bali is suitable for all age groups hence one can see all age groups people from old for relaxation to honeymooners.

Detailed and micro study was done with the help of TripAdvisor where one can find the finest details of the place. Hotel booking was done through booking.com website.

Bali offers very affordable stay. Local taxi operators were searched using TripAdvisor and contacts made on WhatsApp. We also searched for any local event or festival in Bali to include in the itinerary. Airline tickets were booked online. Bali currency (1 KWD = 44,450 IDR) was purchased in Kuwait. Bali accepts USD in all currency shops. All these exercise was helpful for careful planning to the minutest details.

Bali offers free visa on arrival to most countries and India is one of them. Just show your PP at the immigration officer who will stamp 30 days’ free visa.

Day 1:

We flew by Malaysian airlines from Mumbai to Kuala Lumpur (5 hours flying duration). Halt of 1.5 hours at KL airport and then again 3 hours flying to Bali. Reached Bali at 12 noon local time. Bali is +5 hours ahead of Kuwait. From the aircraft, we could see the landing strip and water all around while landing at the Ngurah Rai International Airport. The airport is very small and not much crowded. We got off the aircraft and Bali greeted us by a cool breeze of wind flowing through the nearby sea. We saw a flood of tourists arriving Bali from all over the world but mostly from Australia. Bali is considered to be a second home for Australians. After completing the airport formalities, we picked our baggage and headed to the parking where our hotel driver was waiting with placard showing our name. To our dismay there was a place at the airport where hotel representative will hang their names on the rope so that the tourist can spot them easily. The airport is well decorated with the Balinese artefacts. You will find Bali mobile co. kiosks selling SIM card which are expensive than those available in the city shops in the downtown. If you are in a hurry, then you can buy SIM card at the airport. A point to mention that internet services in Bali are average despite of claims of 4G technology. Most hotels offer free wifi which are very slow.

Bali has different regions and each region offers uniqueness. We split our stay between Ubud (3 days) and Kuta (4 days). While Ubud is very calm and quiet place, famous for cultural activities, temples, scenic highland retreats etc., Kuta is a happening place offering street market, night life, clubs, bars, shopping malls etc. We stayed in a resort in Ubud and Kuta. Resorts in Bali are unlike other traditional resorts but carved out of home stay. Since Bali is very small and narrow, resorts are not a big area spread. Almost all resorts, hotels, shops and homes have lord Ganesha statues outside and inside. Although Indonesia is a Muslim country but Bali region is 90% Hindu which is demonstrated by presence of ancient temples, Hindu deities and other religious sites.

We settled in the resort and left outside for a stroll of the city to see the markets, shops etc. We visited Ubud Palace famous for the most captivating traditional performances the island has to offer. The traditional Kecak Dance, one of Balinese artistic masterpieces in the form of a dance and musical drama.

This dance is held in the open air at sunset, starting at dusk, the story continues into the dark,

when only light comes only from flickering bamboo torches.

What makes this dance particularly unique is that the drama uses no artificial backdrop, involving no musical instrument. The focus is entirely on the concentric circles of about 50-60 men, bare-chested, wearing only distinct Balinese sarongs (a lungi type attire) sitting cross-legged around a set of torches in the center. The chanting of the chorus of men representing an army of monkeys continuously intoning “Cak! Cak! Cak!” or “Keh-Chak" in rhythmic sounds during almost the entire performance. This amazing human voiced orchestra is led by a soloist, who is in charge of indicating the high and low notes, and also acts as narrator. A must see drama for everyone.

Day 2:

Tanha Lot temple. It is home to the ancient Hindu pilgrimage temple Pura Tanah Lot, a popular tourist and cultural icon for photography. This temple is situated on the sea shore and is famous for sunset by the sea. As the sun descends its journey, its yellow- orange light falls on the sea waves giving a feel of fire on water. The most popular time to visit is evening at the sunset. A must visit place for every tourist and the most popular site for photography. The only problem is that it becomes too much crowded during the sunset time so one must go there early to capture a spot.

Day 3:

We witnessed the celebration of the biggest Bali festival called “Galungan”. It is a time of great celebration and joy and represents celebrating the victory of dharma over adharma. Bamboo poles are hanged with coconut leaves and other artefacts, lined along the streets of Bali during the Galungan festival. The locals wear traditional clothes, and decorate their houses and gates with traditional artwork. This decoration is present in entire Bali for many days. It is great to be a part of the festive atmosphere, understand its significance of the culture, tradition and religious beliefs of the Balinese people, and to celebrate this unique festival with them. We were welcomed by the Balinese people to celebrate with them. It’s a unique experience to participate in the local rituals of another culture. We notice that all people enter temple wearing shoes unlike India where one enters the temple barefoot.

We had the privilege to visit Tegenungan Waterfall in Bali. This waterfall is not much frequented by the tourists and is surrounded amid dense forest. We had to climb down and get to the point where water falls. The height of the falls in not great but it gives immense pleasure to have bathed under the chilling water falls. The amount of water is huge. It’s a nature’s gift to have fresh water while the island is surrounded by sea.





Day 4:
Mount Batur Volcano: Since the star attraction of climbing volcano was on the radar, this part of the trip was the most fascinating. Batur is an active volcano last erupted in the year 2000. This mountain is famous for sunrise trek. So we got dual experience of sunrise as well as climbing volcano. The trek starts early in the morning at 3 AM while the transport picked us up at 1.30 AM from the resort. It was 1-hour drive to the base of the mountain where we were given safety tips and handed torch light. The mountain has no lighting arrangement and is pitch dark. The whole path is dusty, full of rocks and very narrow. Any small mistake and you will fall down and get injured. We were told to carry jackets as its biting cold at the summit. However, as the trek started we were sweating and had to remove the jacket. Climbing was becoming harder and harder making us thirsty. Carrying water bottles, jacket and camera was making the trek tougher and tougher. During the trek some locals were selling water bottles at a premium price and we had no choice other than to pay what they demanded and quench our thirst. Finally, we reached the summit at an altitude of 1720 meters after a trek of 2 hours 10 minutes. It was very chilling cold on the top and our jacket came to our help to keep us warm. We drank steaming hot coffee sold at the summit to keep us warm. It was still pitch dark. Clouds were floating below the summit. We were in fact above the clouds. We took our position to witness the sunrise. After a while some day light appeared from the clouds. The sun was rising above the clouds. Camera was set in action and clicked several pics of the rising sun. As the sun was rising the view was becoming more and more magnificent.



After the sunrise show, we started descending and finished the downward trek by 8 AM. While descending the mountain, we collected the black lava samples which is in the form of brittle rocks. We saw the crater of the volcano and a lake Batur formed due to volcanic eruptions. We could see the sight of steam gushing out of the crater at several locations giving the evidence of violent activities underneath the volcano. We were very tired and exhausted. Whole night we were trekking. On the way to our resort, we halted at Lakeview Restaurant to have our breakfast. The restaurant serves continental and Balinese dishes. It has a facility of eating breakfast while sitting in the projecting balcony where you can have very wide view of the volcano. After the breakfast, our driver headed towards the resort.



Day 5:
Nusa Penida island: is an island off Bali accessed by speed boat which takes approx. 45 minutes. The island is very famous for diving and snorkeling in the pristine water. The island is hilly and there are little tourist facilities here. We did snorkeling in the sea which is a very unique experience. Water is very clean and sea depth view can be easily seen. Watching the underwater marine life and coral can only be felt and mesmerizing. Holding food for fishes under the water attracts bunch of fish surrounding you while the fish snatches food from your hands. The island offers some of the best picturesque spots such as Broken Beach. It’s a big rock which has a natural tunnel in between where sea water enters.
We visited Kelingking beach which is T- rex shaped cliff. Its amazing view with turquoise colored water and white sand beach. Its view is fantastic when viewed from the top. To get down to the beach one needs 1 hour.
The island is full of dense forest. A temporary motorable road is made which facilitates transportation, which off course is full of bumps.





Day 6:
Visited Birds park and Ulluwatu Temple. This place is amazing with live activities of birds. Parakeets are the main attraction. You can catch the birds, play with them and feed them too. The birds walk with you in the park as if they are your friends. Never ever in life we were so close to birds especially peacock. After the birds’ park, we visited the rice terrain on the mountains. The terrain is so mesmerizing full of lush green. We walked through the serpentine walkway of the rice fields. Nest destination was Ulluwatu temple, built at the edge of a 70-meter-high cliff projecting into the sea. The view is breath taking and a must for professional photographers. The temple is inhabited by monkeys creating menace and snatching visitors' belongings. We had read this problem in TripAdvisor so we were careful.





Day 7:
Being the last day in Bali, we dedicated it for a visit and walk on the beach which was adjacent to our resort. The morning was spent on the beach where Balinese folks were seen practicing Yoga and flying kites. Back to the resort, refreshed ourselves, had breakfast and it was time to pack the bags and prepare for the journey.
It was time to say good bye to Bali. We were carrying back the fond memories of Bali and especially its culture and simple life style. We tasted Balinese food which is way beyond in the taste. We came across many Indian restaurants set up by Balinese locals offering equivalent delicious food what we get in India. Of course the Indian food is expensive in Bali. The Balinese people are very docile and polite. Average Balinese is lower middle class. Very few people can afford car while majority of Balinese have 2 wheelers. It is a common sight to see husband driving the 2 wheeler while the wife and kids are sitting in the pillion. Bali economy runs on tourists hence Balinese people are very welcoming and helps a lot. The country is relatively safe and harassment to tourists is very rare. We were impressed by Bali traffic sense. Although the roads are narrow and crowded, but the Balinese are highly disciplined on the road. No jumping of traffic signals and no blaring of horns at all.





Hoping to visit Bali again, we drove towards the airport, flying up again over the mountains on the way to Kuala Lumpur.
We will certainly miss Bali, a sojourn of mixed basket of culture, religion, relaxation, wild life, leisure, adventure and water sports activities where we woke up for 7 days and fulfilled our promise.


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Express your comment on this article

 
Govind Singh
Tuesday, May 12, 2020
Hi Sir,

You have explained nicely about your Bali tour.
I visited all these places in 2018 during my 10 days Bali tour.
I wish to visit again and again Bali.
Balinese people are very nice friendly.

Thanks
Govind Singh

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