Bali is as everyone explains it: amazing, magical, like no other place on earth. I’m not really sure that I can pinpoint exactly what it is that makes it so special; I can only tell you that it is as remarkable as everyone says that it is.
Our first three nights were spent in a private villa in Seminyak, a popular part of Bali. Our villa and the service we received there was spectacular. I’ve never stayed in fancy, all-inclusive resorts, as that’s not really my thing, but John has and he said he’s never stayed in a place nicer than our villa.
We were greeted at the airport by Sudi, the sweetest man who became a familiar, friendly face throughout our stay (Balinese are the nicest people). He brought water and cold, scented wash clothes to help make the heat a bit more bearable. On the way to the Seminyak, he told us of all the services that were available at Ulin Villas – free transportation to area beaches, stocked fridge with complimentary soda, beer and snacks, breakfast made to order in our villa whenever we called for it, complimentary wine, etc. When we checked in, they didn’t ask for our credit card for incidentals because there are no incidentals or extra charges at the hotel – everything is included. It was truly an amazing place, even centrally located. Having our own pool meant that we could jump in after dinner or while we waited for our breakfast. Our villa was so nice that it was difficult to leave each day.
Seminyak is this beachside town full of quaint boutiques and little shops. The sidewalks are an adventure of their own – giant holes, entire blocks missing. You definitely have to pay attention when walking along. I would get so distracted by the beauty of Bali that John would have to guide me along or remind me to pay attention. He was constantly maneuvering me around so I would avoid falling.
I didn’t realize Bali was such a surfer destination. There were long, blond haired surfers riding scooters everywhere in Seminyak. Many had a board rack on their bikes, much like the bike racks that we have on our cars. Surf shops line the streets, and the surf motif is even evident in cafes and restaurants. The waves are huge in Seminyak, so it’s no wonder surfers flock to Bali. For me, the waves are too big. Big and unpredictable. I’ve never been at a beach where the tide changes so drastically. Most of the time there was significant distance from me and the water, but ever so often, the waves would splash past my chair, causing those on the sand to move very quickly to avoid getting wet.
The beach is nice – my only complaint is that it was full of people trying to sell stuff. John was in the ocean, and I was trying to read. I was completely absorbed in my reading when I was offered a kite, scarves, watches, necklaces, bracelets, and so on. For each item, there were a handful of sellers. So, there were probably 6-7 women selling scarves, and they each would stop and ask if I wanted one. So infuriating. In about a time of 30 minutes, I bet I was approached 20 or so times. I was at my wit’s end by the time we left; being harassed, takes the enjoyment out of being at the beach.
We have had much better luck with the food in Bali than that in Thailand. I don’t recall having a memorable meal in Thailand, but in Bali, they have all been great. This definitely surprised me, as I was really looking forward to the food in Thailand. Today we had chicken satay, and it did not disappoint.
While we did stay in Seminyak, we had pictures taken on our first full day on the island, so we were able to see different parts of Bali, as we traveled to the different locations. From beachside tourist towns, to rice fields hidden in the shade from the looming mountainous regions of Northern Bali, it seems Bali has something for everyone. The diversity on this island is incredible. In a day’s time, I saw monkey playing in the forest, native women working in the fields in only a skirt, surfers catching waves, Austrailians getting drunk at a bar, and Balinese preparing for a ceremony in traditional white clothing. Bali is a sensory overload – small offerings to the gods are left out in front of every business and restaurant. Temples with incense dot the streets. And flowers. Flowers are everywhere in Bali. Beautiful fragrant flowers.
So, it’s safe to say that I’m totally taken by Bali. John is too; it’s surprising to find a place we both love because we are far different in our travel preferences. But, we both love Bali. Perhaps we are under its magical spell.