Colors in garments, tapestry, saris, art work, architecture and jewelry are a feast for your eyes and spirit. Every Balinese is an artist - that fact is evident every where you look. The hardest working artists are the farmers. Rice paddies, as far as the eye can see, invade every corner of the countryside. Up and down mountains, tucked in beside homes in cities, just everywhere!
Bali's greatest beauty lies within the people. Balinese have an innate ability to create an atmosphere of quiet, peace and gentleness. The Balinese spirit is one of joy about life. South of Ubud, near Denpasar,After several hours wandering the trails of this unique park, we left reawakened to the beauty of the simple butterfly. How like Bali to have a park dedicated entirely to the butterfly! Denpasar: This city is like any other sprawling urban blight where an international airport lives to haul the people in and out. If you truly want to feel the Balinese soul, we advise you to avoid spending much time in Denpasar. Like most capital cities, it's just big and noisy.
Kuta, Sanur and Nusa Dua deserve a *quick* look-see from our perspective, but geez, the crowds of tourists, street vendors, and tackiness of it all is not the true picture of Bali.
Go north, my friend, to Ubud. Stay a few days in a small hostel in this bustling artist's community so that you can soak up the beautiful artistry in weaving, jewelry making, paintings, carvings and dance. While in Ubud, have one of the many bemo drivers take you out into the country to explore a rice paddy, up to the village where the birds live, or just a jaunt out into the country to see the true life-blood of the country.
Our journeys in Bali were graced by finding a wonderful "home base" in a typical Balinese home, rented inexpensively by Judy & Surya in a small village near Ubud. Staffed with a housekeeper Wayan and part-time gardener Nyoman Tomblos (who also played exquisite gamelan in the evenings), our home base was a little paradise. The home is furnished with incredibly beautiful Bali furniture and decorated with authentic dance masks and materials. The rent is $35.00 a night or take it for one month for only $550.00.
The home is perched on the edge of a deep, tight canyon overlooking rice paddies and a small river. Completely secluded from the world, we awoke each morning thinking that we had just stepped into a picture postcard. Mornings would find us throwing open the terrace doors, perching on the tiled patio for coffee,listening to the songs of birds, rustling winds in the jungle and soaking up the peace that only rural Bali has to offer. We felt that we had died and gone to heaven (Balinese style!).
From Ubud we explored the northeast coast villages of Candidasa (renown for it's numerous Balinese dance displays), Lovina Beach, Tulamben to dive the wreck, and up north to Nusa Menjangan (Deer Island) for more excellent scuba diving with local dive guide Edwin from Baruna Diving. Spending a night or two at each of these towns, we found many hostels and rooms available and very inexpensive (as low as $15.00 US a night). Walking in the evenings, hand in hand along the beaches and village streets, we were enthralled with the beauty of Balinese sunsets and village evening life.
Typical Balinese food includes: Fresh seafood, smoked duck, roast pig, Balinese vegetables, rice and more. We became rather fond of Bintang, the local beer.
Another thing: do not be embarrased to photograph each meal! I noticed that I wasn't the only one doing it, although Richard did roll his eyes when we developed 20 rolls of pictures and 80% of it was of the food that I ate.
In Candidasa we enjoyed more than 5 mask dances in only one evening - ducking into each little street show to sip a glass of wine and watch the art of Balinese dance. Don't miss dining and drinking at Waring Made in Lovina Beach - it is the best kept secret of Lovina Beach if you love music. The owner has an exquisite sound system and music from all over the world (including Balinese of course!). Oh by the way . . . the cuisine and service is impeccable! Waring Made is right there on the main street in Lovina Beach, just steps away from the Aditya Bungalows.
Ok. We so were never great fans of the monkeys. But, in Bali the monkey is sacred and they're everywhere in the temples and woods. They can be quite pesky so be careful when you're around them because they'll snatch and grab more quickly than you can imagine. Richard lost his glasses in about, well, 1/2 a nanosecond! Lucky for us, some Balinese boys at that particular temple were able to coax the monkey into dropping them and running. ...took a lot of shouting and carrying on, but eventually they were returned! Monkeys in Bali are normally just excellent beggars - but watch your jewelry, glasses and cameras.
Well,that's just a taste of Bali, Indonesia. When you visit this enthralling island, you'll renew your love for art and beauty. Your adventure will be remembered in your heart and mind forever. And...guaranteed...you'll go back again.