Bali is a glorious, large island and the way you need to enjoy it is in layers. There's something for everyone to do. So if you're planning a trip, here's some information that may come in handy.
- Kuta, the first layer: Bali has an enviable coastline and the Kuta, Legian and Seminyak beach trio provide 40 km of almost uninterrupted coastline for you to enjoy the waters around this island. While Kuta, the premier surf destination is home to maddening crowds and is a typical Asian beach location; Sanur, the country cousin beach is your opportunity to enjoy the waters in quiet. Kuta is also a stone's throw from Denpasar, the city-ish area of Bali, where you can do a bit of museum hopping.
- Ubud, the second layer: If Kuta is home to Bali's best beach, then Ubud's got to be the cultural capital of the island. Home to quite a few museums, Ubud is also a great shopping destination for Bali's traditional handicrafts - batik, wood carving, stone sculptures, paintings and ornaments. Most of Bali's people are employed in these cottage industries, so you won't really find a particular market for specific things. You just need to pick a village and then go from home to home trying to buy what you fancy. Also, Ubud is home to several other attractions such as the Goa Gajah (Elephant Caves), the Wanara Wan (Monkey Forest) and places to see the famous Barong and Legong dances.
- Lovina, the third layer: We didn't even touch this part of Bali, though we did border on the fringes of the beautiful Lake Batur and the equally awe inspiring volcano, Gunung Batur. Kintamani, the village around the rim of the volcano, is famous for it's morning market that opens every three days. This apart, Lovina houses Bali's highest and most sacred place - Mount Agung. At the peak of this mountain is Pura Besakih, Bali's most revered temple - from where the gods descend when they come to Bali. Add to this the beautiful black sand beach of Lovina (which I've seen only in pictures), the Candidasa and Padangbai beaches, the Goa Lawah temple and the proximity to Lake Bratan and the temple there, you've got some really interesting things to see and do.
What we managed to do
I have to admit, we didn't plan our stay in Bali too well. Too much to do, too little time. We had to charter cars because we wanted to just rely on a driver to do the navigation for us - in hindsight, a scooter would have been a better idea. In the end, we just ended up doing a drive through Ubud, with a bit of shopping thrown in. A customary visit to the legendary Tanah Lot temple, dinner on the beautiful Jimbaran beach were just about the things we could make time for. We also witnessed the amazing Barong, Legong and Kecak dances - and if you have just a few hours in Bali, you should definitely watch these. Don't even think of missing them. And we went around the Bukit Peninsula a bit - to the Uluwatu temple and GWK cultural park. My wife got herself a Balinese massage and we spent a few hours at the Kuta beach - but that was it. I feel like I've left so much unseen and untouched back in Bali that I've got to go back. Heck, I haven't even tasted some good Balinese cuisine yet - except my amazing seafood dinner at Jimbaran beach which I highly recommend to anyone who visits Bali.
We're now on our way back to Bangalore. Despite the fact that I missed heaps in Bali, I've been missing my dog Sparky a lot. I'm looking forward to seeing him, getting back to work and planning my next holiday with renewed energy. For those who follow this blog for the L&D stuff I usually post - sorry if these posts annoyed you. I just can't start a new blog for personal stuff and keep it alive as well. Hopefully you got some handy hints about the places I visited and if you're heading to any of these destinations, feel free to talk to me and I'll share some tips with you.