Anybody who has been to Bali would have his own favorite thing to do. Prior to our arrival, my hubby planned on going to the best dive spots to check out the Mola Mola and Mantas. Our family vacay usually revolves around diving, beaching around and photography. I am such a big fan of Lonely Planet, so I decided to walk the streets of Bali and eat like the locals. How should I get to know the place better? Ride the Taksi (taxi) and talk to the driver… In Bali, I discovered later on that it was the MOST EXPENSIVE thing to do! While the driver bragged that they have low crime rates, no criminals and no bandits, I felt that I was a victim of highway robbery when they started charging me 150,000 Rupiah one way for a 2 km ride and they started reasoning the damned traffic etc. In one whole day I realized I paid for 1Million Rupiah for a taxi ride!!! So much for my Lonely Planet adventure. Still, I will go back to Bali and next time I promise to learn to ride the motorbike (which later on I learned was only worth 100,000 Rupiah rental for the whole day!!!) and walk more…
I learned a few Bahasa lines. Any local would be delighted to hear foreigners speak their language. Appreciate their exotic looks and tell the guys they are “Bagus” – handsome, the girls are “Chantik” – pretty and their land is “Inda” – beautiful scenery. I like saying “Terah me kasi” – Thank you. They would reply “sama-sama” – welcome. In the morning I greet locals with “Selamat Pagi” noontime “Selamat seya” at night “Selamat Sore”. A local taxi driver taught me this in the midst of traffic. Later on I realized it was the most expensive conversational bahasa I have ever paid! Haha.
We arrived in Bali in the wee hours of the morning. As soon as I stepped out of the plane and saw their airport, I began cursing our local politicians and previous DOTC (Department of Transportation and Communication) Secretaries for NOT prioritizing our airports. Hey I told myself, “I am on vacation, so I will not lose my mind over what I am missing in my country. Instead I will enjoy Bali and hope to discover my inner Self more.”
My Top Ten things to do in Bali:
1. Dive – My hubby (Donn) and eldest daughter Daenna are diving fanatics. They have been hearing about the wonderful Mantas and Mola Molas in Bali. They were not disappointed when they came back raving about the giant Manta as big as our wall (about 10 ft by 8ft).
Plus a bonus, divers from Bali dropped statues of Hindu Gods and Goddesses in the bottom of the sea for future coral cover.
2. Surfing – It’s a big thing in Bali. My second daughter wants to learn. The problem was on the day of her scheduled lesson, she got sick and when finally it was time for her to learn, the instructor warned us that the waves were too big for beginners. Well, that’s one reason to go back to Bali…
Walk along the shorelines of the famous Kuta beach. There are about 5 million tourists who visit Bali. Most of them are housed in Kuta area. I do not want to alarm the senses of the conservative islanders. So I opted to go to the beach in long pants and shawl over my head. Ouch the heat of the sun in December was so agonizingly hot. I dared not stay over a minute longer under the scorching heat.
3. Be at one with the Elephants.
I have always been amazed by these gentle creatures since I watched Dumbo. Imagine me screaming with glee when I played with them. Their trunks disarraying my hair, and their saliva all over me as they searched for food.
4. Offer a moment of silence or a prayer to the victims of the Bali bombing.
The tourists in Bali became very offensive to the Muslim extremists. Indonesia prides itself to be the largest Muslim country in Asia. I can imagine how shocking it must have been to the Muslim extremists to see Bali infested with foreigners in skimpy outfit and worse, swarming with local prostitutes. I offered a prayer for the victims, their families and for the world that we will live in Peace despite our differences in religion, ideologies and culture.
5. Visit a batik factory and purchase a handmade batik. I am like a little kid in a candy store when I entered the warehouse.
I am impressed with the women who have labored here for years. I just love the dainty and exotic designs of the textiles. Batik is a process of textile making with dyes and customized paints.
6. Experience Indonesian Massage. Foot reflexology by the streets in small areas would charge R65,000-R100,000 Rupiah. While full body massage in posh spas would range from R300,000-R400,000.
7. Visit Ubud.
I am so in awe of this place and I felt Elizabeth Gilbert’s inspiration for her book Eat.Pray.Love. I could imagine Julia Roberts’ walking in the streets for the first time wide eyed at the Art and culture surrounding the area. Ubud is Artist’s haven. From pottery to paintings, abstract to ethnic art, galleries and museums swarm the place.
8. Rent Motorcycles and roam the town of Bali. Believe me this is the most practical means of transportation in the area. Traffic is just so unbearable. Those little motorcycles get you through the roads in half time. If you do not know how to drive one, you can rent one with a driver, your own chauffer on Vespa. However, in the countryside, biking is the way to go.
9. Eat, Drink and Be Merry. Eat local favorites like Sate Babi, Ayam, Nasi Goreng and seafoods. Just warn the waiter about the degree of spiciness and hotness of the food. I pushed my palate to the limit and challenged my taste buds to their Indonesian flavor. I love their garlic butter chili prawns, Sweet and Sour Garupa, Crispy Duck to mention a few. Drink Bintang Beer, it’s good with the grilled small pieces of chicken and pork. Party with the locals! Indonesians are warm and very easy going. We were treated to a new year party with by the Nautica Bali Diving group headed by Rachmat Antoyo.
10. Walk the streets of Leguan and Seminyak.
I marvel at the sights of the temples and little quaint bohemian shops that stand side by side. I could just walk the whole afternoon taking snap shots of every statue, temple and shop that I rest my eyes on.