I was never fond of the beaches, nor water sports. I never liked having sand tickling my feet in my shoes, never liked my body being laminated with a layer of perspiration, and never liked having my skin grilled under the scorching sun. Furthermore, I probably cannot swim more than 50 metres, and would prefer walking on flat ground than on sandy beaches.

But all of the above did not stop me from going to Bali, this island 2 and half hours away from Singapore, this last summer vacation before I start work officially. And so you could tell that my image of Bali had been of beaches, hot sun and more beaches, until I set foot and saw for myself the true side of this mesmerizing island.

It did not take long for me to realize Bali was a touristy place; as I stepped out of the airport, I could hardly spot anyone who looked remotely like a local. And most locals spoke English. As we ventured out of the hotel toward the beach, we passed by rows of familiar fast-food restaurants that begin with “M”s and “K”s, and coffee chains that begin with “S”. Furthermore, food prices and taxi fares were not especially cheap, like we had expected.

Being unable to drive there, our only form of transport was taxi, of which we had to negotiate the price before boarding. On our second day, we hired a guide who would drive us around for the day. Driving in Bali must be exciting, as the scenes on the roads lived up to my expectations. Most of the drivers in Bali would qualify if they had auditioned for the movie Fast and Furious. There were hardly any traffic lights, any traffic rules, and horns were used in place of signals. Interestingly and astonishingly, it all works out, as we did not witness any accidents of the most trivial forms. All the drivers seemed as though they understood each other, and with a horn, they would criss-cross in each other’s paths, dodge jaywalking pedestrians and exceed the speed limit, if there were one. Motorcycle riders that looked barely like a teenager, a family of four on a motorcycle, with the mother eating and her daughter texting on a phone…

 

The breathtaking scenery of the rice terraces at Ubud.

Having buffet lunch at a restaurant with a stunning view of Mt Kintamani Volcano and its surrounding greenery.

Being treated to 5 sample cups of Balinese coffee, ginseng tea, lemon tea, cocoa. Saw the infamous Lowak Coffee, of which the seeds come from the dung of mongoose.

The most beautiful sunset I have ever seen in my life, by the beach of Jimbarang, where thousands of tourists are probably lured here by the mesmerizing view, and forced to pay astronomical prices for a seafood feast.

Enjoyed a live performance of the Kecak Dance, one of the most interesting “musical” I have ever seen. It is performed by a group of 90 young men dressed in a sarong, and a few actors and actresses who would act out scenes from the Hindu fables. Extremely entertaining and addictive.

Last but not least, we were privileged to be present at Bali on one of its most unique festivals of the year- Hari Raya Galungan, a Hindu festival that is celebrated only in Bali.

And so it seems, that Bali isn’t just about the beaches and water sport.

 

 

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