With great excitement, we boarded our flight to Bali from Jakarta on a balmy September morning. After a relatively short flight during which we got to see the beautiful island set in the aquamarine waters of the Java Sea, we got off at Denpasar airport. Breathing in the absolutely fresh air was in itself so invigorating. We got to our hotel, settled in after enjoying a very earnest welcome by the staff.
Wanting to do as much as we could, we had chalked out a fairly hectic schedule for ourselves. Off we went to the famous Uluwatu Temple, or Pura Luhur Uluwatu, renowned for its magnificent location. It sits at the top of a very steep cliff jutting into the sea. Needless to say, you can see some fabulous sunsets from this spot. There is a monkey forest close by so be prepared to be assailed by monkeys who will want everything from your bag to your water bottle and sometimes even your cap! They can be quite scary sometimes so ensure you have a guide with you at all times.
We then headed off to Goa Lawah or the Bat temple. Built in a cave, its thousands of bats and hence the walls look completely black. Not for the faint-hearted as the bats flying around can be very intimidating. Especially to those of us from India, who firmly believe that bats like to latch on to your ears and hang there for life!! When we were kids we were told we had to get a donkey to come and bray and that would scare away the bat!! Sheesh – and I believed that! Ensure you wear a skirt or something long. They do not allow you to go in wearing shorts. Sarongs are available for hire outside the temple complex.
We had lunch at a local restaurant – Satay on a stick (minced meat skewered and served with a hot peanut sauce), Nasi Goreng (a fried rice with meats, vegetables, green peas, onions, shallots and a blend of sweet soy sauce). We topped that off with Kolak (a healthy mix of sweet potato, cassava, banana, pumpkin stewed in coconut milk and sweetened with palm sugar) – we could ill afford to eat such rich food, but what the heck!! We were on holiday!
We relaxed on our drive to the Ubud Art Market known also as Pasar Seni Ubud. We went completely crazy here buying silk scarves, bags, satin skirts, Moroccan oil lamps, quilts, batik camisoles, brass Buddha statuettes and other curios. Also on offer are amazing paintings, Balinese handicrafts, and art. You can also pick up small souvenirs to take back home. Most of the stuff sold here is made by the locals in the villages of Pengosekan, Tegallalang, Payangan, and Peliatan. You can stroll around, sip on a juice and just window shop, drink in the sights. Enjoy the display of handicrafts and artistry.
For dinner, of course, we went to the famed Nusa Dua beach. We gorged on freshly caught fish and prawns. We guzzled local Bintang beer and enjoyed the ambiance. Bali is famous for three member bands. These bands serenade you and sing wonderful retro songs. It’s nice to sing along with them. I did!
Must see is the Bali Zoo or the Kebun Binatang Bali. Well laid out and nice to walk through. The Gibbons that day were extremely noisy -methinks it was mating season or something like that – and kept us entertained. We saw slender Loris, Bengal Tiger, Orangutans, Otters, Lions, dusky Pademelon (small marsupials), Siamang (black furred gibbon), Babirusa (deer pig), Bear, Javan Rusa (native deer) and several species of birds. You can also see the Komodo Dragon (a large species of Lizard), Iguanas and crocodiles. It was hot outside but a wonderful day nonetheless.
We spent the next few days just chilling – at the spa in our hotel and on the beach (the sands are pristine and almost white, the water is clear and azure blue). For a lazy holiday, no better place than Bali.