Bali, Indonesia 72-Hour Vacation
There are about 18,000 islands and islets in the Indonesian archipelago, yet most of us can only spell the name of one, and what a name it is! Has anyone on earth not dreamed to set foot on this legendary land, synonymous with paradise on earth? The dream today can come true. Open to modern tourismmass transportation, hotels and various accommodations everywhere, good pricesthis destination attracts millions of visitors from all over. Asians, Europeans and Americans want their share of the famous, sweet Balinese life. Bali could be just another stretch of land like many others in the Indian Ocean. But what makes Bali so special is a je ne sais quoi of an exotic essence, a medley of grace, beauty, and serendipity heralded by a name that sounds and feels like honey. Discover for yourself this subtle chemistry and then decide if Bali is still the land of your dreams.
Have mass tourism and the dismaying Kuta bombing chipped Bali's fabulous image? There's a Bali for all tastes. A certain "old" Bali has survived the tourism era, which is now the main resource of this small (140 kilometers long, 80 kilometers wide) volcanic island. A fertile soil supports a lively agriculture of rice, copra, spices, fruits, and cattle but does not generate as much cash as tourists. If a bath in the past is what you expect, it is commendable to skip the tourist concentration of Kuta and its hundreds of hotels, bars, discos, restaurants and shopsunless you choose to rock 'n' roll. Be aware though that the merry party ambience has been tarnished since the tragic terrorist attack that left two hundred Australian youngsters dead in a bombed disco. The other Bali, the tranquil one that carries the vestiges of a rich history is waiting for you.
Most of the hotels are located on the beautiful beaches of Kuta, Legian Nusa Dua and Sanur on the southwestern and eastern tip in a radius of 25 kilometers from the airport (Denpasar), sparing the authenticity of large areas particularly on the northern coast where very few vacationers dare to venture. Lovina Beach, a quiet resort on a volcanic sand beach, is more typical of this ancestral Bali that also boasts beautiful reefs with colorful tropical fishes and off the coast playful dolphins to boot.
Treading the back roads, climbing the slopes of still smoldering volcanoes, roaming the paths of the jungle is not necessary to enjoy a stint in Bali. Here are our suggestions to make the most of this island.
On the first day, keep in mind that you have been transported to an equatorial climate. The priority is to recuperate from the long here. Rest! It is time to unwind and to don your mind with a sarong (that piece of tartan cloth the Indonesians wrap around their hips).
Among the best hotels, we found the Four Seasons Resort Bali at Jimbaran Bay, a haven of tranquility, to be the right stage for the transition. Tucked on a hill dubbed Bukit Perma (beautiful hill), it offers a condensed version of Bali by the sea. Far from the hustle and bustle of Kuta and Legian it presents to its guests almost all they could experience during their stay in Bali (but with much more effort): the beach, the music, the dances (twice a week), the art, the exotic food, the relaxation. There's even a cooking school.
It feels like supreme decadence to unwind in your own villa (there are 147 of them altogether) on the edge of your private swimming pool and whirlpool, or to sip a drink on your patio overlooking the bay of Jimbaran.
You wonder why you should venture anywhere else, since a short walk or ride on the property will lead you to the concert hall or to the ballet theater. Don't' feel like walking? Call an electric cart that pops up immediately in front of your door. It whisks you anywhere you want to go within the compounds spreading from the hill all the way down to the beach. Back from the sea, after the dance show, you can do no less to reach Nirvana than indulge in a Balinese massage at the spa. You'll be ready for a Rijstafel at the restaurant on the terrace watching the moonbeams on the water. Paradoxically, this traditional Indonesian fare inspired by the former Dutch colonists and concocted by chef Patrick Bouchet tasted more authentic, spicy and pungent than the ones we had in supposedly more typical, local eateries.
The tasty food, the massage, the still of the night can't miss to put you rapidly and deeply to sleep under the mosquito net, for, yes, there are some of these insects flying around. All this dedicationyou cannot find a more smiling and devoted staffcomes at a price. But if you can afford it, it's worth the money, for this is an unforgettable experience.
The beautiful Jimbaran Bay also boasts the Intercontinental Resort Bali.
(Updated: 11/17/09 NW)