home
Chat With Us
Mr. Sanat Kumara
Mr. Budi
Mr. Dika





Share
 
« »
Australians greeted by new kind of Bali
April 23rd, 2008

As Australians increasingly make their way back to Bali, they are likely to find a slightly different place. These days, tourists are more likely to be harassed by someone selling timeshare than by hawkers flogging watches.

The party tourists still exist but they appear to have toned down their behaviour and dispersed from Kuta into more family-friendly areas such as Legian and Sanur.

And now Russian millionaires who are prepared to pay top dollar for the ultimate in luxury are the fastest growing tourist market.

But despite our haggling at the markets, Australians are still the favourites, and Balinese are slowly but surely welcoming back their long-lost neighbours with a Bintang and a Gday, mate.

DINNER ON THE BEACH
For a truly beachfront dining experience head to Jimbaran Bay, where you can indulge in a seafood meal while massaging your toes in the sand and watching fishermen haul in the next nights dinner.

Jimbaran has undergone a massive transformation. Years ago, more than 80 makeshift market stalls would cook fish over burning driftwood and coconut husks, and visitors would squeeze on to long, plastic tables. Staff had to work hard to fan away plumes of smoke from their barbecues.

Now the food is just as exquisite and the setting more conducive to a romantic night out. Twenty-four restaurants are spaced widely along the beach, each with more than 20 tables on the sand.

All seafood is sold fresh from the bay and is displayed in tanks for diners to hand-pick meals.

Dozens of Balinese boy bands serenade diners, in return for tips. Most can play well-known hits in up to five languages.

The bands which frequented my table were able to meet requests for songs by Robbie Williams, Joe Cocker, John Denver and Madonna. Then they went on to sing in Japanese.

UBUD
Jetsetters like Mick Jagger and Jerry Hall chose Ubud as their Hindu wedding destination because it is one of the most beautiful places in the world.

For only 150,000 rupiah ($17.50) and 90 minutes in a taxi, visitors can move from the chaos of Kuta to the tranquillity of the islands cultural centre, taking in winding roads, ancient temples, steeped rice fields and the areas lush surrounds.

I can recommend whitewater rafting along the Ayung River with the Sobek group, which has a faultless safety record, for US$79 ($85).

While no self-respecting adrenaline junkie would call the rapids exciting, the scenery makes up for it by offering a rare insight into traditional Balinese life.

Whitewater rafters can watch old women washing clothes in shallow embankments and daring farmers scaling steep cliffs along the river to cut long grass.

A few women may surprise you by appearing at random waterfalls with eskies of cold soft drinks and beer for sale. As they say, service in Bali is second to none.

Rafters are provided with a simple but tasty lunch at the end of the trip.

After lunch, old women put muscly young men to shame by folding up the rafts, balancing them on their small and shrivelled heads, and then gliding with effortless ease up thousands of steep stairs.

Monkey Forest in the centre of town is also worth a visit. Some monkeys will sit on your shoulder in return for a banana. But the cheekier ones have been known to run off with cameras and watches.

The nights in Ubud are quiet. There are no discos or nightclubs, though there are a few quieter bars along Monkey Forest Road and in surrounding areas.

SCHOOL
Many tourists suffer a subtle sense of guilt about our divergent fortunes with our island neighbours. One way to do something constructive for the community is to donate to an orphanage or school for handicapped children.

The YPAC Cabang school in Denpasar relies on donations to help educate up to 50 students and accommodate up to two dozen with disabilities.

The government donates only 15 cents a day per child and full-time boarders must squeeze into airless dorms at night.

A group of Australian journalists were saddened to see bare beds without sheets or pillows, with a faded sticker of Britney Spears the only tribute to boyish energy. The girls dorm was just as dire.

The Accor hotel group, which operates hotels such as the Novotel and Mercure chain, has set up a program with its hotel visitors to collect small donations of clean, good quality clothes as well as toys, school and art materials and non-perishable foodstuffs for children aged three to 18.

It then ensures the goods are distributed to orphanages and needy children.

The Singing Tree bookstore in Cottesloe has donated $2500 worth of new childrens books, enabling the school to start offering its students English lessons.

ROOMS

As a guest of Sofitel, I was able to sample a range of accommodation. My favourite was Novotel Benoa, a four-star hotel overlooking the Tanjung Benoa beach, which is surrounded by a lush tropical garden.

It is famous for its beachfront massages. One visitor said it was a very sensual experience to have the soft ocean breeze waft over her body as she was massaged with aromatic oils.

The room prices vary to accommodate the budget traveller and those who can afford private villas.

The Mercure in Sanur is the resort for those who do not like resorts. Although there are several pools, a bar and a beachfront eating area, the hotel has a deliberately low-key approach to communal activities.

The Novotel Nusa Dua offers a week-long penthouse deal, with three couples paying significantly less for the penthouse apartment than for less luxurious individual rooms.

The rooms look on to a vibrant African tulip tree in the middle of an infinity pool which laps up to a bar lit up by electric blue lights. Its luxury fit for a Russian oligarch.

KIM MacDONALD



Related Posts
Garuda launches Makassar-Singapore service
New law accommodates needs of mixed marriages
WALHI Rejects Bali International Park Development
Garuda increases flights to Sydney
Angkasa Pura I ready to tender Bali airport expansion

 

© 1997 - 2018. ABL Tours and Travel. All rights reserved.
General Inquiries, comments or suggestions about the site, please click Ask Question or browse our FAQ.

Site Information: Privacy Policy  •  Legal Services  •  Career With Us  •  Ask Question  •  FAQ  •  Customer Care  •  Sitemap