Wednesday, 17 August 2011

Bali - my personal impressions.

Not for one minute am I going to say I really know 'anything' about Bali ..... but the five days we spent there were relaxing and peaceful and my personal thoughts are of those five days only.

I had been very reluctant to visit Bali in the past, it has never been high on my 'bucket list'. In October 2002 when the so called "Bali Bombings" occurred, we were in Broome, northern West Australia .... the closest coastline in Australia to the Indonesian island of Bali.
I will always remember the candles on the beach in memory of the 202 people that died.

And for those that have no knowledge of what the "Bali Bombings" actually were, they occurred on 12 October 2002 in the tourist district of Kuta. The attack was the deadliest act of terrorism in the history of Indonesia, killing 202 people, (including 88 Australians, and 38 Indonesian citizens). A further 240 people were injured.

But one must always remember, this terrorist act was NOT carried out by the Balinese people.  Most Balinese would not even consider an act of crime against another; aside from the damage to the island's reputation and therefore its tourist income, the karma belief system and depth of religious commitment precludes most wrongful activities on the part of the locals.

anyway .... as they say ..... it is now history and after nearly 10 years, its time to move on and we knew it was time for us to visit this beautiful island called Bali.

We had friends staying there, this also encouraged our visit along with the need for some quiet time to help 'diffuse some anxieties' that we have with our life at the moment.

It was simply the most perfect place to go ... if just for the peace and quiet.
The Balinese people we met there were delightful as have been the Balinese people we have met throughout the world. We have always found them to be gentle, caring and actually quite resourceful and enterprising!!
We noticed that the workmanship in the new buildings were of a far better quality than we have seen elsewhere in Indonesia, it seems as though they take more 'care' with what they are doing.  The smaller stores are of a higher calibre than in some other areas too. We saw many fine restaurants and cafes .... but this obviously reflects on the number of tourists and their demands of a better service and quality produce.

I was surprised at the local deli's .... this is even out in the rural districts of Kerobokan ... they sell prosciutto, ham, quiches, crusty breads and the like!!!

Then I heard there were many Swiss, German and French Expats living in the area, so I guess not so surprising after all.
We kept well away from the tourist areas of Kuta and Denpasar, no reason other than we had no need to go visiting the bars, clubs, resorts and expensive boutique stores in the high end tourist spots.  Not only that, we had already heard of the 'loud and aggressive behaviour' of many Australian tourists in those areas and we had no desire to be labeled as one of them. Especially after we spoken with some of the local people and they really have no respect for that type of behaviour .... well none of us do actually!

Anyway ..... our visit to Bali was around the Kerobokan area, with a side trip down to Batu Belig Beach to watch the sunset! 
Other than that we walked around the local area to have massages, to buy bread, fruit etc and spent the rest of the time at our villa relaxing .... going out of an evening to a local cafe for dinner ..... sheer bliss I say.  All the streets were busy constantly, as with most of Asia there are motorcycles by the hundreds weaving around the vehicles, up along the pathways and back out onto the road.
and the dogs .... the dogs are everywhere!!
In my previous blog post I spoke about the dogs of Bali and the outbreak of Rabies .... one of the readers (of the blog) asked about the vaccination for her family prior to their visit to Bali. I had never heard of anyone here being vaccinated before their visit, nor heard of any Dr saying there was a 'need'. But with the number of dogs roaming 'freely' and the majority of them carrying this recent strain of Rabies (2008) I probably would now suggest speaking with your own MD on the possible risks and of the need for being vaccinated. As she said, she has 'young toddlers who love animals' and they are likely to run up to a dog in the street ... if there is this sort of risk, then what does one do? One would need to take precautions as you do in any other situation.

I have a 'friend of a friend' that was bitten, had not been vaccinated and the rabies injection side effects was actually worse than she expected ..... so again, what does one do? You have to take all possible situations into consideration and think of personal health and safety first.
But never let this deter you from visiting this delightful island ..... there are many beautiful area's of Bali to explore. I was amazed at all the dogs wandering the streets without fear of their life at all ... here they were laying out in the sunshine in the middle of the road with motorcycles weaving around them!

I felt safe and never once felt threatened by any animal or person, but as with anywhere in the world you need to be 'aware' of your surroundings.  For the most part the crime is no different to what you would expect anywhere else but perhaps less violent than in the West. Keep your wits about you just as you would at home and you will be fine.

I read recently where someone made comments on a blog about visiting Bali and I copy them here for your information too:

In the popular tourist areas there are touts who will offer you to buy drugs. For the most part they are working in cohorts with the police, who will swoop in and arrest the unsuspecting tourist, then demand a hefty "goodwill payment" to avoid unpleasantness.

As in most developing countries there is an element of scamming; ones to watch out for are
- swapping of banknotes at the money changer; the changers know we're not all that familiar with the currency and will try to slip a Rp 10 000 note in place of a RP100 000 one.

- prices; sellers rely on our unfamiliarity with the price of goods to boost their income. Expect the initial quote to be three times higher than what the seller is willing to let it go for. 

Bargaining is a social activity on Bali. It's a game, and when played with a good nature and mischievous grin you can develop a great rapport with the trader. They communicate with each other, so if you negotiate a fair price with one you should find that others open with a much more reasonable offer. Never accept the first price given! Doing so elevates prices for other tourists as the hawkers realise they can charge more, and can actually damage the local economy as prices are driven beyond the means of locals. Expect to pay over the odds compared to what a Balinese would be charged. For the most part the difference is small to us but in local terms can be the difference between eating and not. There are lots of pocket indexes of day-to-day items available online which you can print to refer to while there. 

Also, memorising a few words in Balinese will work wonders for you. It's not common for tourists to try but the people are touched and hugely animated by your efforts - and they will be rewarded!

- pickpockets; they strike in crowded areas like markets. Keep your money beneath your clothing and separated. I kept mine divided by daily budget locked in the hotel, and carried amounts for morning, afternoon and evening in different (and secure) pockets while roaming the heavily populated areas

I've spoken to a lot of people who have been hesitant to go, but it's one of the most peaceful places I've been to. I would encourage anyone with the opportunity to visit, to go and see for themselves.

We stayed in a private villa on a 'private estate', you see these often being advertised for Bali. They are small, gated communities that have a certain number of villas for rental. Long term or short term. This was not a resort with restaurants, bars, gym and shops. Each villa had its own private pool and within the grounds there were two 'lap pools' for general use.
 The villas were perfect and I will blog about them in the next post ... with images!

We both enjoyed our time in Bali, we relaxed, we had a great time with friends, we walked, we swam, we had massages and we met some lovely people along the way. Everyone we passed either called out hello or just smiled and waved. 

Yes, we would go back!

and the weather?

it was simply perfect.

nice warm sunny days with blue skies and NO humidity.

pure bliss

1 comment:

Laura said...

A lovely place, particularly away from Kuta (though with children that was also a great place to be). You are right too there was no humidity, just lovely sunny days!