Tuesday, 29 June 2010


 Jakarta, many years back, was to me a testament to urban sprawl -- perennial traffic jams, unyielding pollution, denuded environs, an oppressively humid climate, crowded sidewalks, and a very slow bureaucracy. That might have been why I have never returned to Indonesia until now.

Coming to Bali was like a chore or more appropriately a job. No expectations but more likely evoking images of Jakarta. My mind may have been pre-occupied that I did not even wonder why throngs come to this place with its fabulous promotions as a holiday destination. Thoughts of the Bali bombings did not as well occur to me. Soon as the plane touched down on Denpasar and I looked out the window, the veiled thoughts of boredom and apathy turned to excitement and curiosity.

Sure the airport bulding is not particularly modern in the likes of Hongkong's or Heathrow's T5 but it was sufficiently clean, airy, spacious, and assuring. The roof and walls are brick tiled with comprehensible signs leading the tourists.  Because one can secure a visa on arrival, the immigration area could be teeming with humanity featuring lengthy queues from purchasing visas to gaining access to entry processing personnel. It had taken me more than an hour just to hurdle the entry application. Apart from that, there were no further creases mainly becuse the 5-star hotel where I was pleasantly put in was prepared in managing airport-hotel transfers. 

Bali is a tourist destination. The weather is not humid -- the highest temp, they say, is in the lower thirties. The streets are well paved but narrow and I suspect that this was a deliberate attempt to keep up appearances, hence mild traffic stops in certain places. There is so much greenery even along the streets juxtaposed alongside modern-looking but low buildings. One gets the feeling that the island is wirelessly linked as most shops/cafes proudly announce wi-fis.

Life on the island is relaxed despite the preponderance of business establishments throughout. Poverty if ever is not observable among the residents. The batik designs/prints on textile and clothing as well as wood-carved representations of local gods and animals are among take-home presents, if one wishes to make shopping a worthy endeavor. Bargaining however must be a skill that a determined shopper ought to employ.

The beach is something the island is proud of and I agree despite having enjoyed more fabulous beaches/sand before. I am lucky to stay in this fabulous resort-hotel which has its own beach frontage. It feels secure even at night -- one doesn't have to go to Kuta (the centre of Denpasar) to experience a holiday. A variety of international cuisine is available through restaurants along the road right outside our resort enclave and I would imagine everywhere on the island. Transport from place to place is easily available through identifiable taxis. Most importantly, the people are friendly and helpful (is that a southeast asian trait).

If you should go, my advice is GO with your loved one/s. See you there.


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