25 Oct Selamat Datang di Bali! – Indonesia

The smells of fragipani flowers, grilled satay chicken, and sweet clove cigarettes were unmistakably familiar. We were in Bali. Along the street,life was on display. Half naked children ran around with roosters and cows, their mothers carried large baskets of food on their heads, the men lounged together on the bamboo “bales” or small raised gazebos. Mangy dogs searched for rubbish along the front of dilapidated buildings and doorless sundries shops. Palm trees and bamboo stalks fought for space among the grassy fields and hills all around. At Geger Beach, local men chatted in the shade of a bale, waiting for surfers to charter their small boats to be taken to the waves at the reef, 500 meters off shore. On the sand, older women teamed up to give traditional Balinese massages to tourists laying on wooden lounge chairs under white umbrellas. Their strong hands moved fluidly and lovingly, like a mother’s touch while they occasionally chattered to each other in their singsong language. Their younger counterparts, beautiful girls with the infamous huge, white Balinese smile sold colorful sarongs. A never ending smile, a friendly hello from all, easy conversation, honest touches of affection given to strangers…this is the beauty of the Balinese people.

Luxury at The Intercontinental Resort Bali – Indonesia

The 2 of us had been to Bali before, and recognised all these wonderful things. But this time, Bali had something new in store for us … luxury. As soon as we pulled up to the front of the resort, we forgot everything from the streets we had just driven through. Five giant statues and no less than five smiling Balinese welcomed us to a paradise retreat. In the doorless and windowless lobby, we sat on plush couches, refreshed ourselves with wet towels and savored some tropical juice while filling out our check-in form. We were at the Intercontinental Resort Bali. For five nights we were treated to five-star service. We had a gourmet breakfast buffet, Bintang beers and crisp pizza by the pool, spicy Indonesian food and live music for dinner, scones and tea in the Club Intercontinental elite lounge, tropical cocktails by the beach, skilled massages at the spa, and room service in our deluxe room with king-sized bed and balcony overlooking the gardens. It was a huge change from our tiny living conditions in Japan, and we felt like overnight royalty. But even at such a luxurious place, the Balinese spirit was all around. The atmosphere was relaxed, not stuffy, and we easily made friends with the airport driver, Bagus, the lifeguard, Wayan, and our numerous barmen and waiters. The Assistant Public Relations Manager, Dewi, set it all up for us, and we enjoyed meeting her several times during the week. From the welcome bottle of Penfold’s Aussie wine to the complimentary massage, we were well taken care of.

Wedding in Bali – Indonesia

Another exciting treat we had this time in Bali was the chance to attend a cliffside sunset wedding. Our good Japanese friends, Tomoya and Michiko are both avid surfers in Japan, so when they planned their wedding, they chose the surfer’s paradise of Bali. At a temple overlooking the ocean around beautiful and spiritual Uluwatu, friends had a very simple and romantic ceremony. Traditionally dressed Balinese girls walked down the aisle, sprinkling a pathway of flowers for the bride to follow. While a rain shower came down, the Indonesian priest gave the service in Bahasa Indonesian, and a Japanese woman repeated everything in Japanese. The small group of 30 guests were part of the post ceremony photos, then the rain cleared just in time for everyone to enjoy the pink and orange sunset. After dinner with their family, the bride and groom joined the rest of us at a private room in a nightclub for late night celebrations. Congratulations Tomo and Mi-chan!

Now off to the neighboring island of Lombok!

Bali, Indonesia Travel Tips:

  • Taxis: Always ask the driver to use the meter. As of this writing (November 2004) a 20 minute ride costs around 20,000 Rupiah (about US$2).
  • Useful phrases: Terima Kasih (thank you), Berapa (how much?), Mahal (expensive), Bagus (excellent), Tolong Bir Satu (one beer please).
  • Bargaining: When in the street, offer a third to half of their starting price and bargain from there.

Rebecca Rasmus – Written in 2004 – Bali, Indonesia

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