The iconic wedding hall @ Conrad Bali (image courtesy of www.traveloka.com )
It's quite surprising that I haven't been to Bali yet, considering all the places I have been, and how much I have always wanted to explore the fascinating sights, sounds and tastes of Indonesia.
When I ask hardcore travelers where they encountered the most warm and friendly people in the world, Indonesia is always up there near the top (right alongside the Philippines, which I have been fortunate to explore quite a bit).
Yes, the hospitality of the locals is legendary, but what else about Bali makes me want to pack my bags and go?
Traditional Balinese Culture
This is the stuff adventurer dreams are made of–I imagine myself trekking through dense, steamy jungles...with curious parrots and monkeys keeping a watchful eye on me from above.
Suddenly I reach a clearing, and am stunned to unearth some ancient carvings and ruins...
Suddenly, out of the corner of my eye, I see some shadowy figures slip through the trees. Before I know it, they emerge from the thick vines. I am surrounded. With my hands up, I try to communicate that I come in peace...progress is slow going, but eventually they realize I pose no threat. They warm up to me.
Before I know it, we are back in their village, where we begin the process of bridging two very contrasting cultures...OK, OK...so I let my imagination run wild a bit. Travelers are quite unlikely to have an experience like this in this day and age, but a boy can dream, can't he? Haha.
Even though the island is quite developed and touristy, from what I've read, there is still plenty of rich culture and heritage to explore in Bali.
I can't wait to photograph and explore all the temples! Some that come highly recommended: Tanah Lot, Uluwatu Temple, Goa Gajah, and Ulun Danu Beratan Temple (Pictured here).
Do keep in mind that proper attire (sarong & sash) are usually required. These can be rented or supplied with a small donation.
Balinese Food & Drink
Like many people, my desire for a trip to Bali was re-stoked by watching TV host and chef Anthony Bourdain fall in love with the island. I already know I love Indonesian food, with staples such as nasi goreng (stir fried rice with eggs, prawns, chilis, and vegetables) and mee goreng (the same, but with spicy noodles instead of rice).
However, I'm excited to try some Balinese specialties, such as nasi campur Bali (mixed rice) and betutu, which is a roasted poultry dish with spices.
Also on my menu is kopi Bali (local coffee), and brem, which is a Balinese version of the rice wine that is characteristic of much of Asia. I imagine these two are similar to "Barako" Coffee and "Tapuy" wine, which are their Philippine counterparts, respectively.
The Beaches...and the Surfing
Word has gotten out about Bali's surfing...apparently today's spots are a bit different than the relatively unknown breaks of 20+ years ago. It's really blown up, but I guess you can still find some glassy calm just as the early morning sun rises.
I just learned to surf in the Philippines, so I'm excited to try my luck in Bali.
From what I've gathered, some beaches are more crowded than others. Kuta Beach is where the party's at, but I'm also excited to explore some lesser known beaches like Pasir Putih and Balangan. There really is so much coastline to explore, I'm excited to rent a motorbike and see as much as I can!
Yes, My Bali Adventure is Calling
Like many "digital nomads", being based in Thailand gives me easy access to awesome destinations like Bali. The island is so centrally located–I can hop on a budget flight for $50 or less and be there within an hour or two. Not bad! I look forward to covering Bali in much more detail in the future. Stay tuned!
- Nathan Allen
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