It’s a wonderful feeling when those warm sun-rays kiss your back, neck, chest and face, leaving your skin tingling. The air is filled with the whimsical sound of chimes dangling and dancing in the breeze. All the while, incense burns in offerings nearby, delighting your sense of smell and offering solace to the soul. It’s an experience of heaven on earth, a place that beckons travellers with the kind of hospitality few others afford. There’s very little wonder this piece of paradise is known as the Island of the Gods. Welcome to Destination Bali.
Soon after arriving, your senses will be tantalized. So let’s get your empty tummy feeling fulfilled with some local culinary delights in Seminyak (which is located approximately fifteen minutes from the heart of Kuta). Your every craving will be satisfied courtesy of Warung Eny, a local eatery famous for fresh and organic ingredients at agreeable prices. Order some freshly caught seafood in advance of your arrival, and watch it artfully and delicately cooked in spices before your eyes. Wash it down with a bintang (local beer) or fresh coconut milk and you’re guaranteed satisfaction. Warung Eny is home to the ‘Love Cooking School’ and after sampling the fresh produce you’ll be compelled to take a day course and reap the benefits for years to come.
To unlock the best kept secrets on the island, the key is a trustworthy local tour guide. Fortunately, I have the man for your job right up my sleeve: Mudu Made is a tour guide, driver and (where required) an interpreter. He is contactable by phone on +6285237782947. A favourite of many Australian tourists, he’s the go-to man with any special accessibility requests. He’ll take your holiday from go to whoa, no matter what plans you have in store. Mudu will happily accommodate your wishes from water-sports (parasailing or jet-skiing anyone?) to cocktail nights, or checking out a monkey forest, temples or a local coffee plantation. When it comes to ‘Made in Bali’ hospitality is core business, and Mudu is only happy when you are. (You can thank me for him later, and you’re welcome!)
Jimbaran Bay is a ‘must do’ on your itinerary on the Island. The fish market and surrounding restaurants are arguably among the greatest places to eat in the world. Enjoy a seafood banquet at little more expense than the price of a counter meal in Australia. But don’t forget to tip the Balinese singers who serenade you and your loved ones as you watch waves lap the shore. Those guys earn every cent and you’ll be sure to love the home-grown Aussie classics ringing through the still air in local accents.
Is there any better way to unwind after a romantic dinner than a massage and pedicure or spa treatment at the incredible Bodyworks? Your skin will thank you (and me!) for this tip, and you won’t be disappointed with their extensive spa menu packages.
Following all the sun and surf, if you’re in need of some tender loving hair care you’re also in luck. Visit Rob Peetoom in Seminyak: from regrowth to a killer blow-wave for a big night out on the town, they have you covered.
Speaking of nights out, hipsters ahoy! For a touch of bikini-clad paradise, don’t forget the iconic pool bar experience at KU DE TA bar. It’s great for a recovery session or a few drinks before a big night out on the town. DJs play the latest club bangers in an idyllic setting. Rock on into the night with cocktails at the increasingly popular Potato Head Beach Club. It’s worth a peep just for the incredible architecture and décor!
If you want to stay amid the hustle and bustle of the tourist action, a resort in Kuta might be to your taste. Families who prefer a more quiet or serene experience, however, may prefer to stay in Seminyak, or even further away in Nusa Dua. Wherever you decide to stay in Bali, take at least a day, preferably overnight, trip to Ubud (made famous by Eat, Pray, Love) and take a stroll through the surrounding scenery including the rice fields.
If you’re a dog lover who does go to Ubud, you might consider giving back to the Island while you’re there by assisting the Bali Adoption and Rehabilitation Centre (BARC) in their quest to aid street dogs in Bali. You can do this by making a financial or in-kind contribution of food, bowls, leads and collars. BARC’s work speaks for itself and I take my hat off to the founder, Linda Buller, who is the Founder of the incredible organisation.
While in Ubud, you can also allow your senses to take in the breathtaking beauty of the Sacred Monkey Forest, the very place where the jungle meets the holy temples. You can visit Ubud Palace and if you’re lucky, you may even brush shoulders with royalty. The stone carvings there are really quite remarkable.
Be sure to shop at the markets and watch the Balinese dancing, or take in the creative atmosphere and the cultural mix at the art markets. For another rich, cultural experience in Ubud, and to treat any ailments you may have, I strongly recommend a consultation and subsequent blessing with a Balian (a traditional Balinese healer). In Bali’s culture these amazing Indonesians are responsible for treating physical and mental illness, removing spells and using natural medicine by channelling messages from the ancestors. Take the healer an offering with ‘Mulia’ (meaning love from the heart) which includes flowers, incense, an offering and financial contribution towards his practice. My own personal blessing on the Island of the Gods is a moment in time, I will never forget.
There is nothing more rewarding than giving back to a place so generous to the soul. If you wish to return some care to the Island that is so hospitable to all, perhaps arrange an appointment to visit the kids at Bali Kids Orphanage (generally two weeks in advance is required). You can email them at [email protected]. There is a wish-list of required items on the Bali Kids Orphanage website however, and I recommend making contact with them by emailing before making your purchases. It’s a privilege to see the work of the orphanage, which helps some of the most vulnerable children become part of the next generation of adults on the Island.
Bali is the land that will have you reminiscing for years to come. It’s a place where treasured memories are made. Between sun, surf, bintangs and food there is a rich culture of beautiful and welcoming people, on an Island so gorgeous it’s like heaven on earth. So what are you waiting for? Pack light and pack tight, as there’ll be many treasures and keep-sakes to bring home. I hope you enjoyed my travel tips and I look forward to seeing you all on the Island of the Gods, at Destination Bali.