Bali, Island of the Gods

DSC_6487Bali, the Island of the Gods, with its varied landscape of hills, mountains, rugged coastlines and sandy beaches, lush rice terraces and barren volcanic hillsides all providing a picturesque backdrop to its colorful, deeply spiritual and unique culture, stakes a serious claim to be paradise on earth. With world-class surfing and diving, a large number of cultural, historical and archaeological attractions, and an enormous range of accommodations, this is one of the world’s most popular island destinations and one which consistently wins travel awards. Bali has something to offer a very broad market of visitors from young back-packers right through to the super-rich.DSC_6219

When we started planning our next adventure we had in my mind the pictures that we see in coffee table travel books. Pictures of pristine beaches and rice terraced hills. We pictured a slow paced city of beautiful villages. we even thought maybe a look at real estate for a second home on this eat, pray love island? I thought I had a good idea what Bali was about. Until we arrived. So the story begins…

American Airlines Business classOf course my Citibank American Airlines miles were burning a hole in my pocket. So where to go now? My readers have asked for me to travel to Bali and Asia. So I planned another trip to Asia. 331 days out I booked our flights using my American Airlines award miles. Three business class tickets for a mere $120 each way.  I was ready to plan my trip. I started with Facebook first and after many months of emails I picked a tour guide to show us Bali.  Next to pick a hotel and where.  Bali is an enormous island, and is just one of the 17,071 Islands that presently make up this mystical country Indonesia. Bali is famous for its surfing and beaches. I live on the beach in California and thought I should read up on the beaches here. I discovered that they are not as nice and maybe I should stay inland.DSC_6239

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWe strongly recommend that you think very carefully about what it is you need from your holiday in Bali. The beach that you choose will affect your experience. Kuta for example is a chaotic beach with lots of shopping, and a lot of people trying to sell you something. If you are looking for nightlife, don’t mind being harassed by street stall vendors, like to be one among thousands on the beach, and don’t mind hundreds of surf boards whizzing past while you swim then Kuta is probably for you. If you are looking for a quieter holiday and beach then one of the other choices above would be a wise choice. We stayed in Ubud and traveled around from here. It was beautiful. The beaches were just not beautiful but the county side was. Stay where I did you will be very happy. DSC_7113 I live on the beach in California and decided DSC_6167that I would not stay on the beach but visit them. I found them dirty and not dreamy like the county side.  Before you travel to Bali you must make sure that there is no construction going on. Many of the hotels had a lot of construction and the streets were truly an eye sore of ciaos and very loud noise that no one wants to hear on vacation. Do your research! One hotel that we thought was beautiful was the Nikko Hotel in Nusa Dua.DSC_6647 The street leading up to this hotel was a war zone of construction. We went to this hotel for our Camel ride, yes a camel ride in Bali. DSC_6903 it was so much fun. Getting on the camels was fun but once we left the grounds of the hotel the beaches were filthy. The trash on inch beyond the property line of the Hotel Nikko was littered with mounds of plastic and trash. It was awful. But I highly suggest riding the camels on the beach.

After much research we decided to stay in Ubud The cultural heart of Bali and the central mountain range. Ubud, a town in central Bali is far removed from the drunken bikini scene in Kuta, and is regarded as the cultural center of Bali. DSC_6558 It is famous as an arts and crafts hub, and much of the town and nearby villages seems to consist of artists’ workshops and galleries. There are some remarkable architectural and other sights to be found, and a general feeling of well being to be enjoyed, all thanks to the spirit, surroundings, and climate of the place. We loved where we stayed. Alam Jiwa. It was magnificent. Please take the time too look at their website. Our photos will tell some of the story but see for yourself why we picked this true Balinese hotel.