Bali has something for everyone, from backpackers to movie stars.
Of the 17,500 islands making up Indonesia, Bali is the only one with Hindu as its religion. Temples are the focal point in even the smallest villages most have three in honour of the main gods Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva. Every home has its own small temple. Sarongs and sashes will be provided for you if you wish to enter.
Many people head straight to Kuta Beach for fun in the sun and to party at night, with some bargain hunting in between. While Dermott's up for all of that, he decided to check out what else Bali has to offer.
In just one-and-a-half hours, he arrived in Ubud in Bali's cool, mountainous centre. When he walked along the main street, at first it seemed like any other street in Bali. However, with his Intrepid Travel guide he soon found that Ubud is somewhere special. It's made up of 14 villages surrounded by tropical forests, steep ravines and rice paddies and is Bali's artistic heart. It's been that way for over a century.
With Intrepid you go off the main tourist trail, covering highlights you might otherwise not see.
Once a haven for backpackers, Ubud now attracts all sorts of travellers. It has become a centre of fine arts, dance, music and culture in general. The Balinese are committed to keeping traditions alive and they do it sensitively and thoughtfully. It's highly unlikely anyone visits there without purchasing a treasure. Carvings and paintings honour their gods and the Balinese way of life in general. Paintings are colourful and intricate and the Western world has embraced them.
On your Intrepid tour you travel in comfortable mini-van, but you can cycle the backroads of one of the most scenic stretches, the 20 kilometres from Ubud to Sangeh.
Along the way, you see rice fields, temples and may come across a Jamu seller. They make traditional medicine from plants, mainly turmeric. You will also see woodcarving villages and you're bound to come across a festival or ceremony.
Of all the temples you see, the most entertaining is the 17th century Sacred Monkey temple in the six hectare Sangeh Monkey Forest.
The forest is filled with giant nutmeg trees, some reaching 40 metres. The sacred nature reserve houses a temple and hundreds of crab-eating macaque monkeys. They are sacred, amusing and wise and will certainly approach visitors hoping for a bite to eat. Beware though they are very attracted to anything shiny so hide your camera, jewellery, glasses and anything else they might admire. It could be an idea to hang on to your hat too!
The macaques are accustomed to tourists, and for a rupiah or two they will happily have their picture taken with you. If you've given them a treat, which you can buy at the temple entrance, they will probably even smile for the camera!
All those temple visits and fun with the macaques can build up an appetite, so it was off to the Gianyar Night Market.
The markets greet diners with aromas of curries, freshly cooked pork and duck, chicken and coconut balls, sweet cakes, fried bananas, tempeh and tofu. Babi Guling, suckling pig, is mouthwatering. It is stuffed with a concoction of turmeric, coriander seeds, lemongrass, black pepper and garlic and spit roasted.
Pull up a stool and tuck in with the locals. For around $2 you will be served an over-loaded plate of food but get there early.
The Indonesian island of Bali.
Intrepid Travel's ‘Beautiful Bali' nine-day tours start at $950 per person, twin share.
Virgin Australia has flights to Denpasar from:
- Perth $299
- Adelaide $399
- Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane $439
The fares are available for a limited time only so log on to www.vaustralia.com.au for further details.
Prices correct at October 1, 2011.
For further information
Ph: 13 6789
11 Spring Street
Ph: 1300 018 871
Fax: 03 8602 0500
Visa: Australian passports must have a minimum validity of 6 months from date of arrival. 7 day and 30 day visas are available on arrival. Requirements and fees change regularly, so check with the Indonesia Consulate for current information.
Electricity: Current is 22V, 50Hz. Sockets are two-pin plugs and adaptors and cheap and on sale everywhere.
Time zone: GMT +8 hours.
Currency: Indonesian rupiah.
Telephone code: 62 370.
It is recommended travellers see their doctor at least six weeks before departure as there may be specific vaccinations recommended for areas you will be visiting. Other health precautions and preventions may also be recommended. For further information, visit www.smartraveller.gov.au and www.welltogo.com.au.