Monday, February 1, 2016

Vacation Review: Bali, Indonesia

I just returned from an unbelievable vacation abroad. When thinking about a vacation destination, I knew I wanted something scenic, romantic, and affordable. In the end, Bali Island in Indonesia was just the ticket!

Sure, the plane ride is a long one from the US but that's nothing a little red eye, and a short lay over to stretch and recoup, can't fix. We left at 11pm, slept all night, and after 13 hours landed in Taiwan, five hours from Bali. This strategy worked well to break up a long flight time.

Next, we didn't stay in the tourist saturated parts of Bali. This is what I highly recommend unless you're looking for a "Cancun Spring Break" party feel. That ambiance is fun, but for us, that meant spending only one night in Kuta, Bali to relive our party days.

The next part of our trek took us to Jimbaran Bay. This is seafood central as well as the luxury hotel zone. We only spent two days in this area and it was gloriously scenic. For a moment of lavishness, order a huge lobster ($80-$125) to enjoy at the world famous beachfront fish markets or have lunch/dinner at Sundara at The Four Seasons Resort. This is a view that will take your breath away.

Our journey ended in Ubud, Bali. This is the most magical interior part of the island where you will immerse yourself in culture, art, romance, and scenic landscapes. We stayed in an unbelievable private villa with a private pool, outdoor shower, and floor to ceiling glass walls to feel as those you're sleeping in the actual jungle. Samkhya Villas are a true gem (google them)! Everyone there literally learns your name and is at your service 24/7. In fact, everyone in Bali is respectful, attentive, and kind-natured. This is an absolute pro!

Bringing me to the 'Pros and Cons' in a nutshell...

1. Cheap (hotel, food, and spa prices are unbelievable)! I enjoyed multiple 1-hour spa treatments spending only between $9-$14 dollars, yes $9, for a 1 hr. treatment. Our villa was less than $90 a night. This included a hefty and delicious daily breakfast. Mostly all hotels offer breakfast with their hotel stay. Read reviews to ensure other guests liked the food options.
2. Food choices and quality: plentiful and delicious options are at every turn (also inexpensive in most cases, this is clearly a theme in Bali).

3. Unbeatable Service: it's unreal how much this makes a difference. I am thoroughly impressed with this aspect of our trip. The Balinese people are truly some of the kindest I've ever come across. Plus, those working in hospitality outdo themselves. 
4. Safe and clean: no doubt this is an added bonus when traveling anywhere. The entire visit was relaxed and trouble free.
5. Everyone knows English: who doesn't want to communicate easily to ensure ease of travel?
6. Culture at every turn: the Balinese are deeply traditional people. There was history and culture oozing from every part of the island which is deeply devout to Hinduism. The sense of family and community is essential to the way of life in Bali. I came away with profound introspection after learning about the rich cultural traditions of the Balinese.   

Cons (I had to think long and hard to even come up with some):
1. Long flight, of course.
2. Wifi not always strong (but for a vacation meant to unwind and refresh, this just may be a pro).
3. Public transportation is minimal. However, private drivers for hire are a great alternative and they're very cost-effective. Make sure to push back if at first they quote you high fares. They'll work with your budget.
4. Mosquitoes: but hey, they were on the island first. We've invaded their space, so I say, embrace it (with plenty of repellent handy). Honestly, it was manageable.

Bali was truly a magical journey. The cultural influences were the highlight for me. There's so much to experience. For our 10 yr. anniversary and my 35th birthday celebration, we couldn't have picked a better destination for romance, scenery, and fun! 

What are some of your favorite vacation destinations and why?

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