We decided back in September to spend the festive period in Bali. We reckoned there wouldn’t be many opportunities in life to repeat this and also with its proximity to Australia it would probably have a more Christmassy feel.
It is strange experiencing this time of year away from home, friends and family. Even though there are plenty Xmas decorations and reminders around, when it is 80 degrees outside it does not feel like Xmas! We decided not to pretend it was a normal Xmas day and go for a (very expensive) meal at a local hotel, instead we went to the Italian restaurant next door and had a lovely pasta meal!
We chose three locations in Bali, two close to beaches and one further inland, in the jungle. Unfortunately the beach at Seminyak is covered in litter at this time of year and it isn’t all the partying Aussies to blame. Apparently the currents deposit the litter there to such an extent that the local hotels have started litter patrols each day to try and make the beaches more appealing.
Like many places the beach resorts can be very similar and you don’t really get a feel for the country until you move further inland. Of the three locations Ubud was where we stayed longest. It still has more than it’s fair share of tourists from the ‘Eat, pray, love’ devotees to the day trippers from the beach resorts. The town is full of handicraft shops: woodcarving, jewellery, batik and galleries amongst many others. The reason that many people come here is not just to buy these sorts of items but that you can also take classes to learn these crafts. We did a batik class, Ann did silversmithing and I made a wooden mask. We really enjoyed the experiences and ended up with something personally handcrafted to take away each time.
Ubud is also the best base to tour the island from. We took a day tour and saw: the rice terraces, several volcanoes, a coffee plantation, temples and a waterfall. The rice terraces are beautiful and the scenery around the volcanoes is stunning. The coffee plantation sells some of the most expensive coffee in the world, it passes through the digestive system of an animal they call a luwak (we call it a civet). The animal can sniff out the best beans and eats them, the beans pass through the animal without being broken up. They are then collected and skinned and roasted (the beans not the luwak). This coffee is only harvested for one month a year, hence the premium price. It tasted fine but I’m certainly glad I didn’t pay the £35 a cup it sells for in the USA.
Bali is a beautiful island and the native people we have met have all been really helpful and very relaxed. They are mainly Hindu but the overriding element of their religion for them seems to be karma. We were told this was why there was such a low crime rate and also why people treated each other with respect. It’s not a fear of the law but of payback in a more spiritual way for any misdoings!