Today we left Bali for Java, and there are things we already miss : friendly and approachable people, incredible architecture, dark skin in romanticized island attire, a devoutly religious culture, and folks who love to bargain. If you are looking for a tropical island where the locals like testing their English, religious deities and ceremonies that are inspiring yet festive, a place where you ache at the thought you can’t stop at every temple, you have an excuse to wear a sarong and a sash, and where you can always get a fair deal even if you didn’t get a good deal, Bali is your place.
The lush, green, tropical landscape pleases your eyes as quickly as the sweat beads start rolling off your face, but you soon acclimate to the weather and find that the general “air” of the island is one filled with laughter, light heartedness, reverence, and not an ounce of anger. The gentle, slightly reserved and kind souls embodying the Balinese people are present at every encounter, but none so much as when you ask about their religious customs or what they love best about their little piece of the archipelago. A humble answer with quiet pride bypasses your ears and hits you right in the chest – you don’t hear the answer so much as feel it.
However, if you’re not looking for an island where the motorists will stop for a stray dog but not a pedestrian,
your expectations regarding efficiency are you have expectations regarding efficiency, or you don’t like being offered a taxi or ‘transport’ every five meters, then Club Med awaits you.
I wonder if the Balinese ask themselves: why do tourists like to walk? They’re on vacation, they have money, why wouldn’t they want a cheap air conditioned ride? In a 100 meter walk in a semi-busy area, we might be asked if we need a taxi 10-15 times, (hand gestures included) and that doesn’t count the passing honking cabs. There are so many cab drivers that it becomes tiring to say “no thank you.” Walking is nice, but it sometimes has its disadvantage. I sometimes felt I was illegally crossing from Tijuana to San Diego across a busy highway. Wait for it, wait for it. No hesitation, GO! Backpack flopping on my back, woman’s hand clasping mine as she trails in flip-flops a step behind, scooters accelerating around us in both directions and in opposing lanes, a quick stop at the center line to let the truck pass that didn’t even consider slowing down and GO! We reached the other end of yes, the crosswalk. Relief.
At that point someone would say, “Taxi, taxi, yes please?” [insert steering wheel gesture].
*Traveler’s tip: It should never cost more than 200,000 Rp to get from Ubud to Kuta/Legian/Seminyak. Always make sure you agree to the cost of the trip before getting in the taxi. In the Kuta/Legian/Seminyak area taxis are metered, so no bargaining. We found that Nusa Dua has the cleanest, most beautiful beaches. So even if you aren’t staying in one of the higher priced hotels there, its only about 25 minutes from Kuta/Legian/Seminyak. And the Courtyard Marriott had their soft opening in March. We stayed there and it was lovely, reasonably priced for the area ($80/night) and they will have their grand opening in July.