An itinerary for your trip to Bali
If you’ve been fascinated with Instagram videos of people swinging high up in the sky with a sea of greenery below them, then it’s time to strike the Bali Swing off your bucket list. Getting on a swing hanging from the tops of palm trees with lo-o-ong ropes is one of the most touristy things you can do. Or snap yourself and your bae in a nest swing for that perfect IG post! Prices for a go on the swing vary from place to place, but IDR 100,000 (about Rs 500) will get you almost unlimited number of swings.
The grilled corn cob is a popular street snack, especially around tourist spots. You get it in butter, sweet, spicy and salty flavours. We loved the buttery and spicy ones, which are refreshingly different from those we have in Calcutta. If you find the spicy one too hot, soothe your palate with the local coconut ice cream that is served with coconut pulp, or malai, inside a coconut shell. Topping options include jam, sprinkles and Oreo cookies.
If you are a party animal, then Bali won’t disappoint you. Kuta, Legian and Seminyak are the liveliest areas with the whole gamut of party places from easy-on-the-pocket watering holes to swank nightclubs like Sky Garden. If you want to enjoy all of it in one night, head for Legian which has everything from karaoke bars and beer clubs to night markets. And you cannot miss the girls on stilts (right) who welcome tourists to the bars and pubs there. If beach clubs are what you are after, you will be spoilt for choice at Seminyak, which has famous Ku De Ta, Potato Head and the beautiful La Plancha that is a very popular with Instagrammers, thanks to its colourful tents on the beach. It’s a perfect sunset spot too. Want to be happening? Head straight to Rock Bar in Badung where even a certain Alia Bhatt was spotted chilling with her friends.
Indulge in nasi ayam (chicken and rice) and, particularly, nasi campur. The second has rice, satay, betutu (chicken or duck stuffed with spices), prawn wafers, and mixed veggies served with spicy sambal matah. A salad of chopped raw onion and chillies and boiled eggs are often part of this dish. It’s an entire meal in itself and considered Bali’s substitute for nasi goreng. A self-confessed bheto Bangali, I feasted on this rice delicacy almost every day!
The Westin Nusa Dua
Where: Kawasan Pariwisata Nusa Dua, BTDC Lot N-3, Nusa Dua
How to reach: The hotel is around 20 minutes by car from Ngurah Rai International Airport
Facilities: There’s the signature Heavenly Spa, Westin Workout Fitness Studio, swimming pool, exclusive superfood menu, a kids’ spa that offers the fun Bali braiding, nail art and mini facials. Its USP is its pristine private beach and luxurious treatment
Pocket pinch: Starts from Rs 10,500
Where to stay?
SAY YOUR PRAYERS
Contrary to the popular idea of Bali being a sea-sun-sand destination, there are numerous temples that merit a visit. The mind-blowing Ulundanu Temple on the edge of the Bratan Lake in Bedugul is one of them. It’s a long drive from Kuta and I had dozed off on the way. So, it took me a while to wake up to the fact that I was in Bali. Once out of the car, the nippy air and gusts of wind gave me goosebumps. All that my eyes could see was a beautiful temple enveloped in mist with mountains peeking from the background.
The temple in Candi Kuning village almost around 80km north of Denpasar, Ulundanu, is believed to have been built in the 17th century and dedicated to the Brahma-Vishnu-Shiva triumvirate as well as Devi Danu. There are plenty of spots around where you can go into click mode. One can also take a boat out onto the waters, but sudden rain ruled that out for me. Carry a shawl and an umbrella.
SAVOUR THE SUNSET
My fave part of the day was the golden hour when the sky turned into a canvas of red, golden, orange and pink as the sun seemed to go down into the water. And Beraban village of Tanah Lot is one of the best places to do that. There’s a Hindu temple on a rock formation on the shore here that makes the view quite spectacular. Get there by 5pm and you can even walk to the base of the temple if you feel up to it.
HIT THE WATER
You cannot be on a beach vacay and not indulge in watersport. Although Kuta offers a lot of options, you can drive down to the Pandawa beach, a new tourist spot located in the Kutuh district of south Kuta. Hidden between high cliffs and trees, this secret beach is named after the five Pandavas, so you will spot huge statues of Yudhisthira, Bhima, Arjuna, Nakula and Sahadewa when you enter the beach area. Take a leap of faith and go parasailing or opt for kayaking in the crystal clear sea for very reasonable rates.
BUM ON THE BEACH
Take a stroll on some of the beaches in Kuta and go coral and shell hunting for your aquarium. The one in the picture here is a white coral. Being a water baby, I simply sat by the beach, meditated and listened to the waves breaking on the shore. The whole experience was so therapeutic and calming! It was one of the best parts of a much-needed getaway from a busy, loud and noisy city.
If there is one place on earth that has taught me to love, find myself, grow stronger and, of course, have a ball, it is Bali. My first brush with this Indonesian island was in 2010, when in the movie Eat Pray Love I watched a certain Elizabeth Gilbert played by Julia Roberts rediscover herself and find love there. Watching that movie, I, in turn, fell in love with this corner of the world.
My first visit to Bali was in September 2014 and it has been followed up by two subsequent trips — a solo vacation in February 2018 and a work trip in September the same year.
Over my three visits, I have discovered different sides of the island. The first one was all about exploring the place with my partner. The second time I landed up in Bali alone to look for peace and happiness. On the third trip, which was organised by VITO India, I went back to Bali happy and confident on a travel assignment. And all the trips were equally satisfying.
That’s the thing about Bali. It has something for everyone. It’s good for a bachelors’ group, a honeymoon, a solo trip, or a vacay with the family. Whatever be your situation, the diversity and beauty of Bali is bound to mesmerise you.
Having travelled to Bali on my birthday in February, it seemed like deja vu when I boarded Thai Airways again in end-September and landed at Ngurah Rai International Airport, the only one on the island.
This time, my agenda was to explore a side of Bali that I hadn’t seen before and to do as many things as possible in the two days that I had. Here’s a list of things you can do to make the most of a short trip to the Island of the Gods.
You can’t visit Bali and not swig Bitang beer, which is one of the cheapest tipples you can find. Pick it up at supermarkets for about IDR 15,000 (about Rs 74) or in an upscale pub for double that. The taste is almost similar to American pale lager and makes for a lovely sip on a hot day! Bitang is also by far one of the most popular T-shirt prints and you’ll find lots of tourists wearing their love for it on their chest.
SHOP TILL YOU DROP
The Indonesian rupiah is one of the currencies against which the Indian rupee has a favourable exchange rate (Re 1 is about 200 IDR). It’s just the thing you need to go on a buying binge. And when you’re on a travel assignment, you cannot but shop for your family and friends. The bustling tourist areas like Legian are dotted with affordable shopping options selling the de rigeur cane and straw handbags. For something more exclusive, stroll into boutiques in Seminyak which are loaded with very swish outfits that are more pricey, but well worth the money.
Bali Dynasty Resort
Where: On the beach in Jalan Kartika, South Kuta
How to reach: It’s a 10-minute drive from Ngurah Rai International Airport
Facilities: It has six restaurants, five bars, three swimming pools, the Ashoka Spa, a gym, a beach club and Gracie Kelly’s Irish Pub. But the best thing about it is that you can just walk down to shopping centres, malls and restaurants
Pocket pinch: Starts from $121 for a deluxe room