The landscape changed as we made our way across Bali. Busy roads became coastal paths, leafy lanes gave way to glimpses of Mount Agung’s peak, green rolling hills were interrupted by even more vibrant rice paddies. And then, three hours after leaving the bustling beaches and bars of Seminyak, Amed came into view...
When somewhere is your kind of place, you just know it. It’s a feeling hard to describe but impossible to ignore. Arriving in Candidasa, that feeling struck me. We had driven from the east-coast resort town of Sanur (itself a liveable and culture-filled place), past multi-tiered Hindu temples and stone deities guarding entrance gates laden with vibrant canang sari offering baskets...
As I wander through bustling streets, the soundtrack changes with each turn I take…first jazz plays, then hip-hop, rock, even a full gamelan orchestra… Mingling with the music in the air is a delicious aroma of spicy and sweet sauces, especially the Indonesian specialty sambal, rising up from little warungs or street-side food stalls serving up ayam goreng (fried chicken with rice; $1) and gado-gado (a salad with peanut dressing; $1)...
In the middle of the Lesser Sunda Islands, in the Flores Sea, lies the island of Sumbawa. It’s a magical island, beautiful, traditional…and one of Indonesia’s best preserved. The warm, turquoise waters surrounding it are an inviting 32 C.
Ubud, on the Indonesian island of Bali, is a lovely place to spend time. Green rice paddies…mixed Balinese and Dutch colonial architecture…and a “big village” feel. Ubud has kept the artsy, Hindu vibe that seems mostly missing from the modern beach fronts of Southern Bali. And it has seen enough tourism since the 60s to have developed a great selection of restaurants, bars, hotels and villas to suit all budgets.
Towering volcanoes…world-class surfing…superb beaches…fiery Indian Ocean sunsets…. Bali is a feast for the eyes. Adding to its appeal is cheap and tasty cuisine…a super-low cost-of-living…amazing nightlife…and locals whose friendliness borders on legendary. You’ll be hard pressed to find a more alluring destination in Asia. I’m not the first to notice. This Indonesian archipelago welcomed over a one-and-a-half million international visitors in the first half of 2015. Point is, it can get crowded — especially in Kuta, the main resort town.