Trip Start Dec 28, 2007
27Trip End Dec 01, 2008
Map your own trip!
Show trip route
We have landed in Indonesia. The island of Bali, to be exact. Going to Bali was a source of contention for awhile between Andrew and I because I was a little nervous about the recent terrorist attacks on tourist locations. However, it seemed silly not to see Indonesia, being this close. That, combined with the fact that our prior mountain destinations of China and Tibet are beyond dangerous at the moment, convinced me to go. We are also implementing a personal boycott of China based on their conduct towards tibet. So we agreed to go to Bali and just avoid the areas that were targeted by the terrorists in the past, namely Kuta Beach.
So, yes, we saw a lot of Kuta Beach. But we didn't stay there, just went out for drinks a dinner a few nights, including one night of Mexican food
But I must first digress to Singapore, our brief stopping ground between Saigon and Denpasar, Indonesia. How is it possible that a place like Singapore could exist out here? Singapore is a bastian of sophistication and technological advancement, far beyond anything we have seen in SE Asia so far. But on to Bali...
Bali is a province of Indonesia, one of many islands that make up the country. Bali was not hit by the tsunami in 2004 - that was mainly Sumatra. It was, however, targeted by Muslim extremists in 2002 and again in 2005, apparently in protest of the excesses caused by western tourists in this primarily (90%) Muslim country. In 2002, two bombings at a disco in the beach town of Kuta left over 200 dead. Most of those killed were Austailian. 38 Indonesians, 8 Americans and 2 Canadians were also victims. There is now a moving memorial at the site of the attacks and many people have placed photos and other mememtos of lost loved ones. What a tradegy that occurred in such a historically peaceful place. In 2005, suicide bombers struck a market in Kuta, apparently again targeting tourists. Security has been increased significantly in response to these attacks. Locals from neighboring islands, primarily Java, are not allowed into Bali without extensive screening
So, you ask - you're in Indonisia and what do you do? Well, go rafting, of course. Twice. In the first two days. we had a great time, and the pictures attached should demonstrate just how beautiful this land is. The rainy season ended in March, so the rivers were not so hairy as we found in Austrailia, but they were fun and the water was warm. One guide insisted on engaging in the Deschuttes-style water fight, which I just hate, but other than that we had a fantastic time. And, truth be told, the meals served after each trip were the best we had in Bali. They do amazing things with soy beans over there.
Our time in Indonesia was split between three areas - Sunar, Ubud, and Benoa. In Sunar we did our rafting and played some mean beach volleyball
From Sanur we went to Ubud, a town in the middle of amazing rice field terraces, much like we saw in Sapa, Vietnam. Ubud is an "artists" town, so needless to say, I was completely lost. We stayed at a place that was under construction, so we got a great deal. We had our own villa, a private massage hut for two within our villa walls, and private pool (you have to see the pictures of this one). It was the perfect honeymoon location if anyone is looking. We did nothing worthy (or advisable for printing) in Ubud.
We then went to the south of Bali for a few days of sand and sea and sightseeing in Benoa. There are thousands of Hindu temples in Bali. The government structure in Bali is reverse from what we are used to, with the primary power being held in at the local, rather than national level. Each small community has its own leaders, which make the majority of decisions that will have any significant impact on the everyday lives of those living in the village
The people we met in Indonisia were as friendly and welcoming as all those we have come across so far in this trip. There is an emphasis on tourism as a means of income in Bali. Being the low season, the competition for business for tours or taxis and restaurants was stiff, making for some pushy touts on occasion. There is nothing a smile and "maybe later" won't quicky get you out of though. On our last day in Bali we splurged on a jet ski rental. Guess wo is now set on getting himself a jet ski when we get home? (and who, by the way, also probably irreversibly compacted his spine while jumping the waves). The water sport providers (of which there were MANY) also had this ridiculously huge air mattress thing called the "Flying Fish." You lay on it, hold on for dear life, and get pulled behind a jet boat until you fly into the air at heights of at least 10 meters for extended periods of time
People were very surprised to hear we were American and not Australian. I seems very few Americans head to Bali. I strongly suggest you do so if you are going on another of those Hawaiian island trips we have all gotten used to. You will have every benefit of luxuary that you would expect in Hawaii but you also get to help a country who needs your tourism dollars and will give you a different take on the world. And its much cheaper. We really liked Bali. It's relatively easy to travel, the security put in place by the hotels and discos seems sincere, the island is gorgeous, and there is a lot of history to explore. On a bit of a down note, though, tourism was a certain and growing income stream for so many prior to 2002. After the bombings, tourism was cut in half and those involved became more agressive and territorial. We are told that tourism was back to alsmost pre-2002 levels at the time of the 2005 bombings. People are trying to get back to where they were, but now they have a mind set that this may only be temporary. So the push for your business is becoming almost agressive at times, which is unconfortable but can lead to some great deals with some dilligent bargaining.
We left Bali for Vietnam and are currently back in Hoi An. Our friend's shop is becoming more of a reality every day and she hopes to open in a week. We are so excited and so proud. More on that later. Love to you all, Andrea and Andrew