by Andrew Satkowiak
Stunning rice terraces in Bali
I visited Bali in July, during their peak season, (July, August, and mid-December through the New Year are their busiest times) and to my surprise, it was not as crowded as I had expected.
Moreover, I believe the Balinese spirit would make you feel relaxed even if it had been over-crowded. The weather, as it normally is because of its location just below the equator, hovers around the upper 20’s to lower 30’s centigrade, was a beautiful 27 degrees and not very humid. The humidity is at its worst during the rainy season, October to April.
The first thing I noticed upon my arrival in to Bali was the peace, quiet and welcoming nature of the Balinese people. There is a spirit that fills your heart and puts your mind at ease. I knew this is one place that relaxing would be easy. On the other hand, getting to Bali is not quite as easy.
Flying from Kuwait, you can plan on at least two stops; Dubai, Doha or Abu Dhabi and Kuala Lumpur, Jakarta or Singapore are the most common routes. I came from Jakarta via Garuda Indonesia Airlines as I was already in Southeast Asia on holiday.
Upon arrival at Bali’s airport, Ngurah Rai International/Denpasar Airport (airport code DPS) I looked for the driver from the resort as I had arranged for a transfer in advance.
You can always get a taxi at the airport from the official taxi counter just outside the Customs Area. There you can arrange a fixed-rate ride to your hotel or resort.
Using an unofficial taxi is temping but can cost you more in money and frustration and in the end, you may not even get to the correct place. I recommend contacting your hotel or resort ahead of time to find out which option is best for you.
As planned, the driver was waiting for me and within minutes, I was on my way to Bulgari Resort and Spa. On the forty-minute drive to the resort, I saw temple after temple; each one laden with flowers, candlesand food brought by devout Balinese making their daily offerings.
Black and white checkered sarongs, which the Balinese believe keep evil spirits away, were wrapped around the trees and poles heightening the spiritual feeling. The beauty and peace seemed to follow me the whole drive to the Bulgari Resort.
The 59-villa resort is located on the island?s far southwestern tip, near the village of Pecatu, high atop a mountain cliff, overlooking the Indian Ocean. Down below is a one mile-long beach, which is accessible only by the resorts inclined elevator. If you want a chic and trendy, stylish resort with a private beach, then this is the place.
I had booked a Sea Cliff Villa and was given the one at the end of the property, which just amplified the tranquility of the resort. The villa itself exuded style and class.
A fusion of traditional Balinese architecture and decor with an Italian flare made it purely decadent. The large bedroom with its just as large windows offered an expansive view of the ocean.
The back of the villa housed the over-sized bathroom with extra largesoaking tub, glassed walls with views of the garden, both indoor andoutdoor showers, twin basin sinks, a separate bathroom and of course Bulgari products every where you looked.
Outside next to the private plunge pool and sun deck sat the open-air covered living room, complete with casual dining area and overstuffed couch, just right for a lazy afternoon nap or kicking back to read a book.
I stayed at the Bulgari resort for two days, just long enough to be able to review the resort but I could easily have stayed another week enjoying all the property had to offer.
On the third day, I transferred to the Four Seasons Resort,Sayan. So that the day of the transfer was not wasted, I planned a day of diving at Padang Bay.
Located on the eastern side of the island, Padang Bay was not exactly on the way to Sayan, which is located more in the center of the island, in the midst of the Balinese jungle but the concierge at the resort said it had great diving and it was not too far out of the way.
The little village of Padang Bay has a hidden treasure of coral reefs just off its shores. I have dived at spectacular spots around the world and because of the diversity and beauty it has to offer, Padang Bay ranks as one of my favorites.
The three large sea turtles, the color-changing stingrays and the endless corals I saw that day will always be a vivid memory of a beautiful day of diving and not just a memory of transferring from one hotel to another.
Arrival at the Four Seasons Hotel and Resort Sayan was an experience in itself. What the Four Seasons lacks in chic and trendy is more than made up for in warmth, beauty, style and class.
Walking the long bridge from the drop-off center to reception and looking at the jungle all around me, transported me to a different place, physically, mentally and spiritually. Here is the peace and serenity that makes a place so special.
I have described many places as having a warm welcome but Four Season Sayan takes it to a completely new level. From every person I saw, it was a beautiful, truly heartfelt welcome. It simply and easily just comes from their heart. After a short welcome drink and the registration, they escorted me to my villa, the Sayan Villa.
The Sayan Villa, of which there are only two, was to be my home for the next few days. The ultimate in luxury, the Sayan Villa was tucked away at the edge of the property offering total seclusion and privacy.
The large bedroom, with its huge glass doors that opened to the extra large deck and pool below, was decorated with an understated elegance. A large bathroom with twin sinks, a giant-sized soaking tub, indoor andoutdoor showers and over-sized storage/dressing room, just added to the comfort of the villa.
The pool, located just below the massive deck, could not accurately be called a plunge pool. If this was a plunge pool then any plunge pool I have seen before should be called a foot basin.
On top of that, the view of the jungle below was spectacular. On the lower deck were the lounge chairs for sunning and a grass-covered daybed, just the right place to escape the mid-day sun. My own slice of heaven here on earth.
The outdoor living area was expansive. Two tables for dining, one small, round, four-seater and one larger, rectangle six-seater. The covered, open-air living room housed the six-seater as well as a couch perfect for relaxing and listening to the nature all around you.
From my base at the Four Seasons, I spent the next few days exploring the island, there was to much to see and do and not enough time. A few of my favorite outings were:
Goa Gajah (Elephant Cave):
Discovered in the 1920’s this cave contains a bathing place, a monk’s chamber and a number of Buddhist rock-cut statues.
Gunung Kawi (Old Monument):
Dating from the end of the 11th century. It is one of Bali’s largest and most ancient monuments.
Tirta Empul (Holy Spring Water):
This temple is one of the most sacred spots in Bali. Many Balinese believe that its spring water has magical powers.
Penelokan literally means “A Place for Look”. Located one hour from Sayan, this is a perfect place for a picnic lunch. The view of Mount Batur, with its active volcano, and Lake Batur are stunning from here.
This small village is a must to visit. There are many little shops and boutiques and on your drive to Ubud you will see many rice paddies and if you are lucky, you will see some of the many monkeys that live in the surrounding jungle.
This small city is the place for an evening out. Ultra hip restaurants and small cafés abound.
This small city is more over-run than Seminyak but its still a fun place to go at night, it is a hopping and busy place, and also has the best surfing beach on Bali!.
Dining in Bali is as diverse and as good as you can get. A couple of my favorites were the “Living Room” and “Kafe Banta Waru”.
“Living Room” – Candles, flowers, elegant gardens, beautiful lounge music and fine china and crystal set the scene for a bombastic evening at The Living Room restaurant in Kuta.
The Living Room is by far the most gorgeous restaurant I visited in Bali. Not only is The Living Room beautiful, but the service, food and drinks are without a doubt, five-star quality.
“Kafe Batan Waru” – Located in beautiful Ubud, it is the perfect place for breakfast. Their Raspberry Ricotta Pancake with honeycomb butter and pure maple syrup was fantastic.
They had the freshest fruits, the best coffee and great service; pure delight at a very reasonable price
After almost a week in Bali, I was not ready to go. There was still more to see, more to experience, more to absorb. The beauty of the temples (of which there more than 3,000), of the villages and mainly of the Balinese people makes Bali a bombastic place to visit.
About the Author:
Andrew Satkowiak is a freelance journalist who writes travel articles for various magazines and newspapers. When Andrew is not traveling, he runs his website, “Bombastic Life”. More of Andrew’s travel articles, reviews, advice and information about Bali and other bombastic places can be found at http://www.bombasticlife.com