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Travel stories: Bali


By Geoff White, UK

After being met at the airport by the usual gaggle of taxi-touts, hotel-touts and general hangers-on (there’s a simple way to deal with this - SMILE. It makes you relaxed and makes them nervous) many holiday-makers will go for one of the major resorts in the South of the island.

Infamous amongst these is Kuta, home to a thousand sun-burned Australians hell-bent on acquiring as many cheap surf clothes, beach massages and kilogrammes of fat as they are able in their two week jolly from work. For these guys the weather is always too hot and the beer never cold enough.

Although this is an ideal place to begin (there is sanitation, reasonable accommo- dation and most of the local guys speak English, after a fashion), to stay here would be to do a deep injustice to the rest of Indonesia, just waiting to be discovered. When you bore of this place (usually after two or three hours), a good next port of
call is Ubud.

Nestling up in the high ground in the centre of the island, Ubud is famed as Bali’s cultural capital. There are certainly some excellent handicrafts to be bought here (See bartering) and Indonesia’s most efficient Post Office for shipping the goodies back home. It’s a nice place to chill, buy presents and catch some Balinese music and dancing (including Kecak, a 100-piece all male chanting performance which must be seen - and heard - to be believed).

A great alternative to the hustle and bustle of Kuta and the rest is Sengigi Beach ("what Kuta was like 20 years ago, man" to use the cliché). From here you can also get to Tulumban, where the USS Liberty sank, conveniently close enough to the shore to allow you to SCUBA dive to it right off the beach. God bless the Americans, and their unfailing ineptitude for open water navigation.

Bali, unlike most other Indonesian islands, is dominated by a religion called Hindu- Dharma, a sort of cross between Hinduism and Buddhism. It seems to inspire some magnificent art and architecture. Consequently many temples and monuments are well worth making the trip for.

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