8.722° S, 115.177° E
Life, religion and art all converge in Bali.
They have no word in their language
for ‘artist’ or ‘art.’ Everyone is an artist.
Rightly dubbed ‘Island of the Gods’, Bali is the Indonesian utopia that needs to be on your radar. Known for its beautiful beaches, natural glory, rich religious heritage, splendid sunsets, and remarkable food, this paradisiacal island is on our list of cool new recommendations for the globetrotter in you. Home to David Bowie’s scattered ashes, witness to Elizabeth Gilbert’s three-part soul-searching journey (Eat, Pray, Love), and a site acclaimed as one of the best islands in the world, this location promises vibrant experiences and a couple of kilos worth gaining.
Kuta, Badung Regency
Rather than discussing the host of areas you could hit, we focus on the elegant Badung Regency — more specifically the Kuta region. Kuta offers a tiny glimpse into the extravagant cultural heritage of Hindu dominated Bali and into its burgeoning urban culture. Kuta is an administrative district that started as a fishing village and grew into a tourist hot-spot owing to its run of long sandy shores, inexpensive and underrated accommodation, fantastic grub, and chic restaurants and bars. A surfer’s retreat during the day, this dreamland converts into a bustling and hip metropolis once the sun comes down. Filled with remarkable examples of Balinese architecture — for instance, the various handsome Hindu and Buddhist temples lining the streets — the island’s cultural significance cannot be lost on any tourist. Traverse along its narrow roads on one of the abundant rental scooters and visit its vibrant local markets and handicraft stores. The likes of Ralph Lauren coexist with tiny local artisanal manufactures — the district’s shopping areas are appropriately and characteristically choked with traffic and excitable chaos.
The ‘hautel’ of our dreams
For a luxury experience, stay at the Hard Rock Hotel. Just a two-minute walk from the beach, this extravagant resort deserves a dedicated stay-in. Walking in the striking and spaced out rock-themed hotel, the first thing one notices is the huge mauve electric guitar adorning its entrance: a perfect symbol of the cool-rave vibe the chain is known for. With a highly-praised team of spa therapists, celebrated Foam Parties, chill Movie Nights, fun signature décor, and unforgettable waterslides and pools, this Hard Rock has really stepped up its game — making it appropriate for both the adventurous solo-traveler as well as the laid-back vacationing family archetype. Order from their in-dining menu or hit any one of their five eateries — endowed with everything from relaxed cafes to fancy diners and restaurants that suit every mood. Lounge around their multiple pools and laze in the comforts of this luxurious property as you channel your inner hedonist and spend the entire day holed up in this indoor heaven.
A wok to remember
After that much deserved holiday R and R, hit the streets and fearlessly binge at their shacks and restaurants. With a fresh and hygienic stock of meats, fruits and vegetables, each warung (food stall) offers everything from refreshing seasonal juices to sublime traditional dishes. Cooked with a generous serving of spices and perfumed with garlic, nutmeg, chili, soy sauce, shrimp paste, and salam leaves (Indonesian bay leaves), the Balinese cuisine boasts of a powerful blend of aromatic flavors. Do check out their authentic smoked duck (Bebek Betutu), pork (Celeng Guling: spit-roasted pig stuffed with chilli, turmeric, garlic and ginger; the Babi Guling: luau style pork; the Iga Babi: Balinese pork ribs; or the Sate Babi: pork satay), beef, and seafood dishes, as well as their mouth-watering vegetable curries — all conventionally accompanied with a pile of staple steamed rice, and occasionally their unique Brem (Balinese rice wine).
To experience the surreal spirituality attached to Bali, visit the Uluwatu Temple. Located in South-Kuta, the Uluwata is one of the six spiritual pillars of the country, cherished for its setting and architecture. Seated atop a 70 metre high cliff, this temple looks upon one of the best sunsets in the world. Overlooking the dazzling Indian Ocean, this temple, adorned with typical Balinese sculptures and gateways, is a must-visit. Also known for its band of notorious thieving monkeys, the average Joe must keep his eyes peeled for sneak attacks and sly pick-pocketing as he attempts to take a classic sunset panorama. As popular belief goes, the temple is imagined to have been a site of convergence — a place where the powers of Brahma (the creator), Vishnu (the preserver) and Shiva (the destroyer) merged. The sanctuary is a shrine to traditional deity Siva Rudra — meant to be the Balinese Hindu God of all elements — and also a unit dedicated to protecting the island from evil marine spirits. A site of natural beauty and poetic context, the Uluwatu is serene in all shades of the term.
All at sea
Another must-visit is the Kuta beach. The two-and-a-half-kilometer coastline entails a fantastic cream shore set along the sharp cobalt blue ocean, lined with a wide barrage of high-end resorts and hotels. Frequented by a diverse and gigantic batch of surfers and beachcombers, mostly Australian, the traffic at this hot-spot is justly witnessing an overwhelming upsurge. With picturesque sunsets, warm ivory sand, and sparkling water with an assortment of blue hues, this beach is one of the more sought-after beaches of the island. A short walk away is its neighboring beach Legian, which is popular for its well-developed nightlife and clubbing scene. While the belt supports snorkeling, kite-flying, fishing, a range of water sports, and the usual beach-side leisure, be wary of the plastic pollution choking the aesthetic of Kuta — a latent problem owing to Bali’s growing tourism and the consequent ‘Garbage Emergency’.
So, this summer, walk along Kuta’s soft sand and feel the invigorating waves lap you up as the strong coastal winds weave through your hair and leave behind the fresh salty fragrance that captures your quintessential Bali experience.
#DSSCTopTip: Pick your street food and taxis carefully, and steer clear of locals looking to trick tourists.