Why Bali and why for a month?
Bali, February 2012: Within the practical semester of my Master study “Tourism Destination Management” I travel to Australia, Indonesia and Thailand. Our group spends one month in each of these countries. In small international groups we work together with local tourist companies and public institutions of the particular destination. The aim is to prepare a situational analysis and strategic report regarding the sustainable tourism development as well as future scenarios. After Sydney and Chiang Mai we head on to our last stop: Indonesia. More precisely to:
Bali, island of gods
My first impression: Well, arrived at the island everybody is talking about!? And: What a nice Visa sticker for my passport!
After a couple of days I move from my hostel in Legian to a small hotel in Seminyak. My friend Mike joins me. First insight: Everything is very inexpensive in Bali. Due to our long term stay we managed to negotiate a hostel like price with the hotel owner. Great!
At the beginning we start with a few party excesses in Kuta. For our fieldwork we explore Jimbaran, Nusa Dusa and Tanjung Beno in Balis South. Nusa Dusa mainly consists of luxury resorts and overpriced shopping possibilities and is surrounded by gates and security guards. What a gross lifestyle. Not my type of thing – too posh, too safe, too expensive and too unspectacular.
I feel more comfortable in Kuta, Legian and Seminyak. Somehow, no matter where I am, I feel more drawn to places where I find a certain amount of highlife and nightlife, entertainment and a little bit of criminality in dark streets. Hence, somewhere where it is a bit dangerous, entertaining and exciting and where one meets many locals. Somehow I seem to need this.
Bare feet and only in swimming shorts and mp3 player I go running at the beach in the dark evening. I can hardly see anybody out here – strangely abandoned. After my return I am told that there has been a tsunami warning. Hu, fortunately the wave has attenuated.
A Balinese friend takes me to Denpasar, Balis captial. Heavy traffic, numerous scooters, the heat, early darkness, bright neon light of the small street stands, the fragrance of spices and fumes as well as the perfection of improvisation.That’s the difference towards western cities.
Every day I spend here I am happy that I do not have to be in an office instead. But even in paradise after a certain time there comes a daily routine – however a pretty nice one.
In the morning I get up and go running on the beach and cool off in the ocean afterwards. Everywhere you find colorful platters of the Hindu Balinese.
During the day I visit classes, companies or interviews. Afterwards, research, writing the report and group meetings. Of course in one of the many colorful beach bars – where else will you find Wi-Fi in Bali?
In the evening I like to watch the stars on the beach. The Southern Cross sign is my constant companion during the four months in Asia. Already in 2006 in Australia I wanted to get it as a tattoo – still on my bucket list!
During my free time you can find me at the beach where I learn surfing. Next to that, I explore the island, hang out at the pool or spend my time in one of the many outlet shopping centers.
There is only one blemish in this paradise: Beaches in Bali, who would have expected, are full of trash at some spots. This is not due to the tourists, but to Hindusim. They worship the mountains, not the sea. This is why often trash is dumped on beaches.
At the very last day of a three-month fieldwork we hold our final presentations and enjoy a nice farewell dinner before everyone goes his way. Either back to their home country or towards further travels. In total we are around 26 students from 16 differnet countries. Thanks everyone for this special time!!
Even though this is paradise after three months of working in a small international group, in hot destinations, with a lot of research, elaborations, interviews, group conflicts, deadline stress, presentations and all this without a proper desk, I am ready for vacation. I go back to Thailand for a little holiday in Koh Samui before flying back to the Netherlands. Here is what happened to me in Koh Samui.
If you ever consider to travel to Bali here are my:
9 Tips, things to do and highlights in Bali
- Temples: Besakih Temple – The “mother temple” is situated at 1,000 m on the Mount Agung. Tanah Lot Temple on a small island and Uluwatu, Bali’s most important sea temples perched on a cliff edge.
- Visit the rice terraces at Jatiluwih and do a day trip to Tenganan to see and experience how the Balinese locals really live.
- A trip to the Ubud Monkey Forest and Ubud Art Market as well as the archaeological site Goa Gajah ‘Elephant Cave’ nearby.
- Try local food such as Babi Guling (spit-roasted pig), Ayam Betutu (slow-cooked spiced chicken in banana leaves) and Sate Lilit (spiced mince on lemongrass sticks).
- Buy a local craft or souvenir. They look great, you can wear it or it will remind you of Bali while being back home.
- Climb Mount Batur at sunrise – after a spectacular hike you will sit on an active vulcano to see the stunning sunrise.
- Go and learn surfing at Balis beaches Dreamland and Padang Padang. It’s surfers paradise for every skill level. But even in Kuta and Seminyak you can learn it.
- Get off the beaten track and stay with seaweed farmers. Learn how to build a kite like a local, or stay with a Balinese family in a local village (contact me for contact details).
- Visit Bali’s neighouring island Lombok – many say it is eben more beautiful than Bali!