Bali was a McClear field trip rather than a vacation trip. During our two days we visited three temples, rice terraces, a coffee plantation, drove all around the island in a taxi, listen traditional music, seen traditional dance, been harassed by monkeys, and bargained in markets (one transition at the end involved three currencies, Indonesian rupiah, Australian dollar (both of which we wished to spend rather than change back at a poor exchange rate) with a $5 US dollar capper. I bought two Batik shirts of large size. Usually I wear 3X, because Indonesian shirts run small I bought 5X, which were still tight. Being cotton, after one wash, who knows? But one thing we did not get to do was visit a “tourist area.” OK we went to some temples which had a lot of visitors but we didn’t see the areas swarming (swimming) with, we had been told, Australians, but which we found filled mostly with Chinese.
Initially I could not see Bali as a Western mass tourism spot. Yes it had the exotic and had great surf but it was very hot and the hassle factor was high. (Aggressive touts and more aggressive sales people everywhere.) So we decided to take a cab to one of the tourist enclaves in Nusa Dua to look at life beyond the guarded gates. Lonely planet describes it:
“Nusa Dua could be anywhere. It’s a vast and manicured place where you leave the rest of the island behind you as you pass the guards.”
That’s about right, but in its favor it has ice made from boiled water and it has a nice 5 KM long beach promenade. The beach is also magnificent and you can walk just outside the gates and increasingly experience Indonesia the further you walk from those gates. For those who want Indonesian goods without bargaining you can buy them in Nusa Dua’s shops with little of the hassle, but at a price. It seems a lovely place for a beach holiday. The signs were in English but most of the customers we saw were Chinese. I wonder how long before the signs change. We walked along the promenade and had a local beer.
And finally, since we spent a lot of time in a cab, here are some street scenes from the cab window and some I took while walking. I love the JFC homage to KFC.