It's no wonder they say Bali is the Island of the Gods.While merely 2.5h away from Singapore, I must shamefully admit that it took me a good 22 years before I stepped on Indonesian soil for the first time. Even then, it was only on a suggestion from my friend Faith, who was getting some time off from work. Why not? I said.
Bali is, these days, a popular tourist destination - and while it has always been so, it seems that Bali's tourism was amplified exponentially by the effect of being featured in Elizabeth Gilbert's hit memoir, Eat Pray Love. The Bali of Eat Pray Love is calm, relaxing, beautiful, and timeless; the Bali of today is all that, but also filled with tourists at every corner and the many tour companies and guides that have sprung up around their influx.
Still, there are some things in Bali which don't change, tourists or no. The sunsets by the beaches in Seminyak are breathtaking, clouds formed into many wonderful shapes and hanging over the horizon of the ocean, waves crashing on the shore.
And yes, this was in the middle of December - while it's snowing up in the North and while most of the world is in the clutches of winter, I was out lazing by the beach soaking up the sun.
Welcome to life on the equator.
It is immediately apparent that despite Indonesia being the world's largest Muslim country, Bali is the exception to the rule, being a predominantly Hindu community. The influence of Hinduism is everywhere, from the architecture - buildings are beautifully decorated with intricate Hindu sculptures and carvings - to the many daily offerings lain out on the streets in plates woven of banana leaf.
True to the name of being Paradise on earth, Bali's many plentiful hotels and guesthouses are kept immaculately clean, with wifi and a/c and a pool to soak up the sun by. Many also have in-house masseurs and free breakfasts, and all this starts from an affordable (dare I say, cheap?) $7-9 a night. Yes, yes, and yes.
|Soonae enjoying breakfast - coffee, eggs, bread and fruit!|
Perhaps this is an expected feature of any island called 'paradise', but children running into the waves at sunset does make for a very picturesque frame. (I don't particularly like children myself, but I love photographing them!)
Don't forget that adults like playing in water too!I love standing on the beach, just far enough out in the water to watch the waves wash around my feet.
It's especially great when your friends are as camera-crazy as you are and won't stop taking pictures of everything. What a welcome respite to the usual no-one-to-take-photos-of-me woes that the solo backpacker faces!
|Yes, gorgeous friend, I'll gladly take photos for you if you'll take mine.|
And then to top it all off, watch the sun disappear into black nothingness while an old Indonesian fisherman, geared up in all his traditional garb, goes fishing. (Sometimes, the best thing to do is simply to people-watch.)