Island of the Gods

Kuta Beach

Kuta Beach

You only have to hear the word Bali and the mind itself wanders into a dreamlike place where worries are cast adrift and the sun and sand are life’s only concerns. Its an iconic island, an alien yet relaxing part of Indonesia that’s home to fascinating cultures and perfect desert-island days.  While I was  tempted to spend my entire trip lying on the beach and drinking out of coconuts with a straw, I knew there was a whole lot more worth exploring.  It would be a shame to come all this way and not delve into this remarkable culture, though, something that’s easy enough to track down in the form of traditional dance performances, ancient theater customs and plenty of must-have souvenirs. The dreamy underwater world with a chance to see tumbling turtles and gaudy reefs, is an equally other-worldly taste of this tropical delight.  The famed Island of the Gods, with its varied landscape of hills and mountains, rugged coastlines and sandy beaches, lush rice terraces and barren volcanic hillsides all providing a picturesque backdrop to its colourful, deeply spiritual and unique culture, stakes a serious claim to be paradise on earth.

Balinese rainforests

Balinese rainforests

Towering volcanoes, verdant tropical forests full of monkeys, dramatic steep sided ravines, startling crater lakes, holy caves, fast-flowing rivers and paddy fields seem to stretch on forever.

I arrived late at night in Denpasar, Bali so I spent my first night in the busy, over-crowded place Kuta due to its proximity to the airport.  I had no plans whatsoever and hadn’t booked anything so the motorbike driver adviced me this great, clean but budget friendly hotel ‘Ayu Beach Inn 2’ right in the center in Jalan Poppies 1, close to the beach & Jalan Legian where it all happens at night.  When we arrived, it took me only a second to realize that of course the hotel was not clean at all, as expected but it was fine for the night…  I thought! The fact that there was no water to flush the toilet, no toilet paper and that the water of the shower came out for 30 seconds every 5 minutes, was slightly annoying. And no one to speak to…  The place seemed deserted once I checked in.  Fabulous start of my Indonesian journey!  No need to tell you that I check all those tiny details now before I pay a room.  But as my fellow Australians would say…  No worries, mate!
My nephew & godchild Julian

My nephew & godchild Julian

We are May 1, 2013.  Back home in the small country of Belgium, my family & friends are celebrating the birthday of my nephew & godchild Julian in the garden.  He’s so proud… He’s already a big fellah now with his 2 years of age!  I couldn’t miss to be part of it so I made a video call to have a glance of him at the party and to be in a way, present at his birthday party. I’ll never forget the happiness in his eyes and the big smile on his face. Heartbreaking! Happy Birthday, Julian!

After a few days in beautful Gili Trawangan, I returned to Bali and stayed again in the largest tourist resort in Indonesia, Kuta.  It sits on the southern end of Bali, nestled in the shadows of the island and providing visitors with over five kilometers of pristine white beaches with some of the best surfing spots on the planet.  On the way to Kuta I met Marijn, a young Dutch fellah who travelled on his own as well, exploring South East Asia.  He went to Kuta for surfing and so we decided to share a room.  We spent 4 days in this crazy town enjoying some of the best waves on Kuta Beach and exploring Kuta’s renowned nightlife meeting several friends again like Louise, Connie, Magda, …
Jatiluwih rice terraces

Jatiluwih rice terraces

Kuta is also the perfect getaway for day trips.  Most daytrips were about 50$ so Lili, Louise, Connie & myself decided to rent a car with driver for the same price and explore the island at our own pace.  First we attended a Balinese traditional dance in Batubulan.  In fact it was more like a play called ‘The Barong Dance’  I don’t want to offense any culture but in my view it was the worst play I ever saw.  Next stops were the red rice terraces in Jatiluwih, Lake Beratan, Lake Buyan & the Gitgit waterfalls.  Many monkeys on the way!  We meant to end our trip with the famous sunset at the temple of Tanah Lot but unfortunately… we missed it!

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