- The airport’s runway starts and ends in the middle of the ocean!
As you fly towards any tropical vacation destination, the excitement is palpable. The mood of the forthcoming relaxation and anticipation of experiencing new things starts from the plane. The atmosphere in the flight is always one of excitement, everyone is dressed in his or her summer wear and the buzz from the excited chatter is always loudest to the destination (never from).
This was the mood during my entire flight from Singapore’s Changi Airport to Gusti Ngurah Rai International Airport in Bali. Bali is one of the many Islands forming the archipelagic nation of Indonesia. Just like Singapore, Indonesia offers a 30-day visa-free stay to all Kenyans.
The landing in Bali is unlike anything else you have experienced. The airport’s runway starts and ends in the middle of the ocean! As a first-time visitor your heart stops when you look outside the window and imagine that you are about to plunge straight into the Indian Ocean!
The anticipation for the vacation intensified upon our landing; the immigration lines at passport control can take anywhere from two to four hours to get through. Bali is among the most visited vacation destinations in the world.
In popular culture, Bali’s rise to fame as a top tourist destination was catapulted by Julia Roberts’ 2010 blockbuster Eat, Pray, Love, where she depicted the real-life Elizabeth Gilbert, who wrote her memoir on her journey towards finding herself.
In her book, Gilbert recounted how she found inner peace and true love in Bali during her soul-searching mission. Since the release of the book in 2006 and the film in 2010, Bali has become a hotspot and a haven for introspecting youngsters. The Island has also become a top destination for yoga retreats. The desire to find one’s path, as guided by Gilbert, has created a sort of hipster vibe for the island, where tourists come to live a simple life, mediating and visiting the many temples for inspiration.
Bali is also known as the Island of the Gods. Upon setting eyes on it, one can understand why. The island’s rugged terrain is mostly mountainous, therefore creating thousands of waterfalls where the land splits. Hillsides have been converted into rice terraces that spread out as far as the eye could see. The natural beauty of the island makes it the right location to be the home of the gods.
Like most Indonesian Islands, Bali homes an active volcano, which erupts from time to time. Mount Agung is the only active volcano on the island and the best place to view the mountain is from the hillside of Lempuyang Temple. Lempuyang has become a famed tourist destination because of its parallel views to Mount Agung. People take photos on the edge of the mountain with Mount Agung in the background.
There are thousands of temples in Bali. Although Indonesia is a majority Muslim country as a whole, Bali is mostly Hindu region. So everywhere you go, there is bound to be a temple. However, there are rules that must strictly be adhehered when entering the temples. For instance, no shorts are allowed inside temples. Everyone must hire a sarong (a light fabric used to tie around the waist) before entering the temples. Photography is also not allowed in some parts of the temples and it is customary to leave a donation as you exit the temples.
Your tour guide and driver will explain most of these rules as he drives you to the destination. The one thing about Bali, first time visitors like me don’t understand is that; everything is far! You have to hire a car for the whole day to be able to make most of the sites. For such a small island, one does spend an inordinate amount of time driving from one place to the next. Tours therefore would take an entire day, which can be extremely tiring in the unforgiving tropical heat.
Bali is one of the cheapest places to visit in the world however, competition and preferences will be the determining factor of how much one spends. Food and drinks are extremely affordable in Bali. Nevertheless, to keep yourself safe from the ill-famed Bali-Belly, tourists should only eat at places that other tourists visit. Everything is also negotiable in Bali, from taxi rides to market prices. The more you negotiate the better. Prices are always hiked up for tourists.
If you find yourself in need of your own Eat, Pray, Love adventure then Bali should be the first place to visit. Its visa-free entry makes it a hassle free vacation. Many big commercial airlines fly directly to Bali. Accommodation is as affordable as you would want it to be. There is absolutely no reason why Bali is not a top vacation destination for every Kenyan who wishes to travel the world.