When Ekta and I got married, we had plans to have our honeymoon in Bali, inspired by photographs of the place a friend had put up on Facebook from his recent trip. However it so happened that after the wedding, we had neither leaves nor the money to execute this plan. Nearly 2 years passed in setting up the home while Bali remained tucked up in a corner of our hearts.
As our aircraft started its descent, our excitement started building as the island started taking shape below us, its hills, valleys and coast spreading like a magical map. Bali is as beautiful from air as it looks on the ground.
The Denpasar Airport at Bali is pretty large and equipped with all modern amenities unlike the Yogyakarta airport. There are well stocked Tourist Information kiosk where one can get the tourist brochures and leaflets for tour packages/ car rentals etc. Armed with a few of those leaflets we reached the pre-paid taxi counter. Our first destination on the island was the Ubud town which is about 25 Km from Denpasar. Even though the pre-paid rates displayed showed IDR 275,000; the person sitting at the counter was not willing to give a cab to us for anything less that IDR 300,000. Though the Blue Bird metered taxis outside are cheaper, being first timers we decided to compromise and go with the prepaid one, a beautiful black Five minutes later, we were on our way to Ubud and already in awe of Bali.
If there is one word which comes to the mind at the first look at Bali, it is ‘Unique’. Bali is a land where Man decided to take on Mother Nature full on in creating beauty and it is often difficult to decide who won. Even for a seasoned traveller like me, who has travelled across large parts of India, the first impression that Bali generates is startling. I have not seen many places where houses look like miniature temples, temples look like miniature palaces and roads and streets are mini art galleries. The trailer comes in the form a huge statue of Bheema, which can simply be referred as magnificent. While we negotiated the narrow roads en route Ubud, it took me a while to soak in the sights and tide over pangs of inferiority complex which they invoked.
Bali is 93% Hindu. If Hinduism is a way of life in India, in Bali it seems to be the very life force itself, in a manner that it is almost difficult to imagine a Balinese without his religion. An eclectic mix of traditional Hinduism and Animism, it is both similar to its Indian counterpart and yet unique. By a happy coincidence, we arrived on the eve of Galungan, beginning of a 10 day annual festival very similar to our own Dussera and Diwali. This gave us an opportunity to look deeper into the lives of the Balinese people, we were even invited to a house as the family members were busy preparing for the festivities. At the end of it, we came back much enlightened.
It was almost 12:00 Noon by the time we reached our guest house in Ubud. The sun was right above our sorry heads and even though Ubud is said to be cooler (in a very relative way), it was a hot day. However, there was no time to be lost when there was so much to see. The game was afoot !