In August 2010, my three friends and I took off from Amsterdam for a three week holiday in Bali. It was my first ‘far away’ trip to the tropics and I was as excited as I was nervous. I didn’t have the same amount of adventure-filled blood streaming through my veins then as I do now, so we booked an all-in trip for three weeks in the same hotel in Kuta. I know – three weeks in Kuta equals hell to most of us now, but believe it or not, I had an amazing holiday
In exactly one month I’m going back to Bali for the fourth time. It’s an island I can never get enough of, and even though it has changed drastically over the last eight years, I will never ever get bored of Bali. Why, and what has changed you’re asking? Let me tell you in this blog.
Tiny airports and flirty officers
[August 2010] After two flights of in total 17 hours we arrived at a tiny airport in Denpasar. The airport was as basic as you can imagine, with everything made of wood and just a handful of immigration officers sitting behind their desks waiting to stamp excited tourists into the country. When it was my turn, the immigration officer kept staring at my face until the point it became really awkward. He then whispered: “beautiful blue eyes” and kept on staring at me. Well, I can tell you, this has never happened to me during my second and third visit to Bali! The Balinese are so used to tourists right now that a pale skin, blue eyes or ginger hair don’t make them look twice anymore. And that tiny cute airport? Ha – that’s gone! After our visit, Ngurah Airport got a huge make over, and became a big, modern airport.
Kuta… oh boy
I already briefly mentioned it: we stayed in Kuta for three full weeks. Oh lord. Why. Why dear god why. Who in his right mind would ever do that?! Well, we did. Eight years ago, Kuta was already a big, bustling, busy spot, but it was nowhere near the tourist-hell that it is nowadays. We left Kuta three times during our holiday, to go on day trips to places like Ubud and the Nusa Islands. These days, I try to avoid Kuta like the plague. One of the main roads that was once an empty road with just a few hotels is now a busy road with big malls that remind you of America or Australia. Nope, Kuta is definitely not where you want to be.
“Eef, are you sure you still like Bali?”
I know, the way I’m describing present-day Bali probably makes you wonder why I’m going back for a fourth time, but I’ll happily explain. Have you got a few hours? I could go on and on and on and on about the reasons why I LOVE this beautiful Indonesian island so much. I’ll try to name just a few:
-The people and culture:
Balinese people are some of the friendliest people I have ever encountered on my travels. They are warm, open and so very welcoming. The will do anything to make you feel right at home, and if Thailand is called ‘The Land of Smiles’, I believe Bali deserves the title ‘The Island of Smiles’.
Indonesian food is delicious. Okay, not just delicious, it’s fantastic! My favorite is gado gado, and no one can make a peanut sauce like the Indonesians can. But Bali takes food to another level. Hipster cafes with smashed avo and acai bowls are popping up everywhere, and not only does the food look great, it’s a feast for your tastebuds as well.
-Bali has it all
You love watching sunsets on the beach? Go to Bali. You love driving through lush green rice fields on a motorbike? Go to Bali. You love a good party? Go to Bali. You love Asian food? Go to Bali. You love culture and enchanting tempels? Go to Bali. You want to relax and unwind from your busy daily life? Go to Bali. You got the point? Go to Bali.
Yes, like with any Southeast Asian hotspot, Bali isn’t what it used to be eight years ago. But that doesn’t stop me from falling in love with this island more and more each time I visit. Counting down the days until the next time… 27…26…25…24….23……