Bali, Bali, Bali… I actually came back two weeks ago but I’ve been too bogged down by holiday comedown (and jet-lag) to blog my sheer joy at discovering it. I’ve been sharply warned by friends already drowning in my zillions of smug snaps not to push it much further, so I’ll keep this one brief. Here are five reasons I’ll definitely be back.
1. The green
The green of Bali, of its rice fields and banana plants and frangipani trees in wet season (rained-once-a-day season, really, in Feb) is not our solid British green. It’s special, it’s gold tinged and it has a sort of sunny aura. I could look at the jungly foliage for hours, hovered over by dragonflies, sploshed by fat raindrops or just shivering in the morning breeze. It reset my brain. I miss it.
2. The black
Why are black sand beaches such a novelty? They were for me, anyway, as I woke up to a view (from BED) of volcanic black shores and dramatic waves in Kerambitan, western Bali. You’ll also find smoky sand in Lovina in the north and Amed in the east, created by lava from the island’s whopping volcano, Mount Agung.
3. The food
This should really have been point 1. Every mouthful of every dish that I ate in Bali was phenomenal. They seriously know how to do breakfast for savoury-loving types like me (fried red rice with shredded vegetables and a fried egg), not to mention beautiful all-spice pork and, my favourite, nasi campur, above (basically, a bit of everything. In a banana leaf). Not into dessert? Me neither, but I was totally into the coconut-milky puddings with tapioca, black rice or mango.
4. The views
Everywhere we drove, friendly drivers would pause their incessant chat (about the Premier League, mostly) to point out a great photo opportunity. We pulled over for rugged cliffs, zig-zagging rice paddies, vast, misty lakes and coffee plantations. We rarely passed an unphotogenic bend in the road. It was fab.
5. The chilled agenda
The best thing no one tells you about Bali is there’s no one place or area you HAVE to go to. Ubud’s pretty unique and fun to drop in on, but unless you have a specific need, like surfing or scuba diving, you’ll probably just want to hit up some pretty temples, jungly walks and secluded coves. And they’re everywhere. Base yourself from somewhere unusual – I went to Kerambitan, Lovina and Manggis – and just book a bargain driver (around £10-15 per 2/3 hour journey) to see whatever the locals recommend: hot springs, cooking schools, spas, mountains…
Beautiful, laid-back, smiling, generous Bali – I’ll be back.