Updated September 22, 2016
Deciding on the right place to travel is not always easy for me to do, but having the freedom to choose where to go, and imagining the endless possibilities, is one of the more rewarding aspects about travel, aside from the journey itself. To carve one’s own path will open doors for curiosity and everlasting discovery.
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When my wife and I were planning our honeymoon, it was tough, but we finally narrowed the choices down to Thailand and Bali, Indonesia. Each had its own unique appeal, which made our decision tougher. We only had about ten days for travel, so Bali won us over. Both destinations deserve more than ten days, but we decided we would rather have those ten short days of discovery on one small island rather than an entire country.
Aside from a couple little snags, Bali provided us the tranquility we longed for after having endured the pressures from months of wedding preparation. It was important to us that we stay in more than one place to get a feel for the differing local scenes and ways of living. One minor issue occurred during our arrival to the island, where we were met by four airport “officials” who worked in baggage and insisted on carrying our luggage. We kindly declined, after realizing they had already walked us 20 feet to the nearest currency exchange window in an effort to earn a couple dollars for their help. They were persistent, but we were firm. Befores we knew it we were off with our bags in tow to what would be two calming days at the Le Meridien Nirwana Golf & Spa Resort near the iconic Tanah Lot sea temple.
An advantage to staying on the coast 45 minutes northwest of Denpasar International Airport was that it distanced us from the hustle and bustle of Kuta, but still left us in close proximity if we wanted to visit. Plus, the Le Meridien Nirwana contributes to the community by employing local farmers to care for the 30 hectares of serene rice terraces. The hotel offers an unforgettable bicycle tour that guides riders through a few miles of gently sloping rice paddies, deserted beaches with six-foot rolling swells near Tabanan (without Bali’s ubiquitous surfers) and many villages that are as warm and inviting as grandma’s during the holidays. This is the authentic Bali. Here villagers are busy kilning roof tiles, crafting pottery and tending the land – a great opportunity for a visitor to see firsthand the islanders hard at work.
Day three in Bali brought us closer to the beach scene in Seminyak, Kuta’s next door neighbor. We splurged (it was our honeymoon, after all) and stayed in a beautiful villa at Sesari Bali with our own private swimming pool. Come late afternoon, we’d head to Ku De Ta for spectacular sunsets and elegantly presented local and international fare.
After the beach, Ubud was a major change of pace. Ubud is Bali’s main heartbeat and cultural capital. There are a large number of local artisans (painters, sculptors, wood carvers etc.) who hone their crafts there. You can just walk by artists’ studios and witness one-of-a-kind pieces being made.
We spent the rest of our honeymoon at Uma Ubud. Misty mornings woke us to the soothing choir of life in Bali’s forest. On a day trip to Mt. Batur we encountered mountains terraced with rice paddies in every shade of green.
Unfortunately, our last day in Bali was marred by an unpleasant food borne illness, which brought our honeymoon fun to a halt. Uma was a breath of fresh air in the way they cared for the two of us, even sending a well-equipped doctor and his assistant to our bedside, getting us on the path to recovery. And as much as we dreaded returning to the airport, our departure could not have been more pleasant. The airline graciously upgraded our tickets to business class without us even requesting it.
Bali was gorgeous, but more than the striking scenery, it was the hospitality, and friendliness of its people that made our honeymoon amazing.