Best of Bali (this week)Posted: September 5, 2013
There is a sense of perpetual motion in Bali. The traffic, the shops, bar and restaurant quality, all prey to the churn. This is great. For traffic. For the rest? It is a lesson in enjoying the moment, because next year that great little [thing you found] may be gone. Once thriving shops are vacant. Inexplicably next door, new shops under construction. Fabulous pool bars within a year have worn, stained, and tired decor, menus reduced to pizza, and cocktails awash with ice, cordial, and ethanolic vapour.
On the other hand, the palpable drive to meet tourist desires does keep things fresh. Streets of last years Chinoise furniture trend are magicked away, and freshly carved up fishing boats repurposed into everything. Those crazy metal chairs for your hipster cafe? Name a colour. International street food? Check.
There are numerous guides online bursting with solid, if not occasionally alarmist, advice on how to approach your trip to Bali, so I’m going in another direction. With the shelf life of around one month, here is my round-up of how to worry less, and have some fun when you only have a week to do it:
Board the plane intentionally ignorant of the Seedy Side of Bali, incidence of tourist deaths, motorbike accidents, air, water, dog, chook or mozzie-borne viruses and parasites.
Spring for a Bali fast track service at the airport. Sail past the queues, the unfragrant, the over-wrought children, and into your holiday. Stat.
Buy some local natural mosquito spray. Use it. Bali Deli sells a perfect pocket-size Utama Spa bug spray for $3.30. Starve those disease carrying varmints.
Drink filtered water. Don’t drink water from the tap or brush your teeth in it. Take an empty water bottle or buy a bottle of water there and refill from your hotel or villa water cooler if they have it. (Bali is fighting an immense growing plastic bottle waste mountain)
Get a massage at Bodyworks in Seminyak or Therapy in Canggu for around $27. (Yes, you can get one for $6 at walk-in places. Do it, I dare you.)
Book a sport mani-pedi for the bloke in your life and keep it a secret till he is in the chair. Get a mani-pedi yourself and say ‘so last month’ to orange. Choose pretty pinks or lavenders like OPI’s Lucky Lucky Lavender and Elephantastic Pink. Try Bodyworks, Think Pink or Shampoo Lounge
Hire a scooter for a day (ONLY if you are confident on one) and ride beyond Kuta – Seminyak. Wear the manky bikie helmet they give you.
Have a sunset drink at Potato Head and marvel at the body confidence radiating off the sun-beds.
Order a margarita at Hotel Mexicola – the spicy Verde Margarita is a winner, or a Bloody Mary at Chandi. The ingredients alone should frighten off any threatening stomach bug.
Scarf Mexican food at Lacalaca – a fun spot down a laneway with a $5 soft taco and Bintang lunch special that revives the shop weary.
Offset the cocktail diet with the green salad at Biku or stuff yourself with high tea. Order coffee at a hotel you cannot afford to stay in.
Try Mamasan for dinner. Anomali and Drop for coffee. Take your seat among the expats for brekkie at Watercress.
Stay one night in a villa where the lounge has no walls.
Book a driver for a day. Get the heck out of your hotel. Drink Luwak coffee that transitioned through a cat-like Civet, marvel at the rice paddies, and learn a little about the island.
Don’t argue with taxi drivers over $1, eat anything that moves independently, say it louder if someone doesn’t understand you (restate it simply).
Walk with a purpose, keep your hand on your bag, and wash your hands a lot. That’s with soap, guys.