Get the best out of Bali
THERE’S so much more to Bali than Bintang, cheap clothes and Kuta’s nightlife. That might have been the Bali you experienced if you visited in your 20s, maybe even your 30s, and it’s all still there today.
But with age comes wisdom and the few extra dollars needed to experience the absolute best Bali has to offer.
The four-star Wyndam Garden Kuta was our base for a few days in the city.
Overlooking Kuta Beach and central to everything on our to-do list, it was a great home away from home, and the spa proved to be a wonderful highlight.
Before I had unpacked my bag I was enjoying a full body massage. After a busy day of travelling, there was no better way to get a holiday started and this will be a must-do for all future holidays.
The four-star hotel is right in the thick of the organised chaos that is Kuta, a big noisy city known for its shopping, beaches and nightlife.
The restaurant and courtyard of the hotel are open to the street, allowing you to sit back, relax and watch the passing parade of traffic, which has its own kind of chaotic harmony.
But you don’t go on holiday to stay in your room no matter how comfortable the bed so we were up early for a busy day of playing tourist.
To explore the southern, and most heavily populated, end of the island requires transport and it is best to leave the driving to a local.
We left the streets of Kuta behind, opting for a splash of indulgence at El Kabron, a Spanish restaurant and cliff club at Uluwatu. It is the kind of place you’d expect to see superstars and models hanging out.
There were no celebrities there the day we visited so we became the stars of our own day, sipping Moet from golden goblets, lazing in the pool, enjoying the stunning views of the Indian Ocean and gorging on platters of delicious food.
El Kabron has a fixed price for entry that allows for a food and drink credit, making it a luxury destination, but it is an indulgence most Aussie holidaymakers can afford.
One of the delights of Bali is that one minute you are enjoying the lifestyles of the rich and famous and a short time later you are silenced by the sheer size and beauty of Uluwatu Temple, which dates back to the 10th century.
Donning mandatory saris, we joined the stream of tourists. The cultural lesson continued as we filed into an open-air amphitheatre that was filled to overflowing with people of all nationalities.
With the temple and sunset in the background, a narrator welcomed us in a number of different languages
The sunset kecak (dance or show) was powerful with the voices of the men supplying the only music for the main players as they acted out a legendary tale of the red and white monkeys and their battle for power.
The traditional Balinese kecak dance at the Uluwatu Temple and, inset, the Wyndham Kuta Garden.