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About me

We went to Bali in September 2002 just one month before the Kuta bomb. It is a fabulous place, and we would love to visit again. The people are very friendly, easy going and hospitable. It was also incredibly good value for money.There is still a large part of the island we haven't seen, and  I'm sure we will get there again. 
It's not often I am moved to get out my camera on the approach to somewhere, but this was definitely the occasion. Quite the most spectacular scenery of volcanoes from the plane window.

We stayed at the Grand Bali Beach Hotel, a well established hotel that had a main block of multiple stories, several 'garden wings', two story blocks, and many single story bungalows. We stayed in one of the garden wing rooms. The grounds were attractively laid out, with covered passages between block, restaurants and the main wing, to avoid any possibility of getting drenched in a tropical 'shower'. The gardens faced directly onto the beach, and there was a footpath leading to the beachside part of the town, full of shops and restaurants, and where we ate most evenings. The only small downside was the eagerness of the traders to invite you into their shops, we may have browsed more had they been less attentive. We did find a tailoress to make us trousers and shirts etc, amazing value and all done in 3 days. You could also hire boats to take you out beyond the reef to snorkel. 

At night the place was buzzing, with stalls and restaurants, most of which had traditional cabaret, mostly children from the local school. The local music, I have to say, is probably an acquired taste, I have left it on the videos at low volume. we also made one trip to a floating restaurant, departing from the Kuta side of the island, with a beautifully served and prepared meal, though the accompanying saxophonist was perhaps not quite as accomplished as we might have hoped.
We made a shopping trip into Kuta, with both conventional shops selling designer goods, and market stalls, and all styles in between. We visited the beach for a rest and a drink and watched the surfers.
In order to see something of the rest of the island, we hired a vehicle and driver, and guide for the day, from an independent organisation that had a kiosk at the hotel shopping area, at a ridiculously low price, and were able to tailor our own tour, with some advice from the kiosk staff. 'Coach' style tours tend to take in too many temples, we were content with just the one. We went to the elephant sanctuary - elephants are not of course native to Bali, but were brought over to work - and a town where it is the place to have lunch overlooking the volcano crater, on a balcony perched on the rim.
It is also interesting to take in one or more of the craft villages, each village has it's own speciality, wood carving, concrete, silver, and  some even specialise with the item carved, one had nothing but long thin cats of various sizes. We chose to visit a wood carving co-op, and also filigree silver.

2004 Gillian Gatland

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