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Bali, Indonesia, an international destination for honeymooners. Famed for their sunsets, seafood and corn. Never did I think I would go there, but I did. Mostly because it was the only place that wasn't in monsoon season in September.
It's hard to describe how I feel about Bali, but I know I'll never return again. I didn't love it, but I didn't hate it, perhaps it's the mediocrity that kills Bali for me. The sunsets and seafood were just that, mediocre, but that corn was amazing.
I would describe Bali as a very well marketed tourist trap (and I'm sure it's even more so now after that Julia Robert's movie "Eat, Pray, Love"). We stayed just north of Kuta in a private villa in the Seminyak area. The villa was quite luxurious, though I never got to use the tub since we never had enough hot water for more than a quick 10 minute shower.
The beach on our side of the island was not the picturesque beach seen in most marketing materials. The water not turquoise, but it had it's charms. For those picturesque beaches you have to go to Nusa Dua on the other side of the island (which we did visit and I'll get into later).
We had fun that first day negotiating for souvenirs (can't beat $1 for a sarong and $3 for a panama hat)and lounging on the beach drinking beers.
But then the second day...we made the fatal mistake of visiting Kuta beach. It started with the cab driver making derogatory comments toward women as he saw them walk by, completely unprofessional.
The beach itself looked mostly like ours except full of aggressive rude hawkers. One lady tried to sell us the same sarongs we got the day before for much much more than what we paid. She tricked us telling us "1 dollar," but when we got to her wares she rudely said "1 dollar just to look." Needless to say we left.
We hung out at the beach for a bit...but even getting umbrellas and chairs was kind of a hassle.
The best part of Kuta was probably the shopping. We negotiated snake skin hand bags for $80 each and I bought a pair of snake skin sandals for $12.
Another big disappointment was the food. I think they try to make the food suitable for western tastes, ending in a big mess. We only truly liked one restaurant we went to.
Though Bali did come through with the best pork I've possible ever had at the famed Ibu Oka in Ubud(yes the same one Bourdain went to in No Reservations). Crispy skin and juicy bits of pork over rice, yum!
And we did have a wonderful and really affordable spa experience at a spa in Ubud, complete with massage, flower bath, facial, and manicure. Extremely relaxing.
We also visited Nusa Dua which had the clear turquoise water I love. A lovely relaxing day in which we frolicked in the calm water and ate noodles from a cart. On thing did disturb me was all the trash around the beach. And knowing that all the wrappers were left by tourist really annoyed me (clean up after yourselves!).
Bali did have it's high points, but I think some of the rude people and the sexist comments made to me and my other girlfriends prevent me from returning. I don't know if it's the culture, but I had several different sketchy looking men leer and throw disgusting comments at my girlfriends and I. I know this happens everywhere including the US, but I don't know I didn't expect it in an asian country. Perhaps because I've never had it happend in Hong Kong, Taiwan, or Thailand. It's a been there done that kinda thing with Bali, been there never need to go back.
Thailand on the other hand is marked for several more return visits until I've seen every island!