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Tuesday, 12 October 2010


Bali’s been in the news a bit lately. Julia Robert’s outing in Eat Pray Love showcases the area’s tranquil richness. And Javier Bardem's emanating hotness. And sadly, today, October 12, is the eight year anniversary of that horrific night of bombing where 202 people were killed.

It was only this year that I took my first trip to Bali. Long time listener, but first time caller. I’ve been fortunate to travel our gorgeous planet widely but for some reason, had never been to Bali.

Maybe because Australia’s Gold Coast is less than an hour away from me. Or perhaps I harboured concerns that my shopping purchases would require a charter flight back to Brisbane. Which kind of negates the purpose of all that cheap shopping.

And, I mean, of course, there’s that Schapelle/Bali 9 cloud.

Well, I fell in love with the place. I’ve been to other Asian countries, but this gem was instantly welcoming, friendly and happy. Its people may have been poor but they were happy. Laugh out loud happy. I think there’s something in that for all of us, don’t you?

Bali outwardly appears to have harsher sentencing regimes and criminal punishments regarding drugs (reference Schapelle comment above). No Australian-style resort prisons where you are offered three meals a day, in-room laundry service and a chance to study for a university degree.

But feel free to crack open a Bintang beer and suck down its brewed hops while you wander at leisure down one of Kuta’s multitude of shopping alleys.

Light up a fag as you flick through this season’s fake D&G singlets or Chanel sunglasses. Hell, feel free to flick the butt straight into the street.

Tidak masalah. No problem.

(Although I had to laugh at the stand of fake Christian Dior sunglasses that had the bling on the sides that read: “Diro”. I think someone forgot to do a spell check.)

Here’s the part I loved. Swan dive into the hotel pool and swim up to the pool bar to get stuck into happy hour. Enjoy your cocktail or three while splashing about on a li-lo or chatting with other holiday makers. (Check out the picture, that's the place we stayed!)

When the dinner hour tolls, or if you’re just plain hungry, it’s out of the pool, a quick towel dry, don the crumpled singlet and shorts that have been sitting by the pool all day, then make your way barefoot to the restaurant. In Bali, they don’t care that your wet hair is dripping down your back or that the most make-up you’re wearing is a drunken smile.

They just want you to have a good time.

I caught the Bali version of White Knuckle Transport a few times. This involves sitting pillion on a 50cc motorbike sans helmet, hanging on for dear life, and dodging the other two million bikes, all intent on getting people and their purchases back to their hotels.

Whizzing down those narrow alleys puts the skills of F1 drivers to shame. These nationals know their bikes, know their roads, and know how to get you there. Cepat, cepat.

I visited the memorial, and stood at the sites of the two bombings. It is impossible not to feel the invisible horror of that night, and bow your head just for a moment and pray it never happens again.

The shopping was a hoot. I would guess that many of you reading this have made the trek down the filthy streets and snapped up bargains. I was traveling with someone who was a Bali regular so to watch him haggle was pure genius.

But just to refresh your memory, it goes like this:

Me: “How much for this handbag?”

Him: “Oh, that velly ‘spensive, that leather, but for you, ahh, I say 700." (rupiah) This is about $80.

Me: (adopt look of offense and shake head) “Ahh, too much, too much.”

Him: “I have to feed my family, you no pay this price, I no feed my family.”

Me: “You have plenty of food for your family, I only pay 300.”

Him: (in mock offence posture) “You rob me, I no make any money if you buy that price.”

Me: “It is a fake piece of crap that will probably break before I get to Denpassar airport, it’s not worth any more than 300.”

Him: (again mock shock) “This is best stuff you buy, it genuine leather, here me hold lighter to material to show you no burn.” I am serious, this really happened, he tried to burn my bag.

Me: “ok, 400.”

Him: “600.”

Me: “No, no, no, too much, I’m going now.” And proceed to walk out of the shop and down the street. He chases me.

Him: “Mrs, Mrs, Mrs, wait! Ok, it hurt me but you have for 400.”

And so it goes on.

I amassed 23 sunglasses, two handbags, linen, t-shirts, singlets, scarves, dvds, necklaces, bangles, shoes, hair ornaments, knick-knacks, tops, dresses and a hand woven hat. Two of the sunglasses broke before the end of the day. The rest are doing well.

And I can’t wait to go again. Wouldn’t it be fabulous if I bumped into Javier Bardem while I was there!

** was using colloquial lingo regarding rupiah value, so where I say "700" the true value is "700,000", however the point of my story was to be authentic and use dialogue of the locals, sorry if I have confused some readers... So 700,000 rupiah is about AUD80. 


  1. Hi Cassidy, we stayed at Holiday Inn Resort Baruna, Bali. Had a suite, that overlooked the Indian Ocean. Food and service was spectacular. Lazed around all day in these gorgeous pool side cabanas ordering drinks and nibbles and massages. I cannot wait to go again x

  2. Ohhh, what a gorgeous holiday. I've never been to Bali (Though have been to parts of Indonesia), and would like to go sometime. Our last family holiday was Samoa, and it sounds like this without the shopping. Just lazy days around the pool (loved the swim up bar), breakfast by the beach, cocktail hour, different restaurants, friendly people. I'd go back in a heartbeat! (PS was your hotel expensive?)