Greenery. That is my lasting image of Bali after escaping from the cement fortress of Osaka and visiting this small luscious island in the Java Sea. Everywhere there was thick tropical foliage: squat banana trees, tall coconut trees, slender bamboo, rice terraces, lush creeping vegetation.
R and I avoided the touristy part of Kuta and divided our time between Ubud, a large town near the central mountains that is considered the cultural capital of Bali, and Pemuteran beach, a very secluded area in the northwestern part of the island between mountains and the Java Sea.
Balcony view in Ubud
Our hotel near Ubud, the much recommended Bali Spirit Hotel & Spa, was surrounded by jungle and overlooked a river in which local people bathed. It had a pool, spa, spacious rooms decorated with Bali artwork, and a large open-air eating area. Tropical flowers and palm trees dotted the huge hotel grounds, making the distance from the room to the any of the hotel facilities a very pleasant walking experience.
Swimming pool in Permuteran
In Pemuteran, The Aneka Bagus Hotel & Spa --where we stayed in a private villa-- was likewise huge, open-aired and dotted with flowers and foliage, with a swimming pool over-looking a rocky beach.
To be constantly surrounded by nature was a wonderful experience. There was all that greenery, but there were also other things, like the industrious ants that snaked their way along the dining area floor, moving small chunks of toast to their hole. Or the myriad of bright flowers, some of whom would fall from trees above into our paths. Or the awesome power of a thunderstorm that rattled the roof all night long. Or the expansive, multi-terraced rice fields that blanketed a hill, with its just-sown paddies reflecting the orange hues of a setting sun. Or the regal lotus flower in a pond of lilly pads in a temple surrounded by thick bamboo. Or the constant flight of birds or bats overhead whether day or night.
Our experience with Balinese people was delightful too. Coming from a society where strangers don't smile at you and greet you while walking by, it was at first embarrassing to come across welcoming smiles wherever you looked. Balinese usually followed this by a cheerful "HELLO!" while the children often added "PHOTO!" and would gleefully line up to pose. What is striking is that, away from the touristy areas, where you can mingle with local people, one could easily sense their sincerity and friendliness. Any kind of interaction was a pleasant one.
So I left Bali and returned to Osaka charmed and relaxed. It was such a short trip (only four and a half days!) but there is a long list of great memories.
More pictures are on the an-fi photo gallery page (62 images). As usual I don't pretend these are authoritative pictures of Bali. I was just a short-term tourist, these are just vacation-type pictures and most were taken within the near vicinity of my hotels.