When you think of an exotic vacation, your mind immediately wanders into countries like France, Italy, Norway or, in some cases, even the US. It’s not every day that someone wanting to travel looks at a map and says: “Oh yeah, I’ll head to Bali.”
But when they do, they’ll be in for the treat of their lives – and that’s what makes this a little gem in Asia.
Situated just off the coast of mainland Indonesia, which includes the capital city of Jakarta and so on, Bali is one of the many islands in the Indian Ocean that make up this country.
Nevertheless, it harbours some of the world’s greatest mysteries that baffle geologists even today, like the Mount Agung, Lake Tamblingan and Mount Batur. And more importantly, tourist attractions like the Ubud Monkey Forest and the Dream Museum Zone Bali stand as some of the province’s key hubs for tourism.
Still, nothing – and by nothing, I mean absolutely nothing – beats the cleansing aura of Bali after a session of meditation. It’s uncanny and cannot be replicated. The Tanah Lot, for instance, is one Hindu pilgrimage spot that garners tourists from around the world. It’s built on a rock that is being shaped by the sea even as you read this.
Another area that you must visit if you’re in the neighbourhood is the Shaivite temple of Pura Ulun Danu Bratan. It’s what the locals call a ‘Water Temple’ and was built in 1633 to offer ceremony to the Balinese water, lake and river goddess Dewi Danu.
If you’re not interested in meditation, however, you can swim with the fishes at the Komodo National Park or ogle at the art pieces in the Neka Art Museum.
In short, there’s something for everyone at Bali. But the best part about visiting Bali is that it’s incredibly cheap. Heck, you can even indulge in shopping, as you can buy two pairs of original Levi’s jeans for RO20, which is half of what you’d normally spend in Oman.
My favourite place As a Lonely Planet writer wrote, “Shopping in Bali is legendary”. Visitors have much to choose from and there are several markets, which are only a short drive away. I’m not just talking about clothes. You can purchase art works, designer bags, handicrafts and so on from the galore of shopping centres and street vendors. Needless to say, this was my favourite spot during my short stay.
Highlights Bali’s greatest success is its tourism industry; it makes up more than 80 per cent of the province’s economy. Most tourists who head there try to soak in the history. It is widely believed that the area was dwelt as early as 2000 BC. Nevertheless, the temples in the vicinity are known to be over 500 years old (!) The deep religious roots have also given birth to some phenomenal artists who showcase their works in the museums. What’s even better is that you’ll find the climate in Bali suited to your taste, as temperatures usually hover around the 20°C mark.
Lowlights No land is a paradise and Bali is no exception. Let’s get the elephant in the room out of the way: Currently, there are 11 active volcanoes in Bali making it a volatile place for residence. There’s also no surprise that the province is religiously intolerant, which will come as a culture shock for anyone travelling from the West.
Souvenirs Bali is the perfect place to splurge money. You’d only require RO100 or so for a tour of Bali, accommodation and shopping. A personal favourite of mine is the stone sculptures and wood engravings, which only costs a paltry RO2 per piece.
Getting there You can take an Oman Air flight from Muscat to Bali Denpasar in Indonesia for an average of RO175.
Where to stay There are several four- and five-star hotels and resorts in the province – and it will only cost you between RO6 to RO70 to book the hotel for a night. On another note: You must try out the Tejaprana Resort & Spa, which was given the ‘Travellers Choice Award 2018’ by TripAdvisor. It will only set you back RO65 for a night’s stay.