Bali was more charming and lovely than I imagined. See, I live on a remote tropical island, so I don’t usually vacation on tropical islands — I crave something wildly different. If it’s possible to be a travel snob, I admit, I’m a first degree offender. Bali? No way, too touristy! I thought. I am the unfortunate case of music snobbery mushrooming into travel snobbery, food snobbery, and a list of related crimes. Am I the female Anthony Bourdain? Not quite, or maybe not yet.
Thank you, Bali, for smacking me around like a bad baby. I was pleasantly surprised to find myself knee deep in the island’s quirky culture and lush landscape and not wanting to leave. Bali was the gateway to Borneo, where we’d set sail on a wooden boat down a narrow jungle river to feed orangutans. (More on that later…)
Our Bali discovery started at the quiet and somewhat spartan Ubud Sari Health Resort, which caters to vegans, vegetarians, cleansers, detoxers, and well, us regular American pudge folk. We were just on vacation, but a room sans phone, WIFI, and TV was just what we needed to unplug and download for a bit. We didn’t mind not eating meat or gluten for a few days either. Even though we couldn’t be classified as serious health nuts, we enjoyed all the fresh, natural foods available in Bali.
Our room at the resort was a detached tree house overlooking a waterfall. Ahhhhh. We spent four hours of pampering in the spa, from massage to body scrub to body wrap (hot!) to sauna and steam room, finishing with an hour-long facial. And it’s all so affordable in this Indonesian getaway. You just wouldn’t believe how far the U.S. dollar can go. We felt like royalty at most every resort or restaurant we stepped foot in.
Freshly ground coffee every morning
Spicy avocado soup!
Just down the cobblestone road from the resort is this enchanting Italian restaurant, accessible via a jaunt through a villa, tucked into a lush garden. That’s Bali! Even the seemingly ordinary ends up being a diamond in the rough. We enjoyed a candle-lit dinner for two with the place empty for the first hour. As our pizza was loaded into the huge outdoor brick oven, a drizzle set in over the lily pond. So romantic!