Slacker's Paradise

That's what Bali is. Beyond its picturesque setting, the island is a haven for water babies and beach bums alike.

Anamika Butalia        Print Edition: March 7, 2010

Tourists in Bali soak up the pleasures of cruising the waves
It's a beautiful and sunny afternoon. From our aircraft high above the Lombo strait we could see a cluster of islands down below. A little island stands out: it sits in the centre of a necklace of islands, called the lesser Sunda Islands, that stretches all the way from Malaysia to New Guinea. In fact, it's so tiny that you wouldn't believe that so much has been said about it. The land of Hindu deities and Buddhist beliefs: a unique island called Bali.

Outside the airport, the tropical weather greets you with open arms. It's warm and just a little humid-an extremely pleasant weather to holiday in. Nusa Dua-the C-shaped edge of Bali-is our destination; a haven for a luxury holiday destination, which is host to a number of multi-million dollar hospitality properties, fine dining and Balinese shopping.

Clearly, there's nothing amiss in this little territory. Like most of South-east Asia, Bali is a welldeveloped and well-cared-for destination. The roads are sufficiently broad (for an island), people are few and far between and the sound of the waves forever beckoning.

And there's no better way to enjoy this holiday than to forget your bags and belongings in the hotel room. We had signed in for the "allinclusive" vacation package at Club Med, Bali. The great thing about the holiday package is that the room tariffs are inclusive of all activities at the resort-drinks at the pool-side bar early in the day and a spa treatment around midday; lunch and snorkelling in the afternoon and a wide range of choices at the restaurant and discotheque later in the evening. Ah, a blissful discovery!

An enchanting view from the pool side bar at Club Med Resorts.
The resort itself was so selfsufficient that we felt no need to step out and grab a bite. You'll always enjoy meals here for they have everything to cater to the variegated tastes of international tourists. From Tandoori roti and South-east Asian cuisines to quiche and Balinese food, they have it all. The Balinese preparations are mildly spicy, using rice and meat in the main. The flavours are surprisingly in sync with the Indian palate. We made an interesting discovery about the local food. Although the island is mainly Hindu dominated, the Balinese Hindus love beef.

An average day begins at the poolside bar with pristine white high ceilings. Cocktails are served at all times of the day and it's the perfect place to enjoy a clear view of the sea. We spent a short time in the pool taking snorkelling lessons and then it was time to hit the sea.

Bali is a snorkelling destination par excellence. The coral reefs along the coastline are almost as famous as Australia's Great Barrier Reef. The snorkelling boat took us a few km off shore, and soon it was time to get into the water and see the reef for ourselves.

The sheer variety of colours boggles the mind. The notoriously shy fauna was out in force-we saw some stingrays, lots of jelly fish, and a baby shark. Snorkelling is probably the best way to spend an hour in Bali. But exhaustion soon catches up with you. For those on a holiday longer than the usual four days and three nights, there are several water sports to try out. Apart from kayaking and white water rafting, there's also a scuba diving training programme offered at this resort. In fact, quite a few people train for scuba diving before heading to Bali. Given the spectacular beauty of the reef, that's hardly a surprise.

Exploratory souls will enjoy walking on the island. It is small enough to cover by car in a single day, but walking is probably the best way to get a real feel of the place. Public transport is very good, too, and is a great option to get around. At 5,632.86 sq. km, Bali is small enough to cover all the main sights in one day by car. The best way to get a real feel of the island, however, is to explore it on foot.

A great place to visit is the Pura Tanah Lot Temple that lies on an islet off the coast. Since the only way to visit this temple is by walking, in times of high tide, this landmark remains elusive.

Bali is also known for its shopping experience. But one must go through a whole lot of stores and roadside stalls to strike the best bargain. Haggling with garment sellers is the highlight of a shopping trip here. If you really look, you could find T-shirts for Indonesian Rupaiya 6,000-which roughly converts to about Rs 50.

Of all the pleasures one experiences in Bali, the best way to soothe the senses is by spending some time on the beach. Sun, sea and the surf! Words that sum up a beach holiday. And Bali is just the destination to find it.

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