Heaven on Earth:

Bali

By Alena Klenot

A mere hour and a half from Jakarta, Indonesia, Bali is a lush, green, well- manicured island with one side situated in the Java Sea and the other in the Indian Ocean. The ocean is bath warm and the surf calm, but the sand is a little rough so wear shoes. I lost my beach flip-flops, only one surfaced.

shutterstock_59494702I visited one of the Bali Royal Family houses in Kuta. The Royal family, generous and respected, invite the local villagers to work in the houses and on the grounds. The workers are constantly renovating the palace in exchange for food, their children’s schooling or instruction in music, dance and local arts. The Royal family and their village work in unison as one big happy family. The Royal palace is adjacent to the village temples, which are full of old and young residents, communing and praying. Men and women must wear a long saraf to cover their legs and head. The tourists are dressed by village volunteers before entering the palace grounds. There is magic in old Bali, a world of spirits.

The island is 90 percent Hindu with temples everywhere. The Balinese build them for the spirits, the gods, the animals, the flowers and absolutely everything that lives around them. The temples are new and old, full of history. The construction never stops.

shutterstock_131408012What to see in Bali
Too many people think that Bali offers just blue water and beautiful beaches. In fact, the island is replete with stunning landscapes, including volcanic mountains, forever-green rice terraces, and breathtakingly high waterfalls, especially in the areas of Kroya, Kembar and Kucuk. You can hike every day and never see it all, but take a guide just to be safe!

Be certain not to miss the Bali elephant safaris and the picturesque rice fields. Try the local food and visit the Bali markets with their lively streets where local vendors specialize in the needs of the simple rural lifestyle. Sheaves of dried tobacco, spices and livestock fill the senses. I love these scenes. While they lack western hygiene (dirt is everywhere, refrigeration is absent and the buzz of flies is a background hum), the smell of the market is heavenly rich and putrid at the same time.

shutterstock_119499910Lifestyle and fashion
I arrived at a new resort, built one year ago, with all the modern luxuries. They have their own Nikki beach beside the blue ocean. Bali has great malls, but vendors have no air conditioning in their shops. All are open, just like at the old Royal palaces. I got lucky in my search and found some great local Bali fashion designers and artists. The Collection in Nusa Dua Island is a great shop with fashionable and unique items, including handbags and shoes made of recycled rice bags and high-fashion T-shirts adorned with intricate bead work.

Bali is a magic island, you must come and see. You will find almost everything you desire!

Heaven on Earth: