Destination Bali, Indonesia
I remember as a kid talking to a girl on a beach in the Algarve. She was at least 10 years older than me, had a hunky German boyfriend, but regardless, I had a crush on her. Her boyfriend was playing golf that day, and we just lied in the sand, and she would recount her travels. She had been everywhere.
When I asked her what her favorite place was, without hesitation she responded Bali. She began to describe a magical and enchanted island with friendly locals, fascinating customs, Balinese maidens washing themselves naked in a river, perfect climate, and luscious rice terraces. To a teenager, it all sounded like Paradise on Earth. One day, I would go see for myself.
Having moved to Japan in 1989, Bali was no longer a distant dream and in 1992, I took my first trip there. Back then, Bali was a popular destination for backpackers. The big hotel chains started setting up shop in Bali in the early 1990’s. On my first visit we stayed in a pretty standard Western style hotel much like you’d find in Waikiki. But the island itself was just as captivating as the girl had described. I was hooked from day one. On my second visit, I stayed at the uber luxurious Amandari, Adrian Zecha’s second property of what is now the World’s most exclusive hotel group, Aman Resorts. Little did I know that this would be the start of my journey as an Aman Junkie, but this is a story for another article.
I was enchanted with the island on every subsequent visit, discovering new places far removed from the touristy Kuta beach, and the artist village, Ubud, a village that has, over the years morphed into a hustle and bustle scene much like you’d find in Hanoi.
But with each subsequent visit, I felt Bali was losing her magic.
Now, once you land and exit the airport, you get smacked in the face by Western civilization with a Planet Hollywood and Carrefour just minutes into your car ride. As soon as Starbucks set up shop in Ubud, I decided perhaps it was time to find the new Bali.
The magic does survive though, and I do hope that everyone will consider visiting. And Bali now boasts some of the best hotels in the region, hotels that cater to every budget and often constructed in the stunning Balinese architecture. For those wish to keep one foot in to Western society, there is always the Hard Rock Hotel in Kuta.
Dean Owen is Co-Founder of Quimojo, a revolutionary new concept in Global Campus Recruitment.