This is how I traveled from Singapore to Bali. And who would have thought Bali would become such a “trendy” island?
I mean, it was always popular because of its beauty, wonderfully lush nature and tradition, and its dear smiling people, but this is way above what I might have expected a few years ago when I visited for the first time.
While I was thinking about this Bali series for the blog, I often stumbled across posts and photos from Bali, “things to do”, “ultimate places to visit” etc. and it seems like – everybody is in Bali right now or at least they are trying to be. You can’t even say that you are a traveler if you haven’t been to Bali yet, right? It’s fascinating how the place can “explode” in a relatively short period of time.
Don’t get me wrong, I am more than happy that the island’s economy might get boosted by more and more visits throughout the years, but I am slightly concerned because of the impact mass tourism usually has on places. What if it just gets too crowded?
(Given the topic, let me just add that Vietnam and Cambodia are still on my bucket list, but even though I used to be so impatient to go, I am not sure anymore if I am to visit these countries soon. Why? Well, it seems the two destinations are so overwhelmed thus far that I don’t really wish to be jostled by a flock of people who wiggle their way out to the all-popular places to take another photo of one and the same spot. This world of ours is so vast and I can go and visit other places I always wanted to see, giving Vietnam and Cambodia a chance to breathe. Our paths will cross at some point in the future, I am sure.)
Anyway, for all of you who have never been to the island (if there are any of you left), let me just tell you: Bali was one of my favorite destinations. This was my first trip to a country so foreign in terms of language and alphabet, that I immediately felt lost. Also, it’s so remote when coming from Europe, that I got the impression that people there don’t really know or care about the specific country you are from. It’s Europe, right, that was sufficient.
Coming from Serbia, I got used to explaining to people I encounter overseas that “it’s a small Central European country”, that my city was once “the capital of former Yugoslavia”, etc. And when I came here, I didn’t expect anything less. I mean, why would Serbia be interesting to Indonesia and Bali politically or in any other way more than to the other side of the world, to the U.S. or Canada? (And most people from North America I have met during my journeys did struggle to locate it.) It’s halfway around the world from Belgrade, Serbia after all!
But you know what happened?
I was chatting with the guy who carried my bags and showed me to the hotel room in Nusa Dua when I checked in. A nice, polite conversation – about my flight from Singapore to Bali, if I was on holiday, how long I was planning to stay on the island, etc. And of course, I said where I was from.
The guy got silent, thinking for a while, obviously couldn’t really place Serbia on the map of Europe in his head. But suddenly, he smiled.
“I know Serbia!” he said: “Novak Đoković, right?”
Oh, this made me so proud. Well, Novak, I sincerely thank you!
Whenever I talked to locals afterward and when they started frowning in confusion after asking about my homeland, I just mentioned Novak’s name. And got a patting on my shoulder almost every time!
Singapore to Bali
I can’t really tell you what my first impression was of the island because I landed at night. The capital Denpasar’s airport seemed small but nice, and I was greeted there by the local guide I have booked in advance. He held a sign with my name on it – my first name was spelled correctly while I couldn’t even recognize letters of my last name.
It was so helpful that the guide picked me up since I was coming from Singapore to Bali, truly tired. The flight was pleasant and short, but I spent a few days in Singapore prior to the Bali trip, rushing around like crazy. So much so that I even had a slight muscle inflammation.
(In case you are wondering, the issue was resolved by one of the lovely Balinese massages. It’s probably too early in this series to talk about massages since this is the first post of the travelogue, but let me just say – it felt like hitting the reset button.
There is a range of treatments to choose from on the island and I just had to book a looong one. It began with the foot massage, after soaking my feet in warm water with essential oils and flowers’ petals. Then they took me to a pleasant room to get undressed and take a quick shower. Followed by the crystal scrub, the actual message, and the quick bath to enjoy a cup of warm tea in, the treatment was more than I have expected.
You can treat yourself to a short half-hour massage by the swimming pool or take your time at the spa center.)
My bags were put in the car, we were chatting on the way to the hotel, making arrangements to have tea together the next day. And I felt relieved. Didn’t know why at that moment, but soon I realized that I was still under the pressure of Singapore. In comparison to the city-state that is all so disciplined and supervised, it seemed like coming to the laid-back place that was so welcoming.
And it turned out to be so true!
Next: A PERFECT WEATHER (2)
The full Bali SERIES