I’d like to start with an apology for the big build up and even bigger let down, regarding my experiences in Bali. I returned home two days ago with a bacterial stomach infection that kept me confined to bed for my last 24 hours in Bali and these past 48 hours in Hong Kong. But today, I’m feeling much better, despite having to wear shoes for the first time in a week.
Where do I start??? Bali is like no place I have been. I love Bali. Notice my use of love in the present tense, as I most certainly will return. My relationship with Bali is only beginning. With its rich culture, deeply spiritual people, seductive sunsets, miles of deep sandy beaches, spectacular waves, rice terraces and volcano hillsides, it’s no wonder Bali is one of the world’s most popular island destinations. Surfers first discovered the waves and beaches in the 1970’s. Soon there after tourism became the biggest income earner. From 2002 to 2005 Bali experienced an economic crash, as the result of countless terrorist bombings. But today, the hospitality industry is flourishing. You can’t help but to feel safe in Bali. When was the last time you had to go through airport security to leave an airport? Each time you enter a hotel, the cars are searched for bombs, and if walking all bags are searched.
On this trip, I visited two areas of the island. Ubud, located in central Bali and Seminyak, located in the south. I’m working on posts for each of my destinations. But first, I thought I would share a few helpful hints I wish I’d known before arriving.
Your passport must be valid for at least six months prior to your visit. Unless you’re a national of an asian country, you will need a tourist visa to visit Bali. However, you can get this upon arrival. It takes seconds, requires no paper work and costs only US $25. However, immigration is a whole other story. The lines are craaaaazzzzy! If you don’t want to spend the first half of your holiday at the airport, you’ll want to head over to the right side of the immigration hall. There, you’ll see young men with very official looking badges hanging around their necks. [Side note: I have no idea how official they were… just keep reading] For another US $25, they will take your passport and process it in the matter of minutes. A group of us followed our official immigration officer past the immigration lines, where we waited near the baggage carousels for the return of our processed passports. At first I was a little worried having my passport out of sight, but others in the group said they do this all the time and it’s the only way to enter. Within 10-15 minutes later we had our passports and were free! Note to self… DO THAT!!! While getting my luggage I overheard some people waited 2 hours.
Another helpful hint- If you can’t read a thing without your specs, make sure you have them handy once you exit security. Finding my driver holding my name card was almost comical. There were hundreds of drivers, 4-5 rows deep, about 100-150 ft. in length! I kid not. It took three passes before seeing the driver. Pretty fun welcome, I must say!