Bali is one of those tropical destinations people dream of visiting for its long stretches of beach and jungle interior. Yes, it does have some stunning beaches from golden sands in Nusa Dua, pounding surf in Seminyak and Canggu and black volcanic sand beaches in the north. However, this beautiful island is so much more than a beach- as our Asia product manager, Rachel Gleave, discovered on her recent trip to Bali.
I travelled to Bali at the end of November to seek out new hidden gems which we can offer for our Bali programme. I’ve been lucky enough to visit Bali before, but this second trip really cemented my love affair with this captivating little island.
Bali is a land of spirituality at its very best. Once you escape the busy beaches of the south then you’ll discover a whole world of Hindu culture, charming locals, lush jungle and mesmerising scenery. Ubud for starters is a busy little town but surrounding the popular tourist shops you’ll find gorgeous villages where the locals live a traditional life, combining jobs in hospitality or agriculture with running the family home. You will usually find a rice field out the back and chickens running around the compound! Family and religion are the most important aspects of life in Bali and the local people still carry out rituals on a daily basis, including offerings to the gods to thank them for what they have, and to find balance and peace in all aspects of their life. This concept of balance runs throughout the heart of the island and its people who are so peaceful, giving, genuinely friendly and hospitable. Even though Bali is quite developed in tourism there is no sense of commercialisation- the locals are grateful for tourism and how it has boosted their economy.
Unfortunately, with worldwide news of an imminent eruption of Mount Agung, the local people are preparing to tighten their belts as bookings for hotels take a downturn, and holidaymakers are perhaps not considering a trip they might have been planning.
I find this very sad to see, with my love for Bali, as the reality of the situation is so very different from how it has been portrayed by the media. This map shows the evacuation zone in place, which from previous experience is the largest area of the island which could be affected should the volcano erupt. As you can see it is only a small corner of the island and all of the areas Turquoise recommends are well away from the zone and completely unaffected. In the last week, the zone has in fact reduced from 12km to 6km!
The only impact a visitor may encounter is the closure of the airport due to a wandering ash cloud. However, the predominant wind in Bali is south easterly and the airport has only ever been closed for 2.5 days as a result of the wind unexpectedly changing direction. All guests due to leave the island were offered complimentary stays with their hotels (many now writing this into their policy) and airlines were able to amend flights. Guests also had the option to take the ferry over to Java from where they could then take an onward flight.
This all happened whilst I was in Bali and whilst the world assumed the island was in chaos, the reality was that everything was business as usual! Bali with all its breath-taking scenery was as beautiful as ever. I would hate for anyone looking to travel here to put off their plans, as Bali is so magical and offers such an amazing experience for those who seek it.
If you’re looking to travel to Bali in 2018 then give us a call and ask to speak to one of our Asia specialists, who will be happy to answer your questions and give you more information on the peaceful island of Bali.