From the moment we stepped off the plane, I felt like we were not only seeing a new country but also truly experiencing a new culture. We spent a few days in Seminyak, acclimatizing in a laid back part of town with vast dining options, INCREDIBLE shopping and fun nightlife.
One of the first things that struck me were the tiny offerings put out for the gods and ancestors in front of businesses, shops, restaurants, homes (ANYWHERE) that are banana leaf trays filled with fresh flowers, tiny bits of food, herbs, incense, maybe money or a cigarette (“cause you never know what they will want”). You see them all over Bali and the sweet smell from the incense is constantly in the air. Apparently every household makes up to 50 offerings per day, regularly removing the old ones and refreshing with new ones. Walking through the streets of Seminyak is a full workout as you navigate around the offerings, broken sidewalks, souvenir stands, salespeople, drainage ditches and just try to take it all in.
We could walk to the beach from our hotel Horison Seminyak and the amount of beachside bars and restaurants was totally overwhelming. The NYer in me wants to know that we are going to the tastiest restaurant, getting the best value, having the MOST fun but I just had to chuck that out the window and plunge in without a recommendation or a Yelp review. Luckily we were blessed with an incredible breakfast buffet at the Horison and the cheapest most delicious “Warung Murah” right around the corner. (FYI ‘Warung’ is the Bali word for a small local family owned restaurant)
Bali is a island that caters to tourists. They have figured out exactly what folks want see, do, eat, buy and offer it all 8 different ways. I think I would be hard pressed to meet someone who finds Bali resistible. Balinese people are incredibly nice and usually went out of their way to make sure that we were throughly enjoying our experience. In the month we spent there, I was constantly impressed by the way we were treated and they way they treated each other – with genuine respect and kindness.