2017-05-26 / Travel


We found Paradise!
By Warner M. Montgomery Warner@TheColumbiaStar.com

We had rice terraces behind our cottage. We had rice terraces behind our cottage. Bali Hai was a mythical island in the Broadway play South Pacific. It existed only in the imagination of the writers of the play, but it represented an idyllic place where nature reigned supreme and all women were beautiful.

Bal i, on the other hand, is a real Indonesian island just off Java in the Indian Ocean. It is a true paradise on earth.

The volcanic island of Bali is about twice the size of Rhode Island—50 miles wide and 90 miles long—and is home to three million people. 95 percent of the people are ethic Balinese, distinct from the next door Javanese but similar in that both groups descended from Malays who migrated from China around 3000 BC.

What makes Bali unique from its neighbors is its culture. It is Hindu, one of only three places on earth with Hindu traditions— India and Fiji are the other two. Indian traders brought Hinduism and its traditions to the Malay Peninsula and the Indonesian archipelago thousands of years ago.

Linda and I stayed in this comfortable straw-roofed cottage in Bali.Linda and I stayed in this comfortable straw-roofed cottage in Bali.
A Hindu dynasty developed on Java and prospered until the great Moslem Wave swept through the islands 600 years ago. In desperation, the Hindu dynasty fled to Bali where they have been able to defend their culture ever since. The Balinese Hindus developed an intricate irrigation system controlled through a network of temples which enabled them to prosper agriculturally.

Today in Bali, life is good. Food and fun are plentiful, and the price is right. For adventure travelers such as Linda and me, that means cheap and easy. No other place we have ever been has been so pleasant and so laid back.

Our flight from Singapore was packed full of German types in safari outfits headed for a vacation on the sunny beaches of Bali. We breezed through immigration and customs and took a taxi to the town of Ubud. The price of 40,000 rupiah ($20) was high, but we wanted to get to the center of the island and its arts and crafts towns as quickly as possible. The tourist beaches didn’t interest us.

The traffic in Bali was unbelievable. The traffic in Bali was unbelievable. The driver tried to sell us on an “excellent hotel, sir and ma’am,” but as soon as we told him we wanted to go to the tourist office to get a cheap room, he began pointing out sights along the way.

The 45 minute trip along good paved roads was bumper-to-bumper with speeding Japanesemade cars. After the capital city of Denpasar, the roads narrowed into one-lane congestion as we passed through delightful little villages.

Linda squeezed my hand every time a horn blew and a tire squealed, but she soon relaxed.

At the Ubud tourist office, a booth with a bright red sign under a banana tree, the clerk was very nice. He asked our budget range and directed us to Sama’s Cottages, “200 meters down this road take a left up the hill. You can’t miss it.”

Just as we passed a farmer tending his water buffalo in a rice patty, a young man in a sarong waved, and we stopped. He welcomed us gleefully, took our bags, and led us down a narrow path lined with flowering tropical trees to a cottage on the edge of a small stream.

The gray volcanic brick cottage had a shiny white tile floor and a thatched roof. The large carved wooden door had no lock. “Locks not needed, Ma’am,” he said.

The cottage had a covered porch with two chairs and a table, a bedroom with two double beds and overhead fan, and a bathroom with a hot water tub, a western toilet, and a lavatory with a mirror.

This jungle paradise which came with breakfast was only $12 a day. As she fell onto the bed, my wonderful adventurous wife said, “I don’t think I’ll ever leave here…”

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