Picture Perfect Bali

Picture Perfect Bali

Madhavi Singh

Absolutely addicted to living and intrigued by what's round the bend. People make for good reading, but birds, beasts, and natural beauty have so much more presence. In my other avatar, I'm the head ninja of DK Travel India.
May 1, 2015

The discounted airfare was a carrot being dangled much too close. Exotic Bali beckoned; could anybody resist?

So it was that we – 10 friends, similarly resistance-challenged, and I – found ourselves walking off a plane at Denpasar one sultry equatorial afternoon. I was south of the equator for the first time in my life and, in one of those weird moments that catch you unawares, I found myself back in Miss Subramanian's physics class in school, making a mental note "to check that out at the first opportunity". Obviously, there is nothing wrong with my long-term memory; that was a good 40 years ago!

But Ubud awaited, an hour- and a-half away via a road that meandered inland through a landscape almost unbelievably verdant. Trees, shrubs, bushes, creepers, climbers, arboreals, ferns, mosses... every imaginable shade of green; flowers almost luminescent under the midday sun soothed the computer weary, pollution-tainted city eyes.

A side glance while walking down the street reveals an inviting detour.
A side glance while walking down the street reveals an inviting detour

 

Looking in through someone's gate – almost every home had a deity, usually Ganesh, facing the entrance.
Looking in through someone's gate – most homes had a deity, usually Ganesh, facing the entrance

 

The tranquil oasis of a temple courtyard
The tranquil oasis of a temple courtyard

 

The community hall in the temple complex where gatherings, meetings and dances are held
The community hall in the temple where gatherings, meetings and dances are held

 

Not surprisingly, Ubud is recognized as a World Heritage Site. Both private and public spaces are remarkably aesthetic
Not surprisingly, Ubud is recognized as a World Heritage Site. Both private and public spaces are remarkably aesthetic

 

Located amid the undulating central foothills, the town is one of Bali's primary arts and crafts centres. Row upon row of sheds crammed with the most beautiful sculptures and driftwood begged a closer look, the most amazing batik fabric hung in shop windows, finely crafted silver and gold jewelry tempted. But beyond that, the aesthetic sensibility of the people was visible in countless little details: even nondescript little side lanes revealed so much of beauty and whimsical humour.

Each morning, every threshold displays a still-green, hand-woven basket filled with flowers, and a stick of incense to honour the gods
Each morning, every threshold displays a still-green, hand-woven basket filled with flowers, and a stick of incense to honour the gods

 

A stairway to a temple – simple, white gravel embedded in the cemented surface of the road
The stairway to a temple – simple, white gravel embedded in the cemented surface of the road

 

The road to Ubud's protected Monkey Forest is lined with some wonderfully droll likeness of these mischievous creatures
The road to Ubud'sprotectedMonkey Forest is lined with some wonderfully droll likeness of these mischievous creatures

 

From there, on to the pristine, manicured resort perfection of Nusa Dua. But the natural in Bali cannot be contained. The exuberance of nature shone through – in the jostling water lilies in a carefully maintained pond, the radiance of sunrise on the sea and sand, the roar of the surf as it washed the coast...

Sunrise at Nusa Dua
Sunrise at Nusa Dua

 

Edible seaweed spread out to dry on the beach
Edible seaweed spread out to dry on the beach
This was what I had thought Bali was like – the sun-worshipper's paradise
This was what I had thought Bali was like – the sun-worshipper's paradise

 

A resort hotel; yet a serene, almost melodious, harmony of traditional and modern
A resort hotel; yet a serene, almost melodious, harmony of traditional and modern

 

Sunset at Pura Luhur Ulluwatu – on the right, at the edge of the cliff, is the three-tiered roof of the temple
Sunset at Pura Luhur Ulluwatu – on the right, at the edge of the cliff, is the three-tiered roof of the temple

 

And for those of you wondering what Miss Subramanian's physics class had to do with anything: water does flow down the drain anticlockwise in the southern hemisphere. I checked.

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