I have been to over seventy countries in the world, many with reputations that I do not agree with. However, none seem as undeserved as Bali.
Here in Melbourne, there seems to be a widely held belief that only bogans go to Bali. For my non Australian readers, a bogan is:
(an) “Australian term used to describe members of society that are a combination of what the Yanks call Rednecks, Jocks and Trailer Park Trash. Most likely found wearing mockies, flannelette shirts and consuming VB (bad Aussie beer)”
Saying that you are going to Bali seems to amount to standing up and announcing that you are a bogan. I actually can’t even think of anyone else I know who lives in Melbourne and has been to Bali!
I am not sure how prevalant this attitude is throughout the rest of Australia. I discussed it with some Western Australian friends who did not see it that way. This is not surprising as Bali is a very popular destination from Perth (it is not far and there are cheap flights).
I don’t think anyone who has actually been to Bali could argue that it is only for bogans, unless they never left an area called Kuta, and if that was the case, then I think it says more about them than it does about Bali. It does also beg the question as to why it is so bad to be a bogan, be perceived as a bogan or to go somewhere that appeals to bogans.
I am not ashamed to say that I have been to Bali twice, and I love it.
I have had to defend Bali many times. The most annoying thing about this is that it always to people who have never actually been there.
I do not understand such strongly held views about a place that you have:
1. never been to
2. don’t know anything about except that it’s apparently for bogans.
I am not going to deny that there is a bogan area. Kuta definitely has a bogan vibe. It also has a fun vibe. So many tourist areas around the world have areas like Kuta. The only reason I can think of why Kuta has such a bad reputation here is that it’s the only place I’ve been to overseas that is so Australian focused.
There are Australians everywhere.
The Balinese stall keepers often talk with an Aussie accent. I wouldn’t say that it is full of bogans though, more that it is full of people who want to party and act like idiots. It’s not just bogans that do that!!
Kuta is a small area, like a suburb. If not liking Kuta is enough of a reason to not go to Bali, I think it’s like saying that you shouldn’t come to Australia unless you are only interested in seeing the opera house or that only sex tourists should go to Thailand. It is just one facet of a very fascinating place.
Anyway, enough preaching! Why should you add Bali to your must go list? I hope the following will help dispel the myth that Bali is only for bogans. This is only a very brief summary of some of what Bali has to offer.
This really is a destination that has something for everyone. Do you want a relaxing resort holiday? Check. Would you like an adventure holiday? Check. Family holiday? No problem. Beach holiday? Check again. Party trip? Definitely. Cultural holiday? For sure. And I could keep going… It is hard not to love a beautiful, tropical island with an interesting culture, plenty of variety, friendly people, excellent food, fantastic beaches, many activities, plenty for non beachy types and cheap to boot.
Bali is a small island, but it is perhaps bigger than people realise. It is about 5700 square kilometers and has a population of 3-4.5 million (google gave me lots of answers!). It is a popular holiday destination, but it is also easy to get away from other tourists. There is a lot of variety on this little island.
For the people who like to take it easy, there are many many resorts. If you want one where you can get away from everything, that is easy to find. If you want one central to other things to do, that is also easy. It is also possible to get one+ bedroom villas with their own private pools for no more than you’d pay for a hotel room here in Melbourne.
Being an island, there are lots of great beaches. The most popular, at Kuta and neighbouring Legian, is a great place to go even if you don’t like the beach, like me. Everyone seems to hit it in the evenings, including the locals. In fact the times I have been there, the locals outnumbered the tourists.
It is a great place to sit back and people watch. If you want, people will get you beers and massage your feet while you watch the sunset. It is awesome. There are many other beach areas to choose from if you prefer something more low key.
If you prefer a bit of adventure or outdoor activity on your holidays, then there is plenty for you too. There are extreme sports, such as bungee jumping, lots of water sports including being a popular place for surfing, bike riding, hiking and volcano climbing to name but some.
For culture junkies, Bali also has a lot to offer. The Balinese culture is unique. Most people are Hindu on this island which is surrounded by Muslim Indonesia. There are temples everywhere, and you can’t walk down the street without seeing offerings.
You are also a quick and easy flight away from Yogyakarta, a very fascinating place with some awesome sites. This is on the island of Java, so I am cheating a bit by mentioning it here, but we visited it on a day trip from Bali. It is worth the effort. It contains some amazing ruins that reminded me a lot of Angkor Wat. I have no idea why this place isn’t more famous.
If you are not a beach person, or if you like some variety, head to central Bali. The main town in the area is called Ubud, and it is one of the loveliest places I have been.
It’s very low key compared to the beach areas and surrounded by gorgeous scenery. If you are worried about bogans (seriously, are they that scary?!), this is a great place to go. Although I am sure many Australians must come here, I didn’t hear a single Aussie accent when we stayed here. There were far more Europeans.
For food lovers, Bali surprised me with just how many good food places there were. I don’t think I have eaten a bad thing there. It wasn’t only good Balinese food either. They seem to have mastered many different cuisines. This is something I have found to be rare while travelling. I am getting hungry just thinking about it. There are also cooking classes.
And yes, this one won’t surprise anyone, but Bali is good for drinking. Who doesn’t love a great coconut cocktail though?!
Not only does one small island have everything described above and more, but it is very close to Australia and very cheap.
If you are lucky enough to live in Perth or Darwin, you can fly to Bali relatively quickly and for hardly anything. It’s a bit further from Melbourne, but with direct flights only taking six hours, it is relatively very close for such a different experience. A trip to Bali usually works out cheaper than a trip within Australia, even with airfares.
This is because once you are there, everything is cheap. You can eat well for basically whatever price you want to pay. Transport is very good value (although the traffic is chaotic). Accommodation can also be found for every budget. As you would expect from somewhere that attracts a lot of tourists, there is good tourist infrastructure which makes a trip here very easy.
.Probably the word I have heard most mentioned in relation to Bali outside Australia is “beautiful”. So many parts of Bali are just stunning.
There is the beautiful coastline, but more stunning, in my opinion, are the central parts of the country. It is quite mountainous and lush with volcanoes. We took a walk through rice paddies outside of Ubud, and it was amazing. If the heat is a bit much for you at sea level, you can also escape it here.
For people who love tropical weather, you are picking the right place. It is a great place to escape winter in southern Australia for a few weeks.
I have never heard a bad word spoken about the Balinese. I always felt welcome in Bali, sometimes too welcome as there are touts around which can be annoying, but no worse than any other developing country that sees a lot of tourist.
Service was generally very good. Things move at a slow pace but everyone is always very nice.
It is also very kid friendly. The Balinese love children, and there are no issues with taking your kids with you anywhere. They will be made to feel even more welcome than you!
So, what do you think? Are you brave enough to put your preconceptions aside and give Bali a go?