When you’re flying twelve hours across the globe, it makes sense to make the most of the opportunity. During my time in Singapore, I decided Bali was a worthwhile visit. Just three hours South-East of Singapore and home to a diverse culture and landscape, it’s one of the world’s top tourist destinations – and it’s clear to see why.
The first thing that struck me about Bali is how cheap everything was. From the lavish beach-front hotel (backpackers – feel free to criticise me!), to the food, services and local produce, it truly is a remarkable contrast to the eye-widening prices of Singapore – where a bottle of wine will cost you upwards of £60/$80.
We hired a driver for ten hours to take us around the island from dawn until dusk. This enabled us to sample a fascinating range of attractions across the island, mingle with the locals, and sample the culture away from the crowds. From coffee plantations, paddy fields, temples, remote villages and a volcano, a personal driver is a definite must if you’re heading there yourself. Being based on the western side of the island also meant we could witness the striking sunsets over Seminyak beach.
We were treated like Kings the entire time – which is not surprising considering the importance of tourism as a source of income for the Balinese people. It’s not all paradise however. In places, it’s clear the island is struggling to cope with the volume of visitors and the infrastructure is leagues behind the capacity it’s been built to support. The journey from the airport to the hotel also highlighted the poverty some regions operate under – something which honeymoon couples might wince at if they were expecting something similar to the Maldives or Mauritius.
To me, this all added to the charm of Bali and is the reason I went there. There’s a rawness to the island and its people and, despite the influx of visitors, Bali has so much to offer if you venture off the tourist trails. Find yourself a local and let him take you to the places he recommends, away from the crowds and in to the true Bali.
Author & Photography – Oliver Pohlmann