Bali – serenity of Nusa Dua and some hidden gems

The drive to our hotel in Nusa Dua was surprisingly smooth and raised some hopes for finding less traffic for the remaining half of the trip. The hotel was fabulous and luxurious. The ground floor rooms opened into a lawn with direct access to the beach – that was amazing. The food was more expensive than the smaller places we had been to, but it was still inexpensive. It did sound quite a handful in the local currency, though. This part of the trip was a more cultural experience than the prior one, mainly due to some good choices and hotel facilities.

The beach was super clean but had tiny waves. It was great for swimming but lacked the flavor of doing it in the sea. There were jet-skis and other water sports equipment to rent and I did enjoy that for a while. Most of the snorkeling and scuba destinations required a day trip in a boat. The best part of the beach though was to be able to have a meal overlooking the deep blue sea and just enjoying the breeze. The hotel swimming pool was quite close to the beach and was massive. It offered a perfect alternative for swimming and I used it quite often.

There are several things to do in the area – the Uluwatu temple, some hidden pristine beaches, watersports, a strip mall, and sipping on Luwak coffee. Even though the plan was to stay in the resort and rest up, we ended up going out quite a bit and discovering some gems. The Uluwatu temple was the highlight of the trip.

The Uluwatu temple is located right on the west coast of the island. The temple itself is really small and most people don’t even end up reaching the temple. It’s the view of the temple right on top of a cliff that is the most majestic and the walk in the area is fantastic. The best time to be there is just before sundown, not just because of the beautiful colors in the sky but also the performance of the ‘Kachak’ dance. It’s a religious dance form that is usually used to showcase scenes from Ramayana. There is a large troop of dancers all repeating the word ‘kacak’ endlessly while a few lead dancers portray the mythological heroes and villains. The view of the sea from the amphitheater for the dance performance is great too. There is a lot of walking to be done at Uluwatu, but all more than worth it.

On the way back from Uluwatu, the road was surprisingly clear and we passed by a farm that produced Luwak coffee. It was too tempting to not stop and take my first sip of this legendary coffee that some argue is the best in the world and others squirm at its mention. For the uninitiated, the process of roasting the coffee beans involves feeding them to a cat-like animal called a Luwak. The beans pass through their system intact but are cooked by the stomach acid. They are collected from their poop, thoroughly washed, roasted, and then made into the most expensive coffee money can buy. Which side of the Love Luwak Coffee debate are you on now? Well, we tasted some of the coffee, saw a few luwaks, and heard some stories. The coffee was good but my palette is not fine enough to differentiate it from the great.

By the time I left this farm, traffic had built up and it probably added an hour to my very short drive back. I decided to have dinner in the hotel and chill for the night.

One great experience of Bali was a visit to this hidden beach, Padang Padang. I wouldn’t call it a secret beach as there were a few dozen people there when I reached, but the path to getting there involved coming down a very narrow and long stone staircase cut between two rocks on a cliff. The beach was pristine and just the fact that you walk through a funky staircase made it even more exciting. It was great for a swim and many pictures too, though the right angles were a little hard to find. More recent online pictures seem to indicate that it is a lot more commercial now but it was good to find it relatively calm when I saw it.

The other memories of Nusa Dua are about two fantastic dinners. One on the seaside in a small restaurant with some live music and delicious seafood. The table was right on the beach, maybe ten feet away from the waves and it was quite dark, making the experience quite romantic and relaxing. The second was a luxury dinner in the hotel at about 1.5 million rupiahs per person with a performance of Legong dance in the foreground. I managed to book a table right in front and had a fantastic buffet of local fare with a lot of variety and delicious food.

A lot of time in Nusa Dua was spent in the hotel pool and some more at a local spa just outside the hotel getting Balinese massages. The local experience of massages is similar to that in Thailand. There are many tables crammed into each room, with curtain separators. The massages were quite good, though. Overall an excellent trip, more relaxing than adventurous for me – but Bali has something for everyone. You only have to make your choices.

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