Bali deserves its reputation as the ‘Island of the Gods’, Jules Quartly decides, although being so popular has inevitably changed it over the years.
An abiding memory of my first visit to the cultured tropical island of Bali 25 years ago is being ferried around in army jeeps and kids on the side of dirt roads waving at us, wearing just shorts and huge smiles. Nowadays, it’s two-lane traffic jams and Buddha factories, beauty salon billboards and convenience stores. Abandoned constructions speak of unfinished business and the after-effects of the global economic crisis, while security checks at hotels, nightclubs and the airport recall the Bali bombing of 10 years ago.
But while much has changed, the magic remains and from the average tourist’s point of view, it has arguably been enhanced.
For instance, it’s no longer a problem finding a comfortable place to stay on the Indonesia isle, since there are about 2,200 hotels to choose from. Then there are all the mod cons, a service-friendly culture and plenty of luxury goods to shop for if you feel so-minded.