Bali is a small island, just east of Java, with a combination of serene beaches, active night life, artisan craftworks, a culture of dance and theatre, rainforests, volcanic mountains, green terraced rice fields, and great cuisine. We stayed on the Nusa Dua beach in south Bali before heading north to Ubud. Ubud is a crafts center, in the heart of Bali, in a lush forested area, withrivers in gorges and unsuspected waterfalls making their appearance over tall ridges. In the distance, you can see Mt. Batur (another volcano) on the skyline.
I will just say that Ubud does have a Starbuck’s, however, most of the town is quaint with an open air market and crafts people making batik, wood carvings and especially sterling silver items (still made by hand). It was a joy to just walk through the town and stop along the way to talk to people and see their wares.
Dining in Bali was fabulous. One night I had steamed grouper with a lemongrass sauce that was to die for (at the Four Seasons Resort in Ubud). There are fabulous hotels in Ubud that are very reasonably priced. One hotel sits at the top of the gorge, overlooking the Ayung River. Each room there has its own plunge pool.
We were able to see the “Barong” performance while in Bali, again with the traditional gamelan music instruments. In Indonesian, the word, “gamel” means “to hammer”. The best way to describe the gamelan is that is akin to a series of giant xylophones, all being played at the same time by a crew of dedicated musicians, who play for hours on end. The music is lovely and accompanies most of the theatre performances.