The streets are noisy. The amount of cars, push bikes, motorbikes and the ever-present mopeds that fill the tiny roads is almost unbelievable. You need all the lucky charms you can get to cross a road here. You have to watch every step you take down the pavement, as there are gaps big enough to sink a leg through. If you fall through a gap, you fall into the sewerage system. Hawkers call out to you every few paces. Come and look inside their shop. Do you need a taxi? Fresh fruit, satay for sale and how about you hire a moped for the day? Cheap price, good deal or special price seems to largely be the extent of English spoken on the streets. It’s hot, terribly hot, hot enough to make beads of sweat trickle down your back. The flies never leave you alone, especially when you’re eating a meal.
It’s funny how quickly all of the above just fades into the background.
Because Bali is amazing. It’s lively, with shops and restaurants staying open until the early hours. Any establishment you walk into, you will be greeted with a cheery smile. The markets have all sorts of treasures, from wooden carvings, to handmade clothing (I already own three pairs of jazzy shorts, for the grand total of about £4), to jewellery and scarves and handbags and novelty bottle openers. The vendors enjoy a haggle and will laugh with you when you are bargaining for a good price. Even with the street hawkers, there is no need to say “no thank you” more than once. It is a tropical paradise, with little birds the size of butterflies and beautiful butterflies the size of birds. The scent of incense from the offerings wafts from all directions, as well as punchier smells, like garlic, lemongrass and ginger.
If there is one thing that I can pass on from my short time in Bali so far, is that you must, simply must, go to the restaurants specialising in Indonesian cuisine. And you must NOT order fish and chips, or chicken Kiev, or nachos from their ‘Western Menu’ section at the back. You must go with your gut, be brave and order Nasi Goreng, or tuna wrapped in banana leaf, or green beef curry. These, and dozens more, are dishes known and loved by the chefs and they cook them with passion and knowledge and that flavour comes through in the dish and it tastes amazing. The chap said his least enjoyed meal so far was the spaghetti carbonara he ordered for lunch one day. It was bland, and understandably so, because Balinese chefs work best with their own flavour palate. Even if for some reason you don’t enjoy one meal, persevere! Because Bali has something for everyone, especially for a greedy foodie like me.