Arriving in Bali the doors of the plane open and stepping out into the equatorial humidity hits you before anything else. This is a tropical island paradise where the life is slower, the people smile more and before you are even done with your first day you are sure to find yourself floating on an Indonesian cloud.
Denpasar airport is the first port of call and it looks like a oversized old ballroom equipped with art nouveau chandeliers. Instead of lushious round tables, bow ties and a jazz band playing this ballroom arrivals terminal is equipped with several small booths where the masses of tourists, mostly Australian, queue to get their visas to enter Bali.
Visas for Bali cost US$35 OR AUS$50 and can be paid in pretty much any currency.This price has recently changed from the normal US$25. The process is quick and seamless with the lady behind the counter welcoming us to Bali with a big smile. The customs and immigration officers were talking amongst themselves as they checked my immigration card but Anthea got chatting to the guard who said that six days in Bali wasn’t enough.
A quick bag scan and little walk later we were out into the arrivals hall of the airport. It is a interesting experience as you are so used to seeing families with loved ones and children who on their tip toes peer over the barrier to see that familiar face. This was not the same. Along the glass barrier stood men in loose linen and tropical beach shirts all hosting an array of white pieces of paper some with name scribbled in anything that left a mark and others with snazzy printed and laminated card.
We eventually found our man; Deta greeted us and welcomed us to Bali. He was kind enough to explain a few of the procedures and how to avoid being taken for an ignorant tourist on our first visit to this equatorial archipelago.
The ride to the hotel was interesting to say the least. Scooters hummed like bees flying from a hive around us and with jerky movements they flew from one side of the road to the other. With no real guidelines to how many people could occupy a scooter or what items may be carried on the scooters it made for some interesting observations with children asleep on the handlebars, dogs sitting on feet and an enormous crate of corn carefully balancing on the back.
Katut, our driver, said that this was all perfectly normal and told us to ensure we barter with the storekeepers in the marketplace. Zooming up in our little van to the front of our hotel we were met by hotel security who opened the back door to suss out the arriving goods; us.
Driving up the driveway; I had a moment. As if those movies where the princess makes her way to the caste for the first time. She stares from her window and time slows as she gazes in wonder; well that was me at the reception of our hotel.
The Royal Beach Hotel in Seminyak is simply beautiful. The staff are friendly and our room is exquisite. We were kindly shown to our suite after a refreshing arrival ice tea and once the receptionist had shut the door we found ourselves giddy. We giggled like little girls, jumping up and down and I proceeded with my face planting ritual on the freshly made beds with crisp white linen.
We spent the last bit of the afternoon lazing at the pool surrounded by tropical gardens which are impeccably kept. We ordered a celebratory cocktail coming to the mutual agreement that this was going to be paradise for the next little while and just what was needed for our souls, we were then prompted to take our first sip.
The beaches of Seminyak come alive at twilight and it was the perfect time for us to wander alongthe charco coloured sand. The umbrellas, surfboards and loungers are packed away while the beanbags, lanterns and small bands litter the beach.
With unrecognisable lyrics to the songs we all know to vendors selling local goods to singers whose voices could be mistaken for that of Keith Urban we found a spot to enjoy our first Bintang Beer.
We made our way to The Sand Beach Bar and Alex; our waiter called us his darlings as he ushered us to nearby bean bag as we sang along, sipped our beer, enjoyed the sunset and listened to the grovel and molasses-like voice of the singer near by.
A little wander along the restaurants dodging scooters and minivans we arrived back to our haven with an evening dip in the pool and a restful evening in beds fit for any princess.
With first day in Bali complete; I can now understand why so many people recommend this peaceful, beautiful island and why for so many people it is not their first visit.