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A unique Balinese vacation

Bali is truly like no other destination on earth. Whether you visit the mountains or Ubud or the beaches of Kuta, you will be exposed to a friendly and warm culture and beautiful scenery. My trip took me to one of the most popular destinations in Bali-the town of Ubid, made up of artist’s galleries and workshops.

Culture: Starting a vacation in Ubud is akin to stepping into another world. I was told that Ubud was the cultural hub of Bali, and that certainly seemed to be the case. Traveling through the town, I was made aware that while it may look like just one town it is actually made up of 14 distinct villages. To me this showed yet another cultural difference in Bali, as small familiar units are the norm. Each person I talked to wanted to share their history, their family and then village’s history. Such a welcoming and friendly act that makes visitors feel instantly a part of the culture.

Cooking Classes: To better understand Balinese traditions, I joined a cooking class so that I could prepare a traditional meal when I got home. The instructor, a native of Ubud, demonstrated every detail in preparing a green curry dish served over rice, and the fragrant smells nearly overtook me. Students could choose whether to make the identical recipe, or alter it to fit a vegetarian diet. Of special interest to quite a few of the students was learning the process to process coconut oil, which was used for frying in all of the dishes. All the recipes were given to us to keep after we shared a delicious meal together eating our own Balinese dishes and trying each others.

Spas and Healing Massage: There are countless spas offering services in Bali, ranging from upscale services and traditional healing practices. I received a traditional Balinese massage, which incorporated stretching, aromatherapy and even acupressure to increase the blood flow in the body. In a similar vein, there are also healing centers which place more emphasis on the internal that most spas. I tried a traditional massage called the Mandi Lulur, which finishes with a yogurt rubdown and then a bath filled with tropical flowers. The aim is to detoxify and refresh the skin, and it was both effective and relaxing in a way that I had never experienced in any other spa on earth.

Markets and Shopping: Perhaps one of the most exciting places to explore was the Ubud Market. The market is two stories high, and full of local vendors selling their wares. I took interest in the many wooden carvings, paintings and silver jewelry, most of which are sold by the actual artists who created them. The lower floor had higher prices and was loud with bargains and yelling, which made for quite a vibrant atmosphere. Upstairs, vendors haggled over the right price for each item, but some great deals were to be found.

Traveling to Bali can be expensive depending on your point of departure but there are plenty of airlines who offer cheap flights to Bali if you know where to look. Some of the most inexpensive flights and holiday packages to Bali depart from or connect through Australia, as Bali is a popular holiday destination for Australians.

Whether you travel to Bali for the beaches, the vibrant culture, the cooking classes, spas or markets, you won’t be disappointed in this one of a kind destination.

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