Thursday, May 1, 2008

Bali bound

Bali isn't the polished, beach babe that you expect, but she certainly has her charms.

She can be crafty - think batik, basket weaving and wood carving.
She can be hardworking - rice fields and cattle take up all open space.
She can be laid back - courtesy of the surfer and backpack vibe.

Three days was hardly enough to see it all ... but I can always come calling on Bali again.

If you, too, are short on time, here are some highlights:

Do the pig -- Stuffed with spices and then spit roasted to a crispy perfection, Babi Berguling is a classic Balinese dish. Go to Warung Ibu Oka in Ubud. It isn't the fanciest, but it's been called the best. There you can grab a seat on the floor, sip on a lime juice and indulge in this sublime pork specialty.

Do the creatures - In Ubud, there is a Monkey Forest. Skip that, those creatures can be nasty, and head instead to the Bird & Reptile Sanctuary. They have a Komodo dragon, plus amazing owls, macaws, lizards and even large-winged bats that you can get up-close to.

Do the shopping -- The shopping alone is enough reason to go to Bali. This is an import mecca for many island-inspired home goods you see in stores. Bypass the markup and stock up on placemats, baskets, napkins, woodcarvings, textiles and more (I got napkin rings that sell at Pottery barn for $8 for $0.75). They also have some cute boutiques that specialize in island wear at a fraction of what it costs back home.

Do the fish -- Catch a taxi to Jimberan and then stroll into one of the many fresh seafood restaurants along the beach. How fresh you ask? Your fish is plucked from a tank and then grilled before your eyes.

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