Subject: Re: Bali
Hi Dan,

Bali is one of our favourite places to escape to from HK. We've been there 3 times now and always find it a great place to relax and regain a sense of balance.

Our favourite place to go is actually on the interior - an artist's colony called Ubud. We've actually never stayed in a big resort there, preferring to go to the smaller places. But - if you want a total beach holiday - (if your budget allows) a big resort is probably the best way to go because, otherwise, the beaches can be quite crowded and touristy.

Our favourite place to stay is Murnis: She's a wonderful lady and is an incredible story in her own right. She was one of the first people in Bali to recognize the potential for tourism, started the first restaurant in Ubud directed specifically to tourists, and then a store through which she sold (and still does) Bali crafts and antiques and employs dozens of local women (at good wages) to make high quality copies of the traditional jewellry and crafts. We have been out to see her, relatively secluded, Villas (which are beautiful) but have only stayed in the "Houses" - right in the middle of town.

We've also enjoyed staying at Alam Sari which is about 6km out of Ubud and a wonderful walk into town through the small villages and terraced fields (or you can book the hotel's car). The owners (westerners) have done some wonderful things here too - from the start they have trained and employed the local villagers to work at the hotel and also provide local artists with a venue to promote their work. It looks like they have added a lovely spa since we were last there.

We were going to rent a car and drive ourselves the first time we went but forgot to bring international drivers' licenses and were told that you must have them to rent. However - we hired a car with driver and were rather glad that we had (the roads are not great - and police stop you for any apparent reason - expecting what is to us a small 'donation' each time). We had him drive us from the airport area up to Pemuteran (a great place for hikes and diving) where we stayed a couple of nights. Then we got a local bus (great experience) over to Lovina (black sand beach - less crowded than down south and east) and then over to Candidasa (I recommend the Watergarden hotel) and finally to Ubud. For small jaunts out from your home base - it's usually very easy to hire a car and driver from your hotel (cheaply).

Re. season? Mmmm...from some reports the best time to go is April to October (cooler and dryer) but....we've always gone either around Christmas or Chinese New Year (Jan/Feb) and not experienced too much rain. Living in HK, of course, we are pretty used to humidity. So...perhaps early fall is the best.

Have a great time. And...if you go to Murni's - please say "hi" to her for us!

Cheers! Judy in HK