Destination: Bali

One Man’s Odyssey into ‘Eat, Pray, Love’

Elizabeth Gilbert's best-selling trans-global travel book is a fun read -- but don't expect Rolf Potts to embrace the fantasy

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Indians in Bali: The ‘New Americans’?

In the wake of the Bali bombings, the country’s traditional tourists—Americans, Australians and Europeans—started to vacation elsewhere. Asians from countries such as India, experiencing rapid economic growth, filled the gap. But as Karim Raslan notes in a recent article for the Financial Times, there’s something familiar about these tourists. They often behave with the same cultural elitism that characterized the stereotypical American, becoming, as Raslan calls them, the “New Americans.”

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Women’s Travel E-Mail Roundtable, Part Eleven: (De)Parting Words

All this week, four accomplished travelers -- Stephanie Elizondo Griest, Liz Sinclair, Terry Ward and Catherine Watson -- talk about the rewards and perils of hitting the road alone as a woman.

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The World Hum Travel Zeitgeist: Bali, Bargains and Jet Blues

The Silk Road, Mexican beach towns, Chiang Mai and those poor passengers stuck on the tarmac at JFK were on travelers’ minds this week. Here’s the Zeitgeist:

World’s Best Travel Value: Island
Travel + Leisure Readers’ Poll (March 2007 issue)
Bali, Indonesia
* The rest of the top five: Phuket, Thailand; Ko Samui, Thailand; Langkawi, Malaysia; and Borneo.

World’s Best Travel Value: City
Travel + Leisure Readers’ Poll (March 2007 issue)
Chiang Mai, Thailand
* The rest of the top five: Kathmandu; Mendoza, Argentina; Hanoi; and Bangkok.

Most Read Story
World Hum (this week)
Armrest Seating, Anyone?
* Perhaps those stranded JetBlue passengers can relate.

Most E-Mailed Travel Story
New York Times (current)
Viewing Two Chinas From a Stop on the Silk Road

Most E-Mailed Travel Story
USA Today (current)
Check Out Under-the-Radar Mexican Cities and Beach Towns

Top Travel and Adventure Audiobook
iTunes (current)
A Walk in the Woods

Best Selling Travel Book (current)
1,000 Places to See Before You Die: A Traveler’s Life List

Most Popular Page Tagged Travel (recent)

Most Read Weblog Post
World Hum (this week)
JetBlue Apologizes for Stranding Passengers on Planes at JFK
* It makes this seem not so far fetched.

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Dancing for Tourism on Bali

Reports Reuters via “About 5,000 people danced in a trance outside a Balinese temple on Friday in a colossal show aimed at reviving the Indonesian island’s tourism industry, still feeling the pinch of last year’s deadly bombings.”

Tags: Asia, Indonesia, Bali

Bali’s Bargaining Ballet

Bali’s Bargaining Ballet Photo by Terry Ward.

On a trip to the Indonesian island, Jerry V. Haines bought a batik shirt, a painting and a flying pig. Along the way, he discovered that haggling is like a dance, and you can't stop dancing until the music is done.

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Elizabeth Gilbert: ‘Eat, Pray, Love’

In "Eat, Pray, Love: One Woman's Search for Everything Across Italy, India and Indonesia," Elizabeth Gilbert turns to travel in an effort to find, well, everything. Frank Bures writes that her journey will leave you smiling in your liver.

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Visitors Slow to Return to Bali

After a terrorist attack in Bali last October left 20 dead, experts predicted the island’s tourism industry would rebound within a year or two. That may yet happen, but at the moment, four months after the attack, the tourism business is still in a major slump, and owners are worried, according to an AP story on CNN. The numbers tell the story. Said the director general of Indonesia’s Tourism Ministry: “Just before the bombing, the number of tourists arriving every day had reached 5,000. Today it’s about 2,100.” If you’ve been reading World Hum, you already know that Bali-lover Liz Sinclair has been undeterred by the attack.

Why I am Still Going to Bali

Bombers have killed hundreds and decimated the island's tourist-based economy. But Liz Sinclair refuses to cower.

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Bali, Terrorism and the Economics of Fear

We recently pointed to a USA Today story noting that terrorist attacks don’t have the crippling economic effects they once did. So what will come of Saturday’s bombings in Bali, which killed 26 people? An article in Forbes online suggests tourism will rebound relatively quickly. “Although Saturday’s blasts will mean a sharp fall in Bali’s tourist arrivals, analysts said the experiences of other target cities suggest its beaches will be packed again within a year or two,” the article states. That’s good news for Bali and bad news for terrorists.

I Heard the News Today

Australian Danielle Brigham always lamented that she couldn't find news about home while traveling abroad. Then came October 12.

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On Bombs and Backpackers

Time magazine’s Michael Elliott has crystallized our thoughts perfectly. In an eloquent essay in the Dec. 16 issue, he laments the chilling effects the latest terrorist attacks in Kenya and Bali could have on global backpackers. “Few modern social developments are more significant and less appreciated than the rise of backpacker travel,” he writes. “The tens of thousands of young Australians, Germans, Britons, Americans and others who wander the globe, flitting from Goa to Costa Rica, from Thailand to Tasmania, are building what may be the only example of a truly global community.”

But the bombs targeting tourists threaten all that. Elliott himself discovered Europe 30 years ago by hitchhiking around each summer. “I learned more from those trips than from years in school, and I’d begun to look forward to the day when my daughters would light out on their own ventures—to go see their relatives in Australia or hike in Tibet or do things in Bali that they wouldn’t want to tell Dad about,” he writes. “So add one more reason to hate what the terrorists have done: they’ve stolen our dreams.”

State Department Warnings on Bali: Confusing

Few predicted that Bali would be struck by the kind of violence that killed 180 people recently. But in the Los Angeles Times on Sunday, writer Jane Engle suggests that the warnings were there. “When they bombed paradise on Oct. 12, nearly everyone was surprised—except, perhaps, those who had carefully read the travel safety announcements issued by the U.S. State Department,” she writes.

Engle notes that the U.S. State Department issued a November 2001 warning for Americans to avoid visiting Indonesia, and that two days before the bombing it issued a worldwide caution urging citizens to avoid places where Americans hang out, such as clubs and restaurants. “Taken together,” she writes, “the Indonesia and worldwide statements said, in effect: Don’t go to a club in Bali frequented by Americans. But you had to read both to get the full picture.”

I don’t believe that the travelers injured or killed in that Bali nightclub or any other tourists in Bali at the time were acting irresponsibly—that if they had only done their research they might have avoided the place. Sure, Bali has long been surrounded by troubled islands. But the fact is that before the bombing, Bali was said to be generally safe—by the State Department and many others. A couple of months before the bombing, while researching a travel article, I called the State Department to question the agency’s contradictory statements about Bali. (As Engle later notes, the department’s consular information sheet for Indonesia both warned that the country was dangerous and stated that Bali was largely free of disturbances.)

Should I really be writing an article suggesting Bali was safe, I asked? Is it responsible? Not to worry, a department official told me. Bali had a safe track record, hence the caveat about the island being free of disturbances.

So there you go. State Department warnings and statements, however well intentioned, often raise more questions than they answer. The department’s statements about Bali were contradictory and confusing. Fortunately, Engle urges travelers to tap other sources of information about potential destinations beyond the State Department.

On that point, I couldn’t agree more.

Tags: Asia, Indonesia, Bali

On Bali, Fear and Imagination

The terrorists who killed backpackers and others in Bali see tourists as symbols of materialist culture. With their murderous act, they want to reverse the trend of globalization, but Andrew Lam hopes they don’t succeed.

“While I mourn the deaths of those killed in Bali, I remain optimistic that human movement will continue,” he” target=“_blank”>writes in Pacific News Service via Alternet. “The world is too interconnected, too integrated, after all, for that trend to be reversed by fear.”

Lam sees travel as a radical act that challenges orthodoxy, and he won’t be deterred from traveling. “The idea of a static world immobilized by fear is one where the imagination dies,” he writes. “That is far more terrifying to me than any terrorist bomb.”

We couldn’t agree more.

Tags: Asia, Indonesia, Bali

R.I.P. Bali Bomb Victims, Bali Tourism

The terrorist bomb that killed hundreds in Bali has touched travelers the world over. Jason Gaspero, for one, knew he’d never be the same when he heard about
the explosion from his home in Hawaii. Gaspero spent years teaching English in Bali, and he was a regular at the Sari Club, the site of the explosion.

“The Sari Club was, in my opinion the finest international vortex of hedonism and decadence in the whole wide world, and I say that after much consideration,” he writes on Lonely Planet Online. “I mean, you could find people from everywhere in this place: Australia; Canada; Sweden; New Zealand; South Africa; Denmark; Norway; England; Argentina; South Korea; France; Germany and dozens and dozens of other countries. It was the United Nations of drunken, sweaty, sex-crazed glory, and it was all in fantastic fun.” Gaspero insists that his will to travel will not be diminished.

Meanwhile, shaken British tourists are returning home. Australians are trying to make sense of the devastation in their backyard. And Southern California surfers, at least a few of them, say they won’t be deterred from visiting Bali, where great waves promise to be less crowded than ever.