There’s bound to be a special place in anyone’s heart for the first exotic holiday location to which they ever travel.
While my first foreign holiday was to Greece (in typically British style) my first ever experience of a long haul destination was landing in Denpasar airport, Bali, more years ago than I care to admit – and I was overwhelmed, intoxicated and amazed in equal measure.
Now all those memories have come flooding back as my youngest brother has been bitten by the travel bug and found himself travelling to my favourite paradise island: Bali…
I have loved travel for decades, but lately I am realising that it might be time to start to pass the love-of-travel baton on – just as long as I can still simultaneously keep hold of it for myself that is.
When it comes to those long term backpacking trips and the first time exploration of a new continent I may have been there and done that, but it is time for my other members of my family, in this case my younger brothers, to understand my passion for gallivanting around the world themselves.
While I’m now much more likely to rent a villa or an apartment or stay in a luxury hotel than to check in at a local hostel, for the last couple of months I have been enjoying that kind of long term travel vicariously through my two brothers who have been on their first round the world trip to Australia and Asia.
While their sun drenched photos of the beaches and blue skies of Brisbane, Sydney and other Australian locations made me jealous in the midst of a pretty dreary UK winter, it was the luscious and exotic images of laid back Bali which really made me reminisce.
That’s because of the very special place I hold in my heart for Bali, as the first place in Asia I ever visited.
I can still remember the smell of the flowers, the fact that after I landed it had just rained and everything was covered in a heavy sweet dew. And I remember the uniquely Balinese details: musical instruments I heard, the edible offerings I saw everywhere and the smiles all around me.
Since that trip I’ve been on more visits to Asia than I can recall, but I have never been back to Bali – meaning that first heady experience of the thronging city of Kuta, the serene trips through the rice fields and even the day trip to Waterbom waterpark remain forever etched in my memory as the perfect vacation in Asia.
Back when I went to Bali for the first time there was no such thing as a digital nomad, there was no location independent scene in Ubud, and Lombok was a remote and practically unheard of location.
This was in the days when there was no such thing as Air B&B, reading online reviews of hotels before booking would have been far fetched, and the concept of renting a villa using a company like Asia Holiday Retreats, would have seemed only for the richest and most sophisticated travellers, whereas now it is possible for anyone, even a backpacker to enjoy a bit of luxury.
I told my brother the stories about craving a hamburger and ending up at Hard Rock Cafe in Bali (and then I found myself there another couple of times during my six week stint on the Indonesian island, much to my shame) and I tried to tell them my memories of the things I did in Bali – island adventures, lying on beaches, meeting monkeys and travelling to temples.
But as you can see from these photographs the best thing about travel is finding your own way – he found his own paradise in Bali – and now it will be me who turns to him for advice next time I book a trip to what remains one of the most picturesque places I have ever visited.
And after seeing these pictures myself I feel another trip to Bali coming on – sooner rather than later.
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