In the late 60’s, when I first started cruising, Holland America had an all Dutch crew. I happened to be onboard in the middle of the Atlantic when word came down that Holland America was eliminating the Dutch room stewards and waiters and going to a largely Indonesian crew. Not a great day to be on a cruise ship! But for years Indonesians have been the mainstay of Holland America crews. For years I have had room stewards and waiters, most of them from Bali, telling me about “Glorious Bali.”
So yesterday I finally had the chance to visit Bali . . . and these guys are “spot on” (sorry, picking up another version of English). What a beautiful islands and it is no wonder Indonesians refer to it as “Glorious Bali Island.”
Bali is 2,175 square miles with a population of 3 million. Unlike rest of Indonesia which is 86% Muslim, Bali home to the majority of Indonesia’s small Hindu population (about 4%), but 93% of Balinese are Hindu, meaning there are temples large and small everywhere. Bali is the largest tourist destination in Indonesia and renowned for crafts such as woodcarving, painting, silver and gold jewelry and batik.
Bali’s tourist economy was severely damaged by the Bali bombings and is struggling to recover. Benoa is a relatively new port, created after the bombings, in part I believe to lure cruise lines back to what may be perceived as a “safer” destination. The ship anchors out and the tender ride through the reef is about 40 minutes. The Balinese people fell into three categories: the tourist-related people who were warm, gracious and friendly, the locals along the way who waved and smiled and were gracious, and the street vendors who were generally in-you-face, insistent, demanding, obnoxious and who wouldn’t take “no” for an answer.
Bali is a charming and beautiful country, lushly tropical, with small house-hold temples in front of every dwelling, huge temples in every town, and marvelous architecture and artwork everywhere you looked.
Here are a few shots from yesterday . . .