The Bali Run
We went to Bali for the first time some months after the 2002 bombings. Tourists had deserted this jewel of an island and tour operators were eager to stimulate visitors to return to the island. This was a golden opportunity because as a family of four, for reasons of economy, we had always picked local holidays or trips in popular destinations in Europe for our holidays until then.
When I noticed a great last minute offer for Bali, it was actually cheaper than going to Tenerife or Tunisia and much cheaper than renting a cottage in the UK, once all the costs had been weighed up.
So I booked the holiday and a few weeks later we headed for Bangkok before flying on to Denpasar. In Bangkok, we just had the time to visit the Grand Temple and make the drive to the Floating Markets and Rose Garden to watch a cultural show. It gave us the opportunity of acclimatising to the heat and humidity.
When we arrived at our hotel we were surprised to find the hotel almost empty. Around the pool, there were free loungers and no lines at midday for the lunch buffet.
Just outside the hotel we met a lady who proposed to take us around the island to visit the sights. We agreed on a price and asked her to come and pick us up the next day. Unlike many other destinations, the Balinese are laid back and although business is business, you are always greeted with a smile.
This way we were spared the organised bus tours and could take the time to appreciate the countryside at our own pace. Stopping when we wanted to with no pressure to be back for a specified time.
Our guide told us her name was Mary, but I think that was just for our sake. She spoke some English and we had interesting conversations as we drove from temple to temple and from beach to beach. It was about as perfect as it could be and although we were far from home and had children to look after, we felt surprisingly safe and secure.
Bali is a wonderful island to visit and we ended up visiting five times over seven years. There is a lot to see, the hotels are comfortable and well equipped and the Balinese are so welcoming that you just want to come back just one more time.
The second time we visited I had successfully lost weight. For most of my adult life I’ve struggled to maintain a healthy weight with varying success and I tend to go from one extreme to the next. This time I was feeling great.
Next to the hotel, the Ramada Bintang Bali in Kuta, there was private beach and we loved bathing in the cool waters just before sunset after a busy day sightseeing.
On one occasion, and I can’t remember exactly how it happened, my son and I broke into a run and ran barefoot along the beach, our feet leaving traces in the sand. I can still feel the wind in my hair, taste the salt on my lips and see the smile on the face of my beautiful boy. I’m sure it was only for a few hundred yards at most but for me they are unsurpassable moments that I still cherish years later.
Recently, after a few years of being unfit and carrying excess weight, I’ve decided to work at being fit once again and start living life to the full.
I’m training to go from couch to 5K and beyond, and when I start to run again, I’m sure that my thoughts will return to these memories with fondness.
This is the eighth part of a series of travel tales.
8. The Bali Run