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Bali: Basic Facts

by Walter and Cherie Glaser

The Balinese use lots of spices in their food, but these are a lot gentler than, for example, Indian or Malay spices. Dishes are very standardized, with diners adding spices from side dishes to the meal. Balinese cuisine is almost entirely stir-fried, then served luke warm at room temperature. The reason is that the wife or mother of the family will generally cook early in the morning around 5 to 7 a.m., and then leave the prepared food in the kitchen where family members help themselves when they wish. As the climate is hot, food is rarely heated. It is eaten with the right hand, often using a banana leaf as a plate. Dishes include a lot of fruit which grows profusely and is very cheap. The most popular spices are chilli, turmeric, curry powder and tamarind. The most popular meats are chicken, fish, goat and duck. Seafood is also very popular.

Because of the above traditions, tourists will probably find the food at hotel dining rooms more to their liking. All the major hotels have excellent dining rooms and are competitively priced by international standards. Local restaurants catering to tourists are also springing up all over Bali. Your best bet is to check with your hotel concierge, telling him your food preferences so that he can point you in the right direction.

Shopping is one of Bali's great delights. Handicrafts are outstanding and make marvelous decorator items. Paintings, woodcarvings, jewelry and silverware are great buys, but don't forget to declare all wooden items to quarantine on arrival back.

Vibrantly colored textiles are also a pleasant surprise and, in many cases, at ridiculously low prices. If you take some of your favorite resort clothes and casuals to Bali, you can have them meticulously copied for an amazingly low cost.

For very high quality Indonesian products, some of the best shops with the finest workmanship are at the Four Seasons Resort, the Grand Hyatt Resort and at Kupu Kupu Barong at Ubud.

Take your camera with 3 times the amount of film you think you might need. Film is expensive in Bali. Also take sunscreen and a wide-brimmed hat, comfortable walking shoes, and loose cotton clothes. Bon Voyage!


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Note: This information was accurate when it was published. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the businesses in question before making your plans.

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