Small palm-leaf baskets delicately filled with flowers and burning incense sticks placed outside homes, businesses and even on top of stationary scooters, give Bali the sweetest smell.
The Canang Sari, one of the daily offerings made by Balinese Hindus, brings a touch of beauty to even the most chaotic, litter strewn streets as scooters piled high with goods weave past confused tourists and traffic-jammed cars.
Navigating the frantic streets of holiday hotspots such as Seminyak, where I stayed for two nights, can be arduous.
It’s hard to ignore the continuous calls of “hello, darling”, “where are you going?” or “taxi, taxi” from enterprising locals.
But the friendly nature of the Balinese means you never feel lost or alone even as a solo traveller, there’s always someone to talk to. Whether it’s because they want to practise their English or because they want to tell you more about their country and customs.
In Seminyak you will want for nothing: clothes, jewellery and artwork are sold on every street, in cheap stalls and luxury boutiques.
Cafes serve delicious juices and coffees and the restaurants range from local ‘Warungs’ – family run businesses serving traditional Nasi Goreng (fried rice) – to swanky beach front hangouts, frequented by glamour seeking tourists.
When the chaos, horns and scooter dodging becomes too much, head to the beach where the sand stretches as far as you can see and everything will soon disappear. The best time to go is without a doubt at sunset.
On my first night in Seminyak, I found a beach bar with an acoustic band playing, sat on a bean bag in the sand and watched the gorgeous sunset with a cold cider.
The following evening I went to Bambu Restaurant, for a five-star traditional Indonesian meal. Impeccably dressed waiters in white greeted me with a smile as I was led along stepping stones, over water filled with colourful fish, to my table.
My waiter explained I could choose from three levels of spice and recommended favourites from the menu. I chose the red mullet with coconut, turmeric, ginger, cucumber and pear sauce, which came with a side of ‘rempeyek’ lime crackers and Balinese rice.
I was full but I couldn’t refuse trying the dessert. I opted for a dish from the Sulawesi region called Terang Bulan, made up of street-style pancakes with dark Java chocolate, roast nuts, toraja coffee and ginger ice cream. Both the main and the dessert were insanely good – I think it was one of the best meals I’ve ever had.
The total cost, including service and a non-alcoholic cinnamon soda cocktail, was just $35 AUD.