Amed, Bali, Indonesia. While snow storms are pummeling my home on the east coast of the United States, I’ve been gifted with the rare opportunity to travel for an extended visit to the Indonesian island of Bali. Bali, tropical and exotic, is unlike almost anywhere else on Earth. It has a predominately Hindu culture within a predominately Muslim nation. It sits just to the west of Wallace’s Line, thus hosting a largely southeast Asian biota, just a stone’s throw from Lombak with its more Australian-derived biodiversity. Bali is steeped in tradition and faith, yet caters to one of the largest tourism markets in the region. It is a land of active volcanoes, verdant rice paddies, luxury villas and awe-inspiring temples. And it is nearly on the direct opposite side of the planet from my home in Maryland. December is the beginning of the Bali’s rainy season, so while I may have escaped the Mid-Atlantic’s snow, I have not escaped the precipitation. But this is tropical rain. It begins as a sweltering, sunny day and then a faint rumbling in the distant. Jet black storm clouds roll in off the sea at lighting speeds, and thunder relays off the many steep mountain faces, valleys and volcanoes, creating an echo chamber of excitement.
The skies burst in torrential downpours, soaking the land. And then, as quickly as it started, the rain stops and the sun returns, illuminating the radiant frangipangi blossoms on a backdrop of azure skies. I am here to explore, experience, taste, see, smell and dive into Bali’s ocean wonders. I am traveling with a close friend whose garment company is based here in Bali, allowing us both an insider’s view and access locally guarded secrets, including amazing Indonesian food and favored villas by the seas. While here, I am doing a bit of content writing for Trip by Skyscanner (formerly gogobot), the online travel service.