KARACHI: Being a Pakistani passport holder can be challenging and at times frustrating if you’re fond of travel. The choices Pakistanis have are limited, especially if we are to travel without much of visa hassle.
According to the Henley Passport Index, the green permit is the fifth worst in the world just above Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria and Somalia – in terms of access it has to countries without a prior visa. While others can make it to a hundred sovereign states or more without a visa or visa-on-arrival, we are limited to a handful 33! This misfortune makes the entire travel process and documentation lengthy and laborious.
However, putting worries to rest, there still are destinations that can make your trip worthwhile, without excessive and cumbersome visa requirements, and on a shoestring budget. And Bali certainly tops our list!
Famous for its exotic beaches, terraced rice fields and fascinating, rich culture, Bali needs no introduction and rightly so. It is affordable, easily accessible and offers tonnes of activities besides its well-acclaimed beauty.
Located in the east of Java, Bali is an Indonesian island with Denpasar as its capital, Indonesian rupiah its currency and Balinese Hinduism its most practiced religion. Indonesia is a Muslim majority country, which makes Bali all the more unique and intriguing due to its demographic makeup, particularly its long adherence to Balinese Hinduism. Over 80% of Bali’s population is Hindu. Locals are religious and peaceful and it is certainly evident in their conduct. The city has over 20,000 temples and no visit is complete without seeing one.
The city overwhelms the olfactory senses where the smells of the archipelago waft alongside those of incense, marigold and the ubiquitous banana leaves, radiate spiritual energy. Bali is perfect for peace-seekers, meditators as much as it is for party-goers or honeymoon couples.
The island’s main Ngurah Rai International Airport and business districts are situated in the capital, making it the centre of all commercial activities.
Ubud has to be on everyone’s list owing to its signature rice paddies, monkey forest and luscious, green mountains. It takes you to its own raw, unapologetic wilderness! According to Badung Regency Tourism, over six million tourists visited Bali in 2018 and at least three million visited Ubud alone. The hotels and resorts range from PKR 6,000 per night to over PKR20,000 per night and beyond – catering to all kinds of travellers. The plethora of activities Ubud offers include white water rafting, jungle swings, bike tours, a visit to elephant sanctuaries and hot spring waterfalls. The Tegallalang rice terraces give visitors that perfect, quintessential photo opportunity – must on a Bali visit!
Bali is home to numerous traditional villages and Kintamani in the north happens to be one with Mount Batur vivid in the backdrop. This active volcano is surrounded by Lake Batur and some of Bali’s remote yet vibrant villages. Penelokan road offers the most breathtaking views from here, especially with lowered, crystal clear clouds on a sunny afternoon. Mount Batur erupted in 1917 and 1927. Kintamani gives you stories and reminds how soul-enriching experience Bali can be. Conveniently accessible from the south, this heavenly abode can be easily explored in a day.
One of the most-visited attractions in Indonesia; Kuta is popular for its pristine beaches, roadside cafes and bustling nightclubs. Located in the south, Kuta is radically different in outlook from the aforementioned destinations. The beauty of Bali lies in how diverse it is in landscapes. There is something for everyone! The famous Kuta Beach, also known as the Sunset Beach, is home to luxurious resorts and shopping malls.
The Beachwalk Shopping Centre reflects the extravagant side of the island with renowned brands and coffee shops vastly available. However, local shops are readily prevalent as well. This location also offers various water sports activities including parasailing, flyboarding and snorkelling, among others — being an ideal spot for a friends trip. A lot of honeymoon couples stay around Kuta and nearby Jimbaran, which is famous for its seafood.
Cliffs of Uluwatu and Kecak Dance
No trip to Bali is complete without a visit to the stunning Uluwatu temple. Located by the sea on a 70 -meter-high cliff, this temple holds a lot of significance in Bali’s culture and religion and offers mesmerising views of the ocean.
Inscriptions indicate the temple was built 1,000 years ago. One has to walk through the rocky stairways to make it up the temple — quite a journey in itself. Visitors are given traditional scarves and sashes on arrival. Many come here particularly to watch the majestic sunsets, and feed the monkeys. Make sure not to step over the offerings left on the ground!
A busy day in Uluwatu is followed by a traditional dance performance called ‘tari kecak’ in the evening. Kecak performance is more of a music drama by the fire, narrating the famous Balinese Hindu folklore of Ramayana. People into literature and history find ‘tari kecak’ quite fascinating.
Nusa Penida and Nusa Dua
Taking off the beaten path, Bali’s nearby remote islands Nusa Penida and Nusa Dua offer a peaceful escape from the touristy hustle and bustle. Despite lacking infrastructure, they are easily accessible by boat.
Nusa Penida can be explored on a motorbike alone and on a cruise if you want to make it to the other side. Manta Bay, Malibu Point and Crystal Bay serve as popular diving spots. People visit these isles to experience the untouched beauty of Mother Nature; better known for their green cliffs by the turquoise ocean.
All photos by author