Last week, we shared the experiences of Mike and Linda Collier and Kurt and Sharon Bodmer - four Americans who literally grabbed the first plane they could across the Pacific following the September 11 tragedy and headed for Bali.
This week, another story from yet another American, Jack Ridley, whose 2 week Bali holiday started just before the September 11th terrorist attacks in America.
Jack Ridley, a San Diego surfer, wrote:
I traveled recently to Bali for a surfing and touring adventure. This was my first visit and I had no apprehension or concerns since many of my friends, both surfers and non-surfers, had reported numerous fantastic and safe experiences to Bali for many years.
After 22 hours of traveling, I was warmly greeted by my new friends at Bali Discovery Tours who treated me like a king from start-to-finish. Virtually everywhere I visited in Bali - from the airport to hotels to local surfers on the beach, I was greeted with warm, welcoming smiles. Bali people love to smile and it was contagious. Everyone, including visiting tourists, seemed to be in friendly, mellow and happy moods. Even during crowded surfing conditions the "vibes" were very good and comforting.
My new buddies Jimi, Meda and "Wingnut" at their Belangan Beach beachfront warung, made me so comfortable and "adopted" me as their American brother. Jimi was gracious enough to take me to his beautiful home and extend an open invitation to return and stay with him and his family. This kind of treatment was typical of my 2 weeks in Bali.
Mr. Sugeng Suprianto, Operations Manager at the Bali Hai Beach Club and Hai Tide Huts on Nusa Lembongan Island essentially gave me and my friend, Troy, the golden "keys" to the resort. He assigned his water staff special responsibility for transporting us to surf spots anytime we wanted. His lovely wife cooked us a delicious authentic Indonesia seafood feast on our last day. Mind you - these wonderful people had never met me before, I had no special VIP "credentials," and did not pay one cent extra for such exceptional hospitality and treatment. I kept asking myself when I would get a "special kindness" bill, but it never came.
I was in Bali during the terrorist attack in America. It was quite disturbing and unsettling to hear of sketchy news reports and not be at home with loved ones. Everywhere I went in Bali, people extended their concerns and sympathies. Several offered to let me stay with them and their families in the event I could not return back to America.
As I mentioned, Bali Discovery Tours personnel were incredibly helpful and professional during my visit. They helped our group safely navigate through the beautiful countryside, escorted us to choice shopping and cultural sites, organized a very special dance presentation in one of the local villages, and treated us to the finest dining experiences I've had in many years.
One question still plagues me after this wonderful Bali experience: Why did I leave so soon? I actually felt safer and more at ease in Bali than in America, despite the tragedy experience. It was hard to leave such beauty and warmth, especially all my new friends including guides, taxi drivers, travel representatives, storekeepers, hotel personnel, and all the smiling, curious villagers from aged 2 to 82.
During recent years, I have traveled to many international destinations. I can say without hesitation that my Bali experience is at the top of my travel experience list. I felt absolutely safe and well cared for by all the Balinese people I encountered.
I highly recommend Bali to anyone, especially during such turbulent times as these. It's probably want we all need the most right now - the comforting surroundings of a peaceful, beautiful land and its people.
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