This small Indian Ocean island bursts with thousands of Balinese Hindu temples and 3 million Balinese all of whom seem to be on scooters at the same time! No sense is left untested: Bali is equal parts serene (lush jungles, mystical volcanoes, black-sand beaches), chaotic (buzzing markets, vibrant dance performances, tourist-clogged Kuta beach) and spiritual (delicate incense-and-flower temple offerings, carved goddess figurines, burning funeral pyres). It is a magical place to find or celebrate love. And is it ever the place to shop!
But to me and from the trailer, it seems as if Julia/Elizabeth agrees - Balis jewel is its lush, artistry-rich and karma-centric interior with its cascades of emerald-green rice paddies and traditional villages. Central to this experience is the once-sleepy, now trendy village of Ubud. Its boutique- and restaurant-lined streets and maze-like palace market make it one-stop shopping mecca (the Balinese are unparalleled artisans) for jewelry, carvings (shown above at left), furniture and fabrics, while its rice paddy-flanked and river-kissed outer fringes are home to secluded resorts offering romantic suites and pampering spas. Two I enjoy are the luxurious Four Seasons Resort Bali at Sayan, a modernist masterpiece secreted alongside the rushing Ayung River, from $460/night, and the more affordable Uma Ubud with its yoga focus and clean, breezy décor (shown at right; courtesy of Uma Ubud), from $260/night.
You shouldnt leave Bali without experiencing: a karma cleansing ceremony on the beach near Uluwatu temple; a dance performance preferably the mesmerizing Legong (shown at left) inside a fabric- and garland-draped temple; mist-shrouded Lake Beratan with its multi-tiered Ulu Danu temple; and the Sacred Monkey Forest Sanctuary in Ubud with its vine-covered statues and mischievous monkeys. But most of all, take time to observe the Balinese people as they pause to light an incense offering, effortlessly balance a basket of fruit atop their head, dance with equal parts precision (the women) and passion (the men), and turn a piece of wood or silver into a precious objet dart. You don't need to meet Javier Bardem to fall in love with Bali.