Bedazzling Bali

Bali … it’s one of those take-your-breath-away destinations. You ask yourself,

Where has this place been all of my life?

And the answer is: Right here – for centuries and centuries – enduring turbulence, yet maintaining its rich culture, spiritual dignity, and exotic mystery.

When you arrive in Bali your ears are assailed by the discordant-yet-pleasant tones of gamelan music. The sting of spicy sambal introduces your tongue to a new taste sensation. Elegant dancers move with graceful, near-impossible gestures. Your eyes are dazzled by the visual and spiritual complexity of the canang sari left on family altars and strewn across sidewalks. The pungent scent of incense wafts on the breeze. And you just feel … alive!

We’ve been to Bali twice – each time as part of an extended Round-the-World trip. Both times we arrived filled with the wonder of a child, and left unwillingly. Anytime life throws us a curve ball (like Terri’s recent knee surgery), we talk longingly of heading back to Bali.

It seems that all will be OK if we’re in Bali.

So, for the next few weeks we thought we’d take you to Bali with us and show you why we love this magnificent place.

And we know that so many of you have already discovered beautiful Bali and written about it. Please send us the links to your posts so we can feature your work and share it with the gang.

Terri & James

Last updated October 7, 2019

The view from the world’s coolest public bathroom.

Photo Credits:
1. Yves Picq via Wikimedia Commons
8. Midori via Wikimedia Commons


We're Terri and James Vance - high school sweethearts who went on to international careers and became world nomads. Today, 65 countries later, we're still traveling ... and still in love. Check out Our Story for more of the backstory at

73 thoughts

    1. Thanks for the comment Lillian and for reblogging our post. Bali is a special place that, even with its increasing popularity, has maintained the unique essence that makes it an exceptional destination. ~James

  1. There are some *wonderful* photos in this collection. We too fell in love with Bali. It is such a special place. I think I wrote four posts about it. I would go back in a heart beat.

    1. Alison, I’ve heard a few complaints from previous visitors about how busy Bali has gotten, and how much it’s changed. But, I haven’t heard anyone say that they wouldn’t go back. As you know, it’s just that kind of place. In all our travels, our first visit to Bali was one of the most special and memorable trips of our lives. ~James

  2. If there is a place that quietly defies the craziness of the rest of the world, it is Bali. Though it was over 30 years ago I was blessed to live near enough to “pop over for the weekend” it remains unchanged in my mind and obviously in your photos. Looking forward to seeing this series Terri and James and reliving the sensual wonder. My talisman, anytime I’m feeling down in my “Bali Man”

    1. Martha, being able to pop over on the weekend must have been a real treat! Our first visit was 15 years ago, and we talk about how surreal the whole experience felt – magical! It seemed like “time out of time.” I just checked out your “Bali Man.” What a wonderful character. I would love to know the story behind the photo. Care to share? ~Terri

      1. Terri, the photo is very old and I’m sure the gentleman is long since gone but he was the epitome of Bali for me; smiling, happy, welcoming and so centered in just who he was that day. I can’t remember much else. I do have a full length shot of him and have always loved his hat.

    1. Hi Cathy, so glad to hear from you. I’ve just been catching up with your adventures since leaving China. Wow, you’ve been busy! Thanks for the kind words. We enjoyed Bali immensely, and although it’s been “discovered,” the Balinese people and their culture of rich traditions make it a fascinating place to visit. Thanks again for dropping by. 🙂 ~Terri

    1. Joyce, our first trip to Bali was about as magical as a trip can be. It was so special in so many ways, that it would be hard to improve. It says something that there are still places like this on the planet. Love, JH

    1. Thanks so much, Carol. It’s hard to go wrong photographing just about anything in Bali. I really appreciate your well wishes – they definitely lift my spirits. I’m not ready for a game of kickball yet, but I’m hobbling around pretty well. 🙂 ~Terri

  3. Bali is a place I would love to visit. If you can´t travel right now, revisiting Bali through your blog is the next best thing. I look forward to more posts. How is the healing process going for Terri? That bathroom looks very cool BTW.

    1. Darlene, I think you would really enjoy Bali – and being in Spain you’re already half the way there! Thinking about its beauty and simplicity makes me happy. And isn’t that bathroom great – if I could just recreate that look at home. 🙂 The healing process is going well – my physical therapist says I’m several steps ahead on my progress, so that keeps me going. Thanks so much for your encouragement. ~Terri

  4. Even with all the dazzling color vying for my attentions in every direction, I get the feeling of grace. Wow. On the other hand, it’s a knock-your-socks-off place. Show it to us. I’m front seat, center. 😀

    1. Tess, that’s what I love about you! You’re always ready for the next fun thing. 🙂 As much as you enjoyed your trip to China, I think Bali would also steal your heart. And by the way, you totally hit the nail on the head – “I get the feeling of grace.” Perfectly said. ~Terri

  5. This is a place I could use right NOW. I keep putting Bali off until I can spend an extended period of time in that part of the world, but I’m afraid your upcoming series is going to push me to get there sooner rather than later!

    1. Lexie, you’re such an intrepid traveler that I think Bali would be right up your alley. And your instinct about spending an extended period of time there makes total sense – we ended up staying several weeks more than we originally planned. But I must admit that if I could come up with an affordable way to get to Bali – even if only for a week – I’d drop everything and go. 🙂 ~Terri

  6. How is the recovery coming along Terri? Hoping all is going well and that travel visions are dancing in your head, and your knee for that matter. Bali looks amazing and your photos very tempting. Can you speak to safety in Bali and any current unrest?

    1. Thanks so much, Sue. I’m doing really well – well, at least my physical therapist is pleased. I’m hobbling around pretty good now – James calls me Grandpa McCoy (from the Real McCoys TV show of our youth). And yes, I have travel visions dancing in my head, but I’m not ready to tackle the Appalachian Trail, yet. Now I have to settle for getting to and from the mailbox. 🙂

      Great question about safety and security in Bali. In the past, the main troubles have been focused in Kuta, a very tourist beach town – think Spring Break on steroids. Not our kind of place. We love Ubud and the surrounding villages and I’m not aware of any problems in those areas. Bama, the commenter below, lives in Jakarta and visits Bali regularly. He might have some additional insight. I checked and the US doesn’t have any travel warnings for Bali, so that’s reassuring.

      Thanks again for your well wishes – I sure do appreciate it. 🙂 ~Terri

  7. Living in Jakarta allows me to go to Bali quite often in the past five years. Do I still want to go back? Absolutely! Bali is an island I will never get bored of. Its traditional music evokes this sense of calmness (and holiday!), and its beautiful temples really are a feast for the eyes. Hopefully once Terri has fully recovered, both of you can go to Bali for the third time.

    1. Bama, I’m so envious of your easy access to Bali – and thrilled that you still love going there. That speaks volumes! You write so beautifully about Bali – I think I’ve read all of your posts – and plan to feature several of them in the coming weeks. In addition to your gorgeous photography and detailed explanations of Balinese traditions, I love your food posts. You definitely know your way around a sambal. 🙂 Do you also cook Balinese food?

      Thanks very much for your well wishes. I’m starting to walk around with my “new knee” and looking forward to future trips. Who knows, it might be Bali. All the best, Terri

    1. Kathy, we haven’t been to Lombok … yet. It looks beautiful and your photos are great. Those baskets they weave are pretty spectacular.

      Thanks so much for your well wishes. I have a very good physical therapist who is quite a task master – but that’s a good thing when you’re trying to teach your leg how to walk again! 🙂 Are you on the road now or spending some time at home?~Terri

  8. Amazing pictures.. would love to visit bali. Would recommend visiting india if you haven’t yet

    1. Thanks for you comment and for dropping by the blog. We spent 2 weeks in India a few years ago and really enjoyed it. As you know, it’s a huge country with such tremendous diversity, and it should be on every serious traveler’s list. ~James

      1. Do visit my blog. It has travelogues from different places of india..

      1. Well, first off I am game for most places. But Bali and Indonesia are high on the list. Papua New Guinea, Sri Lanka, and Fiji for good measure…you know. Not too many places…

    1. Thanks Rusha! So glad that you’re excited to see more of Bali. It’s a pretty amazing place. Maybe you and Bert could build a Habitat house there. 🙂 Talk about win-win. Where are you two off to this summer? ~Terri

      1. We’re actually renovating a house this summer instead of building something new. Location: Bucharest, Romania. But we’re adding a few days to see Prague and Budapest. But never enough time — could spend weeks in that part of the world. Thanks for remembering our Habitat connection.

      2. That sounds fascinating, Rusha. We haven’t been to Romania … yet, but I know you’ll love Prague and Budapest.

        I’m a big supporter of Habitat. Since I was a Special Education teacher I have often managed groups of Sp. Ed teenagers work on Habitat project – always an interesting adventure. 🙂 There’s a Habitat group near us working on converting shipping containers into housing for the homeless. They really do great work.
        When do you head to eastern Europe? ~T

  9. Bali is a dream destination for me, but feel that just a 2 week vacation would not be enough, so I will probably leave it to go when we retire. We are hoping to retire next year so not too long to wait. Your pictures are beautiful. I hope Terri is getting better every day and new adventures are on the horizon for you both.

    1. Thanks Gilda, it’s great that you’re hoping to retire next year. Look out world, here you come! You’ll have to tell me what places are on your must-see list.

      I really appreciate your well wishes. I’m starting to hobble around on my “new knee” and it feels great to be up and about. Hopefully adventures are just around the corner. 🙂 ~Terri

    1. Hi Leslie, so glad to hear that Bali is on your radar. Although we’d read about it before we went, we were gobsmacked by how much we loved it. It’s truly the definition of “exotic.” ~Terri

      1. There’s a Canadian artist (i forget his name) who went there and created the most beautiful paintings of the place.

    1. You are so right. In addition to being a very green place, the Hindus on Bali really believe in using bright colors. It’s certainly a photogenic place for sure. ~James

    1. It’s certainly a beautiful and romantic place Steve, that’s for sure. Terri and I carry special memories from both our trips, as I’m sure you and Leslie do. Everyone should go there at least once. ~James

  10. I agree with several commenters – the colors are awesome – so vibrant. You may be amused at this: Bruce and I scratched Bali off our trip to SE Asia this coming March in favor of Jakarta. I know, I know. But we had to make a tough decision with limited time, and Jakarta just seemed like our kind of place – chaotic, dirty, jam-packed. Hah – we’ll see how THAT turns out. Looking forward to reading about beautiful Bali.

    1. Susan, these two places are certainly different, but both have lots to see and do. As the capital, there are things to see in Jakarta that you can’t see anywhere else in Indonesia, but as you say, it comes at a price. It won’t be a Bali experience, but I’m sure you’ll enjoy it. Have a great trip. ~James

    1. Nicole, You are so well-traveled and I definitely think Bali would bring a smile to your face. Not only is it beautiful and exotic, the people and gentle and so kind. 🙂 ~Terri

    1. It’s a truly gorgeous place, Pam, filled with fascinating traditions. And it’s a photographer’s paradise – you would love it!

      Thanks for the well wishes. My new knee ( James calls me the bionic woman) is doing great and I’m hobbling around pretty well. I’m just not ready for kickball yet! 🙂 ~Terri

  11. After reading the 43 or so comments on your Bali post it reassure me that will be a place to go with my friend after visiting Spain next year. Hope Terri will be up and down very soon. Happy life!!

    1. Hi Fabiola, It’s so great to hear from you! Combining Spain and Bali sounds like the perfect trip to me – 2 wonderful, rich cultures full of tradition all in one trip. Bliss! Do you know where you’re going in Spain yet?

      Many thanks for the well wishes. My recovery is going great and my physical therapist ( a real task master) is pleased. 🙂 Thank again, Terri

  12. Lovely read and photos! Brought back a rush of memories, thank you!
    My time in Bali inspired a new kind of peaceful strength I did not know I possessed. I fell in love with the vibes of this extraordinary land and it’s down to earth people.

    1. Thanks you, Nicola. I’m so glad that you dropped by. You write so beautifully. I love that you said that Bali inspired “a new kind of peaceful strength I did not know I possessed.” Have you written about it because I’d love to feature your post? I saw on your site that your just got engaged. How romantic. Congratulations to you both. All the best, Terri

      1. Awww thank you for that Terri! I’m honoured to have your appreciation. As of now I have only a short poem called “Shaking off the dust” which was inspired by a trek on the glorious Mt Batur in Bali. I will let you know when I have churned out a post on my Bali travels.
        Thank you for your wishes, I recently got engaged and married! We sailed over culture, continents, language and bureaucracy to be together and it drove me to write “My Inconvenient Marriage”, which is my most popular post till date. 🙂
        Cheers and thank you kind soul!

  13. Just hearing the name Bali brings thoughts of tranquility and beauty. Looking forward to this series! With a better than new knee, maybe you’ll revisit.

    1. Laura, we’d go back to Bali in a heartbeat. On our next visit, we’d get around the island a bit more. That’s where you’ll find tranquility. On our first visit, our hotel room was surrounded on three sides by wonderful, green rice paddies. Bliss. ~James

  14. Such beautiful photos!

    There are some amazing parts of Bali, just so long as you’re able to avoid the many drunken Australian tourists!

    1. Chris, essentially all of our time in Bali was spent in Ubud. We’d heard about the tourist scene in Kuta, and really wanted no part of that. And if we went back, we’d do other parts of the island, but still not Kuta. And honestly, I’d be concerned about security in those areas now. ~James

    1. Thanks for the comment Saira and for dropping by the blog. We spent a month on Java on our last RTW, and it was great, but honestly, Bali was the highlight of our trip to Indonesia. We’ve been there twice, and while it was much more crowded the second visit, it’s still Bali, and there’s nowhere like it. We’d return in a heartbeat. ~James

    1. Thanks Dawn. Lots of folks lament the fact that Bali has changed and is too crowded. We’ve been there twice now, and yes, it has changed, but it’s still a magical place. And I’m sure that you’d enjoy it. Terri’s recovery is going well, slow and steady wins the race. Thanks for asking. ~James

  15. We both LOVE Bali and have been there twice. Its very true that ut has become more crowded and that villas are replacing rice paddies at a scaringly rapid pace. Nonetheless it is a place like no other. The people and their daily rituals of offerings are probably what make it so special. Oh and the delicious food, and the massages.

    We wrote MANY blog posts covering both trips.

    1. Peta, in these days of low cost airfare and package tours, no place can be expected to stay the same – particularly a place as unique as Bali. But, even with the changes and crowds, I wouldn’t want to miss it. It’s still a magical place, and I wouldn’t want to deny anyone the chance to see it. ~James

  16. Really looking forward to reading your stories and advice for Bali! You mentioned Ubud is where you based yourself mainly for this second visit, so really curious to know your favourite parts about this area.

    1. Ray, you really can’t go wrong in Ubud. It’s a relatively small place so it’s perfect for just wandering around. The Monkey Forest Road is the epicenter for tourist places (restaurants, shops, bars, etc). On our trips, we stayed in family compounds that had been converted to hotels, and they were great. There’s a small park there where gamelan concerts and dance exhibitions are held. Also, we took a cooking class that included a trip to the market which was great fun, and a good way to interact with locals. I’m sure there are lots of daytrip tours that can be organized from Ubud, but honestly, we found lots to keep us busy (well, as busy as we wanted to be). Check out the Monkey Forest as well, but don’t take food, or if possible don’t even take a backpack. The monkeys are quite accustomed to people, and they can get aggressive if food is available. You’ll have a wonderful time in Bali – guaranteed. ~James

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