left corner left corner
China Daily Website

Eat, pray, massage

Updated: 2012-12-10 10:22
By Jules Quartly ( China Daily)

Eat, pray, massage

The sacred spring at the 10th century Tirta Empul is said to purify the mind and body. According to legend, Indra pierced the earth to create the "fountain of immortality". Provided to China Daily

Bali deserves its reputation as the 'Island of the Gods', Jules Quartly decides, although being so popular has inevitably changed it over the years.

Related: Diary of a spa virgin

An abiding memory of my first visit to the cultured tropical island of Bali 25 years ago is being ferried around in army jeeps and kids on the side of dirt roads waving at us, wearing just shorts and huge smiles. Nowadays, it's two-lane traffic jams and Buddha factories, beauty salon billboards and convenience stores. Abandoned constructions speak of unfinished business and the after-effects of the global economic crisis, while security checks at hotels, nightclubs and the airport recall the Bali bombing of 10 years ago.

But while much has changed, the magic remains and from the average tourist's point of view, it has arguably been enhanced.

For instance, it's no longer a problem finding a comfortable place to stay on the Indonesia isle, since there are about 2,200 hotels to choose from. Then there are all the mod cons, a service-friendly culture and plenty of luxury goods to shop for if you feel so-minded.

While there are still backpackers toting around their Lonely Planet "Bible" and the usual surfer suspects in Kuta, most visitors today are the upwardly mobile crowd in search of a "branded experience".

Which is where China comes into the picture. Riding the wave of an economic boom, a record 235,000 Chinese nationals poured into Bali between January and September this year, a surge of 31 percent compared to the same period in 2011.

This puts Chinese in second place behind Australians in terms of visitor arrivals, comprising 11 percent of the total annual number of more than 2.2 million, according to Bali Tourism Agency figures.

And while it used to be that Chinese traveled only in tour groups, they now tend to be well-moneyed individuals seeking a five-star experience, even chartering jets during peak periods such as Chinese New Year and National Holiday.

Previous Page 1 2 Next Page

Hot Topics
Photos that capture the beauty of China.