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Where in Bali after 2 trips there?

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We have visited Bali in 2000 and 2004 and stayed in the Denespar/Jimbaran Beach area and Ubad for a total of 9 days. We visited the rice fields, monkey reserve, local villages, a few local small festivals all within a 50 mile radius.
We enjoy "take your breadth away scenert", interesting but different cultures than we have seen, primitive farming techniques, a little time on a gorgeous beach(maybe for 1/2 day) and quality snorkeling equal to Koh Yao/Krabi/best of Phuket for 1 or 2 1/2 day trips on small group safe boats if possible, good food and and opportunity to see some native animals preferably not in a preserve but a real natural preserve without a show is o.k.. We likely would return to Ubad for 2 days having not been there for 4 years when we go in March '08.
We will also be going to Java for 4-5 days,the Monado area (Bunaken National Park) for diving/snorkeling for 5-6 days. We did not enjoy Lombok and do not want to go to areas that have have unsettled political situations i.e. Timor, etc.
Can you suggest 2 destinations in Bali that will satisfy our somewhat narrow criteria for a 5-6 day period for a total of 17-18 full days plus fling days?? 4 Star+ hotels in the area you recommend would be helpful plus we need guides, if you used on in the past 2 years or so. Thanks.

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    I just got back from 10 days in Bali four days ago. I'm in the process of updating my site http://www.bombasticlife.com with info about Bvlgari, Four Seasons Sayan and Amanusa hotels. All were beautiful and very unique in their own way. Have a great trip. As you know, there is no place like it in the world.

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    Stan, rather than go wider in Bali I'd suggest you go deeper. You're already covered for diving in North Sulawesi so I don't see any point in adding in North Bali. (There is no underwater scenery anywhere near Bali that's as good as Sulawesi.) You'll get plenty of volcanic scenery in Java so I wouldn't necessarily add more mountains in Bali.

    Instead I'd suggest that you stay along the same latitude as Ubud and go further east and west. There's culture throughout central Bali but the central band is where you'll find the most traveler friendly resorts, villas, restaurants, spas.

    I'm very fond of the Amankila and it's less expensive neighbor, Alila Manggis. The beaches are just soso but the views over the ocean are splendid and the area has a lot of interest in arts and crafts.

    Since you're interested in farming techiniques you should spend some time learning about the subak, which is the collective organization that regulates all of the water that irrigates the rice paddies. Any guide (or for that matter 99% of all resort employees) would be able to explain this traditional and highly ceremonial system. It governs everyday life to an alarming degree considering how recent development has upset the eco-system.

    What else are you interested in? Dance, art, mask making, religion, healing arts? Any of these could be a contender for "going deeper". Balinese culture is so complex that sometimes you have to sit and wait for it to come to you.

    I doubt that you'll find any beach in Bali (or Indonesia) that comes up to the Caribbean or Thai definition of gorgeous. I love Seminyak beach because it is long, sandy, with big waves and awe inspiring sunset, but it is hardly pristine.

    By the way, I think I may have suggested this before, but I'd take a look at Kungkungan Bay Resort in North Sulawesi. I like Bunakan, but I love Kungkungan. Here's another interpretation of a gorgeous beach: a peaceful cove, black sand, uninterrupted views of an island dotted straight replete with local craft. You can snorkle or scuba a few steps from your bungalow. The sealife is extraordinary.

    In Sulawesi, I'd also include a visit to Tangkoko forest preserve. You can do daytrips or overnight and see fabulous wildlife including hornbills and rare primates.

    Since you're already going to Sulawesi you might also consider a trip to Tanah Toraja. This is one of the most fascinating cultures on the planet set amidst profoundly beautiful scenery. Although Central Sulawesi has recently experienced quite a bit of sectarian violence the trouble is in the Poso area Tanah Toraja hasn't been affected.

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    PS, I'd recommend this organization for culture tours in Bali. It's run by Judy Slattum who is an American college professor and the world's foremost expert on Balinese mask and her husband a Balinese dancer. Nice people and extremely knowledgable. They will also tailormake excursions to suit your areas of interest.

    http://www.danutours.com/bali_menu.htm

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    i just got back from a day trip to the north side of Bali - Lovina, etc. I can definitely see the attraction - flat sea, very little development, and a different climate. Also stopped at Git Git waterfalls, which is probably the most spectacular bit of natural scenery I've seen on the island.

    There's supposed to be a lot to see along the north shore - salt harvesting, dolphins, etc. Stuff you won't see around the south side.

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    Thanks to all above. We stayed at the FS at Jimbaren Bay, FS-Sayan and the Aman. We loved the FS Sayan the best but don't want to revisit the same region. We thought that since what we saw and did that maybe there were areas that were far different that were worth seeing. We are staying at the Minahasa Lagoon Resort outside Monado primarily because it has A/C and we were told by 2 travelers that the food was suprising very good and was not all fish for dinner. We will be reading up on Java but what one destination in Java would you suggest where we could take 1/2 and day trips to a variety of interesting and diffrent places. Any recommentation of a up-scale Sheraton/Hyatt or Asia chain except Aman for us to consider. Also, any issue of safety at this time for one's personal safety beyond what you woud find in NYC or S.F.? Where is Bvlgari and what does it offer that Bali does not? and Amankila is where and what does that area offer different than the areas I mentioned we have already enjoyed in Bali?
    I have traveled 4 times in Thailand and Malaysia in past 9-10 years and think my opinions are more valid than most guide books. That's why so many questions of you folks.THANKS!!

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    If I can impose, we will be coming from New York and thought about taking Sinapore Airlines non-stop to Sinapore and fling first to Monado. We really prefer to limit flights to our 2 other destinations,Java and ?, to non-stop flights and minimize the cost(economy) because the flight to Asia in Premium Economy will be ~$1700/person, 4+ star hotels, snorkel outings many days and driver/guides 5-7 days +++ will be quite expensive as most long trips to Asia are.

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    There's Trunyan in Bali where the Aga people bury their dead in the open. I gather though that they are not tourist friendly but there are organised tours there. I only made it to the other Aga village in Tenganan. The latter is okay but not high on my "must go back" list.

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    1. Flights
    Once inside Indonesia you should fly Garuda even though some of the other smaller airlines may be cheaper. Airfare is still relatively inexpensive. The distances are greater than you may think and delays are common so don't plan any tight connections.

    2. North Sulawesi
    I haven't been to the Minahasa Lagoon Resort so I can't compare. All 4 star resorts have a/c so I don't think you'll find it a hardship unless you're "roughing it" at a homestay or hostel.

    My experience with dive resorts outside of Manado is that you'll spend quite a bit of time on the sea getting to dive locations. That's the advantage of actually staying in Bunakan or on the Lembeh Strait.

    From Manado you'll have to fly to Makassar in South Sulawesi to get to Java or to Bali. Makassar is the jumping off point for tours to Tanah Toraja. If you're looking for culture and natural beauty you should consider this area.

    2. Central Java
    Central Java has a lot of charm and a lot of annoyance. It's very hot and the towns are very congested. Tourism is not highly developed.

    The Hyatt in Yogyakarta is good. The rooms are basic (tile floors, simple furnishings) but clean and the gardens and pool are expansive and a welcome relief from the pollution and traffic of Yogya.

    It's still a good hour+ from the Hyatt to Borobudur, however, and impossible to get there at dawn unless you leave at 4:00 a.m. So a night at the Aman is highly recommended.

    There's another resort right on the grounds of Borobudur, the Manohara, but it may be too basic for your needs. The Losari Coffee Plantation which is about an hour in the other direction from Yogya is also highly recommended for ambience (but I haven't been there myself).

    3. Bali
    There are a lot of destinations in Bali but I don't think you'll find them much different from each other. The culture is mostly harmonious so a temple festival that you visit in Singapadu, for example, will be quite similar to a temple festival in another village. Wonderful if you're interested in this sort of thing (which I am); repetitous if you're not.

    Amankila is on the East Coast. I think the draw is the archtecture which is stunning. The beach is good but not exceptional. East Bali has a lot of cultural attractions and art forms, but again, whether you'd find them different from what you saw in Ubud depends on your level of interest. The differences are there but they are subtle.

    Bvlgari is a mega-star resort on the bukit (the cliffs between Nusa Dua and Jimbaran.) I haven't seen it yet, but it's very posh from what I understand. I don't particularly like the bukit because you have to go down (and evenutally UP) stairs and stairs to get to the beach.

    4. Other ideas
    You might also want to take a look at the Amanwana on Moyo island which combines diving/snorkling with nature travel.

    5. Safety
    On a personal level Indonesia is very safe and violent crimes are rare. Just be aware of your belongings and don't leave them where they may tempt.

    Terrorism is another situation altogether. North Sulawesi, Central Bali, Central Java have been untouched. Bali, as we all know, has had some terrible terrorist attacks. Although the Indonesian government (with help from Australia and the U.S.) has done well in rounding up the lunatic fringe, there is still a tiny group of Islamic extremists bent on causing harm. As one scientist friend says, you should count them in parts per million. The chance of terrorism upsetting your holiday is low, but as in many, many other worldwide destinations, it exists so you have to know your own comfort level.

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