From the aeroplane window I spied no buildings, only coconut palms. I asked myself, what had I done? This was my first trip outside Australia, so like the vista below, I was green.
I landed in Denpasar airport that was just a tin shed in the early 70s, and headed by tuk tuk to the now well-known Kuta Beach. A muddy, pot-holed road led to the ocean. Papaya and palm trees dotted the roadside. Balinese houses peeped out from the lush vegetation. As I walked down the road, I discovered only one motel-like building near the beach.
A handful of tourists, (and I do mean only five), like me, rented rooms with local families. The only place to eat was at a Balinese woman’s house where she cooked and sold local dishes. There were no shops. Sometimes a woman passed with a bundle of fabric balanced on her head hoping for a sale.
I remember a conversation with a well-travelled USar when he learned Bali was my first stop. He thought it was a pity I’d come to paradise first. I wouldn’t appreciate its unique beauty. Perhaps he was right, but when I returned years later, it was a completely different experience.