In travel, an integral part of the adventure is the food. From traditional snacks and desserts to world-famous dishes in the area, food is one of the things that allow you a glimpse into an otherwise unknown, unfamiliar world.
No matter how strange a place or how unfamiliar the road, the language food speaks is universal. Warm soup on a rainy day is the same as a sweet and icy treat on a sunny afternoon. No words are needed to fully convey the pleasure and universality of such comfort fare. Eating is also one way to learn about a people, place and culture. Chopsticks, noodles and xiao bao or, say, wasabi, sushi and ramen, are all part and parcel of a country’s identity. In the same way, rice topped with juicy suckling pig strips and mango curry introduces you to the strong, vibrant spices often reflective of the Balinese fondness for flavorful dishes and soups. Food, in essence, is often a quick marker for a nation or a race.
It’s also one way to find out about the history of a place and people. Long-time favorites are often dishes passed down in families from generation to generation. More interestingly, some dishes are a fusion of different culinary influences that yield insights into the history of the place. For instance, in Macau, there’s a prevalent influence of Portuguese cooking in Macanese food, one that speaks of the nation’s time under Portuguese rule. In the Philippines, dishes have a predominant Spanish influence, owing to 300 years under Spanish rule. This is one of the main reasons why cuisine restaurants, especially featuring local cuisines, are hugely popular among tourists. A spoonful of spicy Javanese rice or crispy-skin fried duck is enough to give tourists—and their taste buds—not just a crash course in culture, but a warm and tasty welcome to the country as well.
In terms of earnings from the tourism sector, Bali is a perennial tourist spot in the country. In 2013, tourist arrivals in Bali reached 3.27 million. This overshot the expected target of 3.1 million foreigners for last year. In addition, there was a 13.37 percent increase observed from 2012’s figure of 2,892,019.
Ida Bagus Kade Subhiksu, agency head, confirmed reports, saying: “It surpassed our target of 3.1 million. The percentage achievement reached 103 percent.” January of this year, foreign visitors in Bali reached 279,257, showing a 19.80 percent increase, in terms of year-on-year figures. This number is expected to have increased over the course of 2014. Australians top the list of foreign visitors, reaching 71,288 in January this year. Figures showed a 14.15 percent increase from the same period of the previous year, which had only 62,450 visitors.
Australians made up 25.53 percent of Bali’s foreign tourists recorded last January 2014. Chinese tourists came in second, with 52,060 visitors. The numbers showed an 80.52 percent increase from last year’s 28,839 tourists recorded. The flow of Malaysian visitors, too, increased to 15,656 arrivals and reported a 28.70 percent increase compared to the same period the previous year.
The rest of the top six arrivals by nationality recorded for June 2014 include tourists from Japan, France and South Korea. Top ten tourist nationals, meanwhile, include Singapore, Taiwan, the United Kingdom and the United States.
Based on reports, August is the busiest month in terms of tourist arrivals, with 309,219 visitors to the island, while September is a close second, with 305,629 arrivals.
Bali’s Wealth of Cuisine Restaurants
With plenty of tourists to feed, a bustling cuisine restaurant industry has sprung up in Bali. Travelers intent on grabbing some vacation fun pick local cuisine restaurants and enjoy tasting their way through delicious local delicacies. The more popular dishes are almost always the most expensive on the menu. However, the satisfaction that comes from knowing you’ve sampled some of the area’s best culinary fare evens things out.
From posh dining places such as the Karma Exclusive Cuisine Bali to local cafes or “warungs,” there are a lot of choices in the pot. Whether on a summer trip or holiday vacation, tourists surely won’t run out of eating spots to choose from. Balinese cuisine is full of rich flavors thanks to the 8-spice combo used to season meals: white pepper, black pepper, coriander, cumin, clove, sesame seed, and candlenut. Other ingredients used to elevate flavors include: palm sugar, fish paste, and chili peppers.
Restaurants featuring foreign cuisines are also a hit. They provide much needed variety. In a town where millions of tourists go to every year, diversity is a necessary asset to keep the local community thriving.
Backpackers have the run of eateries and market stalls. Fine dining meals are available for guests who want more picturesque dining destinations like the Karma Resorts. Whatever cuisine suits you and satisfies your expectations, there are eating spots that deliver on service, taste and price. In Bali, both local and foreign cuisine restaurants offer tourists a chance to immerse themselves in cultures often entirely and completely different from their own—a difference that thrills adventurous taste buds while it reminds others all the more of the flavors and tastes of home.