Top 52 Destinations for 2016: Bali

If you had to choose a travel destination for each week in the coming year, what places would be on your list?

Intricately carved stone monuments adorn the Sacred Monkey Forest. At top, a monkey poses for a photo at the Sangeh Monkey Forest. Yes, there’s more than one.. (Photos by Bruno J. Navarro)

The New York Times just published its list, “52 Places to Go in 2016,” which included Bali among the top travel destination selected by its editors, and specifically Ubud, with its laid-back, earthy vibe and its unparalleled Sacred Monkey Forest.

Yet, as much as I appreciated my visit to Ubud as a Westerner, I also worried about the effect such Hollywood films as “Eat, Pray, Love” would have on tourism in the area. The Times article includes the following information, which made me think of what uniqueness might be lost or overlooked by future tourists:

A slew of luxe resorts opened in late 2015, including Kayon, Goya Boutique and Mandapa, a Ritz-Carlton Reserve; the Westin is scheduled to debut in June, with Aloft, Solis Ubud and Waldorf Astoria Bali Ubud to follow. The dining scene is evolving, too, with stylish newcomers like Spice by Chris Salans, Watercress and the haute bakery Monsieur Spoon.

Might visitors miss the subtle beauty of Buddhist offerings found along its walkways several times a day, as well as be spared from the maddening sounds of nocturnal roosters outside their rooming houses?

I’d always thought the point of travel was to witness life in other corners of the world, rather than a place on which to impose the comforts of home, a place from which to begin understanding the myriad of perspectives out there, rather than to hold steadfast on to one’s own.

Perhaps I am wrong?

Hindu deities stand guard in the Sangeh Monkey Forest. (Photo by Bruno J. Navarro)
A resident of Ubud’s Sacred Monkey Forest takes a closer look at a visitor. (Photo by Bruno J. Navarro)

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