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July 24, 2017

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Heavenly shopping on the Island of the Gods

JAKARTA -- What do you do to take a break from watching the waves crash onto the white sandy beaches of Bali?

You go shopping amid its bustling bazaars filled with gaiety and color and find yourself in a delightful dilemma of where to spend that shopping dollar.

Will it be curios, paintings, clothes or perhaps intricate wood carvings? The choices are endless when you're in Bali.

Bali is a melting pot of cultures and traditions. The Balinese have an inborn talent of absorbing different cultural elements and blending them with their own to produce creative hybrids. Over the years, Bali has soaked up Chinese, Buddhist, Indian, Hindu, Javanese and Western influences creating a culture of diverse artistry.

Now, if you're anything like Rebecca Bloomwood from Confessions of a Shopaholic, Bali will drive you bonkers! Apart from its ancient temples, white sandy beaches, delightful resorts and spas as well as distinctive food, Bali is an island oozing with radiant clothes, spellbinding artwork and great bargains.

Eclipsed with Frangipani trees everywhere that one would think is indigenous to the Island of the Gods, Bali is known for its hot spots such as Legian, Kuta, Sukawati and Ubud that boast a variety of shopping experiences for those with a keen eye for the exotic and rustic design.

As an avid shopper for curios and the quirky, one can't help but stumble upon the local arts and crafts markets that exist in every township. Arresting your attention, like a moth to a flame, the only advice to be heeded is — always bargain for a 60 percent discount off its original price to find a meeting price (or halfway price) of something more acceptable than what was initially offered.

You will find most markets along the beach or a short walking distance away from the beach side.

Restless waves and clear blue waters can sometimes seem pale in contrast to the tantric call and mesmerizing colors of these psychedelic bazaars. With a treasure trove of fine art, wooden and lime stone carvings, traditional and ceremonial masks, handmade jewellery, paintings, furniture and fabrics, Bali is nothing short of gaspingly amazing.

Some may opine that the markets in Ubud (Central Bali) are much more costly than those in Kuta or vice versa. Possibly true, if haggling is not one of your best skills. Only cash is accepted at these street bazaars but many handicraft stores accept credit cards as well.

If in Kuta, visit the art market which has one end of its street located next to a small temple on Jl. Bakung Sari. It is holy ground in terms of beach wear, fabric sling bags, flip flops and trinkets. The Kuta market which also sits next to Kuta Square (designer labels stores) splits into two main lanes and spreads into tiny alleys on each side.

Make sure to check the whole market out before going in for the kill. Some peddlers may even give you a far better discount as you venture further into the market.

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