Once you get through passport control, the airside departures zone at Ngurah Rai International (Denpasar International) Airport in Bali is a pretty impressive place. It just may take you some time to get there.
When I arrived at the Balinese gateway today for my flight to Hong Kong, my heart sank at the sight of what looked like an approximate one-hour passport check queue. Beyond the throng of people concertinaed into the hall, the bright signage and lights of the Dufry store beckoned like an oasis in a desert. Alas, it would be some time before I, and my fellow passengers, reached the watering hole.
Actually, the queue moved faster than I feared and within 20 minutes I was greeted by maybe the smiliest immigration (or is it emigration?) officer I have met. Then again, just a week in the paradise that is Bali (though Kuta and arguably Seminyak are probably more of a case of Paradise lost) has taught me that Balinese people very seldom don’t smile.
This is a lovely island, one that is experiencing all the pros and cons of a tourism boom. Holiday makers bring much-needed revenues and create jobs. They can also do much to lessen the allure of the very elements that attracted the crowds in the first place. Seminyak is headed that way, I fear, and even beautiful, culture-rich Ubud is straining to escape from the suffocation that tourism traffic – both human and vehicular – can bring.
Overall though, Bali remains a magical place, and one of the few true value for money tourist destinations on the planet. Outstandingly so, in fact. Besides its many physical and cultural attractions, the island is notable for some beautiful crafts, from painting and wood crafting to exquisite clothing such as the kamen (male sarong) or kebaya (blouse-dress). And, of course, coffee. It’s important then that the airport reflects those elements in its commercial mix and I was happy to see that was the case, both in the expansive Dufry walk-through store and the excellent DFS destination merchandise offering. The WHSmith offer and F&B proposition (more of both in my next blog) are pretty good too.
There’s also, as one would expect given the class of the retailers involved, a strong international offering, much of it targeted at Chinese travellers, of whom there are many. The pictures below tell at least some of the story. Departing Bali leaves one’s heart heavy, but at least the airport and its commercial operators help ease the pain.
DFS – THE LURE OF LUXURY AND A STRONG SENSE OF PLACE