A bit of background would be helpful before we get to the excellent-adventure portion of our story:
Where Bali is. If the world were a cherry tomato, and you were to stick a toothpick through New York City, which isn't a bad idea when you think about it, the toothpick would come out the opposite side near Bali, virtually 180 degrees from Gotham.
Climate. It's not the heat, it's the humidity. The sheets on the bed that you don't sleep in are soaking wet when you wake up in the morning. The fattest James Michener paperback curls into a soggy cylinder on the nightstand. Even in an air-conditioned room, your pillowcase can be mistaken for the natural habitat of the Balinese gecko, as I discovered after turning in my first night on the island.
Come daytime, it really gets humid.
Speaking of Michener. This island is not the fictional Bali H'ai of which he wrote in Tales of the South Pacific, which became the musical South Pacific, which spawned the song Bali H'ai.
History. Java is less than two miles to the west across the Bali Strait, so Bali's history is as old as Java man's. But space limitations dictate that we jump ahead to 1596, when Dutch sailors first set foot on Balinese soil, and then to 1906, when some 4,000 Balinese died in the suicidal puputan, a hopeless fight against the Dutch forces that had ruled Bali off and on for 300 years. The Japanese occupied Bali in World War II, sometime after which the island became part of the newly independent country of Indonesia.
Religion. Bali is 95% Hindu and seems to have a temple for each of its 2.5 million people. Thus Mick Jagger didn't wait in line when he got married and converted to Hinduism here last November.
Temple etiquette. Women bring elaborate offerings of fruit, carried Carmen Miranda-like on the tops of their heads. As for the non-Hindu: "It is better that you go to temple without Balinese people," said Mr. Ade, whom, I promise, we will meet later. "Because if you do wrong, you just say, 'Big sorry. I did not know.' "
What to eat. "Jackfruit may cause nausea," read a warning in the Bali Hyatt. "You should have a glass of boiled water before eating it, and avoid alcohol for three hours after." Otherwise, a treat.
Durian, which looks like a pale yellow softball, cannot be carried onto airplanes or into most hotels. It is said to "smell like hell and taste like heaven." I tried it. It smelled like a Greyhound restroom and tasted like a pale yellow softball.