Bali is a place I’ve always heard things about but never really anything specific. In my head I had it pictured as somewhere tropical and an Eat Pray Love kind of vibe. Living in Australia you start to catch on that Aussies have a pretty binary opinion about it. They either love it, or they hate it. The ones who love it rave about the climate, how cheap everything is, how nice people are, the food, and the natural aspects. The haters basically just say that there are “too many damn Aussies there”.
I took advantage of the fact that Aussies get two public holidays over Easter – Good Friday and Easter Monday – and booked a trip to Bali and the Gili Islands. I’ll talk about the Gili’s later but this is all about my time in Bali.
So… with a bag packed, a vague notion of my destination, a few recommendations of things to do, and a hotel booked I set off on the 6 hour 20 minute flight from Sydney to Denpasar.
After an hour in line for my tourist visa (note to self – next time arrange in advance) I was greeted by the driver I had arranged to take me directly to my hotel. I was amazed he was there considering between the visa, baggage, and other delays it took almost 2 1/2 hours to get from my airplane seat to the arrivals area. Sure enough, he was there. Smile on his face and a piece of paper held up saying ‘Mr. Jeppesen’. $10 well spent. My first experience at Balinese hospitality.
The humidity hits you immediately after you exit the icy air conditioning of the terminal. That and the unique aroma of southeast Asia. It’s a combination of the floral notes in the air, thick humidity, gasoline smell of the million scooters and motorcycles and the sweet rotting smell of garbage. It smells gross but it’s somewhat inviting. For me it’s the smell of adventure which takes me back to my first time visiting Thailand.
Driving into Seminyak you see spires of temples in the distance and some really great art. The Balinese are known for handiworks of small and large scale.
Like this sculpture in the middle of a large roundabout.
I’d booked my first hotel in Seminyak which is in the main tourist part of Bali but the slightly higher end portion. For $60 a night, my accommodation was more than I expected. Big room, comfy bed, nice pool, swim up bar, and my own private patio. Tick, tick, tick.
In addition, there was a really neat facewashing sink. Still not sure why it was so close to the toilet, but it was great to rinse off.
After checking in and exploring the grounds I realised I was hungry for more than adventure. I needed food pronto. Oh, and perhaps one or two of the quintessential Balinese beverage – a Bintang lager.
Cheap and cheerful, this whole meal set me back under $5. Mee goreng which is a traditional Balinese dish of noodles or rice, egg, chicken, shrimp, and veggies. This version served with sauces and prawn crackers. Delicious.
I did pop into a local 7-11 (those stores are EVERYWHERE) to grab some water and sent this picture back to my sister. Some pretty interesting choices in the chip department.
I’d had a few places recommended to me for sunset drinks. I opted to try out KuDeTa first as it looked a bit closer to where I was staying. A 20 minute walk, two close calls with taxis and one motorbike using the sidewalk as a road, I made it there. In one piece and not too worse for wear. From the road you could here the music and what sounded like hundreds of people.
This was clearly a place to see and be seen. It was a really interesting mix of people. Some lounging, others splashing around in the pool, some families, and others dressed to impress for a night out. But overwhelmingly it felt relaxed. My type of place.
In addition, you could knock off some shopping as there were at least twenty locals selling bracelets, necklaces, hats, any anything else you could think of on the beach.
I have to say, it was a great place to decompress from the flight and relax taking in the view.
The view was even better with a few well poured Old Fashioneds to keep me company.
Lamps lighting the way back home.
I had to call it an early one because I was off on a boat trip the next morning to the Gili Islands. I’ll talk about the Gili’s on a later post. For now, let’s just do a little time travel.
Whoosh!…. 5 days have passed and I’m back on the way to Bali with a sweet new tribal henna and a friend named Sara.
Wasn’t that fun.
Sara only had one day left on her trip and we got back in the late afternoon so we headed off to one of the other beach clubs that came highly recommended called Potato Head. Strange name, awesome place.
Shh… don’t tell my mom I got there by riding on the back of a scooter taxi. It was pretty fun though! #selfie
A few drinks and looking at the pool patio
Sara and I on round 3 or 4
We were fortunate and a reserved daybed came open so we spent the rest of our evening longing over the water with waves crashing in the distance. Not a bad way to spend a few hours if I say so myself.
After seeing Sara off it was back to the hotel for some rest before my early pickup the next day. I found a guy through online reviews who offered private day tours around the island. At the equivalent of $40 for a full day tour it was a bargain.
The first stop was a traditional Balinese housing complex. An entire family would live in the complex where they have several different open air buildings each with a primary use. Ranging from cooking, eating, community, and rest. In addition, there was ample space for crops and animals to roam.
A monk putting out offerings and praying
The elephant cave
One of many sculptures
The next stop was the monkey forest. I knew well enough to hold onto anything closely. It was funny seeing the tourists getting anything left attended taken, slobbered on, and then left on the ground.
This guy was chilling with some fruit so I could get a close up
Even a monkey selfie
After monkey forest I was taken to Ubud. This town is in the countryside and known for yoga retreats and spirituality. Basically a lot of stressed out Westerners get pampered by locals in businesses run by ex stressed out Westerners. Think Sedona or Santa Cruz of Asia.
I was dropped off at a restaurant called Ibu Oka who specialise in their suckling pig.
The main temple in the Ubud town centre.
Overall, Bali was beyond my expectations and I will definitely be back. The food, the people, the culture, the scenery, all amazing.
Until next time…