You may be familiar with Bali because you are from South East Asia, stumbled on this special place whilst studying South East Asian History, heard about it from friends or like me, you read Elizabeth Gilbert’s Eat, Pray, Love and fell in love with the place!
If you love to travel and have dreamed of exploring the world fulfilling a need to wander freely then you may have also fantasised what it would be like to follow in this woman’s footsteps on her bold journey. It is an exciting prospect to be able to leave whatever you need to leave behind and fulfil a deep desire within to explore.
Although fantasies are fun to have and dreams are great, me in Bali was really me without a medicine man (although I asked about him) and no love interest I am afraid ;).
Living it up in Bali!
As I got off the plane, the heat, brightness of the sun, the small yet typically Balinese looking airport, the smell of incense and happy looking smiles of the drivers waiting to collect us tourists made me feel I had landed somewhere special.
Bali became another ‘home’ of mine in South East Asia and an anchor I needed when I first travelled alone. As I was crazy enough to visit Bali three times in the 7 months I have lots to share.
My first time in Bali was not the start of my budget travelling because I stayed in two beautiful villas with my cousin and her boyfriend. It was a good price for the Haris who had some money for a cheaper holiday, not the traveller who was on a budget. Check airbnb for a nice selection of villas!
Get a driver for a day for under £13
For approximately £12.95 (around 250, 000 Indonesian Rupiah) we were able to get driven around for the whole day. 250,000 IDR is the sort of price you get shocked at when you are use to paying over £20 for a taxi in London to one destination. However, as I stayed in Indonesia for a month I soon realised 250,000 IDR was a lot for your average budget traveller. For a start, you probably would not have a ‘driver’ and more than likely travel with a local bus or in the case of Bali you could get a lift on a scooter which would cost you £1 or less. Having said that, there were three of us, so £4 each for a driver was more than great!
Our drivers name was Eka. We soon found out Eka, Wayan, Kadek, Nyoman, Ketut amongst a few other names were traditional names indicating the position someone had in their family (i.e. first, second, third and fourth born).
Eka became such a pleasure to be around and we learnt about Balinese culture through the eyes of a local. This was important for us.
Indonesia is a Muslim country so Bali’s predominantly Hindu culture made it unique and magical.
The island smelled so good! The incense and the Balinese offerings made me feel like I was ‘home’ but even better because I was outside with nature in a warm climate!
As we explored Bali we noticed offerings were a huge part of their culture. If you walked in to a shop or through the market you would find women spending most of their time making these baskets so they could be used early the next morning.
Everyday we would encounter these offerings. They were on the street, at shop entrances, on religious sculptures, in temples, on the beach and on cars. On many occasions where I was absent minded I burnt my legs by the incense sticks which were jutting out of the palm leaf baskets they were placed in. We had to be careful where we stepped.
There is something wonderful about observing tradition, culture and ritual that evidently requires a lot of discipline, humbleness and a strong belief.
So much to see!
Of course Bali can become extremely touristy (especially in August) and areas such as Kuta (party central) and Seminyak may not be where you go if you want authenticity, Balinese culture and tradition.
We started our Bali adventure in Sanur. This is a beach town that is quieter and less touristy than the ever so popular Kuta and Seminyak (they reminded me of the summers we see in Europe with high end stores and not as many independent stores or local culture).
From here Eka would pick us up and make sure we explored as much of Bali as we could.
Some of the beaches of Bali
If you travel to the Southern part of Bali you will come across beautiful beaches that are breath taking.
Some of the places to visit during your visit:
- Nusa Dua – expensive hotels but beautiful coast line.
- Jimbaran beach – a place to eat fresh fish and watch an awesome sunset.
- Uluwatu temple – visit this sea temple for some stunning views in Uluwatu.
- Pantai Pandawa – the most beautiful white sandy beach. It felt like a calm place to relax.
- Finns Beach – you have to pay to visit this beach but it is not expensive at all and worth experiencing the sunset here.
- Balangan Beach – nice surfing and sunset spot.
- Dreamland beach – one of the many famous surfing spots.
Despite the herds of people, Uluwatu temple was spectacular.
Eating fish at Jimbaran and watching the sunset was special.
Surf it up!
I have never surfed up until this holiday so I am no expert but there are so many surfing spots. If you have the time, choose a spot you like and get someone to teach you. I have a new found respect for anyone who can surf!
Ubud: Culture and Fun
Ubud is always raged about by other travellers but it did not excite me straight away. Going to Monkey Forest Road was chaos and I was wondering what the big deal of this place was. Speaking to older travellers I realised Ubud in particular had become more known and touristy since the success of Eat, Pray, Love so it may have lost its charm and authenticity. Having said that when I returned to Bali in September I realised Ubud became less busy during this month and I had more time to explore it.
A local tip: When we walked back from the local temple in Ubud we saw fireflies lighting up the way back to our villa. We were told that if you see fireflies it means the rice fields are healthy.
If you feel confident and safe enough, rent a scooter as it is a nice way to explore Ubud.
You can get a local to take you. I usually paid as little as £1 for a short distance or you may be fortunate enough to be given a lift for free, which is what happened to me.
South East Asia’s Random Act of Kindness 2: Being given a lift on a scooter by a local for free! She heard I needed a lift while she relaxed at the cafe and as I made my way to walk to my destination, she came with her scooter and offered to take me. Bless her!
Or you can ride with a friend!
Here’s a short clip of our moped journey!
Keep safe and enjoy the Bali I and many other travellers have fallen in love with!
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