Hello beautiful people,
I am back with a travel blog again. And as you might have guessed from the name itself, this blog is about “BALI” and our experiences there as fairly inexperienced travellers. So this blog is mostly about how to make the most of this beautiful island as amateur tourists. It’s been almost two years since we went to Bali and it is still my favourite place in the list. I dedicate this blog to the beautiful people of Bali who made our experience ten times more amazing.
When I first watched the movie “Eat Pray Love”, I fell in love with Bali instantly and since then I have been wanting to visit this beautiful island. And one fine day in January 2017, we landed in Bali.
Indonesia has “visa on arrival” for Indians and we found the process totally hassle free in the “Denpasar Airport” of Bali. We boarded our flight from India at 12 midnight and reached Bali in the afternoon hours. Sleep deprived and tired, we were greeted by the beautiful tropical sun of Bali. We pre planned every aspect of this trip with the help of “Thomas Cook Tours and Travels”. They were very helpful. I planned the entire itinerary and mailed it to them and they accordingly made all the bookings. Flights, hotels, transportation and tours. It was completely personalised to our likes. They even cooperated with all the last minute changes. I confess that I might be a little bit of “control freak”.
After immigration and baggage claim and money exchange, we met with our guide Mr Jigra who was waiting to pick us up from the airport. On our way to the hotel, we quickly and easily became friends with him. Our first hotel in Bali was in “Kuta”. Now, Bali is a fairly big island and it’s advisable to keep changing hotels when exploring different parts of it or else most of your time will be wasted on travelling to and fro. Our guide dropped us at our hotel and asked us to meet him next day in the lobby.
Although we were so tired, we decided to not crash as we didn’t wanted to miss the sunset in “Kuta Beach”. We quickly changed and went out for some food. We ordered “Nasi Goreng”, and we fell in love right away. Nasi Goreng is the staple food in Bali and it’s nothing but fried rice with a side of chicken satay and a sunny side up egg over it but the taste was mind-blowing. Our first meal in Bali and we were already in love. I can go back to Indonesia just to eat some more of “Nasi Goreng”. After that delicious meal, we walked over to the Kuta Beach and sat down to watch our first sunset in the land of magical sunsets.
Kuta is like a hippie village and can get crowded. The entire area is very touristy. You might want to avoid staying in Kuta if you want to avoid the crowd. For us, Kuta was ideal as it was close to a lot of places we were visiting and it was cheap. Food is cheap and accommodation too is affordable. We enjoyed the hippie vibe of this place but the beach was not very impressive. Bali has better beaches.
We were up early next morning and ready to seize the day. We met Mr Jigra in the lobby and made our way to the first destination of the day “Pandava Beach”. Yes, you guessed it right. This beach is named after the “Pandavas” from Mahabharat. They even have their statues near the beach. And as we walked down to the beach, the feeling of being in “Bali” finally sinked in. The beach was so beautiful. White sands and bluest water which was warm and perfect. It was almost empty as it is not in close proximity to any tourist sites. We made the most of our time there and soon it was time to move to our next destination “Padang Padang Beach”.
Padang Padang Beach was fairly smaller in comparison but it is said to have the perfect surf waves and hosts a surfing festival during the summer months. To reach the beach, we had to move through the narrowest alley made between two huge rocks. It’s like an adventure to reach the beach.
Our final stop for the day was “Uluwatu Temple”. It is one of the most sought after tourist destination in Bali. Our guide cautioned us to keep our sunglasses and camera safe as the place is filled with notorious monkeys ready to steal your belongings. It is advisable to wear clothes that cover your legs and shoulders while going to this place. But if you are not, than they will provide you with a sarong to tie around your waist. The view from “Uluwatu” is to die for. A cliff that drops straight into the ocean with nothing obstructing your view for miles.
Our evenings in Bali were spent roaming around on the streets, drinking beer and eating at different restaurants every day. But mostly ordering the same food, Nasi Goreng. We were fans.
Our second day in Bali was reserved for a day trip to this beautiful island called “Nusa Penida” ,off the coast of Bali. We were up early and made our way to the jetty to catch our boat. As this island trip was not done by Thomas Cook, we had nobody to pick us up. But the guys with whom we booked this trip were very helpful and one of them was waiting for us at the jetty. We soon boarded our speedboat and almost an hour later, we stuck anchor on this pristine tropical island.
Nusa Penida island is what our tropical dreams are made of. Lush tropical forests, bluest water and almost uninhabited, except for a small area. The guys with whom we booked the tour, were the coolest ever. They took us through the island, taking us to the most beautiful spots and also volunteering to click amazing pictures of us. And all this was done while listening to some reggae music and over lots of laughter.
Bali is a hindu island. They pray to the same deities as us, but for some reasons unknown to me and them, they have no idea about our mythological stories. Ganesha’s statue can be found everywhere on the islands but on asking if they know why Ganesha has an elephant trunk on his face, these guys had no clue. So, me being the chatterbox that I am, I narrated the entire story to them. There we were, sitting in a local “warung” (local balinese restaurants) in the middle of tropical forests, narrating the story of “Ganesha” to these two local Balinese guys who were listening to me with utmost curiosity. That moment still brings a smile on my face whenever I think about it.
Nusa Penida was hot. We got sunburnt like crazy. All our sunscreen melted and by the time we finished exploring, we were hundred tones darker maybe. But the heat was ideal for tropical fruits to grow and I witnessed ripe mangoes for the first time in my life in January. I got so excited that our friends doing the tour decided to stop the car and treat me to some mangoes plucked right in front of me. What did I tell you about people from Bali, they are the best people I have ever met in my life.
Soon, it was time to leave. As we started making our way to the speedboat, I could see a storm brewing up. And when we were in the middle of the ocean, it started raining heavily. Let’s just stay that it was a bumpy ride and I was scared to my bones. Oh the relief when we finally reached land, priceless!!
On our third day, we left Bali to go to the island of “Gili Trawangan”. Gili islands are a group of three small islands which are close to Lombok. It takes almost three hours by a speedboat to reach Gili islands. We were going to the largest of the three islands, Gili Trawangan. We checked out of our hotel as it’s not possible to do day trip to and from Gili islands. So we were to stay for the night in our resort booked there and return to Bali again on the next day.
The ride to the island on our speedboat was a disaster. The ocean was so choppy that day that most of our fellow passengers started puking. At one point I felt like our boat will be torn apart, it was too bumpy and a bad day to be on a speedboat. But soon we reached this beautiful island with white sandy beaches and no cars. Yes, these islands have no cars and only mode of transportation is horse carts and bicycles. We boarded a horse cart for the first time in our lives and made our way to the sea side resort we had booked.
We spent the rest of the day on the beach. Sipping cocktails, taking photos, eating some great sea food and playing snooker at the beach. We just never left the beach that day. It was such a bummer that we had to leave next day, we wanted to spend some more time exploring the island. But since it was not possible, we made the best of the time we had on our hands.
Next morning we had our breakfast in the most scenic setting by the ocean. And just like that, it was time to bid goodbye to this island. One quick horse cart ride later, we were back in our speedboats and thanks to the ocean god, the waters were less choppy this time. We had a smooth sailing.
The fourth day started in Gili and ended in Bali for us. We reached Bali at around 10 o’clock and we reunited with Mr Jigra who picked us up from the jetty and directly took us to a coffee plantation. Indonesia is popular worldwide for its coffee. The most expensive coffee in the world called “Luwak Coffee” which is made from the poop of the animal “Luwak” is particularly famous. We tasted different types of coffee ranging from ginger to ginseng and also met the “Luwaks”.
Our next stop was the “Tanah Lot Temple”. It is one of the most touristy destination in the entire Bali and hence crowded. But don’t miss going here as no amount of crowd can diminish the amazing view this temple provides.
Our most awaited activity of the day was our scheduled “balinese massage” which we so desperately needed. We went to a beautiful spa to get the most relaxing massage I have ever taken. From there we directly went to “Ubud”, our last destination to cover and the one which was most awaited.
Our last day in Bali and we woke up in “Ubud”, amidst beautiful rice fields and an active volcano as its background. I was in my dream setting, living my “eat pray love” moment.
Ubud is the cultural capital of Bali. It’s all about beautiful art studios, sprawling rice fields and lush tropical forests. I would suggest you hire scooters to explore and wander in Ubud, but as we were having only one full day to explore, we decided to skip the wandering part and be typical tourists.
Our first stop for the day was “Tegalalang Rice Fields”, which is one of the most beautiful rice field in the entire Bali and is an UNESCO world heritage site.
Our next stop was an active volcano called “Mount Batur” which has two lakes on it’s foothill. We had our lunch with the most breathtaking view of the same.
We spent our afternoon that day exploring Ubud on foot. Visited the Ubud Palace and Ubud Art Market. Did some souvenir shopping to carry back home. And please do bargain here. I used all my Sarojini Nagar acquired skills here. Ubud is beautiful. We soaked in the feeling and vibe of this place as much as we could.
Our entire experience of Bali was unreal. There is such a positive vibe about Bali that it uplifts you spiritually. You will have to visit this place to actually believe and understand what I mean.
Bali is affordable. Our rupee stretches a lot there. It’s safe too. We met the nicest people there. It is a fairly large island and we just scratched the surface. As I like to put it, we still have another date pending with Bali as it’s not just a place you visit, but an experience you just cannot miss.
And with this blog, we come to an end of this year. I wish all my readers a very happy new year. I look forward to meeting you in my blog space next year. Peace Out.