I went away, far away. Destination Bali.
In following post I want to tell you about the best experiences I made, I’ll show you how absolutely beautiful this country and its culture is and I will give you some recommendations if you ever consider traveling to Indonesia.
Here a little map of our trip. After a 14 hours flight we – my best friend and I – arrived in Denpasar. Before that we had to change planes in Singapore – here my first piece of advice for you. Always make sure you have more time than 1 hour to change planes, otherwise you’ll run (like really really run) and you won’t have time for dutyfree shopping!
However, we arrived and got to our Hostel in Ubud, the so called cultural centre of Bali.
It is a very busy city with lots of traffic but many cute little shops and many things to see.
The place is quite touristic, however as I would find out during this trip, Bali itself has become a complete tourist-magnet and the people who live there rather open a little restaurant or a shop instead of making their money with traditional fishing or agriculture. Most Balinese people which are now 20 to 35 years old have studied tourism. However the culture and religion is still of big importance to the local people.
In Ubud there are great restaurants and places to go out, you can see celebrations in temples or visit the monkey forest.
Recommendation for Ubud:
Hostel: Pandok Permata (15 minutes walk from centre, best banana pancakes in the world, very friendly staff, warm water in the shower, pretty rooms/ cost: about 8 Euros each à night)
Restaurant: The Bali Yoga Restaurant (Jl. Kajeng No. 11) (very cheap but local and yummy food)
Culture: Ubud Palace (picture above) and rice fields in the western part of the city (if you find time, walk them all the way up and get a ride back down, cause most tourists only walk trough the fields for a little while, so if you wander further you’ll be all by yourself and you’ll find the cutest restaurants (make sure you go around sunset, you won’t have a better view of it anywhere else in Ubud)
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We used Ubud as a centre point to do daily trips to the north. We saw the Tegalalang rice fields, the Pura Ulun Danu Bratan temple and the Taman Ayun Temple (Royal Temple). All of those places are a must! They are so beautiful!
We usually had a personal driver and payed each around 30 Euros à day. And also, if you are wondering, our luggage was about 8 kilos heavy – we used to wash clothes with washing-soap every other day. We both didn’t miss anything and thought the weight was just about right.
For temples you need a Sarung, a colourful piece of cloth you can buy everywhere. It is to cover your legs. Also make sure to wear a t-shirt to cover your shoulders. I think it is part of the respect of a different culture to follow those rules if you enter their religious places. Additionally the locals will be very happy to see you wearing it and it also simply looks so much better on the pictures you’ll take – more authentic.
Okay however, we moved on from Ubud to Amed, again with a personal driver. On our way we stopped at the Batur lake and its vulcano as well as the Besakih Temple (Mother temple).
However here I have to mention one thing: The Besakih Temple was our worst experience on our whole trip. The local people there are very rude and try to get your money. As we wanted to enter the temple area, they told us we had to pay a tour guide. This is completely bullshit (which we already knew in advance and therefore insisted on going without one. However this almost escalated in an argument with the people there). They said there was a ceremony taking place inside – again bullshit. You don’t need a guide to walk through it, you have to be so stubborn about this that it is almost not worth the discussion and it ruins your mood. The temple is made out of black volcano stone, which is pretty but also very murky. I don’t think this temple is something that you really have to visit.
Then we arrived at the beach – Amed. The sand there is actually – well it’s more likely stones from vulcanos, but basically what I wanted to say is, the beach is black. I found that very impressive. Amed is a diver’s spot but we used the location to finally sunbathe for a little while. On the mainland of Bali it was always cloudy and not even that hot. According to locals this also had to do with an eruption of a vulcano which happened a few weeks before. In Amed we only stayed one night at a hostel called “Surfer -something” (sorry I can’t remember, but I also wouldn’t recommend it). There we had an incident with a spider in our bathroom which we tried to kill. It involved a toilet brush, shoes and lots of screams and running in and back out of the room.
The next day we went by speed boat to Gili Trawangan, the party island of Bali. Here again one piece of advice. We decided to sit on top of the boat because we didn’t think it would splash that much. Well, no, you will be soaking wet after 45 minutes on the boat, you’ll be freezing cold and dried out because of the salt. Don’t do it.
Gili Trawangan is the biggest of three islands. There are no cars allowed on it; people use bicycles or horse carrages for transportation. This place again is very touristic, but also lots of fun. We stayed three nights there, which was fairly enough because all you can do is sunbathe and go partying in the evening. Keep in mind that there are lots of broken coral pieces at the beach area due to fishing with bombs in the past – so I’d advise you to take some sorts of beach or even diving shoes, if you don’t want to protect your feet.
Although it was high season and everybody told us we wouldn’t find anything if we didn’t prebook, we easily found a cheap room. Seriously, you will always find something spontaneously I suppose.
What I would recommend here is that you drive around the island with a bike and do a snorkeling trip (turtles!) but make sure you’re not completely hungover when you do that, cause I got seasick like crazy. We always drove to the very south to see the sunset. The best place for a good party and live music in the evenings is the reggea-club. When we were there they had one live act which played every single evening there – but they were good and that’s what counts, right?
Then we went to Lombok which was meant to be a lot less touristic and a lot more beautiful than Bali. Actually about the second thing I can only disagree. I found Lombok nice, but the temples and rice fields of Bali couldn’t be surpassed. I suppose if you want to hike on a three or four day trip on top of the vulcano it is the right place for you to go, otherwise it is not that different from Bali (where you also can walk up a vulcano on a one-day-trip).
However what is quite different in Lombok compared to Bali is the religion. Whilst in Bali people are Hindu, in Lombok people are Muslim. In my oppinion and in my experience from the trip, the locals in Lombok were more impulsive and less in peace than the Hindus in Bali, where people are very gentle. This is most likly due to the Hindu traditions of believing in reincarnation. People really are humble and tend to be very polite because their behaviour in current life will affect their lives after death.
In Senggigi we enjoyed the beach for two days (depending where you go: sandy beach with no coral pieces). Apart from that the place doesn’t really have anything to offer. We tried to hire a scooter, but since we are car drivers, we decided to leave it be – after I drove into a wall (slowly!).
Honestly I wished one of us could drive a scooter, it is quite a commonly used way of transportation on both big islands.
Recommendation for Senggigi:
Food: Super cheap local food you’ll find at the “Blue Tent” warung – people will know what you are talking about. There you’ll sit next to locals and really get the atmosphere of daily life. This is no restaurant as you might imagine it, it is literally a tent on the street side with plastic seats and tables – but it is so worth a visit and the food is lovely!
And again we decided to do a tour:
Tete Batu (village in the “mountains”, fields and waterfall) , Sukara (weaving village) and surfing for beginners on the Selong Belanak Beach. Then we went to Kuta Lombok to fly back to bali from the Airport.
Tete Batu was a very quiet place. Because it was closer to the vulcano it appeared to be some kind of village in a higher region. We had a walk around the various fields with a very young tour guide and we went to see the Tete Batu waterfalls, which aren’t that big but quite nice to visit anyways. You can also go swimming there!
In the evening we sat together with some lokals and played guitar and sang. If you go there, make sure you have a hostel or hotel with warm water, it tends to get quite cool up there.
In Sukara you can walk around the weaving village and try out weaving yourself. Apparently if the women cannot weave, they aren’t allowed to get married. I don’t think it is a must to go to Sukara…
…however it is must to go to Selong Belanak Beach. I mean look:
Nothing to add about that right?
It is the perfect spot for surfer-beginners. The beach is beautiful and surfing itself is sooo much fun!
I loved it so much there! It wasn’t too crowded either… and it was just totally idyllic.
From Kuta Lombok we didn’t see too much since we arrived in the evening and went to the ariport just the next morning,
so I don’t really dare to say anything about it.
However – back at Bali we went to Uluwatu/Padang Padang! Again a surfer’s spot. Not really for beginners though.
There you really get into the whole surfer-tourism-atmosphere with the Australian beach boys.
Padang Padang beach is okay, not really too nice for swimming et cetera. But when we were there, there was a surfing competition, which is nice to watch. What I would recommend you though is visiting the Uluwatu Temple as well as Blue Point, which is again a surfer’s spot where the houses are built inside the cliffs, so you have the perfect view.
And our last stop was Kuta Bali. The ultimate tourist place, perfect four souvenir shopping, laying at the beach, surfing and going out.
There are loads and loads of street shops, where you really have to make sure you negotiate with the prices (they really try to sell stuff for way too much. Usually a decent and fair price for you to pay is not even half of what they say at the beginning!). The surfing spots are very crowded, and I really prefer Lombok since the waves are also a lot nicer there. The beach is big and there are always people who try to sell stuff to you, which can get a bit annoying.
If you go out try the Sky Garden, which is a huge club with several dance floors.
From Kuta Bali it is not far to the airport.
And then our time in Indonesia was already over and we were on our way back home!
Those 2,5 weeks went by so quickly and it was such a wonderful time.
I really recommend Bali although it is very touristic.
The nature and the temples are stunning, surfing is great and the locals are usually very nice.
I wish I could go back soon!