Today I’m starting a series about my solo experiences in each country I went to on my OE, starting with beautiful Bali.
Getting Bombarded In Seminyak
The moment I got off my 36-hour flight from New Zealand, I was met with overwhelming humidity and a strong smell of incense, which I later realized was probably due to the fact that Bali is a religious place filled with temples and worshipers. It was not just the heat and the smell that consumed me, but the taxi drivers too. As I was waiting for my Airbnb host to pick me up, I was bombarded with offers to take me to my accommodation for as little as 50 New Zealand cents.
Seminyak is known as the party, touristy spot of Bali and driving through the chaotic streets, I understood why. There were tourists everywhere: in bikinis, riding motorbikes and eating at the local joints. Because of this, there are plenty of shop owners on the street, asking you to come into their store or trying to push a sale on you. I must admit I developed anxiety over it because it was so frequent, but I learned to ignore it politely and walk away. However, there was one time a salesman got overly-enthusiastic and started prodding me in my back!
Now, I’m not a party girl at all (not anymore, anyway), and my days in Seminyak were spent sunbathing and swimming at Double Six Beach where I developed a horrendous bikini tan line, browsing through the numerous surf shops in the area and eating fresh fruits which were in abundance. However, if partying is your thing, you will have no trouble finding a cool bar or club to dance the night away in. By the way, the food is so cheap. Eat local and you will be spending less than NZD20 a day!
Chilling Among Surfers In Canggu
Canggu is a very cool, chilled-out surf town. I am not a surfer (I have tried it but failed misreably), but I decided to visit for five days because a travel blogger was raving about it. I stayed in a wonderful Airbnb run by a Balinese family and their gorgeous Labrador and, after Seminyak, it was so refreshing being in a small town with no paths, street lamps or chaos. Canggu is a town well-known for its healthy cafes and restaurants. It’s Instagram foodie heaven. And everywhere you look, you will find tanned surfers with their surfboards close by. This was where I met a French surfer with a head of brown curls who spontaneously told me to hop on his motorbike to get drinks together one night. I crazily said yes and we spent the night hitting the coolest bars in town, one being Deus Ex Machina – a restaurant, surf shop, art gallery and tattoo parlour all in one.
It was a romantic and wonderful feeling, riding on a motorbike through the rice fields of Bali on a warm and starry night. However, when the night ended, I told the Frenchman that I saw him as a friend and said goodbye. The next day, according to my host, he randomly came by my Airbnb and waited around by room! Thankfully I was out, but when I returned later on that night he came by again, and let’s just say, I had a very awkward conversation with him.
While I was in Seminyak, I visited a trendy beach club called Potato Head where I met a friendly Balinese bartender who offered to show me a famous temple outside of Canggu called Tanah Lot. He picked me up and we arrived in 30 minutes by motorbike, and it was beautiful. This temple was built in the 16th century in the midst of a rich blue ocean and was still frequented by monks. The surrounding area was just as breathtaking, with high cliffs and panoramic views of the ocean. If you will be staying around the west of Bali, this is a must visit.
Monkeys, Waterfalls And Yoga In Ubud
You may have heard of Ubud in the popular travel book, Eat, Pray, Love, but this town was by far my favourite place in Bali. It is a town unlike the rest, tucked away in the mountains and much quieter, too. I absolutely loved it – my cosy Airbnb run by the loveliest Balinese family, the more relaxed, friendlier people, and the bohemian shops lining the streets. My days were spent exploring the town, lazily drinking coffee at trendy cafes and having the most amazing time sightseeing with a barista I met in Canggu. His name was Dedo, he was originally from Ubud and he was just about one of the warmest guys I have ever met. When I met him at the cafe he worked at, he kindly offered to show me around his hometown and I couldn’t have had a better time.
We first visited Monkey Forest, and when we first pulled up I couldn’t help but squeal. There were monkeys running everywhere – on the pathways, on the rooftops of the shops nearby and at the entrance, waiting to for a chance to nick something off an unsuspecting tourist. The forest itself is old and beautiful and the monkeys so used to people that getting extremely close to them wasn’t an issue. As I was filming a particularly cheeky monkey, Dedo kept saying, “Be careful of your phone! Be careful of your phone!” Those monkeys have been known to grab and run, so be alert!
Afterwards, we visited one of the many lush rice terraces in Bali and then a temple called Holy Spring Water, a bath where people wash to take their stresses and worries away. Dedo bought a traditional Balinese sarong for me to wear as it was a religious place, and it was the only time on my trip that I felt immersed in the true culture of Bali. Most of the time I was surrounded by and catered to as a tourist, but at the temple I felt like I was one of the Balinese people.
Later, we went to a civet coffee plantation where I got to ground coffee with a massive pestle and mortar and taste ten different types of coffee. It was heaven. I wish I knew back then that civet coffee plantations are a form of animal abuse – had I known, I would have never visited. However, the coffee was amazing nonetheless and I ended up buying a pack of vanilla coffee for myself.
Our last stop was Tegenungan, a thundering waterfall hidden in lush greenery. While it was packed with tourists, it was still a sight to see. Dedo and I hiked up the slippery cliff to the top of the waterfall where we got pretty wet, but the top has the best and least crowded view (and you get to take some pretty amazing pictures, too!)
While I was in Ubud, I paid a visit to the famous Yoga Barn (because how can you go to Bali without doing yoga, right?!) I had a yoga class in Canggu but it felt too pretentious and rushed for me and I didn’t enjoy it very much. But at Yoga Barn, I felt very welcomed and relaxed there. It is a hidden oasis in the hustle of Ubud, and the beginner’s yoga class was in an open-air pavilion with trees surrounding the area. During the entire class, I felt incredibly centered, present and calm. Sounds like something from a cheesy travel novel, right? But it was true. I don’t know what it was – the surroundings, the wise yoga teacher or the poses – and maybe it was a combination of all those things, but I had a fantastic experience and highly recommend a session at Yoga Barn if you are ever in the area.
When I travel, I hardly ever eat at the same place twice. I want to try as many restaurants as possible and besides, isn’t trying out different foods one of the great joys of life? Anyway, there was one restaurant that was so good that I ended up eating there three times: Locovore. I miss that place so much! It’s a small and modern joint serving food with a twist. The coffee and dessert was exceptional, the service was amazing and the price very reasonable. A must try if you are ever in Ubud.
Bali is a beautiful island perfect for bohemians, yoga lovers, surfers, beach bunnies or anyone seeking to practice presence and contentedness. It sounds cliche, but it is truly is a place you go to to reflect and find yourself. It is peaceful enough to do so, but also offers plenty of opportunities to party if that’s more your thing. The people are just about one of the friendliest, warmest people I have ever had the pleasure of meeting and I am lucky to have met some wonderful Balinese people along the journey who took time out of their lives just to show me around. It really does pay to be as open and conversational as possible to everyone you meet.
I love Bali and had a simply wonderful experience there. Go with the intention of enjoying the beautiful nature, beaches and food Bali has to offer and you won’t be disappointed!
Did you enjoy reading about my experiences in Bali? Have you ever been and what was your experience like? Leave any thoughts and questions in the comments down below! I’d love to hear from you.