For the last few years, Bali have become the favorite destination in south-east asia for young travelers, surfers and inspiring hippies. So when my mom decided to come and visit me on the other side of the world, I figured it would be the perfect occasion to see what was all the fuss about Bali. After a lot of research and debating, we finally decided to rent a house in Ubud and to visit the rest of the island from there. We had been told that Ubud was a chilled town in the middle of the jungle, taken away by vegan and yogies, which seemed to suit us perfectly as we wanted to relax and have stress free vacation. Well, let's just say Ubud really surprised us.
The minute I landed in Ngurah Rai airport, Bali's international airport, I knew without any doubt I had arrive in Asia. The traffic on the roads was simply chaos, scooters coming out of everywhere and perpetual honking sounds. Balinese art also caught my attention right away. The most practiced religion in Bali being Hinduism, there's temples everywhere and they are probably the most important demonstration of the finest and precisison in balinese art. Obviously, the streets were pretty dirty and half of the houses look like they were about to crash, but I guess that was just the asian charm. On the way to Ubud, we were pretty happy to escape the craziness of Denpasar, but we found out soon enough that Ubud's traffic was far from better. We found ourselves pretty relieve when we arrive to our little house. Tucked away at the end of a a small street, we could barely hear the hassle of the city from there. Our house was lovely and our host made us feel at home right away , we couldn't have ask for more.
On our first day in Ubud, we went to visit the Sacred monkey forest and walked around town. I swear a minute wouldn't passed without someone offering either their taxi or massage services. I was kind of annoyed by it at first, but Indonesian people are not agressive or insistant, so it only took a little time to get used to it. When we finally made it to the monkey forest, we were first fooled by the cute little faces of the monkeys. It's only after a while that we realized that they were only being all cute to distract us while another one was trying to steal our phone or wallet. I must say that to this day, I still maintain a love/hate relationship with those monkeys.
On our second day, we were pretty excited to visit Ubud's ricefield. We started walking, looking for the Campuhan ridge trail, but we never made it there. Instead, we got lost on a little country road outside of Ubud and, for the first time since we arrive, we saw the real Ubud: jungle vibes and endless ricefields. Sometimes, all it takes is to get out of the beaten track and get lost a little. We, then, spent the rest of our day exploring the south of the island and places such as Uluwatu temple, Blue point and Padang-Padang beach. We also stopped to visit a coffee and tea plantation which is something I definitely recommend to anyone visiting Bali. Finally, our amazing host Wayan came to see us in the evening and taught us how to cook a delicious Balinese chicken curry with some spicy fried tempeh. Learning how to cook the local food and discovering new ingredient is definitely one of my favorite thing about traveling. It just says so much about the culture and the country and it'll surely impress the fam and friends when you'll get back home and cook dinner.
On our third day, we were craving a sunbathing sesh, so we headed east of Ubud to Padangbai, a little coastal town of Bali. A thing you should know about Indonesian beaches is that if you want to reach one of them, most of the time, you will have to work for it or, in other words, go down a hundred sketchy and poorly builded stairs. The good news is that, normally, the more stairs there is to get there, the more beautiful and untouched will be the beach. On that day,we made it to two beaches : Blue lagoon and White sand beach. Blue lagoon was by far my favorite as it wasn't too busy and the marine life was simply incredible. Only a couple of meters of the shore, you could snorkel and see hundreds of colourful fish swimming around.
On our forth day, we were pretty tired so we decided to try a Balinese traditional massage and scrub. The town of Ubud counts many spa and massage studio, so it won't be a problem to find one, but I recommend looking on trip advisor to find the best deal and place. We personnaly opted for Sang spa and had a great experience. Two hours of massage and scrub for 38$ per person would be consider expensive in Asia, but being used to paying 150$ for the same treatment back home, we were more than happy with this deal. We also found the Campuhan ridge trail and were very pleased by the views.
On our fifth day, well rested, we woke up early to go see the famous Tegalalang rice terraces only a 30 minutes drive from Ubud. It's a good idea to go there in the morning as it's a lot less crowded and not as hot. We expected to drive threw the jungle to get to the terrace, so we were pretty suprised when our driver stopped in the middle of town and told us we had arrive. It's pretty crazy to see that something so remarkable is just part of some people's everyday life. Just another day at the office.
On our sixth day, we went to another typical must-see around Ubud: Tegenungan waterfall. As you probably already guessed, the place was packed, but, surprisingly, the large majority of people were only there to snap a picture, so we pretty much had the pool to ourself. The fall itself is pretty impressive from up close, but if I had had more time, I would have definitely try to find some secret falls around because there is heaps of them all over the island.
The next two days, we left Bali to explore Nusa penida, the biggest of the three Nusa islands south-east of Bali. My time on this island was probably the highlight of my trip and that's why I'm going to write an entire article dedicated to our adventure on Penida. After being on the really touristic island of Bali, being over there was a breath of fresh air. People usually decide to visit Nusa Lembongan and Cenida as it is more accessible and there is heaps of accommodation for visitors. In fact, the very small amount of touristic infrastructures on Penida is exactly what made our days there so special.
On my last few days on the island, I was left to myself, so I decided to leave Ubud for Canggu, a chilled beach town for surfers. Close by Canggu, I first visited Tanah lot, one of the most photographed temple on Bali and was pretty disappointed. First thing you notice when you arrive there is that they weren't lying when they said it was one of the main attraction on the island. The place is really crowded and it's hard enough to have a look at the temple as it's on a rock and it's restricted to tourist. To get a better look at it, the best spot to be is on one of the terrace perched on the cliff facing the temple. The view from the restaurant definitely made up for it.
I roughly spent the rest of my time in Canggu wandering around, sunbathing and trying the famous Nalu bowls (who are btw lifting up to the expectation). Old mans, the bar right next to Batu bolong beach, is probably your best bet any day of the week for a couple of Bin tang and if you are Australian, you'll be sure to feel at home in there.
There is no wonder why Bali is becoming more and more visited every year. The island offers a variety of landscape and heaps of things to do. The Balinese culture is simply fascinating and the food and accommodation are ridiculously cheap. But what I think really makes Bali worth visiting is the contact that is easilly made with the Indonesian people who are so genuine and kind . I reckon that we have a lot of things to learn from those people.
Published by Camille