Do you feel low, confused, unhappy, drowned by issues, devastated? Go to Bali!! This Indonesian island will make you forget all the issues and will heal your aches. I know what I am talking about. I experienced it myself. Bali happened to be my body and soul cure dream trip.
Highly recommend flying to Bali via Doha, Qatar. There is a 10 hours direct flight Doha – Bali, operated by Qatar Airways which is quite comfortable. Denpasar Airport Ngurah Rai (Bali’s airport)fascinated me from a first sight. It’s probably one of the most beautiful airports I have ever seen so far (I have seen many). Ngurah Rai is a brilliant collaboration of traditional Indonesian temple style with modern architecture. Now imagine all this surrounded by thick fresh greenery…Landing at Denpasar guarantees you the feeling you live a contemporary version of Maugli story. The Bali magic begins at the airport yet and leaves you breathless.
I was about to get a heart attack when the taxi driver at the airport asked 100 000 Indonesian Rupiah (IDR) for a single transfer to my hotel. My chin literally fell down and I immediately started considering walking to.
Be prepared not to make the same mistake as me and download in advance the mobile application XE currency converter. It works also offline and will help you realise that 100 000 IDR is only 8 USD. I managed to get this info in time, so eventually I reached the hotel not by feet. The craziness of the local currency – 12 000 IDR = 1 USD could confuse you by plenty zeros, unless you are not coming from Zimbabwe. Once you overcome the zeros’ shock, you’ll find everything in Bali is actually amazingly cheap.
I have never been to Bali before. The speedy choice for a dream trip I was supposed to make between Bali, Thailand and Maldives. Why Bali?
Because of the movie of course. Hey, I am just a girl, don’t judge me 🙂 I watched the movie “Eat, pray, love” probably …six times. The stunning sceneries have caught me immediately. At that moment I was also completely swollen by the idea of a romantic, remote island, untouched by the modern society. My impression of Bali was a place where you easily make friends, the party never ends and there are mystic herbs to improve skin and hair health. Well…it’s pretty close to the reality. “Eat, pray, love” was the answer when I found myself also emotionally stuck. So…it became the expected escape direction and I have bolded Bali in my travel list.
Was Bali also a cure for me? Actually much more. It is so easy to be out of the beaten track on that island. Everything here, starting from the environment, history, rituals and going through the food, way of life and attitude could support you healing physically and mentally.
Here is my TOP 10 you should try in Bali:
The best one I have ever had so far. The SPA procedures in Bali are on a very high level and are extremely respected. If you want to have a natural real Balinese massage avoid the 5 star hotels SPA. Get it in the hundreds of local massage studios. The hygiene is acceptable, the masseurs are incredibly professional. The price for 60 minutes Balinese whole body massage is about 75 000 IDR ( 5-6 USD). After I had given a tip of 20 000 IDR, my masseur was extremely grateful and ready to keep going on. I like the fact that in the small studios the massage oil is prepared following a home made recipe, often transferred through generations.
Bali has one of the best surfing conditions and schools in the world. If you have always wanted to learn how to surf, that’s your place. I have never heard about shark attacks here. The ocean is warm and friendly, plenty of Australian surf schools with good equipment and instructors on reasonable prices. Any ocean attractions are welcome as the Indian Ocean could be swam in whole year round. I’ve heard it’s great for scuba diving as well but have not experienced it by myself.
They are everywhere. Colourful, unique, amazing architecture, covered by garlands of flowers, candles and incenses (aromatic materials which release fragrant smoke while burn). You can join the locals during their prayers, also to witness the ceremony in particular Hindu temples but you should wear a sarong (the traditional long skirt for both sexes). Your legs must be completely covered but don’t worry, the big temples provide shared sarong service for the tourists, so you won’t be out of it. 75% of the Balinese are Hindu and strictly follow the belief in their Gods. There are kind of small Hindu altars in the offices, hotels, SPA studios where the employees could take some time to give a gift (flowers along with incense) to Hindu Gods.
That’s the traditional Balinese historical dance, with scary masks and costumes. The dance usually tells the story about the battle between the good and the bad. There are plenty of folklore dance groups to perform barong dances for the tourists. There is fixed timing for the start of the barong dances so if it’s not already part of your program, ask at the hotel reception to guide you how to find the nearest show.
It’s worth to visit it. Endless green terrace where the rice is planted and harvested. Rice terrace is itself an attraction and the view is incomparable. I have not seen such a greenery anywhere else and there are spots where you can watch the farmers, working on their daily schedule. You will easily find the rice terrace on your way to Ubud.
That’s a mystical place up in the mountain. Ubud is a mixture of traditional crafts, local and western painting art, wood carving and great dining. You can get everything here except the sea attractions, as Ubud is about an hour drive away from the ocean and located deep in the rainforest. But rice terraces, plenty of coconuts, hindu temples, local dances, art museums and craft shops, fantastic food are all around. Also you can pick and buy among the variety of high level standard craft. Be aware, Ubud is well prepared for the tourists and try to reach higher prices but you can still negotiate the final amount and make bargains.
Entry fee at the moment is about 40 000 IDR ( 3 USD). Two years ago it was half price – 20 000 IDR per person. It’s a preserved rainforest where the tourists could watch and interact with the local monkeys in their natural habitat. They are cute indeed but be aware of the risks – your handbag could be stolen by the monkeys. So watch your stuff and make sure it’s not easy to be taken by the playful monkeys. I would advise you not to wear jewellery – the monkeys are quite curious about shiny pieces and could hurt you in their attempt to steal it.
Keep close and don’t go away from the guide in case you need their help. I heard stories about people bitten by monkeys or somehow hurt visitors. Just mind your attitude. That’s not my favourite attraction in Bali and if you have already seen monkeys, I would recommend you skip it. There is nothing to be done in the Monkey forest but you can face some really weird signs in there.
Traditional Indonesian cuisine
Indonesian food is inexplicable. I am not sure I can compare it with something else. The meat is always cooked with some herbs and sauce so the taste is incredible. I have never seen or experienced so many and different vegetables cooked in unknown to me ways but still keeping their taste and green colour. Lots of rice is required by the tradition but it’s up to you to order it in case you like it. I am not such a rice fan so I have avoided it counting on the green meals. I just loved the local food and you should taste it, too. Take the risk,even if it looks bizarre, it’s worth!!!
Everyone in Bali drinks beer. The local Bintang is great and cheap. You can order it everywhere and the taste is as good as any other favourite beer of yours. The local not fancy bars, owned mostly by Australians, are the perfect place to get introduced to the Bintang beer. Even if you are not quite sure which beer you do prefer, the waiter will politely offer you the local one. Nothing wrong!
It’s the best way to move from a place to a place in Bali. Easy, cheap and fast. especially if you are not used to the UK driving on the left side of the road. The traffic in the town could be hectic, plenty of tourists, so by motorbike it’s firstly – easy to avoid the heavy traffic, secondly – the only way to go through the narrow streets in Bali. There is a risk to get wet during the rainy season but that’s a small drama.
After my TOP 10 things you should try in Bali, here comes a few CURIOUS FACTS you should be aware of:
+ Bali is full of Australians. Located only 3 hours flight away from Perth, Australia, Bali is the favourite spot for entertainment of the Aussies. 80 % of all the tourists in Bali are Australians. 60% of them are drunk most of the time. The other 20% are probably permanently living here Australian entrepreneurs or pensioners. The weather is great, nature is fantastic, life is cheap and lots of opportunities. I can bet if you witness young guys, drunk and noisy at 3 am, most likely they are Australians.
+ Bali sex cowboys – famous also as Kuta cowboys. Young local muscular men who are hunting after white solvent ladies at the age usually above 50. Bali is a very famous island for ladies who want to escape their reality and have short affair with the local gigolos. I have been told mostly the Aussie ladies, age between 45 and 65 come here to experience the young Balinese men. The gigolos are well paid for their services by money or gifts. It was interesting to me to find out the very well accepted and appropriate gift (except money) for the Kuta cowboys is a motorbike.
+ Weather Rainy Season – between October and April is the rainy season on Bali. Nothing wrong to get there during that season as I did. The rains are short (10 to 15 minutes) but expect real showers. The daily temperature during the whole year is about 30 degrees Celsius. So walking in the rain or riding your bike is worth in here, cause you will get dried for the same time the rain lasted.
+ Night life – the party never ends on Bali island. Night life is a very optional word for the way of living because the bars are full almost whole day. The real Night life starts between 6 and 8 pm and usually lasts till same time in the morning ( 6-8 am). The bars in the down town of Kuta are really loud and music never ends so make sure what you are looking for. If you wish to sleep, better choose a distant accommodation. Everything is near. The main tourist areas are around Kuta and Ubud. Take your time to make a research and find the best shelter regarding your expectations.
I should go again to Bali, Indonesia. Only once can’t let you try and see everything. So it’s worth to revisit it again and again, as one won’t get bored. Bali surprises and goes beyond imaginations. Wild spots could still be found, untouched by the tourist industry. The locals are smiling and helpful. I have been told 15 years ago Kuta (the most famous spot in Bali) was a poor unknown village till it was discovered by the Aussies. Then the tourism has been developed with the speed of an avalanche. I can swear, Bali is the right island to heal your physical and emotional exhaustion. Bali, I’ll be back soon to recharge the body and soul batteries and empower my energy (kind of a mantra, hopefully works).