Do you feel down, confused, unhappy, overloaded by issues, devastated? Go to Bali! This Indonesian island will make you forget all the issues and will cure your aches. I experienced it myself. Bali happened to be my soul remedy dream travel.
I would highly recommend to fly Bali via Doha, Qatar. There is a 10 hour direct flight Doha – Bali, operated by Qatar Airways which is quite comfortable. Denpasar Airport Ngurah Rai (Bali’s airport) fascinated me at first glance. 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 the traditional Indonesian temple style with the modern architecture. Now imagine all this surrounded by thick fresh greenery…Landing at Denpasar guarantees the feeling of living a contemporary version of Maugli story (The Jungle’s book). Bali magic begins at the airport yet and leaves you breathless as you go further.
I was about to get a heart attack at the airport, when the taxi driver asked for 100 000 Indonesian Rupiah (IDR) to transfer me to the hotel. My chin literally fell down and I started considering how long it was going to take me if I walk the distance.
The lack of information was about to put me in troubles. Thank God I download the mobile application XE currency converter in advance. It works also offline and helped me to realise that 100 000 IDR are equal to only 8 USD. Thanks to it, I reached the hotel not on foot. The craziness of the local currency – 12 000 IDR = 1 USD could be quite confusing. Once you overcome the zero’s number shock, you’d actually find everything in Bali is amazingly cheap.
I’ve never been to Bali before. The speedy choice for having a dream trip, I was supposed to make between Bali, Thailand and Maldives. Why Bali?
Because of the movie of course. I watched the movie “Eat, pray, love” probably …six times. Don’t judge me, I am just a girl. The stunning scenery caught my attention. At that moment, I was completely swollen by the idea of a romantic, remote island, untouched by the modern society. My impression of Bali was for a place, where you easily make friends, party never ends and there are mystical herbs and spices, able to improve both, skin and hair condition. Well…it’s pretty close to the reality. “Eat, pray, love” was the answer. Emotionally stuck, I was looking for a change. So…Bali turned to be my expected escape and I bolded the island in my travel bucket list.
Was Bali also a remedy to me? Actually it was. Going to this island, it’s very easy to move out of the beaten track. Everything here, starting with the environment, the history, the rituals and going to the food, the way of life and the attitude, could support your healing – physically and mentally.
Here comes my TOP 10 TO DO things in Bali:
The best one I had so far. The SPA procedures in Bali were at a very high level and were extremely respected. If you wish to have a real Balinese massage, then skip the 5 star SPA at the hotel. Go to the hundreds of local massage studios instead. The hygiene was acceptable, the masseurs were incredibly professional. The price per 60 minute Balinese whole body massage is about 75 000 IDR ( 5-6 USD). After I gave a tip of 20 000 IDR, my masseur was extremely grateful and ready to keep going on. I liked the fact the massage oil in the small studios was prepared by following homemade herbal recipes, often transmitted from generation to generation.
Bali possess one of the best surfing conditions and schools in the world. If you want to learn how to surf, that’s the right place. No shark attacks detected here. The ocean is warm and friendly, plenty of Australian surf schools, with good equipment and instructors at reasonable price. All the ocean attractions are welcome, as the Indian Ocean could be swam all year round. I heard it’s great for scuba diving as well, but did not experience it by myself.
They were everywhere. Colourful, unique, amazing architecture, covered by flower garlands, candles and incenses (aromatic materials that release fragrant smoke while burning). It’s allowed to join the locals at their prayer time, also to witness the ceremony at a particular Hindu temple, but you should wear sarong (the traditional long skirt). The visitor’s legs should be completely covered and hidden. The big temples provide shared sarong service for the tourists, so no need to bring it. 75% of the Balinese are Hindu and strictly follow the belief in Gods. There are small Hindu altars in the offices, hotels, SPA studios, where the employees take time to provide a gift (flowers along with incense) to Hindu Gods.
This is the traditional Balinese historical dance, with scary masks and costumes. The dance usually tells a story about the battle between the good and the evil. There are plenty of folklore dance groups to perform barong dances for the tourists. There is a programme of the barong dances at open stage. If it’s not in your list, ask for guidance at the hotel reception 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 an attraction itself and the view to it is incomparable. I’ve not seen such a greenery anywhere else. There are spots to watch the farmers, working on their daily schedule. You will easily find rice terraces on your way to Ubud.
That’s a mysterious 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 experience, as Ubud is about an hour drive away from the ocean, located deep in the rainforest. But rice terraces, plenty of coconuts, hindu temples, local dances, art museums and craft shops, fantastic food …all is around. Be aware, Ubud is very well prepared for the tourists and is targeting higher prices, but you can still negotiate and make some bargains.
Entry fee is about 40 000 IDR ( 3 USD). Two years ago, it was half price – 20 000 IDR per person. Monkey forest is a preserved rainforest, where the tourists could watch and interact with the monkeys right at their natural habitat. The monkeys are cute indeed, but be aware of the risk – your handbag could be stolen. So, watch your stuff and make sure the tricky monkeys would not grab it. I would advise not to wear jewellery – the monkeys are quite curious about shiny pieces and could even hurt you in their attempt to steal it.
Keep stuck to the guide and don’t go away, you may need some assistance. I heard stories about people bitten by monkeys. Just mind your attitude. That’s my preferred 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, if I can compare it with something else. The meat is always cooked with some herbs and sauce, so the taste is incredible. I’ve never tasted so many and different vegetables, cooked in unknown to me ways. Lots of rice is served in here, but it’s up to you to order it or not. I am not such a big rice admirer, so I avoided it, counting on the green meals mainly. I just loved the local cuisine. Even if it looks bizarre, the risk is worth it!
Everyone in Bali drinks beer. The local Bintang is tasty and cheap. It can be bought everywhere and the taste is as good as any other popular beer. The local gin joints, owned by Australians mainly, are the perfect spot to get introduced to the Bintang beer. If the visitor is hesitant what type of beer to order, the barman would politely offer the local one. Nothing wrong!
It’s the best way to move in Bali. Easy, cheap and fast. Especially if you are not used to the driving on the left road side. The traffic could be hectic, plenty of tourists as well. By motorbike it’s easier to avoid the heavy traffic and the only way to pass through the narrow streets. There is a risk to get wet during the rain season, when the rain showers start pouring suddenly.
After my TOP 10 thing list, you should try in Bali, a few CURIOUS FACTS follow:
+ Bali is full of Australians. Located only 3 hour flight away from Perth, Australia, Bali is the favourite spot for entertainment of the Aussies. They are about 80 % of all the tourists in Bali. 60% of them are drunk most of the time. The other 20% are permanently living here Australian entrepreneurs or pensioners. The weather is great, the nature is fantastic, life is cheap and there are lots of opportunities. I bet if you see young guys, drunk and noisy at 3 am, most likely they are Australians.
+ Bali sex cowboys – famous also like Kuta cowboys. Young local muscular men, who are hunting for white solvent ladies at the mid age or over 50. Bali is a very famous island for such ladies, who escape the reality and go to Bali for having a short affair, with the local gigolos. I was told mostly Aussie ladies, aged between 45 and 65 come to experience the young Balinese men. The gigolos are well paid for their “assistance” by money or gifts. It was interesting to know the best and the most appropriate gift (except money) for Kuta cowboys is the 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 rain showers are short (10 to 15 minutes). The daily temperature all year round is about 30 degrees Celsius. So walking in the rain or riding your bike is worth it in here. After the rain is over you would get dried shortly, so no worries of being a visitor in the rainy season.
+ Night life – party never ends on Bali island. Night life is a very optional word for the way of living, because the bars are whole day full. The real Night life starts between 6pm and 8 pm and usually is over at the same time in the morning ( 6-8 am). The bars in Kuta downtown are really loud, as the music never ends. If you wish to sleep, better pick a remote accommodation. Everything is near. The main tourist areas are located between Kuta and Ubud. Take time for complete a research and to find the best shelter.
I should go again to Bali, Indonesia. Only once won’t let you try and see everything. So it’s worth it to revisit over and over again. Bali surprises and goes beyond the imagination. Wild spots still could be found, untouched by the tourist industry. The locals are smiling and patient. I was told Kuta (the most famous spot on Bali) was a poor, unknown village 15 tears ago. By the time it was discovered by the Aussies. Then the tourism developed with an avalanche speed. I can swear, Bali is the right island to recharge any physical or emotional exhaustion. To me Bali turned to be a remedy, that not only cured, but also empowered me.