When we think about Bali the first thing that springs to mind is the food and Bintang beer! Leave your diets behind as you are spoilt for choice when it comes to menus in an array of restaurants. Okay they are all pretty westernised and if you are looking to try different cuisines, we don’t think you’ll find it in Kuta, Ubud, or Lovina, but what you will find are all the grills and BBQs you could imagine. Skewers of freshly caught fish, satay beef & chicken, amazing curries, Thai salads, cocktails, mocktails and of course the local favourite, Bintang beer. You’ll be quite content spending your days relaxing by the pool and looking forward to meal times. One particular favourite restaurant was Scallywags, found on the Gili’s! Another recommendation if you have a spare morning is to go to a local coffee farm. You will be bombarded with free tasters from vanilla and coconut to the best hangover cures or even coffee beans that have been made from poo! Don’t ask, just go… You’ll be sure to have a great time.
We were initially underwhelmed by the beaches in Bali but we were completely dazzled by the sunsets and spent many a night watching the hot sun set over different beaches.
Kuta is a great spot for surfing with a huge beach running for miles. From playing volleyball to relaxing on a beanbag listening to live music and the crashing of the waves, bliss. Lovina is great for dolphin spotting, be prepared for a little boat over crowding and the most beautiful sunrise ever. Alternatively, if you’re looking for a chilled out, pool party vibe consisting of cocktail drinking and sunbathing, visit Seminyak beach. Here, you will find the ‘Potato Head Beach Cluv ‘ where you’ll have a day away from backpacking and an excuse to put on your best swimwear!
The perfect beach is hard to find as the volcanic black sand isn’t the most attractive and you’ll struggle to find a beach completely clear of rubbish. Although, you can’t really complain when holding an ice cold beer and watching one of the most stunning sunsets you are ever likely to see.
If you are looking for a good spot to swim, snorkel and sunbathe with some clear sea and white sand head for the Gili Islands. Our opinion is unless you fancy going to Malia, skip Gili Trawangan and head straight for Meno or Air. Both are a lot more chilled out, with lush white sand and walk-off-the-beach snorkelling. Take a walk or bike ride around the whole island (do not pay to ride a incredibly badly treated horse & cart!) enjoy the salty sea air and delicious fresh seafood restaurants.
At 5780skm Bali is relatively small and we felt we got to see a fair share of it. Ubud is the place we’d like to call our favourite. If you’ve seen Eat, Pray, Love and that’s what your hoping for when you visit, Ubud is where you’ll find it. Away from the hustle and bustle and bargaining of Kuta, Ubud is much more relaxed with a tranquil and sacred feeling.
From the luscious rice fields to the famous monkey forest you are not short of options here. Not at all shy, the monkeys are inquisitive and quite fun to interact with but they are mischievous little buggers so make sure you take care of any loose belongings. If you’re lucky you might even see some monkey loving.
The cobbled streets are lovely to wander around, looking in the quaint shops and stopping in the different happy hours, the days soon turn to nights and before you know it you’ve been here longer than expected. Rent a bike to fully explore Ubud’s hidden gems. If you’re looking for a cheap, friendly hostel check out The Happy Mango tree, with private or dorm rooms, reliable tours (including Mount Batur) and great breakfasts, you can’t go wrong.
Getting up and out at 2.30am is hardly our idea of fun but when it is to climb an active volcano, we made an exception!
Climbing Mount Batur was no easy task. Our first encounter was a huge thunderstorm which lasted for hours, continuing during our ascent. The lightening lit up the dark sky providing sparks of light in an otherwise blackened environment.
Rain fell sporadically through our journey, refreshing us as we trekked through the night in still relatively warm temperatures. Carrying torch lights on the now slippery surface, we stopped at various rest points to regroup before finally reaching the summit after hours of walking, climbing and tripping.
On reaching the top, we were greeted with an egg…. which we boiled on one of the steaming vents from the volcano. We then took a seat and awaited for sunrise which eventually came but was blocked by low lying clouds. The view was still unmissable just not quite what it could have been.
Being on top of a volcano really is an awesome feeling and we cannot recommend it highly enough. One of nature’s most powerful and destructive features was literally warming our feet with the possibility of an eruption at any moment.
A few other highlights for us consisted of the hot water springs not far from Lovina, the many waterfalls you’ll stumble across, and of course the beautiful temples which there is certainly no shortage of. Lastly, don’t forget to test your bargaining skills on the latest Bintang vests, elephant print pants and “Namaste Bitches” tops.
It’s a great country to experience a new culture, especially if you haven’t travelled to Asia before. However, it is extremely touristy which we feel has detracted itself from its true Indonesian roots. If you’re thinking of visiting Bali do it now as our bet is that in five years time it will have changed even more.