Highlights include: Beautiful temples, monkeys, hungover surf lessons, rice paddies, basket weaving at a home stay, too many scooters, dolphins, bicycle rides in the rain, catching the Bali fever, puppies, tropical waterfalls, hot springs, animal poo coffee, incredible culture and great company!
Day 1 – Arrival
After a six hour flight from Sydney to Denpasar, I arrived at the very clean and well maintained airport, got lost for five minutes, was asked by ten taxi drivers if I needed a lift, and then finally found my tour rep Dave and our driver. Phew.
It was so nice to see Dave again, as he was my rep for the OzIntro tour I did way back in June 2015 when I first arrived in Sydney!
The shuttle bus was like a black pimp mobile with red leather interior- I knew instantly this trip was going to be fun once we hit the road!
There were scooters and mopeds driving around EVERYWHERE, winding in and out between cars and wherever they damn well please! No protection clothing, or road safety, but I guess that caused people to be more careful as it didn’t seem like there were many crashes happening! (We only witnessed one.)
It was a lovely reunion, the hotel was stunning and we were both sharing a room together, therefore you can imagine we had a huge catch up! You know how girls talk…and talk.
Once we settled in, we walked down the narrow paths of Kuta, whilst trying not to get our feet run over by scooters, towards a recommended restaurant to have a traditional dinner of Nasi Goreng -(chicken satay with special friend rice and a fried egg).
We spent the evening socialising, playing a few games of pool, and standing by the many powerful fans because of the 15000% humidity, and I had some decent cocktails for the equivalent price of £2.50! As well as £1 vodka mixers! It was rather fun to ask the bar tender nicely for a screaming orgasm.
This was shocking to see how cheap everything was here compared to how expensive things were back in Sydney!
Day 2 – Uluwatu Temple, monkeys, Padang Padang beach, cheap alcohol, Sky Garden.
Today we took a trip to the Uluwatu temple right at the south tip of Kuta.
I was looking forward to this as I absolutely love the architecture of the Indonesian buildings and temples. We had to all wear a purple silk sarong out of respect, as that made us look less touristy.
This temple is the sixth holiest place to worship – it sits right on top of a 70-metre cliff and was found in the 11th century.
There were plenty of monkeys roaming along the paths, as they lived in the small forest surrounding the long cliff.
They are believed to guard the temple from bad influences. The long pathway to the temple is protected by concrete walls on the cliff side.
It takes about an hour to get from one end to another, and there were several viewpoints along the way.
The monkeys were a bit of a pain in the arse, as they managed to steal BOTH of Sophie’s flip flops from her feet, and nearly stole one of mine too!
The monkeys were also known for stealing glasses, hats, and any loose items so we had to be careful! I don’t really like monkeys…
Next up we headed to Padang Padang beach – a gorgeous little bay surrounded by tropical cliffs and wooden huts.
A couple of us HAD to grab a paddle board to have fun in the calm ocean and see what we could find, whilst others simply soaked up the sun.
That evening, we went out for a meal at a beach and surf style bar called Single Fin.
We went to a couple of other bars beforehand, where there were $1 vodka mixers – that’s 50p! So we played some card games and stocked up on those! (This was a bad move on my behalf, but I didn’t realise this yet…)
Once we reached the famous Sky Garden, I grabbed my free Mojito on entry, and from then on, it was one big blur… All I remember is dancing to great tunes on a tabletop platform with the rest of the tour buddies!
I’m sure I visited other rooms briefly too. It really was a cool club, but I didn’t take photos as we were all advised not to take our phones out with us because of the pick pocketers. This annoyed me as I love taking photos of pretty much everything…
IMPORTANT ADVICE! – It’s common knowledge that drugs are a big no-no in Indonesia and carries the heaviest of penalties. But drugs will always be offered to you, especially magic mushrooms!
Party-goers are also reminded to keep an eye on their drinks and to avoid cheap mixes like “Jungle Juice” as there have been reports of methanol poisoning due to poor quality Arak alcohol being used. It’s basically like petrol!
The safest option is cracking open a cold Bintang beer and dancing the night away.
I didn’t do this. I still drank the local cheap vodka… Not Arak though.
Day 3- Hungover surf lessons at Canggu, new hotel, a day of chunder.
SO! Today was the day I died. Thanks a lot local alcohol.
Sophie and I thought we set an alarm the night before, but it turns out we never got round to it. We needed an early alarm as we had to check out on this day, pack our suitcase, put it in the bus, go to surf lessons, and then check into our next hotel afterwards.
But hey, there we were, still dying in our beds, oblivious to the world around us.
So Dave knocks on our door, at first I thought it was house keeping, soon realised it was Dave, and then checked my watch…… SHIIIIIIT!!! We had to leave in 20 minutes!
So there we were packing at 100mph, feeling heavy headed, worrying we wouldn’t be able to eat anything and therefore made to do surf lessons on an empty stomach. Hell…no.
But as Sophie was faster than me at everything, she dragged her suitcase downstairs, checked out, and ordered breakfast for the both of us. Life – saved!
But alas, this breakfast I scoffed didn’t last long in my system…
Once we got off the shuttle bus at Canggu beach, I was discreetly (with a mild panic) looking around for a place to puke, and Dave clocked on what I was doing and he grinned, asking if I was indeed looking for a place to puke..
I ended up going behind an empty surf shack and then covering it all up with sand! How classy. It is rather funny looking back at it, as I can’t believe I still managed to have the energy and the excitement to surf! Nothing stops me from having fun! What can I say – I’m a trooper, and a bit of a nutcase.
I was even more shocked when I managed to stand up countless times on the surf board and actually enjoy comfortably riding some great waves!
This was my second surf lesson, as I did another one at Spot X surf camp in Australia, so I felt more comfortable during this amazing lesson!
The instructors were awesome and incredibly helpful, and Dave was busy taking some great shots of us on his GoPro without getting knocked out by one of our surf boards.
After the awesome hangover curing surf lesson, it was time to head to our next hotel called Frii Echo Beach.
Again, I had to puke. So we arrived at reception and I had to pop to the first toilet to completely get rid of everything that was in my system. And then I was ready to carry on!
This hotel was funky and vibrant with beautiful rooms, a balcony, two pools running down the side of the hotel, and a rooftop restaurant in which you can enjoy the quiet side of Kuta scenery and the ocean view.
I was very relieved to just sit down and recover properly without throwing myself around anymore…
At this point I really felt the need to detox, in which Dave told me there was an amazing gym and healthy food/smoothie place just to the left of the hotel called BaliFit.
I was incredibly happy about this, and went to this modern building to grab one immediately whilst everyone else was crazy enough to carry on drinking cold Bintang beers…!
For dinner, we visited Monggo Bar and Restaurant just a few minutes away from the hotel.
This was one of my favourite restaurants. It had a sensational authentic setting, with vintage decor and attentive staff. It even had a 70s style TV with a fish tank inside the screen!
Day 4: Tanah Lot Temple, Bratan Temple, Rice Paddies, Gitgit waterfall, our own Private Villa and … Puppies!
Today was a very busy day of culture! The tranquility of it all really took my breath away.
Firstly we visited Tanah Lot Temple – a coastal beach temple placed on top of a large rock.
We weren’t allowed to enter these temples as they were sacred and important for prayers, plus this was a very popular tourist destination and I agree that people entering the buildings would ruin the authenticity of it all. There was also a chance to see a Holy Snake, but you had to pay for that.
The next temple we visited was Pura Alun Danu Bratan, placed on the shores of Lake Bratan.
This is an important water temple in which people place offerings to celebrate the Balinese lake, water and river goddess Dewi Danu.
The water from the lake is also used for all of the many rice paddies of Bali – which we were going to visit next!
Every now and then we would stop at the perfect viewpoints for group photos, as well as Dave telling us the history and some fun facts about each place we visited.
Apparently, the more tiers (layered roofs) the temple has, the more important it is.
So Bratan had 11, so I think this was most definitely an important one! Trying to imagine what that would look like if we did that back in the UK… May go out of hand. Especially Buckingham Palace…
After taking many group photos with this wonderful temples, we drove to the magnificent Jatiluwih rice paddies. I was in awe of how much rice this country actually makes and was amazed to see how it all works.
I’ve never seen rice terraces before – so this was a very special moment to explore this world heritage work of art.
After getting very muddy feet, (I just ended up taking my flip flops off), we went for a traditional buffet lunch at a restaurant that gave us the view of all views! The paddies honestly looked like they were made by someone with OCD. That’s how perfect and in line they were, even the rice crops!
So again, I was happy with more meat and satay sauce, green beans and even tried a red rice and coconut dessert… It was a bit strange, but I just had to try it because it was red rice harvested straight from the paddies.
Next up was swimming under the Gitgit waterfall!
Before we arrived back at the bus, we spotted an interesting shack where there were two furry possum-like animals called Luwaks.
Apparently they’re excretion is dried and used to enhance the flavour of Bali coffee, and there were a few different coffee packs on sale.
Some people bought this coffee to try it, but I thought the idea sounded a bit gross.
As I said before, today was indeed a very enjoyable and busy day full of great cultural education. So we were ecstatic to arrive at our very own private villa! I was not expecting this kind of treatment!
This was truly stunning; especially with the infinity pool, the view of the rice paddies, the bean bags circling a campfire, and……. wait for it…… PUPPIES!
When I saw the pet dogs welcoming us, I was very happy. But when I saw the puppies, it was a whole different ball game.
I wish I stayed here during the whole nine day trip! This place was perfect! It was time to have a dip in that infinity pool, have a cold Bintang, and cuddle the three puppies!
However. All of a sudden I managed to develop the horrendous Bali Fever because of the wet season.
But seriously – I felt terrible. My head was about to explode, my sinuses were completely blocked and I can’t remember the last time I felt this weak.
A wonderful meal was cooked for us by Su and his wife (our Balinese host whilst we were at the villa). We had chicken and veg skewers with corn on the cob, jacket potatoes and homemade salsa. For dessert I was very happy when I saw Nutella come out onto the table as well as cooked bananas!
It really was a wonderful gathering, but I soon headed to bed because I still felt like death.
Day 5: Poo coffee, Dolphins, Volcano Hot Springs, Bali Fever.
Early in the morning, around 6am, we walked a few steps up from the villa to climb a watch tower and see the sunrise.
Dave bought us up some Luwak poo coffee for all of us, and I suppose I couldn’t knock it until I tried it.
Funnily enough, it was rather tasty! No essence of shit coming from the coffee at all! So I happily drank the whole thing whilst enjoying the sunrise over the mountains.
So after our cheap but very cheerful breakfast, we evened ourselves out onto three different boats, and off we went!
We spend an hour or so chasing plenty of wild dolphins that were more than happy to give us a display – one even jumped into the air and did a spin for us! I was gutted I didn’t catch that on my GoPro!
There were many weird and wonderful trees and plants just behind their home, including Robusta coffee, chilli peppers, all sorts of spices including turmeric, Durian fruit (smelly fruit), cocoa beans, Snake fruit and so on!
We soon took our flip flops off and sat down cross legged under their open wooden bamboo shack, which they could afford to build from the generosity of Bali Intro!
Each time a group visits, some money goes towards these selected families so they can continue cooking their delicious meals for us, afford housing equipment to extend their home, teach us their way of life and help them build a stable future.
Next up was the Banjar Volcanic Hot Springs! This was a place where you could relax in the naturally heated pools, which smelled slightly eggy because of the sulphur – but that wasn’t too off putting!
There were invigorating mini waterfalls that came out of dragon stone carvings in one of the pools. There was also another much larger pool and a hot tub style pool.
Just had to be careful of the slippery concrete steps because of the sulphur sediments – I nearly stacked it three times whilst the Balinese women watched and giggled from their scattered market stalls..
In the evening we went back to Starlight bar, the same place we had breakfast.
I managed to perk up slightly when we headed back to the villa, and we had some drinks and a laugh around the campfire until the beautiful stars came out.
Day 6: Arriving at Gili T, exploring, pub and bar crawl.
A long drive and ferry trip later, which took an overall time of four hours, we finally arrived at Gili T!
I could describe the Main Street of Gili T as a quieter, more remote version of Kuta – as it still had the open plan party bars and pubs, but without all the crazy traffic on the streets.
I was pleased to find out there was a ban for all motor vehicles, as it made the whole place much more peaceful.
We were staying over at Tir Na Nog hotel for three nights – a tropical bungalow featuring a restaurant opposite the accommodation overlooking the beach, four scattered bars, a clean pool and free breakfast during our stay!
Us three girls stayed in a deluxe room with a fresh modern twist and a bright theme, great air con, and an AWESOME outside shower! It was surrounded by plants, pebbles, marble, the lot! I was in love with that shower… I felt like I was showering in a rainforest!
It was comfortable and enjoyable to explore. I wasn’t harassed by any shop owners and I even grabbed myself some delicious homemade ice cream on the way back.
It was that time again to go ‘out out’ and enjoy the bars.
However, it was a sober night out for me because I was desperate to get rid of this fever, but of course I was still involved with some neon Beer Pong at Evolution! This place was dedicated to this game with plenty of tables to choose from!
We then headed to Sama Sama, a reggae style club which plays some great live music to dance, head bang and sing along to. I swear the lead singer thought he was a rock version of Bruno Mars.
Finally we reached Jiggy Jigs, a small tiki-jungle style bar where the walls looked like they were basket weaved! There was a great selection of drinks here, and of course reasonably priced.
There was a huge dancing vibe but it wasn’t like the mainstream city clubs. This was a very laid back atmosphere, apart from when you had to watch out for the occasional pick pocketers which I witnessed trying to get into a few bags. Local kids that looked 12 years old also joined us on the dance floor! It seems that ID rules into clubs didn’t even exist here!
Day 7: Full body massage, chilling by the pool, monsoon rainstorm.
In order for a few people to get over their hangovers from the night before, (especially Dave), we enjoyed our lovely cooked breakfast in the Tir Na Nog Irish bar which connects with our hotel, and then a few of us headed back to relax by the pool with some more Bintangs.
Originally we were going to get on some hired bikes to circle around the island and head to the Ombak Swing. Unfortunately this was postponed until the next day because of the torrential rain, so we all decided to do our own thing today.
I think most people were happy about this because of the hangovers!
So myself and two other travel buddies decided to find a decent massage parlour!
So this masseuse really went to town on my back! I knew I had plenty of knots anyway so it was an invigorating experience…! But you can’t go to Indonesia and not get a traditional Balinese massage. There was even had a nice foot soak included.
I was finally getting my appetite back and I was surely making the most of it! I actually ordered dessert for once and there was no way in hell I was sharing it with anyone.
Day 8: Snorkelling with turtles, bike ride in the rain, Ombak Swing, farewell dinner.
We were lucky to wake up to a beautiful sunrise whilst eating more free breakfast, as we were about to head off to find some turtles!
Before we got in the boat we tried on some flippers for size, I grabbed my GoPro and off we went on the boat towards some ideal snorkelling spots between Gili T and Gili Air.
After some floating about and being surrounded by amazing tropical fish amongst the coral, we found a couple of turtles relaxing a few metres below us!
We visited a couple more spots where we received the I casual sting by the tiny jellyfish! But I didn’t let that bother me because I was in full mermaid-mode, diving further down and doing untidy backward somersaults and getting a friend to film it for me.
I could spend hours snorkelling in these tranquil oceans, just forgetting about the human world above.
I still managed to get sunburnt on my back whilst swimming, thanks to my naivety – believing I won’t get burnt because it was very cloudy…
We stopped off at the island of Gili Air for lunch at a surfer style beachside restaurant. It was incredibly calm and isolated here, and we had a typical paradise view of the little boats anchored in the bright blue shallow waters. Along with golden sand, low tress swaying in the breeze, and silhouettes of the other islands in be distance.
In the afternoon, we grabbed the hired bikes and set off to do the full circuit of Gili T! It doesn’t take as long as you think – it’s a very small island and you can do it in just over an hour!
However, it was heavily raining yet again, but we didn’t have another day to spare so we just had to grin and bare it! It was warm and humid anyway so it wasn’t too bad – although this was definitely not helping me fully recover from the fever!
The bike ride was still an amazing experience, and it was great to explore the entire island! The rain just made it that more interesting…!
Halfway round our trip, we stopped off at the very famous Ombak/Datu Swing to take some photos with us standing/sitting on it, in the rain, without a sunset. Damn. But it’s still another thing ticked off the ever expanding bucket list!
We were the huge loud table as expected, we had a few cocktails and there were plenty of worldwide dishes to choose from! But I was boring and simply went for the chicken pesto pasta tonight, as I was unfortunately beginning to get the Bali Belly. To much information – apologies.
Ever since feeling that shite the morning after Kuta I could not go near the stuff. I did attempt to try a cocktail – still no use. I was a hit disappointed in how much my body hated me at this point, as I’m always up for a party!
Dave had around seven shots and was in competition with one of our fellow travel buddies Kim. They were drinking Extra Joss shots (I think that’s what they’re called), which is when you swivel vodka and flavoured sherbet around your mouth and then swallow! The look on their faces were priceless.
Finally we came across a reggae live band in Sama Sama, which some people really enjoyed, but the reggae vibe just relaxed me to the point where I needed sleep, or to just get high as a kite.
Then again, when I looked around the dance floor is seemed that most people were indeed out of their nut. The keyboard player did have awesome dreadlocks which fitted well with the theme.
And the night continued from there!
Day 9: Leaving the tour, ferry ride back to Kuta, Funky Monkey hostel.
So unfortunately I gave Sophie my fever. I blame the rain and constantly being in it.. But she still blames me.
I spontaneously got a tattoo of the world atlas outline on my inner wrist too! I just randomly made a decision to pop into a professional looking tattoo parlour and went for it.
It was slightly painful, but not as bad as expected! And yes, the needle was fresh and sterilised. Don’t panic. I’m in love with it and can’t stop looking at it!
We spent most of our time walking around Kuta, looking in the markets and doing a bit of haggling – I did most of it as Sophie was too chicken to confront any of the guys who were trying to rip us off.
But the Balinese market owners are polite and they don’t try to force you into buying anything and they don’t physically shove you in their shops.
I treated myself to a facial massage and the best mani-pedi I have ever had, but I nearly had a heart attack when they started popping my spots with this sharp device, as I thought they were doing acupuncture on me at first!
Sophie and I chose to stay an extra three nights in Kuta, at a hostel called Funky Monkey. We couldn’t really afford to pay for the 12 day tour, and we knew that things are ridiculously cheap if you decide to go off on your own. For example – we found a place which did a decent steak, chips and veg for £3!
Funky Monkey hostel was really laid back place to stay, they even had ingredients to make free pancakes! And at £7 a night this was a no brainier. That’s laughably cheap, especially for how nice the staff were, how comfortable we felt, and how well-maintained the place was.
My own little summary in brief – I really did fall in love with beautiful Bali, but I didn’t need to stay here longer as was starting to feel rather groggy from the crazy humidity and trying not to get sick again.
- Scooters are the main form of travel around here
- Somehow this place feels more laid back. As rules don’t really apply to anything, (apart from drugs. That’s a huge penalty.)
- Petrol in Absolute vodka bottles on the side of the road to buy cheap and put in scooters.
- Scattered markets here there and everywhere.
- You can lose weight by sweating out all the toxins and constantly drinking water instead of eating too much food!
- It’s near enough impossible to avoid the dreaded Bali belly or the fever in the wet season however. But it’s not the end of the world!
- This would be my ideal place to do a yoga retreat – incense sticks everywhere, so many tropical colours, everything is sacred, high respect, tranquil, beautiful temples, no bad vibes or spirits, and everything is natural.
- You can choose to carry on and do the 12 day Bali Intro tour, which further includes a trek up the volcano, elephants, visiting a monkey sanctuary and having an included Balinese massage.
- Don’t scrunch up the money. It’s disrespectful.
- Don’t do drugs, or you will be sentenced to death in prison. Allegedly. This doesn’t help the tourists when everyone sells magic mushrooms on the streets.
Anyway. If I keep going on and on then this may as well have turned into a book.
But long story short – Bali is awesome. And you really do feel like a true traveller once you experience the Indonesian authenticity!
Have you been to Bali? Or anywhere around Indonesia you would recommend? Please feel free to share below!
Thanks for reading!
Amy Lee x