I’ve always been reluctant to go to Bali. In my insolent mind, it is somehow a place associated with excessive tourists, locals who prey on unseeming tourists, beaches, bars and more beaches.
How wrong was I.
Lo and behold, I somehow found myself in Bali and in the weeks before, I started doing extensive research on this wonderful country and was really bummed by how there just wasn’t enough time to do everything I wanted to do.
In my short time there, I was only able to explore Nusa Dua (saving the ever so popular Seminyak and Kuta for another time) some beaches, watch the Kecak Dance and climb Mt. Batur! Shall be writing more on my climb up Mount Batur later for those really keen (I highly recommend!) and a little on the wonderful Kecak Dance and random beaches in the Nusa Dua area.
I had a whole list of places I wanted to go in the same area (!!!) but was limited by the bad traffic and the distance between each location.
1. Padang Padang Beach (also, Eat Pray Love Beach)
Not an easy beach to reach, its in the Uluwatu area and it will be a problem for those with mobility issues as there are loads of narrow stairs to climb up and down. Worth the climb up and down if you are game.
2. Kecak Fire Dance
In the Uluwatu area. It’s a traditional Balinese adaptation of the Ramayana tale. It is amazing because the performers chant, sing and move around in unison as accompaniment to the actual dance. The dance is held in the temple compound where you have to pay Rp 20,000 (1.60 USD) to enter (you can explore the temple before the dance!) and another Rp 70,000 (5.60USD) to watch the dance. Note that the temple carved out of the rocks rests on a steep cliff overlooking the Indian Ocean. It is truly a sight to behold to soak in that much culture with the sun slowly setting in the background.
view of the ocean from the temple
There are loads of macaques in the temple and visitors are reminded to watch their belongings or forever lose them to these cheeky little primates.
Tip: Go early to explore the temple (Dance starts at 6pm) and to get a good seat overlooking the Ocean for the dance. Latecomers sit on the dusty dirty floor. Not good for people wearing white! Ladies and Gents will have to cover up their legs if they are wearing shorts. There will be sarongs for hire (Rp 3,000) at the entrance! Save up by bringing your own.
3. Mount Batur (1,717m)
If you are someone who wants to do something different, who doesn’t want Bali to be defined by its pristine beaches, who is up for a little adventure and is reasonably fit, climb Mount Batur please! I’ll be writing a more detailed post on Mount Batur shortly and while I start working on it, I leave you with these amazing pictures.
From the top of Mount Batur at dawn. View of Mount Abang, Mount Agung right behind and tiny Mount Rinjani at the back
Same view, higher up and with the clouds rolling in after 7am
Bali was amazing. It was everything I never expected and more. I stand corrected by this wonderful gem of a place and cannot wait to head back in March this year. I hope I will be posting more useful stuff that can help with your travel planning then.
5 Tips for Bali
1. Hire a driver
Public transport in Bali is nearly non-existent and the cost of hiring a few taxis a day may well make it worthwhile to have your own driver. They often double up a tour guides and can give you pretty good recommendations. They cost about 30-40USD a day so do your math and contact one ahead.
2. Distance between places
Plan plan plan. Do not assume that with a driver, you will be able to check all the attractions on your checklist. Roads in Bali are horrible and they usually consist of one-lane roads. All you need is a cow or a really inconsiderately slow driver and you will be crawling along with the other cars on your dirt road. Also be prepared to bob around in your car along those pot holed ridden roads for an hour or 2 each stretch. Those with motion sickness, beware!
3. Check that Taxi Meter
Always check to see if the meter is switched on the moment you get on a taxi. If your taxi doesn’t have a meter, agree on a price before you begin your journey. Also, trust your gut.
4. Ignore the Hasslers and Peddlers
There are loads who will try to sell you everything and anything. Try not to buy everything they offer especially not on the first day. You should walk around to get a feel of what others offer before settling.
5. Learn to bargain
I feel terrible whenever I bargain because I feel I am depriving them of their livelihood. But hey, try and feel the satisfaction but don’t spend half an hour trying to bargain only to realize you’ve saved 50 cents. Your time is worth more than that!