Long enough to fall in love with it
Duration: 8 days, 7 nights
Location: Bali, Indonesia
Last August we took a spontaneous trip to Bali. Spontaneous in a way that we decided to do it in July, so we had only one month to plan everything and buy plane tickets. On top of that, we could only go for 8 days (not enough for location like Bali). Despite all issues, we decided to take on that adventure. Our biggest motivation (besides all the stunning photos of Bali on Instagram) was the fact that Qatar Airways had huge discount on tickets. So we ignored all the cons and decided to buy the tickets and do the best we can in the small amount of time we had. Firstly, we booked our plane.
We were flying through Doha and Jakarta and then finally got to Ngurah Rai International Airport in Denpasar. First thing we noticed when we got there was the humidity. Since we live in Europe, we are not used to this kind of humid weather. It was a lot at first (you feel sweaty all the time) but we got used to it after a day or two. Second thing was the fact that it was raining. We weren’t expecting this because rainy season in Bali is from January to April and October to November. However, our kind driver (sent by our hotel) who was picking us up at the airport assured us that it will pass. He said that if there is some rain in August, it rains for max 30 minutes and then it clears up again like nothing happened. And I have to tell you, he was right.
Checking in our hotel was smooth and when we got to our Villa we were stunned. We booked our stay in Seminyak at Maya Sayang where we got a 300 square meters big One-bedroom Villa with a private pool (and we got it for a really great price). These Villas are like your own tropical paradise in the heart of Seminyak. The food is very good, each morning they bring you breakfast to your Villa and you have a few options to choose from.
The staff is super nice and helpful (you will see later why we got to love them) but sometimes you will have to explain a bit more what you want because of the language barrier. Our bathroom had an incredible outdoor shower that fitted perfectly into the tropical theme. The resort also offers you a Spa, so we booked a reflexology massage the first day to fight our long flight side effects. Two ladies came to our Villa and were super nice and friendly and did their job perfectly. After a good night’s sleep we headed to explore Seminyak casually.
The location of our accommodation was perfect, right on the street where many restaurants and shops are, and a walk to the beach was less than 10 minutes. We had lunch at a beautiful Greek restaurant called Mykonos. The food was so good that we actually came back to this place. The prices were pretty good, form 5 to 8 € per meal. But we did spend a bit more each time because it was two food lovers traveling together. But there are even cheaper options is Bali, if you choose not so fancy places you can get a full plate of amazing food for as low as 2 €. Rest of the day we spend wandering around Seminyak, visiting the local market full of colorful goods and souvenirs and lying on the beach watching surfers.
Always negotiate prices while on market in Bali. But not just negotiate, get dramatic. We got this tips from our tourist guide who sad we should always offer half of the asked price. We thought this was pretty extreme but decided to try it eventually. And it worked!
August is amazing to visit Bali if you want to surf. Of course, we had to try surfing! We were sure we won’t be able to stand up on our first try, but we did. This was my first time surfing and I loved it. Naturally, we took the smaller waves and had help, but it was incredible. The feeling of freedom and the power of nature you get at that moment you finally sand up on that board is amazing. We loved it so much that we went surfing 3 times in those 8 days we had in Bali. It beats lying on the beach, at least for me.
There are many surf schools that offer lessons in Seminyak but they can get a bit expensive and you have to follow a fixed timetable. We decided to go with the locals. You can spot them all over the beach with little stands and many surf boards. We got 2 fun guys that had a stand in front of KU DE TA beach club. Local surf instructors are way cheaper; they really know the waves and currents in Bali. Of course, we haggled here as well and lowered the price even more. Since we came back 2 more times, the guys remembered us and gave us even lower price each time we came back. We were joking that if we stayed 2 more weeks, eventually we would go surfing for free.
KU DE TA Beach Club in Seminyak is an amazing spot if you like cocktails and a little fancier way to enjoy beach. Their Peach Mojito is so tasty that even I (the one who doesn’t like classic mojito) liked it. It is little pricier but the food is delicious. If you would like to have dinner there or want to have a pool chair during day make sure to book it before since it can get pretty busy.
Since the traffic in Bali is crazy and they drive on the left side of the road (like in the U.K.) we weren’t really comfortable renting a scooter. So even before departing for Bali we booked private tours with Bali Driver Seminyak. Anything I write about our guide Wayan is an understatement. He was so kind, patient and a real expert. He thought us so much about Balinese culture and Hinduism. Always friendly and helpful. To sum it up, if you take any tip from this blog, this should be the one – book Bali Driver Seminyak.
Our first guided tour was to the city of Ubud and its art market. On our way there we visited a traditional Balinese house. This was such an incredible experience, unlike anything we have ever seen so far. You can see first-hand how modestly Balinese people live, how different the architecture and style is. The whole family lives together, they do not have piping, but a well; there is not one big house – the arrangement is completely different – many small house-like objects over the property. In the middle there is a special object with a spot for bed in the open (there is just a roof). This is where newlyweds sleep on their first night as a married couple or where they put the body of the deceased the day he or she dies.
The rest of the property has standard object, but they are all divided, like little one-room houses: one is kitchen, other is parents’ bedroom etc. There is always one that is an inch or two taller than everything else – this one is the bedroom of the first-born son. Also, each house has its own shrine.
After this we continued to the Batuan temple. This is a complex of shrines with beautiful Balinese temple architecture. You enter through separate large communal hall, but have in mind that you need to have sash and cloth around your waist to be able to enter the main temple grounds across the street. As we were looking around the temple locals were preparing it for the ceremony by placing fruit towers and flower offerings. It was very interesting to see the local women preparing the temple, you could really see how much they care about traditions.
Next stop was Luwak coffee plantations and Tegalalang rice terrace. This was an amazing spot, perfect for coffee lovers and everyone wanting to get that Bali rice fields photo for Instagram. For us, the animals (Luwak) and the process of making the coffee was far more interesting. The animals are wild, but it was so interesting to watch them since we have never seen Luwak before. The specialty of this coffee is the fact that these cat-like animals eat the coffee cherries (where they naturally choose only certain cherries, probably the best ones) and their digestive tract alters the composition of the coffee cherries. After this, the whole process of making the coffee is done by hand and it was displayed there so we were able to try it ourselves.
After the educational part of the visit, we sat at a beautiful bar overlooking the rice fields. We wanted to try all the different styles of coffee they offered and it was great that they had it premade. For around 4 € you get 6 small cups of different styles of coffee and a normal-sized classic Luwak coffee. It was really fun tasting them all with the scenery of terracing rice fields. At the end of the tour there is a gift shop that sells Luwak coffee which is actually way cheaper than in any other shop we visited during our stay in Bali. And it is actually really cool that you tasted all the styles previously, so you know which one you will like.
Finally we got to Ubud. The city was crowded and the traffic was jammed. Our dear guide just dropped us off and arranged a pick up location and time so we were able to wander carefree. The market was so interesting and had so many cheap souvenir options. Definitely the best location to get something special for your loved ones.
The Monkey forest was our last stop of the day. It was incredible to see all of these animals running around free in the city center. You can spot them jumping from trees to the roofs of the buildings of the city. There were so many of them, all sizes, from babies to grownups. You can buy bananas at the entrance, but I don’t recommend putting them in your bag. If you have some – they will find them. We bought some bananas as we entered and gave one to the baby monkey we saw immediately. We continued walking casually and looking around while still holding the bananas in our hands.
All of a sudden we hear noise of many feet running behind us – monkeys who saw us carrying bananas! Don’t be afraid, but they start climbing all over you and taking bananas, looking in your bag in case you are hiding some more.
If you love animals like we do, this will be fun for you. But in case you don’t want to have 3 monkeys on you at the same time, don’t buy the bananas or just give it to them right away. The forest itself is also beautiful, but as I said, I love animals so I was mostly concentrated on them and the beauty of seeing them free.
Next evening we decided to go to Kuta for some party time, since it was Saturday. If you go to Kuta for party, you just need to get to the famous nightlife strip and you just enter the club you like based on your music genre preferences. We decided to check Sky Garden Rooftop Lounge because it contains several different venues under the same roof. And of course, to check out its rooftop bar.
We went to Kuta with taxi. The reception of our hotel booked us one. We remembered the price we payed going there. This is important so you know what you can expect when going back. At nightlife strip there will be many taxies during night, but they like to take much money if you don’t pay attention. So before getting into the taxi, make sure and ask how much will it be. When we were going back we checked around 3 taxis until we found one with a reasonable price.
The other day we took a private tour guide (Wayan again of course) we went to visit Uluwatu temple, Turtle Conservation and Education Centre and Nusa Dua.
Our first stop was Turtle Conservation and Education Centre. This place was so amazing, informative and it was so wonderful to see all the rescued turtles. The entrance for this place is free, but they do have a spot where you can give your donation to help their cause.
What they do is they rescue turtles, but they also take the eggs from the beaches to prevent them from being hunted and when they are big enough they bring them back to the sea. You can see the eggs with unhatched baby turtles and the volunteer told us a lot about different turtles (was very knowledgeable) that live there and showed them all to us. They all live in their separate tanks, divided by species and by age. We even got to hold baby turtles in our hands and feed some bigger turtles. Overall experience was pretty incredible, especially since the work this Centre does is so inspiring.
After this heart-warming experience we headed towards Nusa Dua beach. This beach feels like you stepped into your favorite Instagramer’s feed – beautiful, clean and packed with luxury hotels. This is a perfect location if you want to relax, unwind and enjoy a slower pace. As soon as you enter Nusa Dua region you will see it is completely different from any other part of Bali, the streets are not crowded and it feels so luxurious. While visiting Nusa Dua beach was very relaxing we were most excited about Nusa Dua Water Blow – a rock formation and one of the most popular spots in Nusa Dua. This water blow is quite big and the moment when the seawater blows up is truly breathtaking.
Another beach we visited on our way to lunch was Padang Padang beach – one of Uluwatu’s most beautiful beaches. You know it is true if I tell you that this is the beach from “Eat, pray, love” movie with Julia Roberts. You have to pay the entrance fee of 10.000 IDR (0,63€) to visit this beach. When walking to the beach (very interesting trail) you will be greeted by monkeys so keep your sunglasses safe. But don’t worry, monkeys in Bali are generally really gentle, unless you provoke them.
To get to the Padang Padang beach you need to go down a narrow staircase in between a large limestone cave. It is really narrow, only one person at the time can go through, but don’t be alarmed because it is quite an experience. We did not stay long since the beach was pretty crowded (it is quite small), but the location is really beautiful and the scenery is incredible. The water is clear and looks so nice being surrounded with rock formations and sand.
We had lunch at a stunning, casual Single Fin Bar and Restaurant at the top of the cliff, overlooking some badass surfers catching huge waves. This bar is very popular as it has the biggest cliff balcony in the archipelago.
Our last stop was Uluwatu Temple and the sunset dance show held there. The Uluwatu temple is simply the best place in Bali to watch the sunset and it is a must see location for anyone visiting Bali. To enter the temple you will again get a cloth to wrap around yourself. The temple is on top of a 70 meter high cliff and every day at 6 PM there is a dance show called
Kecak dance. Entrance fee to the temple is 30.000 IDR (around 2€). Kecak Fire Dance was held after we walked around the temple, at sunset. This is an iconic dance performance in Bali and watching it in an amphitheater at the top of the cliff withsunset as a backdrop is magical. More than 60 people are included in the show and they use their body and voice to create music while telling the story.
You will see a lot of monkeys near this temple, but be careful as they sometimes try to take your fashionable sunnies or phone (basically, shiny things are most interesting to them). Make sure to take care of your belongings.
Next day was pretty casual, we stayed in Seminyak, enjoyed some beach time and surfing. Right before sunset we arrived at Tanah Lot Temple. This temple is known for epic sunsets and views and is a perfect way to finish off our Bali experience since this was our last day. After some wandering around rock formations and the beach all around the temple, we settled at one spot to watch the sunset. It was amazing to see how many people are here to watch the sunset. And a quite interesting thing here was the fact that so many people wanted to take picture with us (most of them were also tourists, but not European). This didn’t happen anywhere else in Bali so it was fun and we met a lot of interesting people.
After sunset we saw that many people were going to the cave right under the temple, so we went to check it out. There was a spring of water there in the cave and a Hindu priest that did blessing of everyone. It was quite pretty, you can wash your face and take a sip of spring water, the priest puts some rice on your forehead, says the blessing and puts one Pulmeria flower behind your ear. Perfect last picture of Bali. Well, read on…
DO NOT DRINK WATER! And I mean this in the most serious way possible. We were aware of this, we didn’t drink any water. You get bottled water in your hotel/resort even for brushing your teeth. BUT! We did have a brain fart at Tanah Lot Temple. Hopefully, it was because we were mesmerized by its beauty. There is a spot at Tanah Lot where Hindu priest blesses you and offers you to drink a sip of spring water to cleanse your body. Well, we found out the hard way that it literally cleanses your body. This is the exact moment we had a brain-fart and completely ignored what we knew about Balinese water. We took a sip of the spring water.
The photo above showes the exact moment when I was getting Bali Belly.
What you get when you are a tourist and drink the tiniest bit of Balinese water has a lovely name – Bali Belly. And it is everything but lovely. Luckily, this was one of the moments we also experienced the kindness of our guide Wayan. It all began at the end of our tour that day and my co-traveler was the first one to start feeling sick (followed by intense vomiting). After her first symptoms, Wayan was sure it was Bali belly so he rushed us to the pharmacy and we got everything needed to fight it.
20Long story short, we spent most of the night taking shifts in the bathroom. You can’t even wet your mouth with water because in 15 minutes you will need to vomit that drop of water that got to your stomach. Since my symptoms started few hours later than my friend’s it was pretty terrifying because I knew exactly what was coming my way, watching her was like looking into my own future – and it was not pretty. When we woke up the next day, in time for our check-out, we were like beaten cats. We had 8 hours between check-out and our plane, which we earlier thought was perfect because we had time to walk around some more, have a lunch etc.
These 8 hours sound like nightmare if you have Bali belly. And on top of that you add 20+ hour trip home. We were hopeless while we were gathering our luggage and dragging ourselves to the reception desk. Going to the airport was still a bit hard, still feeling sick, but better than in the morning. We finally dragged our butts to the airport and started our journey back home. I was happy, because my friend was already starting to feel better, the Bali belly was coming to an end. This meant that in 3-4 short hours I will start to feel better as well.
We slept like logs through all of our 3 flights, didn’t eat a thing in flight because we were still so tired. Poor flight attendant on our second flight had to wake us up when we landed because that was how hard we were sleeping. By the time we arrived to our country we were rested and like nothing happened. Just like our dear Wayan said, after 30 hours you feel like nothing happened.
Going to the airport was still a bit hard, still feeling sick, but better than in the morning. We finally dragged our butts to the airport and started our journey back home. I was happy, because my friend was already starting to feel better, the Bali belly was coming to an end. This meant that in 3-4 short hours I will start to feel better as well. We slept like logs through all of our 3 flights, didn’t eat a thing in flight because we were still so tired. Poor flight attendant on our second flight had to wake us up when we landed because that was how hard we were sleeping. By the time we arrived to our country we were rested and like nothing happened. Just like our dear Wayan said, after 30 hours you feel like nothing happened.
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