The beautiful island in Indonesia
07.02.2017 - 14.02.2017 26 °C
It was unfortunate that my first impression of Bali was being hassled by taxi drivers as soon as we arrived at Denpasar airport. We did have a cheeky way round the hussle and bustle by using Uber and getting the driver to pick us up from the carpark across the road. Apparently Uber is frowned upon in Bali as it takes away the business from the local people, which we didn't know until we got there. I found the taxi drivers had quite an aggressive approach to get your custom by following you, shouting at you and even grabbing your limbs. This did nothing but the opposite of persuasion for me.
We stayed in a lovely hotel complex called Taman Rosani Hotel and Villa in Seminyak. It had a couple of swimming pools with loungers, a nice breakfast area and really helpful, friendly staff. Seminyak had it's own attractions such as the local market, some chilled out bars with live music, lively restaurants such as Rumours, a shopping centre and beaches all within walking distance of our hotel. You can head down to Potato Head complex on the beach, where you can enjoy some good vibes with other young tourists, sipping cocktails by pool bar, overlooking the beach.
If you wanted something a bit more energetic with wild nightlife, you can head to Kuta. The streets there are jam packed with bars and clubs, people with stilts dressed in drag and music blaring from each venue. We were warned to be careful and to watch our things by the local people as Kuta was renown for pick pocketing. Another thing to watch out for is people trying to sell you weed and pills on the streets, unless that's what you're into, I'm not judging!
Once you've finished painting the town red in Kuta, be sure to get yourself down to Ubud. There, you can find the famous Monkey Forest, filled with inquisitive monkeys just waiting to steal bananas from you and eat them sitting on top of your head. Be sure to have your rabies shots before you go! I had the unfortunate experience of being scratched by a monkey and having to go to a clinic for the next 4 weeks to have a total of 5 anti-rabies injections. The Monkey Forest website claims that the monkeys are checked twice a year but that depends if you're willing to bet your 2% chance of survival on it. Despite the anxiety at 3am, 5 painful injections, finding clinics and hospitals who stocked the vials of anti-virab in time, I have no regrets. The monkey forest was an awesome experience; being up-close and personal with the monkeys and seeing the hidden gems of the forest, just don't be stubborn like me and get your shots!
Luckily for me, I was travelling with one of my best friends Crystal who happens to be nurse. With the fear of her friend foaming at the mouth and dying a painful death (not even being that dramatic here), she used her nursing skills to supply me with one of my injections when the hospital refused to administer it. I bought the injections from a pharmacy, after seeing a doctor to write me up a prescription (I had to do this for all 5!). With Crystal all gloved up, my arm squeaky clean she went to inject me when a huge cockroach ran up my leg. It was such a drama, I was flapping, she was flipping out and we had all the eyes of the customers queuing for the pharmacy on us. Crystal was anxious injecting me because I was her friend. I reassured her as if it was the other way round whispering "woosaa" and "relax, you got this". She was saving my life after all.
Just don't try this at home, kids!
If you do get the chance to go to Bali, I highly recommend getting a Balinese massage. They're the best feeling after a long day of walking around Ubud; climbing up and down broken pavements, releasing the tension in your shoulders after a sketchy scooter ride or purely just because you fancy a cheeky massage. If you are a scooter / bike a rider, I would suggest hiring one to go and visit the Rice Terraces in Ubud. If you've never ridden one before and don't have the best balance; like myself, I don't suggest trying to learn in Ubud on the main road. You could end up hurtling into the back of your friend's scooter or getting seriously injured. The scooter hire place witnessed the incident and offered to drive me around for the day as I was apparently "too dangerous". It was the best IDR 70 I'd spent! You'll notice in Asia the amount of people limping around with bandages on following scooter accidents. Sometimes it's best to not keep trying to ride scooters if balance isn't quite innate to you. Being on the back of the scooter was much more enjoyable for me anyway, as you get to take in all of the scenery and Bali really is beautiful, with so much to see.
In Ubud near the rice terraces, you can go and visit the Kopi Luwak Coffee Plantation where the coffee is made from beans that have come out of the ass of Civic Cats / AKA weasel poop coffee. The staff at the plantation were really informative, explaining in detail about the growing techniques, the process of making Luwak Coffee and introduced us to the working weasels. You could even taste the luwak coffee which is pretty good, if I do say so myself but I'm no coffee connoisseur.
Although scooters are more budget friendly and gives you extra freedom, you can still get around Ubud using taxis. Blue bird taxis were the most credible taxi group that I had used. Be sure to state that you want to use the meter, as it tends to be cheaper than agreed flat rates. If they happen to ask you if you've been there before, always agree! Sometimes the drivers are cheekier than the monkeys in Ubud, they drive round in circles or claim that the roads are one way, when it isn't and your google map tells you that they're taking the scenic route. If you do happen to agree on a price always state that you want to pay in Indonesian Rupiah OR US dollars, never agree on a price without stating your currency. I got stung by a hostile, aggressive and threatening taxi driver for a 5 minute drive back from a clinic at 4am in Seminyak. When he found out I didn't actually carry US dollars, he locked the doors and grabbed my arm outside the hotel in the carpark. It was a terrifying situation to be in and I don't suggest females to be travelling alone at that time, for that reason. I paid him what I could in Rp because that was the only currency I had and threatened to scream and kick him in the face if he didn't let me go, to which he quickly came to his senses and released me. In this situation, I wasn't sure if the police would be on my side so I just went back to my room, feeling in shock, anxious and tearful. I was soon calmed by lovely Crystal cuddles, chats and a cigarette.
That ordeal was quickly recovered from after visiting the tranquil Hanging Gardens of Ubud. A beautiful sanctuary spa and hotel in the wilderness, where you can treat yourself to milk baths, scrubs, manicures, massages and much more. The Hanging Gardens was perfect for honeymooners, couples and pamper holidays, not really ideal on a backpackers budget.
One of my favourite beaches in Bali was Padang Padang beach. When you manage to climb down all of the stairs and over rocks to get to the powdery, white sand, it's like being in heaven, despite the fighting monkeys. The sun was beating down, clear blue waves rapping on the shore and there were caves if you're brave enough to explore. On the beach you could hire snorkels, surfboards and sun loungers and you can buy sunglasses, sarongs, fresh baby coconuts and other refreshments. You can even feed the monkeys salak fruit and watch them squabble over superiority while you get lots of snaps and get up-close(ish) to the baby monkeys.
After you've relaxed the day away, you can make your way to the glorious Rock Bar at the Ayana Resort to watch the sunset. The Rock Bar is set on the edge of a dramatic cliff above Bali's sunset coast, dangling over the Indian Ocean. The Ayana Resort in Jimbaran has such a seductive ambience after the dramatic sunset. Just to get down to the Rock Bar you need to adventure through pathways lit up with lanterns, staircases that almost touch the water from the swimming pools and a lift that skims over the rock faces. Once you arrive, you can unwind and spend the evening listening to the waves crashing against the rocks with the encaptivating sounds of the international DJs, rolling out the good vibes.
Bali is bliss.