I recently spent two weeks in Bali and while I have very few photos to show for it, I really really enjoyed my time on the island! The past few months have been quite action packed – perhaps we’ve been trying to see too much in too little time – however things changed when we got to Bali.
We purposely chose hotels that were a little removed from the center of town, and most importantly, hotels that had nice big swimming pools!
I had a total of 2 days of sightseeing around the island, and the rest of the time was spent swimming in the pool, walking on the beach, swimming in the pool, having dinner at the beach, swimming in the pool… That was Bali for me.
I’m not going to taunt you with pool photos, since most people in North America are likely covered under a blanket of snow, however, here’s a look at what I managed to do around Bali:
Visiting the Ubud Monkey Forest
I had heard tales of the mischievous monkeys at the Ubud Monkey Forest and I was half expecting to walk into the park and be greeted by a brood of macaques flashing their sharp teeth at me. While that wasn’t exactly accurate, it wasn’t far from the truth either… The thing about the macaques at the Monkey Forest is that they have no fear of man! Between the lack of natural predators and the daily stream of visitors who enter the park with snacks in hand, the monkeys have become quite bold.
Sam and I made the mistake of going to the park early in the morning as soon as it opened, which meant we were the only ones walking around while hungry monkeys looked at us with expectant eyes. There was just something a little creepy about being the only people there in a park full of unruly creatures…isn’t that how horror movies start out?! I spent most of my time trying to avoid eye-contact and walk by unnoticed.
Climbing Mount Batur
Getting up in the wee hours of the morning to climb a volcano in the dark was one of the most strenuous yet fun activities I did on the island. The 2 hour climb had me scrambling up volcanic rock as I fought my way to the top, and the reward was a spectacular sunrise set over a lake and some of the surrounding mountain peaks. My legs were shaky for a few days after that, but it was totally worth it!
Watching a Fire and Trance Performance
During one of my first nights in Ubud, I attended the Kecak Fire and Trance performance. While there are various cultural dances on the island, the Kecak dance is considered a secular dance even though it takes place within the temple grounds.
The dance consisted of about 100 men sitting in a circular formation around a fire. It began with a handful of men chanting and it slowly grew in volume as the other men joined in with clapping and more chanting. I can’t say I knew what was going on as there was no explanation about the meaning behind the dance before they started, but it was entrancing to watch nonetheless.
Aside from the Kecak Fire and Trance Dance, there are numerous dance performances that happen across Ubud. The dances are rooted in Hinduism and they each tell the story of epics from Hindu literature.
Touring the island
If there’s one thing there’s no shortage of in Bali, it’s drivers. Anytime we went out for a walk we were met my a flood of offers – Taxi? Transport? You need driver? – so eventually we hired one to take us around the island.
I find the full day tours aboard a coach bus a bit too much to handle, so the option of hiring a driver and customizing the itinerary seemed like a good option.
In the end we ended up visiting the Tegalalang Rice Terraces, the Rock Temple of Gunung Kawi with its shrines carved into the rock wall, the Elephant Cave Temple, a coffee plantation, and we also enjoyed lunch at Sari Restaurant – a great little spot with magnificent views of Mount Batur.
It was a small taste of Bali, but just enough considering this trip was all about relaxing and having some down time.
Hopping over to Nusa Lembongan
If you’re looking to expand your horizons when it comes to Indonesia’s beaches, there are a lots of day trips available out of Bali to many of the surrounding islands. Some of the most popular choices are the Gili Islands, Lombok, and Nusa Penida, however, I went with the closest choice: Nusa Lembongan.
Not being one who likes to be out at sea, the 30 minute boat ride to Nusa Lembongan seemed like the most logical choice. This little island located just off of Bali’s southeastern shores was a really nice change from busy towns like Ubud and Sanur. The beaches were empty, the town was sleepier, and I couldn’t help thinking that this is what Bali must’ve been like many moons ago.
The main draw to Nusa Lembongan are all the water activities – snorkeling, scuba diving, freediving, surfing, and even kayaking. You can also visit a mangrove forest and a few of the local temples, but really, you come here for the beaches.
And that was Bali for me – a lazy vacation with not much on the itinerary. But I mean, can you blame me for not exploring more when I had a pool like this? 😉
Have you been to Bali?
What were some of the highlights for you?