After a rather hectic 3 weeks of hopping between towns and constantly on the move in Australia, it was time to relax in Bali…or so I thought. For this part of the trip I was joined by my friend Greg who had made his way over from England.
I have to be honest when I first arrived in Bali it was completely different from what I was expecting, I had pictured a desert island with manicured beaches and palm trees with crystal clear water for miles and miles, with the only sound being the waves crashing against the sand. Our first stop was Kuta and it couldn’t have been further from the image I had painted in my head.
Kuta is crazy, there is no other way to describe it, I feared for my life on a number of occasions as the taxi driver sped from the airport to the hostel weaving in and out of cars and motorbikes, beeping his horn every other second whilst trying to avoid crazy pedestrians attempting to cross the road, welcome to paradise! However my opinion of Kuta soon changed, a few days in and it started to grow on me, from exploring the side streets and discovering hidden gems around every corner finding great places to eat or new bars to drink at, to discovering artsy shops full of expertly made local products, this place has it all, but only if you are prepared to embrace the madness and scratch beneath the surface. Greg had booked the hostel for our stay in Kuta, a place called “The Island”, even after all of my travels this is still one of my favourite places to stay. The atmosphere was just right and it seemed to attract a constant flow of great people, every night we spent there was a blast.
During my stay in Kuta I decided to purchase a guitar and this turned out to be quite an ordeal. After originally picking one up and paying a reasonable price, I took it with me to the Gilli’s and the taxi driver decided to throw my bag on top of it and snapped it in half, it lasted two days. When we arrived back in Kuta, my second attempt (pictured below) started off very promising, the gentleman in the picture carves these instruments by hand and they look incredible, I was instantly drawn in and paid a considerable sum of money owing to the quality of the craftsmanship (and my amateur bartering skills). Over the next few days I didn’t really get a chance to play it and ended up leaving Bali before really trying it out, it was only then that I realised the guitar was impossible to tune and having taken it to a number of guitar shops it will cost a small fortune to adjust. Oh well at least it makes a nice souvenir – albeit a very expensive one!
On the mainland we took a day trip to Ubud, a small village with a chilled out hippy vibe, surrounded by rice paddies and ancient Hindu temples, it is known as Bali’s cultural hub and it certainly lives up to its name. While we were there we visited the Monkey Temple and as the name suggests it is a series of temples full of monkeys which love to terrorise tourists. It was highly entertaining watching people purchase bananas thinking that the monkeys would just sit there, pose for a picture, wait patiently and then take the reward. Obviously this was never going to happen, the place was carnage, the monkeys weren’t vicious in any way, but they were not holding back either, taking people’s bags, and steeling every bit of food in sight. The trick is to sit back and watch other people attempt to feed the monkeys and just enjoy the free entertainment.
After Kuta we made our way to the Gili islands, a group of small islands between Bali and Lombok, we stayed on the largest one of the three, Gili Trawangan. This island is a mecca for scuba diving and partying and that sums up nicely how we spent our few days there. We signed up for a “Discover Dive”, a crash course where you are taught the basics in a swimming pool first thing in the morning, before heading out to the open water in the afternoon. The open water part of the dive was amazing, we saw an incredible array of multi-coloured tropical fish big and small, set to the wonderful backdrop of the reef, but the highlight had to be swimming amongst the turtles.
Our last stop in Bali was a small village in the South called Uluwatu. After spending most of our time partying, surfing, and exploring in Kuta and the Gili Islands, we used our time in Uluwatu to relax. The clifftops there made for a perfect vantage point to chill with a few bottles of Bintang and watch the surf come in.
Highlights of Bali
The Island – This was the hostel we stayed at in Kuta, during our stay there we made so many friends and had so much fun, there was never a dull moment.
Surfing – I was dreadful at surfing, even after Greg gave me a lesson, but it was still fun and something I’d like to try again someday.
Diving – My first experience of diving in the Gili islands was memorable for a number of reasons, my only regret was that I didn’t sign up to a week’s course to complete my PADI.
That was it for my time in Bali, not quite as relaxing as I first thought, but it was easily one of the highlights of my 6 month trip! Next stop Borneo, Malaysia.
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