Bali – the island of the gods

Bali – the island of the gods

Back to Bali !

I (Lydie) already visited the island last year but I am very happy to be back here and discover some other nice places of the island with Juan !
Bali got famous for having one of the best spot in the world for surfing, attracting surfers every year. With the time, people found out the island had much more to offer such as beautiful beaches, diversified landscapes and great food. But not having an amazing set of attraction and sightseeing, Bali has a special atmosphere that makes this small little island very authentic.

Here are 5 points why we love Bali and why we will return in few days to meet my dad and Ana.

1. The diversity of the island

We started first visiting the island in the north where we could find splendid wild beaches. They have black-greyish sand but it doesn’t change the beauty of the region. The north of Bali has kilometers of coral reefs which is the habit of many fish and sea life. From Pemuteran all the way to the east coast, snorkeling is like swimming in an aquarium. (It is not a joke!) From beautiful and color fish to corals and shells, it is absolutely amazing to dive there. We have not tried to dive but we heard that the nearby island – Menjangan – is spectacular for good divers.

We then headed to Amed that was in the past a fisherman village, but became now a nice little beach town with cute cafes and restaurants and great spots for snorkeling and diving as well. Next to Amed is also the famous Batur volcano. People climbs it for sunset. 
Our next destination will be the south of Bali where I have already been. The south is definitively more touristy and known for its spectacular sunsets, big waves and surfing. Kuta is on the top list for surfing. The area offers a wide offer of bars and places for partying. I am not sure I would like to go back there as the nice atmosphere and typical Balinese culture is somehow taken over by drunk and young tourists which I was not so fond of. Not too far from Kuta is Seminyak which I enjoyed much more. The beach offers nice places to relax and admire the fabulous sunsets. It is possible to take yoga classes all around the area. More in the south, around Jimbaran is the famous Uluwatu temple that is right by the ocean giving a breathtaking view. A must do while in the south ! There are also monkeys being naughty as they steal shoes from tourists for some bananas in exchange.

Some kilometers up from Seminyak is Ubud, or also called the cultural city of Bali. It is the home of painters, sculptures but also yoginis. The city is not too big but and offers a beautiful range of arts and craft and a variety of yoga studios such the famous Yoga Barn. Surrounded by rice fields, it is easy to eat in a small little restaurant by the green rice fields or to take a walk or a ride on bicycle to discover the nearby country side. Cafes and shops are all over the city as well as Spa and beauty salons. In my opinion Ubud is the best place for a 100% Balinese experience.

2. The culture

Bali culture is unique and famous especially for its arts. Every year people brings back home wooden sculptured Buddhas, typical paintings or unique material from Bali. Most of the art scene and the development is influenced by the Hinduism.
Bali stays a conservative country though having 2 different religions, Hinduism and Islam. The Balinese are extremely devoted and spiritual people. There are over 10,000 temples on the island. When the muslims pray and sing the Hindus pray also their God and Goddess giving them gifts for prosperity, protections and for many other reasons. It is very common to walk on the street and see some gifts by the numerous temples or on the floor in front of shops or different places. The staff of our hotel in Amed (Barong Cafe) used to dispose gifts in front of our room. We didn’t ask why exactly they were doing this but it gives for sure a special atmosphere.
Along with the Muslim, they all seem happy and to live well together. Having asked the question to a local regarding the mix of religion, the answer has been honest and direct “we don’t fight, we like each other”. Bali is an amazing example of peace between 2 totally different religions.

People say that the Balinese people have reached self-content. This small island has actually a lot to teach us. We feel that their happiness is not in things but in them. They are nice people, smiling, taking the time to live fully their life at home.

3. The sweet life

People have another rhythm than we do in the western part of the world. Being part of Asia, Bali is different from any other places. It is not as hectic as India, too crowded as Vietnam, it is just the perfect way of living. They live out of the tourism but also out of their culture and art. There is an energy on the island where everything seem to be just fine. Hard to explain but they must have a good recipe !

Also the weather is warm throughout the year. Bali climate is very tropical with two distinctive seasons; dry season, from May till September, and wet seasons, from October till April. However, even during the middle of a wet monsoon, tourists can expect the sun to make an appearance during the afternoon.

The variety of flowers and wild life make the island beautiful and attractive. Our favorite flower here is white Frangipani which smells so so good and is definitively very nice.

4. The food

Gado-Gado, Nasi Goren, chicken satay, soups, are typical dishes in Bali. And guess what ? It is delicious !
We found in many dish some peanuts sauce, rice, fish, chicken but also eggs and various vegetables. But Bali and Indonesia in general have more than 5,000 traditional recipes, with 30 of them considered the most important. Indonesian cuisine is full of color and flavor and varies greatly by region. We will probably take a cooking class soon and will let you known the recipes !

5. The location and facilities

Indonesia counts more than 17’500 islands for 252 millions inhabitants. From Sumatra, to Borneo, Java or Lombok, Gili and Flores islands, Bali is one of the best hub to travel around Indonesia.

Bali has an international airport called Ngurah Rai, also known as Denpasar International Airport. It is located in southern Bali, 13 km south of Denpasar, not too far from Kuta. It takes 45 minutes from Kuta or 1,5 hours from Ubud to get there.

Bali has also good transportation systems that allow travelers to choose their favorite means of transportation.

Local buses: all around the island can be found local buses, usually yellow, red or white color. They stop from place to place mainly on the north and south coast but also in the land on schedule. Normally “every hour”. It is very cheap but very slow. From Permuteran to Amed we paid 100’000 IDR for 5 hours drive. (Counting 1 hour stop due to an accident !)

Shuttles buses: Parama shuttle buses deserves the main areas such as Sanur, Ubud, Lovina, Padang Bai, Candi Dasa or Mataram Senggigi and Parama also operates a fast boat to the Gili Islands. There are buses every day linking these tourist stops but are not direct, with stop-offs along the way. Shuttle buses leave from the Parama offices, although it is possible to arrange a pick-up or drop off for 10,000 Rupiah. 

Private transportation: it is very easy to rent a car and private driver for a day. If the prices is divided into many people it can be a very good and cheap option. Otherwise it is still a more expensive way of moving around the island but for sure much faster and maybe safer. From Permuteran to the Ferry Gilimanuk it costed us 350’000 IDR. We know that also for a day it cost around 500’000 to 1’000’000 IDR (40$ to 80$) depending on the destination and location.

Motorbike: It is our favorite way of traveling for short distance as it is very easy to rent and cheap. The standard price for a motorbike is 50’000 IDR for Bali and Lombok. Make sure to have the driving license as policemen could get some Rupiah from you if you don’t have it (specially around Kuta !)

Boats: Local boats (Ferry) deserve Padangbai to Lombok, Lombok to the Gilis and maybe other places that we have not tested. It is very cheap but unsafe and crowded. These are sometimes small boats that don’t have enough life jackets and that can be full at times by local people transporting food and heavy stuff. These boats are usually slow and run at different times. We used a local boat from Lombok to Gili Trawangan but ended up taking the next boat as the one we booked was already full. We paid 13’000 IDR from Lombok Bengtal to Gili Trawangan.

Fast boats: There are different companies that deserve the surrounding island of Bali. The fast boats usually depart at around 9am everyday. The prices from Bali to Lombok or the Gilis cost from 250’000 to 300’000 IDR. It is very rapid and safe.

Well now knowing all that,  there should not be any other reasons holding you back from Bali ! 🙂