The first time I went to Bali, it was in March 2013. I arrived there for my 24th birthday. My mom gifted me a night in a villa with my own pool. It was after four months travelling around Asia with Juliette, and I just needed a bit of comfort. I didn’t know this day, and I realized it later but this first night was the beginning of a big and long love story.
Where is Bali ?
Bali is a small island in Indonesia, between Java and Lombok, its superficy is around 5 600 kilometers square. From East to West, it’s around 150 kilometers and from South to North, it’s only 112. In 2010, Balinese people were around 3 400 000 living in the Gods’ Island. In Bali, most of the people are Hindu, even if Indonesia is a Muslim country.
If I am totally honest with you, there is a big part of Bali that I don’t know. I have no idea about what happens in the south of Denpasar. I spent one night in Seminyak but I didn’t get out of the villa, I’ve never been to Kuta. I’ve never seen the so famous Uluwatu temple. The very beginning of all my trips in Bali is Ubud.
Ubud : between traditions and tourism
Ubud is a city I love. It’s really charming and the villages around are really beautiful. The first time I arrived there, I was a bit lost. I didn’t know what to do, where to go. And then, I met Leh. He is a guide, driving a motorcycle. So I spent all my days in Ubud with him. Every morning he came to pick me up at my guest house, and every nights he drop me off. It was our routine and he showed me everything, during the day or at night.
Ubud is a small city where tourists walk next to Balinese people wearing the traditional outfit. Shops are next to small temples and you can see people praying during the day. There is a lot of offerings on sidewalks, in front of doors. You can smell encens and hear the traditional music while you walk around.
Ubud is the center of culture in Bali. You can find a lot of shops with painters selling their paintings, you can also buy wood masks. Of course, you have to bargain a lot ! It’s part of the game !
However, capitalism is so strong and makes is job properly, there is now a huge Starbucks Coffee and even a Ralph Lauren. The rents are becoming more and more expensive, so now the painters are in the rice fields around.
I feel that there is a huge will to take care of everything in Bali. So even the most touristic places are well conserved. If you look at the Monkey Forest… It’s really huge and really touristic but it’s still a sacred place. There is temples in the forest and the monkeys are here to protect the temples, so they protect the monkeys. All around the forests, there is signs explaining how we should act with monkeys. For example, it’s forbidden to give them food… But believe me, monkeys are thieves ! They will take your food, even if you don’t want to give them !
Rent a scooter !
I don’t know if it’s because I live now in Kuwait but I am more into greenery. When I was younger, I loved beaches, sea and tanning. Now I want to walk, run, climb, trek, go around and discover places. Bali is the perfect place for this ! When it’s about landscapes, there is a lot of must-seen in Bali. And as I already said, it’s a small island, so you can discover almost everything in two weeks.
The second time I went to Bali, I kind of force my friend Adrien to come with me and to rent a scooter. So we rented once for each – it was his first time ! – and we discovered the island with our bigs backpacks. I don’t know what he thinks about it, but for me it’s in the top 5 of my favorite holidays.
Don’t worry, if you are too scared to rent a motorbike, you can just rent a car with a driver. It’s a bit more expensive but not that much and it’s the perfect plan if you want to discover Bali with your kids ! I did it the first time and even if it’s was a bit more expensive, it was ok.
If you go in the south, the road are bigs, and you can see a lot of trunks. But more you go inside the island, more the roads are small. You will pass by small villages and see amazing landscapes. You drive in the middle of rice field or mountains. The road on the East Cost is amazing. I don’t mind driving to Amed and after go back to Ubud by the East Cost. It’s like one day driving only but for me, it worth it so so much. The view is crazy – as you can on the cover picture of the article !
So many different landscapes
Jatiluwih rice fields
How can we talk about the greenery in Bali without talking about the rice fields in Jatiluwih ? It’s one of my favorite place. It’s obviously really touristic but it’s so big so you feel you are alone, walking around. Whenever you come to Bali during the year, it worth a stop. The rice is at different step of grow, so the colors are crazy. You can’t realize how many greens you can find in nature until you go to Jatiluwih.
Munduk and the mountains
Munduk is a village in the mountains. It’s more or less in the middle of the island. You can do some nice and easy trekkings, it’s another landscape to see in Bali. After rice fields and coconut trees, here are the trees in the mountains ! It’s quiet and cooler too. For me, it’s a nice place to take a rest from the rest of the world. Ok, I have to confess, I have something with mountains : I love the smell and the air in there. It’s pretty amazing to find, while walking around, a waterfall I can jump in.
The mount Batur
I think it was the most impressive thing I saw in Bali. The sunrise was just amazing. It’s easy to find a way to do the trekking, every agency will organize it for you. You have to leave early in the morning, they came to pick up us at our villa in Ubud at 2am. It really worths it. They will tell you that it’s a trek for beginners but it’s not the case. It’s not a really hard one but you have to be ready with the fact that you will walk for more than two hours in the dark. There is sand and stones, a lot of rocks, it’s not really easy, you can’t do it wearing flip-flops ! Running shoes were OK for me, but I would love to have something better for my ankles.
And then, there is the famous Tanah Lot. Again, it’s a really touristic place. Once you payed the entrance, you arrive in a touristic village with shops and coffee places and restaurants. A guy with a huge snake want you to pay to take picture with the big snake… This kind of things. But seeing this temple on the sea is something. You can hear the waves and the noise of the sea. You should really stay until the sunset, go take an expensive coffee and enjoy the sunset over the temple.
I write it again : rent a scooter if you want to enjoy all the countryside of Bali. It’s really cheap and it’s the best way to enjoy the island. I love to drive around on a scooter, to stop whenever I want, enjoy the sun as much as I can. Of course, it’s long way most of the time, I already spent five hours driving in one day. But to be honest, I would love spending my life in a motorcycle.
I went three times to Bali. It’s the only place on earth I visited that much with the same pleasure every time. Every time I went to Bali, I felt I was home. And if I had to choose one place to go back again and again, it will be Bali. So… I think, that’s why, Bali is my favorite place on earth.
And you ? Do you have a favorite place on earth ?