Bali – the island so long dreamt of, island of inner peace and eternal bliss. I finally put my feet on your land, after an 18-hour trip. Waves of heat and the smell never experienced before – I realize it’s my first time in Asia. It’s around midnight, and we step into the urban jungle of Denpasar to reach the cheapest hotel somewhere in the neighborhood of the airport. Dogs hauling, taxi drivers beeping to us, all sorts of animals crawling in the bushes around us, but we marsh bravely towards our goal – a shower and a pillow.
The first couple of days fly pass indulging into the lucrative delights of local food. I mean it, food itself is a totally self sufficient pleasure on the first days on this island: you can just go to whatever buffets and warungs (family-owned businesses), it will be phenomenally good. Local spices, freshest ever fruit smoothies (my favorite was avocado-mango-chocolate one), green curries, “nasi goreng” (aromatic rice dishes), babi guling (for meat lovers), sates, seafood, vegetables – for a minute you start thinking that’s all what life is about. On top of that, it is so cheap – the average prices for lunch is around 4-5 dollars per person. But you can find spots for 2 dollars as well!
One lunch place I truly recommend to try out is a buffet called Made’s Warung in Seminyak. And don’t forget to take a fresh coconut juice served directly from a coconut!
Although we spent our first Balinese days in local tourist places – Seminyak and Legian, we were lucky enough to encounter some local celebrations of Balinese Hindu people, all dressed in white with frangipani flowers in their hair, immersed in incense smoke.
But otherwise, these were extremely touristic places and even though it was great to recover after a long trip and enjoy quality food, there was little about the real Balinese culture. So we quickly packed and went to experience Ubud – a so called “spiritual” and “cultural” center of Bali.
And actually it was in Ubud where our real Bali experience started. It is still pretty touristic with all the hotels, spa centers, yoga classes and shops, but there is still something very special about Ubud. It’s so peaceful and mystic in a way.
One of the best things about Ubud is that it is full of things to see and do. One of them is of course, Tegalalang rice terraces. We were crazy enough to go there by bikes from Ubud (on a hot summer day), but you can easily get there taking a taxi. Strolling from one layer to another, encountering the local rice field farmers, makes the whole experience absolutely unique. It’s a must see in Bali!
Some “National Geographic” moment :} Another thing to do in Ubud is visiting the Monkey forest. Monkeys are considered holly animals in Bali, so they live like nobles in temples and are fed by locals. In fact, they are truly spoilt here, and not every banana will content them. Here is a moment of monkey family deeply asleep I captured with my camera.
Oh yes, and this is the most beautiful waterfall I have ever seen in my life. It’s called Munduk Waterfall and it is surrounded by spice forest, where real fragrant cloves are grown. You can also find coffee and banana trees in this forest as well as avocados and Durians. If you are crazy about spices and spice markets, ask your driver to get you to the local spice market nearby this waterfall. It’s the best spice market in Bali.
These are the famous Bali temples – Pura Tanah Lot and Uluwatu temple.
There are local “priests” sanctifying with holy water and shamans with holy snakes..
There is plenty of incredible beaches in the south of the island which are not too touristic, at least not like Jimbaran or Kuta beaches. This one was insanely calm and beautiful, it’s right next to Padang Padang in between of the huge cliffs. Around 2 pm the water shallows so you can lay down and have a “natural spa” :} There are also special beaches for surfing pros which are also hidden. You can live on a cliff in those beaches in small rooms facing the sea, and have dinners on the coast, right by the water with fresh fish and seafood. If you want to know more about those secret beaches, just leave me a comment or message, and I will disclose more details.
This beach is also really calm, local and not overcrowded. It is situated in the east of Bali, near Padang Padang Bai, in Candidasa. It’s just so beautiful and peaceful.