Bali, Bali, Bali!!!!

Trip Start Mar 01, 2009
Trip End Dec 21, 2009

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Hidden Oasis

Flag of Indonesia  , Bali,
Thursday, September 3, 2009

Bali is simply out of this world! I arrived a week ago today (Thursday) and just want to live here forever. It’s stunningly beautiful, the people are wonderfully friendly, it’s outrageous fun and I’ve never seen waves like them!

Met that Scottish guy on the bus on the way to the airport which was reassuring as I knew I wasn’t the only mad one heading out to Bali with no more than a flight booked. I had been tempted to book accommodation the day before but then it all became a little confusing and difficult and I reckoned where was the sense of adventure if I had prebooked accommodation and transport! Arriving into Denpasar airport at 9pm with no idea about anything was a far more exciting prospect. A friend from Melbourne had sent me a whole load of useful info about arriving into Bali so I reckoned with that I was pretty alright!

Got through the airport as did the Scottish guy despite the immigration issues which encouraged a sense of travel with the twinkly Asian music and Balinese art and architecture everywhere to be seen. Bags came through and we went to queue for a taxi. While in the taxi queue we were approached by two young Aussie’s who were also heading to Kuta and interested in sharing a taxi. I’m still travelling with them now - over a week later! Sarah and Stephen have turned out to be two of the nicest people I’ve met travelling! So the four of us headed to Kuta - without doubt the most touristy part of Bali in search of a hotel. In the first 3 days we stayed in 3 different hotels until we finally found one that suited both budget and taste. Bali really is a country where you get what you pay for. We settled on a lovely place above a market and a 3 minute walk to the beach. It set us back a whole 5 pounds a night!

Our first day was a bit of a collapse in our new environment day! We found and sorted our accommodation, got a sense of the town and then bought half of it! It was ridiculous! Everything was so cheap and pretty and the second you looked at it it was impossible to resist! For example when we found the hotel above the markets I decided to have a poke around to see what I could find, after asking the price of a dress and then half heartedly haggling him down the little stall owner deemed the deal done. When I protested that I wasn’t even sure I liked the dress and hadn’t even tried it on he chased me out of the stall with the dress in a bag and demanding money from me. In the end it was easier just to buy the dress and get out of there alive! It turned out to be half decent! The other interesting buying situation we found ourselves in that day was on the beach! Myself and Disco (the Scottish guy) were chilling out on the beach watching the experienced make the waves look so easy and enjoying the sunshine when we were pounced on by a guy trying to sell us bows and arrows and spit guns. I looked at them and thought to myself who on earth would be tempted to buy any of them while relaxing on a stunning beach in Bali? A while later and Disco entered into negotiations with one of the guys for a set. He wasn’t even sure he wanted one but they were stunningly well crafted and cheap. In the end we decided to go halves on the set and got them for a good price. Meanwhile all the other vendors on the beach had seen we were obviously newly arrived and had congregated around us trying to sell us everything from fruit to pearls. We got away relatively lightly with one pineapple, one mango and two ice creams. Once that had subsided though one crafty little bow and arrow maker sidled up to us and after our initial protest that we had already bought a set he asked us for how much. 100,000 IDR we told him when we had in fact got the set for 150,000. Before we knew it we had bought a second set for 60,000IDR. Pretty much just because they were that cheap. So there we were sitting on a stunning beach in Bali with 2 bows and arrows and two spit guns. Wondering what the hell we were going to do with them - how we’d been convinced into buying 2 sets when we hadn’t even been too bothered by the first and how we were going to get them home. Our first step was to just get our selves off the beach before anyone else had the opportunity to get their hands into our wallets! If all else failed we could always yes them to clear a path to and from our hotel everyday!

The following day was Sarah’s birthday so we all treated ourselves to a massage in her name, bought some more beautiful Balinese necessities, chilled out on the beach and in the evening went out for the best meal I have ever eaten in my life. We decided to treat ourselves and splash out on a fancy fish restaurant. Not out of necessity as the food here even meals for 75p are out of this world but just for fun. It was the sort of restaurant where all the seafood were in tanks and you went and picked out exactly which one you wanted. It all became a little confusing and so we left it in Disco’s capable hands. We ordered the biggest crab there was in an amazing Thai sauce, the most delicious prawns I have ever tasted that simply melted in your mouth, clams which were so good we were licking the sauce off the plate after and an entire barramundi in another unforgettable lemon sauce. It then got messy. We ditched the forks and opted for a hands only approach. It was the messiest meal as well as the tastiest meal I have ever eaten. There was sauce everywhere, crab shell all over the place but not a scrap of food to be found. It was simply indescribably good. My self and Sarah sampled a local wine which was interesting but drinkable but the meal made up for it a thousand times. Truly satisfied and still slightly stunned at the beauty of the food we made our way to the busier part of town for a few araks. An interesting local drink. Not recommended.

One effective way to freshen your self up in the morning I have discovered is to throw yourself into the biggest swell you’ve ever seen and attempt to surf it. I say attempt as a more accurate description might be to say the waves surfed me rather than I surfed them. Always room for improvement I like to think! After slight success with the waves in Peru I was looking forward to a little bit of a challenge with Bali but after haggling the lifeguards down to rent a couple of boards (hoping negotiations wouldn’t come back into it if I needed rescuing later!) I rather settled my self down in the sand and watched with amusement as the boys got tossed around like corks in a storm. With much contemplation I decided to eventually to gingerly venture to the sea, board under arm.

Getting out there was a mission in itself. I’d forgotten about the logic of waiting for the set to end and then paddling out to the break in my many surf free months and so I headed out guns blazing only to get absolutely hammered by the waves. I’d duck under one, get tossed about, resurface, get my bearings, give a couple of kicks end up where I had been before the wave, hold my breath and duck yet another imposing looking wave. Eventually I’d get out there. Slightly more battered than intended but still in shape. The set would then end and I’d sit out there like a lemon in the flat calm until the next lot decided to oblige us. Catching them was then the next issue. However the most fun was just sitting on top of them as they broke and catching the shower of what felt like rain as the other side turned into a barrel and came crashing down and you bobbed off refreshed and glad you’d been on the right side of it! The funniest moment though according to Stephen though was as I was paddling as fast as my little arms would take me, I got to the top of a wave and must have bottled it but a second too late so somehow managed to fall off the other end whereupon the wave just came crashing down on top of me, churned me up and spat me out again. In hindsight that might be where I gained the nice big welt across the top of my right leg - must have caught the fin of the board as we were being tossed around like clothes in a washing machine. I caught a nice big wave into shore, making no attempt to stand up or even hop off in shallower water, I just rode it out until my board hit the sand and I tumbled off quite ungracefully and then did my usual trick of managing to trip over the leash still attached to my ankle a million times on my way back to crashing out in the sun. Caught my breath for a while there, recovered, cursed the salt water for the stinging welt on my leg and watched enviously as people made surfing look stunningly simple.

Back in the water a while later and not too much improvement - took even longer to get out but my ducking of waves I feel improved a little - instead of getting washed back into shore I discovered if I swam along side my board, held onto it really tightly and dived right under the wave it was far more effective and lessen the drag of the wave quite considerably and therefore saved energy. Not so much success with the waves though. Although saying that I do quite like just lying on a board out past them in the calm, looking like I know what I’m doing! Disco joined me this time and we just chilled for a bit before heading back into the hammering that awaited us. Caught a few waves, actually managed to get flipped off my board at one point which was quite fun as I inhaled half of the Indian ocean in one go and then surfaced just in time to have a wave break on my head. I did however catch a sweet wave on my way back in but when I attempted to stand was just way too tired in that way that only the sea can make you. I collapsed back onto the beach and stayed there for quite some time whilst Stephen found more success body surfing. A fun but utterly exhausting experience all in all. Found a few more bruises later too.

Time for a spot of relaxation again! Tried out a bit of reflexology this time which was not as good as the pummelling I had got the day before as a tiny Balinese girl who straddled me and asserted all her strength into a sort of relaxing torture as only a Balinese/Thai massage can and you feel it has to be good on some level! We then went and found some awesome food markets which we frequented often after.

It was then suddenly Monday and Miriam was arriving at 2pm. So we all decided to hire scooters or scooterbikes as I like to call them and we set off on a little adventure to the very south of the island. It was an interesting start to the beginning of my scootering career. Mixed one might say. One minute I’m flying along, overtaking left right and centre and the next I’m scraping my self and my bike off the road. Except it wasn’t really that dramatic. We managed to get lost firstly and so stopped to ask directions. As we were pulling out of a little lay-by on the side of a lane I managed to get the turn all wrong. Sarah and Stephen had scootered off and I was waiting for Disco to go and so wasn’t really ready however the traffic had stopped and so Disco waved me on and said I could go. I misjudged the turn and instead of taking it slowly and steady I think I kept revving even as I braked and suddenly there was a wall in front of me, I turned too tight too fast and the next thing I was on the ground, bike and all. I hopped up and starting fretting about my camera which indicated to Disco still sat in the lay-by that I was still alive. The next moment was when I really began to fall in love with Bali. Some one grabbed my bike and wheeled it off the road, another man materialised out of thin air with a reassuringly sealed first aid kit and suddenly I was being patched up and looked after by all these Balinese people without a second to even think about what had just happened. My wooden ring I’d been wearing since Peru had splintered into my hand but apart from a few other scratches which are well on their way to healing I was unhurt. Shaken a little but alive and well! The guys never asked for a penny for all the help they had given and so we stayed around for a but eating and drinking from the local stalls and Sarah and Stephen turned back and were well relieved to note no serious damage in their absence. The bike had been a bit scratched anyway so it wasn’t really that noticeable and no one said anything when I returned it anyway so it was all good there!

Back on the road again and turning right was a little scary for the first five minutes but I just took it easy and got back in the swing of things. We headed to the beach where I had a swim and cleaned and freshened up. It was a nice little beach on the south tip called Nusa Dua full of very expensive resorts where everyone was paying Aussie prices for everything so we left after a while and headed to the airport. It was at this point I realised I hadn’t taken the key out of my scooter when I’d left it at the end of the lane leading to the beach almost two hours previously. As I hurried back across the beach I began to come up with all sorts of different plans as to how to make enough money to buy a new bike for the guy and keep travelling but I knew it was useless. If the bike was gone it was not good news. However all the experience did for me was reinforce what I had come to recognise earlier. Bali is one of the best little places in the world. Everyone was just chilling out. The guys in the car park just shouted hello and asked where I was from and of course no one was going to steal my scooterbike. Even when the keys were left in the ignition and the helmet left for their safety. Panic over - I could continue travelling!

So we headed to the airport in convoy. I was covered in sand and much more tanned than the last time I saw Miriam but still recognisable (despite the growing numbers of scratches and bruises) and it was so wonderful to see her almost a year on from the last time when I went to stay in Belfast. Introduced her to the others, handed her rucksack over to Disco and she climbed onto the back of my bike. Easy as! In my little world that’s a pretty good introduction to Asia! Got us both home without crashing which is always a bonus and then we started on the catching up. Were still working on it.

Luckily she got on with everyone really well and so our little group of wonderfulness continued to expand.

We headed up to a temple on the west coast the following day (Miriam with her own bike this time). Disco’s choice as it was his birthday this day! The temple was stunning and we got our first glimpse of the Balinese Paddy fields on the way up as we hit the interior of the island for the first time. So much work involved and so much care is out into the rice it’s incredible. It was beautiful to see first hand.

That evening we headed back to the markets for dinner but myself, Sarah and Miriam detoured via the supermarket to pick up a surprise cake! We than met the boys sitting outside a 7/11 equivalent on the beach front beers in hand. It doesn’t get better than that - shop priced beers watching the sunset on a wooden table outside the 7/11. Simply yet effective.

Disco was wonderfully chuffed with his cake and although we tried to embarrass him by starting to sing happy birthday whereupon the whole market joined in he just took it all in his stride and even stood up to take a bow after! With the plates licked we headed back to the 7/11 and Disco, Stephen and me kicked off a heated debate about the origins of the Maori people in NZ. It was only yesterday I proved Disco wrong by copying and pasting articles from Wikipedia into an email for him. Just to settle the debate 2 weeks later. We failed to convince him to not turn up to his three flight the following day and so he was the first to abandon the group as he headed to Thailand and so the group was down to four as we headed out of Kuta and embarked on another adventure up the east coast of Bali.
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pipparush on

and now your favorite place...
Bali was definitely your Grandmothers favorite place in the world - and now it seems to be yours. Lovely blog - closed my eyes while reading the bit about the bike adventure - but opened them again when I realised you had got Miriam all safe and sound.
Camera is doing you well - fab pics.
Talk soon.
Love you - Mum XXXX

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