Charted waters – Bali, Island of the Gods
We all have that place. That place away from home, that feels like home. It can be a town nearby or a country far away, for each of us it is different, but we all have that same feeling when we are there.
For us that place is Bali. We have been here before (for an incredible year during our study), and in that time we got to know the ins and outs of what Bali has to offer. We knew where to eat, drink and get the best fruit Juices and Tempe (Anna-Lena’s favorite food). Even in Kuta (Bali’s liveliest area) you can still find quiet places if you know where to look.
We always knew we needed a place to relax, after all, travelling is hard work ;). Until now, our incredible adventures took us out of our comfort zone, along the path of the epic Trans-Siberian. We traversed the Russian wilderness, Mongolian steppes and the mountains of China. We spend time in the jungle of Laos and even took part in the amazing Yee Peng Festival in Thailand. All amazing adventures, with certainly more to come!
For those who don’t know where Bali is. It’s a small volcanic island in the vast Indonesian archipelago that sees plenty of tourists. Bali is the only island of Indonesia that has a Hindu majority and therefore has beautifully ordinated Hindu temples dotted across the island. The island is known for its culture, surfing, its beaches, night-life and more!
Our first two weeks @ Canggu – surfer’s paradise
After a long travel day we arrived at sunshiny Bali. We grabbed a Blue bird taxi and headed to Canggu (just North of Kuta), where we checked-in and dropped our bags. We went to our old friend Wayan for motorbike hire, just as last time, and had a small dinner.
We spend our first week mainly chilling at the beach with cold coconuts, enjoying the sun. Our friends & newlyweds Vanessa and Fatih were on Bali as well, with whom we had a great time hanging out!
Although we visited Canggu several times last time around we never actually stayed here. It took us some time to find the best bread for breakfast, the best warungs for dinner and best bars for drinks. Canggu is a mellow place that retains a certain surfing-vibe that is hard to dislike. The waves are supposed to be the best of Bali (not that we would know as we both don’t surf). In Canggu you still find rice paddies in between the restaurants, hotels and clubs – a rare and awesome vibe. The only disadvantage of our hotel is that it’s on the wrong side of the river adding ten minutes to our drive to the beach. Otherwise the rooms are clean, pool is great and staff is perfect, so we can’t complain!
On our second day I went by the Perama office, where I spend a year doing my internship. It was great seeing everybody again. I could tell lots has changed in the last couple of years but it still feels super familiar (Btw, if you want to do anything around Indonesia, it is THE PLACE to be).
OMG where is my scooter!
The weirdest thing happened to us in our second week, when we thought we were off to the beach only to find our scooter missing. We parked it right in front of the door and we feared the worst. Luckily for us, with some help from the staff and some nerves lost, we found out that another guest took our scooter. Late in the evening she came back with the scooter and we found out that both keys unlock both scooters. To make matters even more confusing, the scooters look the exact same. Same colour, same brand, same seat, same everything! Only a small orange sticker makes the distinction. We couldn’t really blame her, as we could have easily made the same mistake. Later we found out that about every 1 in 10 scooter models are opened with the same key. Reassuring (NOT).
Yes the movies! I know, I know, we didn’t travel around the world to go to the movie theatre. But in our defense we love going to the movies, and at the Premiere Theatre in the Beachwalk it is taken to a complete new comfort level! Comfortable lying chairs with service button and comfy blankets make it an even better experience! There is nothing closer to having a private luxurious movie-theatre for only a few bucks extra.
The fresh fruit Juices!
There is no escaping from the fruit juice bars around Bali. We love them! You can get a personalized fruit-juice for 10.000 IDR (65ct in Euro). You can pick any fruit you like and they make it fresh for you on the spot. Super refreshing. The tastiest mangos, beautiful dragon fruit, exotic star fruit or the more common banana, apple and watermelon are just some of the options!
Scootering around the island!
There is nothing like cruising around on a scooter, with the wind in your hair enjoying the rice paddies and sunshine hitting your skin. To get to town from our hotel we have to pass a narrow passage which only fits one scooter at a time. Not for beginners but fun!
The Gili Islands!
No visit to Bali can be called complete without a visit to the beaches of the Gili Islands! Turtles, turquoise waters, perfect beaches and more! Read about our experience here: The Gili Islands – A week in Paradise
Our nostalgic week in Kuta
Our last week on Bali was dominated by its largest volcano Mount Agung. Legend has it that Mount Agung was made by God Pasupati using a fragment of Mount Meru. This impressive and active volcano stands over 3.000 meters above sea-level and hosts Bali’s most important temple, the Mother Temple or Besakih Temple. Unfortunately for us, the island Gods seemed to be pretty pissed, as we had several eruptions of Agung in the last couple of days. Whole areas were covered in thick black ash and more than 100.000 people were evacuated! When we came back from Gili Meno, we first noticed that something was up when a “dirty” speedboat came to take us to Bali. At first I thought little of it, but after a word with a crew member it became apparent Agung had a heavy eruption this morning covering the boat in ash. A little startled by the news, we made our way to safety in Kuta, a safe distance of 60km from Agung. On the way we saw massive ash plums emerging from Agung. I’m not sure if I ever felt this small in my life! Many other travelers (about 75.000 of them) got stuck on Bali, as the International airports of Bali and Lombok were closed down completely. It took them three days to reopen the airport and even then only half of the flights actually took off.
Nonetheless, as optimistic travelers we tried to make the most of it and checked into familiar Surfaris Inn, where we stayed last time for most of our stay. Nothing has changed here. Still the same folk working here and still perfectly quiet in the heart of Kuta. Most of our days we Relaxed & planned our trip by the pool. Turned out it isn’t as easy as you’d think to completely relax with a massive erupting volcano around the corner. But we tried 😉
Later that week we grabbed a nice lunch at Sanur Beach, from where we could see the impressive volcano and the large ash cloud being emitted from its crater.
Day trip to Ubud and beyond
One of the days we hired a driver to take us to some tourist sights, doing what tourists do. We got up early and went north. Our first stop; Iconic Ulun Danu Temple. This Temple in the town of Bedugul sits on the edge of Lake Bratan. It is Bali’s most famous temple and is on practically every postcard. With reason, as it’s a breathtaking temple in the mountain lake. We were there early and had the place almost completely for ourselves! We continued our day trip to Ubud, Bali’s cultural capital. We strolled through Monkey Forrest and chilled with its residents and mainly laughed at other “dumb-ass” tourists that “pissed off the wrong monkey”. We also stopped at the Ubud Art Market, a perfect place for some souvenir shopping! Not that we were able to buy much, as you don’t want to carry around a heavy backpack! Our last stop, just north of Ubud is Tegallalang, famous for its rice-paddies. We grabbed a drink there and headed back to Kuta. A wonderful day!
Tanah Lot Water Temple
On a rare dry afternoon we decided to go to Tanah Lot, for sunset. However by the time we got there, the clouds caught up with us. We took some snap shots of the temple before heading towards the exit. About ten minutes later a tropical rain-shower tested our raincoats to the limit on the way home.
Bali was great, again! Only few other destinations have such an amazing combination of beach, culture and friendly people. Even though the weather wasn’t always great, we still found fun things to do and the trip to the Gili Islands was just wonderful! The Volcano has dominated our thoughts in recent days and all we can do now is hope that our flight and trip will continue as planned! Our next stop; Myanmar!