Who I flew with: Air Asia, Sydney to Denpasar return $258
Where I stayed: Ubud – Ubud Bungalows, $40 per night twin room
Sanur – Hotel Belair, $40 per night twin room
Bali. An Indonesian island that, if I’m being honest I’d never really been interested in visiting. The masses of Australians that frequently flock to Bali to party had created a bad rep for the Indonesian state in my mind. Queuing up for my flight to Bali at Sydney Airport didn’t settle my preconceived image of the infamous Australian tourists. As I patiently lined up to check in, I was surrounded by countless bogans in Bintang singlets, who were vivaciously comparing the prices they paid for their trips. My eerie thoughts continued to escalate as I boarded the flight and noticed several groups of people ordering their in flight beverage of choice (Bintang), claiming that there was no better time to prepare for their holidays than the 7 hour flight there.
Luckily I was seated next to a friendly girl who was visiting the Island for the first time as well; we spent much of the flight chatting about what we were hoping to fill in during our weeklong getaways.
Upon arrival at Bali and meeting the pre-arranged pick up, I was instantly blown away. Driving out of the airport and along the busy highway on the way to Ubud was definitely something different to say the least. I was immediately captivated by the countless number of wood carving shops, men pushing food trolley carts and the tenacity of the numerous motorcyclists zipping in between the peak hour traffic. I was also amused by the driver’s questions – was the air conditioning temperature ok? Did I like the song that was playing?
He was asking these questions with an honest, caring look in his eyes. About an hour in to the drive (the drive from the airport to Ubud in peak hour takes about 1 and a half hours) he asked if I minded if he pulled in to a supermarket to get a quick drink – he was thirsty. I laughed and told him of course he can stop. I was busy staring out the window at the kite-filled sky when the driver returned to the car carrying three little popper drinks. One for him, one for his wife in the backseat and one for me. I was so touched by this small gesture. Whilst driving, the wife of the driver had told me that while they’d been married for 11 years, they were still yet to have children because they couldn’t afford it. Before going to Bali I was aware of the corrupt society that has been created since Westerners started buying most of the landmarks surrounding the tourist areas. Having this awareness and an understanding of the couples’ situation driving me to the hotel, made the simple gesture of buying me a drink melt my heart. I very quickly learned how giving the Balinese are. This event made my introduction to Bali a very welcoming one indeed.
So given the lack of interest in Bali, how did I end up there?
I have this incessant problem. Quite often (ok lets be honest, at least once every day) I find myself on flight search websites, looking up prices to random places. I stumbled across a mega deal for Bali. Return flights from Sydney for $240 (plus booking fee). I saw the price and had to go! I messaged a few friends, but much to my dismay, they all had work commitments. I was disappointed and felt like these ridiculously cheap prices were going to waste.
A couple of days earlier, a girl I knew from my first year at University posted on a social media site that she’d bought tickets to an event in Ubud. By chance we ended up messaging each other and she mentioned the dates of the festival. They were the same time that I was hoping to go! Without any thought into it, I purchased those return flights to Bali and off I went.
I arrived at Ubud Bungalows in the early evening and met with my Uni friend/travel companion for the coming week.
We excitedly exchanged details on what we’d been up to and decided to grab some dinner. I was so hungry and the Nasi Goreng I ordered did not disappoint!
In the short time I’d been in Bali, it had already enthralled me. The smells, textures and people were all so unique and very different to what I’d imagined. I had been pleasantly surprised.
The main reason we were in Ubud was to attend the annual Ubud Writers and Readers Festival (more detailed posts to come). I had missed the first two days of the festival, but was eager to participate in the remaining days. Listening to so many inspiring and humbling people tell their stories, whilst amongst the palm trees and rice fields of Ubud, surrounded by likeminded people was quite the eccentric experience, making the event memorable and something that I would attend again in the future.
Outside of the festival, Ruby and I had both agreed that we were in holiday mode and didn’t feel the need to go out of our way to explore. We were happy to spend our free time by the pool, reading. Given the easy accessibility of Bali from Australia, we’d both figured that we could simply come back in the future to traverse what we were missing out on this time. We were taste-testing Bali.
Overall, my experience in Ubud was motivating, sweaty and fun. It’s definitely an area that I’d recommend. Everything about Ubud oozes culture and the locals are all very inviting and friendly.
After spending a few days amongst the greenery, it was time for us to experience something that Bali is quite well known for – it’s beaches.
Sanur is known as a sleepy seaside resort town, and like Ubud it did not disappoint. The water was an idyllic shade of blue and the sand a fluffy white.
Sanur was a very relaxed stay. We hired out a beach cabana on one day, spending the time relaxing under the sun, reading and occasionally diving into the ocean when the heat became unbearable. It doesn’t get more relaxing than that!
Whist in Sanur, we also did a day trip down to Uluwatu. The spectacular scenery that we witnessed at the Uluwatu temple and later at Padang Padang beach, gave homage to Bali’s diversity. It’s hard to believe that in the one location you can have light Blue Ocean, soft sand, dramatic cliff drops and temples overlooking the sea.
Every time I get away from home, even if I’m not too far in distance, I like to take something from my experience and apply it to better myself. I was surprised that in such a short time, Bali reinforced the importance of not taking things for face value. Whilst I was apprehensive about Bali for so long, being there reminded me that there is always something deeper. The people taught me to enjoy my life for what it is and to be giving.
I thoroughly enjoyed my time in what is known in Australia as ‘Paradise Island’ and would recommend Bali to anyone – there is definitely something there for everyone.