Sunday, 16 June 2019

BALI DIARY


It has already been six months since I last wrote a post on here and I cannot quite believe how quickly time has gone! But having said that, I've already ticked off a few things from my 2019 resolutions list (including going on a big holiday), which means that this year has overall been very positive so far! My boyfriend and I have recently come back from an amazing holiday to Bali in which we spent two weeks relaxing, exploring and adventuring. This is somewhere I had always dreamed of going but never thought I would actually be lucky enough to visit. So to kick things back off on the blogging front, I thought I'd put together a post about what we got up to whilst we were there, and the different areas we visited for anyone else interested in going, or just wants to look through some holiday photos! I'll try and keep it brief, otherwise this would turn into a Lonely Planet Guide Book.



Hotels we stayed in:
Kamar Kamar Rumah Tamu - Seminyak
The Pearl Trawangan  - Gili Twawangan
Air BnB - Ubud
Jimbaran Bay Beach Resort and Spa - Uluwatu/Jimbaran Bay

**Currency is Indonesian Rupiah. Roughly 100,000IDR = £5***
We took our Monzo cards and paid for most things on the card e.g. in restaurants etc. And then we took cash out at ATM's for trips/markets etc.


LOCATION 1: Seminyak.

For the first 4 days of the trip we stayed in Seminyak which is known for being the more 'upmarket' area of Bali in terms of it's boutique shops, lovely restaurants and cocktail/beach bars. It's one of the most popular places to stay on the island and definitely has more of a relaxed vibe, plus an amazing beach which stretches along the coast to other areas. Here you will find beautiful sunsets, a lot of surfers and beach clubs. There's not much to do here in terms of culture or excursions, but I'm definitely happy that we decided to start off in this area because it was a great place to relax and kick back into holiday mode...especially after the 19 hour flight!


Things to do in Seminyak:

- Tanah Lot: a beautiful sea temple which is well worth a visit if you want to experience some culture in this area, although you will need to get a driver/taxi there as it is further up the coast and not walk-able from the main area).



- Beach bars: The sunsets are so beautiful in Bali, so late afternoon/evening most people head to the beach to get a good viewing spot to watch the sun go down. There are lots of beach bars that offer seating on the beach in the form of bean bags. Not only are they super comfy to chill on, but they're so colourful and make for a gorgeous setting. Our favourite was La Plancha - good cocktails, good music and perfect holiday vibes. We stayed here for hours and visited on more than one evening.




- Beach Clubs: This area is known for its beach clubs and these two are probably the most popular. We went to Potato Head Beach Club and Finns during our stay in Seminyak and stayed at both of these for the whole day. We booked a day bed (book a day in advance on the website for both ideally), which means we had our own area for the whole day and a 'tab', and practically ate all day, sunbathed, relaxed in the pool and had lots of cocktails! The service was great, the music was great and again the views of the sunset were amazing. In the evening, the beach clubs turn into more of a bar/club vibe, so you can choose to stay for the whole evening too if you like.







- Surfing: We didn't actually do any surfing because we didn't have the time to learn, however if I went back again then I would definitely have lessons. If you are interested in surfing then this is definitely the place to learn and try it out because the water is a beautiful colour, the waves are perfect for it and there are so many surf schools along the beach!

- Canggu and Kuta: Canggu is an area just along from Seminyak (west) and is a really cool, relaxed area. It's got lots of vegan cafes, cool bars and is a more chilled out/surfer vibes version of Seminyak. Kuta is another area which is also along from Seminyak but in the other direction (east) along the beach, and this is the area for nightlife. If you want to go clubbing, dancing and have more of a 'night out', then this is the place to go. Think of it as being the 'Ibiza' of Bali.

LOCATION 2: Gili T.

After spending time in Seminyak we actually left mainland Bali and headed to the Gili Islands for two nights. I booked a ferry ticket for the fast boat online (here) the day before which was cheaper than booking it on the day. We got picked up from our hotel and headed to Padang Bai which is the harbour area to get the boat. The boat to Gili T (the biggest island of the three and the most popular) took around 2 hours. We decided to stay on Gili T rather than the other 2 islands (Gili Air and Gili Meno) because this was the most lively and had more restuarants/bars etc. The other two islands look lovely but are a lot quieter and smaller - depends what you're after.




Things to do in Gili:

Snorkelling: This was one of my favourite days from the whole trip. There are lots and lots of different companies offering snorkelling trips along the beach front, and they're all pretty much the same price and same duration, so just go with whichever one grabs you! I think for the trip it was around £5 each for a 5 hour excursion, which is ridiculously cheap but it was amazing. We were with a group of around 20 people and went out on a glass bottom boat around the three Gili islands. We were given all of the snorkelling gear including flippers and this was included in the price of the trip. I bought a clear case for my phone so that I could take underwater pictures but they didn't come out very clear so I would recommend renting a GoPro if you want good pictures. We stopped off at three different locations around the islands and saw turtles, lots of pretty fish, coral and the famous Gili Meno underwater statues. We then stopped off at Gili Air for lunch before heading back on the boat to our island.



Renting bikes: Gili T is the biggest of the three islands but you can still walk around the perimeter in around an hour (so it's still tiny), but a lot of people rent bikes to cycle around the island and explore, as there are no cars or motorbikes - which is dreamy because dodging the motorbikes on Bali can be a bit hectic! There are also horse and carts which can help you to transport your luggage to hotels, however I don't really agree with these so we walked to our hotel and it only took 10 minutes from the harbour point.

Live music: There is only one main road in Gili T with restaurants and bars, but in the evening there are a lot of bars which have live bands and music playing which is a really good atmosphere. The first night we listened to a reggae band which sung all of my favourite Bob Marley songs and everyone was loving it. The whole vibe of Gili T is very laid back and it has quite a Caribbean feel to it with the food, music and cocktails.




Swim, sunbathe, relax: If there is anywhere in the world where you can just completely switch off, relax, swim in crystal clear water and drink beer on the beach, this is it. Enjoy every moment and just enjoy strolling around. There are cute markets too where you can buy presents and everyone just seems to be happy!



LOCATION 3: Ubud

Ubud is probably the place in Bali that you see the most photos of, because there is so much to see and do. This is the area where most of the activity and sight-seeing is. It's a completely different vibe to the other places because its inland and feels like you're in the jungle. It's very tropical and green and a lot busier in terms of traffic and people. We really enjoyed this part of our trip because we got to experience more culture, do some sight-seeing and be more active. **Would also really recommend getting a driver for the day to give you a tour of all the sights - this is quite a common thing to do in Bali instead of getting multiple taxis around. We booked a day tour on Trip Advisor and got a private driver for the day who was really knowledgeable and also doubled up as a photographer for the day! He took us to lots of different sights during the day and it meant that we didn't have to worry about getting from place to place. Read the reviews on Trip Advisor of different Ubud Day Tours and there are lots of good options depending on what you want to see.**




Things to do in Ubud:

- Monkey Forest: This is a must-do, mainly because it's such an experience. The monkey forest is a sacred sanctuary in Ubud where hundreds of monkeys live and roam around freely. They do climb on you, but as long as you keep calm and walk off slowly, they will just jump off you. They're mainly looking for food and are intrigued by you, however be careful of taking your phone, sunglasses, jewellery etc because they have a habit of stealing things from you. One of the monkeys actually took my earrings out of my ears - yes, he actually undid my stud earrings by himself!! I managed to get one back, but he kept the other one so I guess that will be lost in the forest forever. It was actually really funny, but just to make you aware not to take anything of high value with you! The forest is also beautiful with so much greenery and vines, you feel like you're in The Jungle Book.






- Waterfalls: There are lots of waterfalls in Bali which are all beautiful to see, but the main one near Ubud is called Tegenungan. It's worth a visit but would advise to go early morning or late afternoon to avoid the crowds. You can swim there too if you want to.





- Rice Terraces: These are beautiful to see and really interesting to see how they grow and harvest their rice. The main terraces to visit are called Tegalalang Rice Terraces. You can walk through the paddies along different routes and they also have the famous Bali swings that you can take cool pictures on, however I was too nervous to go on because they're actually quite high up.



- Hike up Mount Batur: This was a tour that we booked on through Trip Advisor but there are lots of places in Ubud that you can book this tour through as well. We did the sunrise trek which meant that we were picked up from our hotel at 1am, and driven to the base of the volcano and started trekking at 3am. You go with a guide who knows the route really well, and we were also hiking with another couple too. You are given water and also a torch because it is pitch black when you start hiking. Wear sensible shoes, either trainers or hiking boots (we saw some people going up in sandals which was really unsafe), and take a jumper because it is freezing at the top! The hike takes around 2-3 hours and the whole route is packed with people go up because it is such a popular thing to do. It's actually really cool to look behind you down the mountain and see the trail of torches coming up. Once you reach the summit, it's time to wait for sunrise which starts at about 6am. It's really cold and foggy up the top because you are above cloud level, and feel as though you're not going to see anything. However, when the sun comes up the clouds seem to clear and the views are incredible. Well worth the hike and early start and would recommend everyone to do it.





- Temples: Ubud is full of temples and Hindu shrines which are so beautiful to go and see. Most of them will not allow tourists into the actual temple because that is only for prayers, but you can walk around the gardens and buildings outside. They are so peaceful and make you feel very 'zen'. We visited the 'Water Temple' which is called Saraswati Temple, which has beautiful ponds with lily pads and is hidden just off the main road in Ubud. We also went to Tirta Empul Temple which has holy healing spring water, and different baths which you can actually bathe in for blessings. You have to pay extra to do this, but it's a lovely experience and you get given sarongs to wear. The water is so clear and you are allowed to drink it because it comes straight from the spring. There are different statues in the baths which you can get blessings from and each one has a different meaning.







- Coffee Plantation: If you like coffee or tea then this is worth a visit. It's really interesting to hear about how the coffee is made and the process of turning the coffee beans into ground coffee. You get a tray of 12 sample teas and coffees to try which are different flavours, and you can also buy them which make for good presents.



- Watch a traditional Hindu dance: In Ubud Palace which is right in the centre of Ubud on the main road, there are traditional dances which take place each evening. You can buy tickets for the show during the day outside the palace and it's such a good watch! The dancers wear beautiful, traditional outfits and tell a story with their dance, and there are different songs played and different instruments played as well.





- Ubud market: The market in Ubud is a complete maze and you can spend hours walking around. It's great for picking up gifts and souvenirs. There are hundreds of different stalls selling everything from handmade items, bags, clothing, jewellery, food, candles, incense sticks, and fabrics. You need to learn how to barter down the price (which I am hopeless at), but the prices aren't fixed and you can haggle down for a cheaper rate. Having said that, the prices are so cheap in Bali anyway compared to the UK, and I got some patterned trousers for about £2!

LOCATION 4: Jimbaran Bay/Uluwatu

For our last couple of days we wanted to see the South part of Bali which is the area of Uluwatu and Jimbaran Bay. This area is similar to Seminyak in terms of gorgeous sunsets, beaches and surfing. Jimbaran Bay is a gorgeous stretch of beach with lots of restaurants along which offer fresh fish. They catch the fish daily and then cook it on the BBQ and it honestly tastes amazing. The sunsets are gorgeous and the tables are on the beach, so you're eating dinner with your toes in the sand and it's lovely and very romantic.


Things to do in Uluwatu/Jimbaran Bay:

Fish restaurants: As I've said above, the bay is mainly known for it's fresh fish. You go inside the restaurant and pick out which fish you want and how much you want in kg. They then cook this fresh for you on the grill and bring it out to the beach for you. There are lots of restaurants all lined up along the beach but they all do the same sort of things. It's a lovely dinner setting and probably one of the best I've experienced.

Uluwatu temple: We didn't have time to visit this, but it is meant to be lovely. There are more monkeys here as well! Apparently a great sunset view and lovely walk up to the cliffs. 



RESTAURANTS AND BARS:
Here's a few of the different restaurants and bars we went to (the ones that I can remember and find...stupidly didn't write them down). Would recommend them all and we didn't really have a bad experience at any of them. Most of the food is really good value for money and the most expensive things are the cocktails! If you want to save money then beer is around £1 compared to cocktails being around £5-£7. All the food is a combination of thai, indonesian and fusion. Lots of rice, noodles, fish, chicken, curries and ramen bowls. There are so many places to eat though, so I would advise to check Trip Advisor before you go if you want to see more...or just have a wander around and see what takes your fancy!

Bo and Bun - (restaurant) Seminyak
La Plancha - (restaurant and beach bar) Seminyak
La Favela - (bar/club) Seminyak
Motel Mexicola - (restaurant and bar) Canggu
Paddy's - (bar/club) Kuta
Warung Siam - (restaurant) Ubud
Cafe Lotus - (restaurant/cafe) Ubud
White Orchid - (restaurant) Ubud
Casa Luna - (breakfast/lunch) Ubud
The Pearl Trawangan (restaurant) Gili T
Pink Coco (beach bar) - Gili T
Sama Sama Reggae Bar - (bar) - Gili T
Paradise Sunset Bar - (bar) - Gili T
Blue Marlin Cafe - (restaurant) - Jimbaran Bay
Jimbaran Bay Beach Resort Hotel and Spa - (rooftop bar) - Jimbaran Bay



Things I wish I had done differently:

Take less with me:
- Makeup (Didn't wear it. Took my whole makeup bag including about 5 different liquids which were all unnecessary. It's too hot and humid to wear anything but sun-cream on your face and I only ended up wearing mascara on 2 evenings. The other stuff wasn't touched and my skin actually thanked me for it. Obviously this is personal preference but I have no idea why I packed 3 eye-shadows and 3 lipsticks when I don't even wear those in England!
- Clothing (I definitely over packed. When you're on holiday and its hot, you end up wearing the same pair of shorts, dresses etc for the whole time, so not sure why I packed a different outfit nearly for each day and 4 pairs of shoes. I lived in my sandals every single day, apart from wearing trainers for the walking days. Could have had lots of extra space for more presents and my suitcase would have been lighter to carry around. Also, you spend a lot of time in swimwear, so don't even need clothes for every day!
- Electricals (Most places have hairdryers so check before you go, because you might not need to take your own. Also, because it's so warm, my hair dried naturally in about 20 minutes anyway, so didn't even need to dry it. Another item which could have been left at home. Also hardly used my straighteners and embraced the 'natural' look for a change, so they definitely wouldn't have been missed.

Stay longer! 
Obviously I would have stayed longer if I could but I could only get two weeks off work. However, there are a few things which we did not have time to fit into our trip but would have loved to have done! So if we went again, we would definitely do a trip to Komodo Island (this is usually a 4 day trip), visit Nusa Penida (another group of small islands off the coast of Bali), spend more time in Gili and visit all three islands, learn to surf etc etc.


Hope you enjoyed that little overview of Bali and the pictures too! We wished we could have stayed longer as there are more things that we wanted to see/do. But hopefully we will go back one day and spend some more time there. It's such a beautiful and diverse place and the local people are so so friendly and welcoming. It's also a great place for couples, friends, travellers, single people as there is something for everyone. Let me know below if you have been or if there is anything else you would have recommended to do!
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