There is something incredibly magnetic about Bali, something that had been tugging my curiosity for the past several years. Maybe it’s all the hype generated by the media and travel shows. Maybe it was just my constant itch to travel and see new places. And maybe it’s because Bali was near enough to where I live and wouldn’t take more than a couple hours of flying. Whatever it was, I went there with my travel buddy and brother this year. Figured I should find out for myself what it was that made Bali special.
It is a truly magical place. There is some sort of lively, vibrant energy flowing in the air, and at every corner there is something interesting to see.
Our guide told us that there is a meaning behind the name Bali.
B – Bersih (clean)
A- Aman (peaceful)
L – Lestari (prosperous)
I – Indah (beautiful)
Beach town – Kuta
Kuta is a well-known tourist spot. Before we get to the good bits, let me get this out of the way – As a hub for travellers from all around the globe, the place is overflowing with tourists all year round, filled with overpriced arts and crafts and knick-knacks that you can get at a fraction of the price elsewhere, and also hosts the occasional scammers that you should be wary of. My advice would be – don’t come to Bali to shop. You can go to Bangkok for that. Come to Bali because of the view, the beaches and the culture and you’ll be fine.
Kuta is, on its own, a sustainable town filled with a myriad of architectures thrown into the mix. At one corner you’ll see a sprawling collection of 10-storey modern boutique hotels. As you turn another corner you’ll see the stark opposite – beautiful, small thatched huts with ancient stone carvings and stone guardians flanking arched gates. The highlight of Kuta is of course, the beach itself.
Surfers love this place because of the year-round summer waves. The weather was lovely when we got there, and since I am not much of a swimmer I decided to hang out at the beach with a good book and watch the surfers get thrown around in the warm waves.
If you’re not squeamish or ticklish, try one of the fish spas! I am incredibly ticklish, so I was squirming and laughing the whole time.
Lovina Beach – Dolphin Watching
This is one of my highlights of the trip. After a 2-hour drive up the slopes of Bali and through small towns and settlement, we arrived in Lovina just before sunrise. A boat arrived promptly at 6 am to pick us up, and we drove to the middle of the sea to wait for the dolphins to arrive for their daily frolicking (that’s the best way I can put it. I have no idea what they do at this particular beach every day. Probably to feed! But frolic sounds better). After an hour we only saw glimpses of the dolphins – a fluke here, a tail splash there. Our boatman decided to go further out to sea, away from the other boats. And then the magic happened. There were dolphins everywhere!
We saw adults, juveniles and calves, swimming in every direction to chase prey (frolic).
Unfortunately I don’t have a picture of the whole affair. I have a video though! And I posted it on facebook. I don’t know how to post it here yet.
Kintamani – Barong Dance
The Barong is a mythical creature of good that is the king of spirits and leader of the hosts of good (according to wiki). We had the opportunity to watch a dance and the battle between the Barong and its arch-nemesis, the demon queen Rangda. The show lasted 45 minutes and was played by enthusiastic and committed actors and actresses who wore several hats throughout the whole show. Thank goodness for leaflets explaining what was going on because neither of us understood the language. The summary of the whole story – good vs evil, good wins.
Kintamani – Up we go!
After the dance, we drove further up the mountain towards Kintamani, a region in the northern part of Bali. The view going up there was spectacular. The Koeck family has always had a love for mountainous regions. Mount Batur is an active volcano surrounded by lush greenery and black soil. We found out that you can hike up that mountain too (saving that for a future trip to Bali). It’s beautiful up there. Our tour guide brought us to this cosy little restaurant perched at the side of the mountain, overlooking the volcano. The food was excellent and we had plenty of time to admire the curves and bumps of Mount Batur.
Ubud – For the love of coffee
I’m not a coffee drinker but I wouldn’t have missed this pitstop for the world! The Luwak Civet Coffee Farm welcomes its visitors with first, a botanical spice garden which reminded me of Le jardin des cinq sens in Yvoire, France. We wound our way around the garden, listening intently while our tour guide picked out samples of bark, leaves and flowers growing alongside the pathways and let us smell and taste them. It was a lovely experience on its own but what came next would be heaven for coffee lovers. We were given samples of different types of coffee and tea for free. The coffee ranged from milk to coconut to ginseng coffee. They weren’t all particularly nice. Some made me cringe. At the end of the tasting you will have the option of either purchasing the really expensive “Luwak” coffee (civet-poo-coffee), or just stroll back out and enjoy the garden. I did the latter.
Ubud- The Pura Batuan (Batuan Temple)
My Indonesian isn’t that good, but I’m guessing that Batuan means stones? (correct me if I’m wrong). The architecture was brilliant, consisting of hundred-year-old statues and ornaments.
The roof of the temple is made from the fibres of black palm trees.
So there you go. That’s my snippet of Bali. We spent a total of four days there, and it was so good, I’m definitely heading there again, hopefully to run a half marathon (that’s the plan!)
I’ll highlight other trips on this blog as well, so keep an eye out. It’s going to be Eid here in Malaysia in just a few days – celebrations galore! See guys on the blogosphere soon 🙂