After a rather dramatic two weeks traveling through Java with fellow Brits, Ollie and Jim, we finally reached Bali. To be completely honest we cheated a bit, rather than completing the last few days of overland travel from Yogykarta to the ferry dock, we gave up and booked a flight to Bali. The boys trooped on and climbed Mount Bromo, one of the most popular active volcanoes in the archipelago, whilst we boarded a plane for the bargain price of $30. Gaz and I decided to skip this because, well, we were just a bit fed up of Java. It’s extremely hectic, there’s a massive traffic congestion problem and after four weeks of suffering from illness I needed to escape the pollution. That, and we were getting pretty annoyed by the 4am call to prayer which woke us up nearly everday. For anyone traveling through Java, we did find a really cool spot called Batu Karas, perfect if you want a bit of time away from the mayhem and it’s great for longboard surfing too.
Before we stepped foot in Bali, my expectations were fairly low. I’d been told by many people that it’s an over-developed madhouse full of drunk Aussies, and that if we were to enjoy Bali, we would need to travel to the quiet parts of the island. Having lived here for a few weeks now I can understand where that description came from, the chaotic street of Legian is definitely an area to avoid, particularly past midnight, and even more so when the ‘schoolies‘ are here. However having spent some time in Kuta, Legian and now our current location, Seminyak, we’ve completely fallen in love. And here’s why…
1) The food is amazing!
Seminyak’s huge range of high-end restaurants means eating out never gets boring. And the best part is, a really tasty dinner with drinks will set you back around £10 for two. Of course, if you’re on a budget you can pick up local food at one of the warungs for £1 – £2.
2) The surf!
As surfing novices, one of the reasons we decided to settle on the east coast for a while is to practice surfing and this areas boasts the best beginners spots. Starting off at Kuta we’ve managed to get the basics, and since then we’ve hunted down our favourite spot on the island so far – Canggu, more specifically, Batu Bolong Beach. This is perfect for beginners and longboarders, it’s laid-back atmosphere and picturesque scenery make it our No.1 spot in Bali.
3) Mopeds are the way to travel!
Luckily Gaz had a moped in his pre-driving years so he’s very competent on a scooter, which is a necessity. Bali, like Java, has a traffic problem but riding a scooter means you can use the speedy shortcuts to skip out the main roads, and when you do find yourself stuck on a main road, you can squeeze past all the cars, many of which could be stuck in the same spot for hours!
4) The weather!
Apparently it’s rainy season, but lucky for us so far, we’ve only experienced a few hours of rain. Every other day we hear the rain pouring down outside for an hour or so, usually early in the morning or late at night, but because it’s so warm, it’s completely dry again within a couple of hours. Temperatures sit at around 30 degrees, which is just about perfect if you ask me!
5) Entrepreneurship and creativity is rife!
I’m not sure what created this culture, I’m guessing it’s the high level of competition, but either way we’re all benefiting. The range of boutiques, restaurants, bars, art galleries, is unbelievable. There are a very limited number of chains on the island, instead it’s full of individual businesses, many of whom are doing a better job at standing out from the crowd, producing quality products, maintaining high levels of customer service and offering an all round unique service. This is something I feel is rapidly dying out in Britain, locally owned pubs are closing down whilst chains like Weatherspoons step in, every high street is dominated by the same retailers, even food has become predictable with the standard chains providing unimaginative menus on every street corner. Well, come to Bali and you’ll be spoilt for choice.
(The entrance into my favourite bar in Bali, La Favela)
I’m sure this list will grow as time goes on, as we discover even more beautiful areas of this magical island, but for now, we’re happy that this is our new home.
Have you been to Bali? What do you love most about it?