The Paradise Island of Bali (Part One)

When I hear people talk about Bali I think of extreme luxury, some place unattainable to a budget traveller, a place only for honeymooners and Australian holiday makers (Bali is their Tenerife – the lucky buggers). However today places are becoming more and more accessible and Bali is now a place we are able to travel on a budget. So once our time in New Zealand was over we were on the way to Indonesia and Bali was first on the itinerary. 

Seminyak 

The power couple has now become a triple threat, Leanne has joined us for the rest of our trip – super excited!! 

Lots of people advised us to avoid Kuta altogether and instead stay in Seminyak so following that advice we booked our hostel through HostelWorld and prepared for a few nights of beautiful beaches and utter relaxation – thats what you picture when thinking of Bali right?

Unfortunately Seminyak wasn’t quite what we expected, not for a budget traveller. Our accommodation was a good 20 minute walk from the beach, the main strip was teaming with expensive restaurants, boutique shops and luxury hotels, a world away from what we could afford.

We took ourselves out of the crazy and headed to Tanah Lot Temple one of the days. A beautiful temple that at high tide is marooned by the sea. Luckily we were there for low tide so were able to walk across to the impressive rock formation and receive a blessing. Unfortunately because we aren’t Balinese we weren’t allowed in the temple but what we were able to do was sufficient enough! 



One amazing thing about travelling is that a lot of the people you meet are in the same boat, so looking out for one another is an unspoken rule. This rule definitely applies when it comes to getting taxis and on many occasions we have shared rides. When leaving Tanah Lot a girl with 2 friends approached us and asked if we were going in the same direction, as we were we agreed to share a taxi. This turned out to be the best decision, not only did we share advice and stories but the driver turned into our tour guide telling us so much about the area, the people, places to visit, places to avoid and then gave us his card and said if we ever needed any more advice we should call him anytime. What an absolute diamond, all because a group of travellers shared a ride!!
We spent one of our days on the famous Seminyak beach, teaming with tourists it was a good people watching spot so we soaked up the atmosphere and the sun right through till sunset. As the sun hit the horizon Seminyak became a wonder to behold, the colours in the sky were breath taking, the reflections in the water magnificent. That moment then made the trip here worthwhile!

We used the rest of our time in Seminyak to construct a vague itinerary for the rest of our stay in Indonesia. We felt ready to see what more was on offer!

Ubud

Possibly the most well known area of Bali due to Julia Roberts and Eat Pray Love. I was excited to see it for myself, was it going to be anything like I imagined from the book!?

The difference from Seminyak is extensive, it feels traditional, cultural and of a completely different time as soon as you step foot out of the taxi. The pace is slower, the air feels cleaner and the scenery is breathtaking – and im still talking about the centre of town!!

We stayed a short walk out of town on our first visit in a super quiet area which was bliss. Our hostel gave us a room upgrade so we settled ourselves in to our private room and got prepared to fall in love with this town!! 

The following day Monkey Forest was on the agenda, with three holy temples and the forest left to do its thing its like walking through an Indiana Jones movie. And then theres the monkeys, I had no idea what to expect, what I can tell you for sure is I did not expect there to be oh so many!! It was pretty daunting, those doe-eyed cute looking monkeys you see in pictures are not what you find here. Unfazed by tourists the monkeys stare at you hoping from some type of handout, vendors sell bananas by the kilo so the little guys know exactly what we have in our bags. Its a recipe for disaster right?


Walking around the forest is a pretty surreal feeling; sharing the stairs with monkeys as we head in the same direction, them climbing through the trees directly above your head while others happily clean their mate while a group of tourist gape in utter amusement. It was definitely a first for me!


Once we felt brave enough to reveal the bananas in our bags swarms of monkeys came towards us. The technique was to hold the banana in an out stretched hand and allow the monkey to climb to get it, easy right? Jen had a few attempts with some feisty monkeys, a bit of hair pulling and banana snatching later Jen was done for the day. My turn and this guy clearly found me very comfortable and perched on my shoulder while he chowed down on the treat. A hilariously bizarre feeling!

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​The markets in Ubud are of a grand scale and these girls like to shop so theres a recipe for disaster if you’ve ever heard one. We found ourselves wandering the endless corridors on most days, every vendor sells the same stuff from beautiful sarongs to phallic shaped bottle openers (I wont go into it). The shopping was easy, the bartering is what you’ve got to be good at. Leanne and I bought sarongs that started at an outrageous 450,000 rupiah for both, after quite a bit of too’ing and fro’ing we walked away with 2 sarongs for 30,000 each – a solid effort by us!
We did have a wonder round the Royal Palace which is placed bang in the centre of town, its free to have a look and you quickly see why. As the royal family still live there most of it is closed off understandably, so really you see the first court yard and a small garden – a bit underwhelming. Luckily for us though a dance group were practicing for a show later in the day so we sat and watched these amazing young girls perform the weirdest dance I’ve ever seen! 

Check it out on my instagram.. 

Ubud Traditional Dancing 

Another great thing to do while in the centre of Bali is to take a walk around the stunning rice paddies. We took ourselves on a short hike along what is called the Ridge Walk. Surrounded first by 5 star hotels with incredible views over rice paddies, the walk takes you far away from the hustle and bustle and leaves you surrounded by the electric blue of the paddies. We stopped for lunch at this incredible hotel and spa and sat in a pagoda above a pond looking out onto the most spectacular views, we could of easily spent days in that position.. Im sure you can see why..


From Ubud we decided to head to the Gili Islands, even though they belong to the island of Lombok most tourists visiting Bali take a few days to visit these paradise islands yet never make it to Lombok. We plan to do both!

Gili Islands 

Gili T

This is the most well known of the three islands, the most developed and party central. We planned two nights here to party it up and get some beach time in. All did not start well however as our hostel was a complete pit, damp, smelly and very uncomfortable, a real downer to our first taster of a paradise island. When we thought we would just have to suffer the nights here Jenny’s family came to our rescue and with the most incredible generosity booked us into another hostel. It was like walking into a five star hotel, we were blown away and I’ll never be able to stop thanking them for that incredible gift and saving us from that nasty place!! 

We partied hard that night, pumped to be where we were, together and with a beautiful place to stay – we were happy happy girls! 


The Gilis are very built up and rely solely on tourism and because of that cheap eats and street food just didn’t exist. We did however find a make shift street food market with an abundance of BBQ food, it was just probably the most expensive ‘street food’ ill ever come across!  


We had beautiful weather to spend our days lying on the beach and chilling in the sea, were found paradise and it was wonderful!

Gili Meno

The smallest and quietest of the three islands, this is a serious honeymoon destination, everything from hotel rooms to tables in restaurants were set up for couples – we did get some funny looks walking around as a three! But we embraced our third wheel and got to explore the whole island, thanks to its size. The beaches were beautiful at some points we had entire stretches of sand to ourselves. 


It was wonderful here and we spent our entire time sunbathing on each of their beaches, it was just a bit quiet for us so when it was time to leave we were ready! 

Gili Air

Last but not least this island is the closest to Lombok, it’s described as a good balance of both the previous islands so we booked our standard two days in and headed over. 

Our accommodation was beautiful and the host there made our stay so amazing, constantly looking after us and making sure we had everything we needed – what a doll!


From the start we knew there was much more of an atmosphere on this island compared to Meno. We found the strip of restaurants and bars and with a good buzz of people, dinner was on the beach every night – perfection. 


Again our days were spent on the beach, this time we snorkelled as well as the standard sunbathing – expanding our horizons! 


Gili Air was our favourite of the three islands, it really does have a perfect mixture of lively and chilled. 

Our plan now is to head onto Lombok, not a standard route for a traveller but from what ive read about the country I think were going to love it!
Until then.. 

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