I wasn’t sure how I’d feel about Bali, rumored to be the favorite holiday destination of Australians and Kiwis. Would I fall in love with the beaches and the street food, or would I be turned off by the commercial catering to foreigners?
I’m happy to report that it was absolutely the former: I could have sipped mango smoothies, wandered through rice paddies and explored underwater for much longer than a month. However, there were still a few things that I could have done without. Here’s what I loved and hated about Bali.
A beautiful splash of color on every road and in every home, and a constant reminder of the devotion of Balinese people to their beliefs.
The range of great cuisine from super cheap to super trendy.
If you want to get up close with the sea turtles and fluorescent fish, Bali has no shortage of places to strap on your snorkel mask. Dive deep in Tulamben for an incredible underwater wreck, or snorkel in Amed for beautiful coral gardens in crystal clear waters.
There are incredible surfing opportunities for all levels: novices can learn how to stand up at Quicksilver Surf School in Legian, while more experienced surfers will find killer waves in Medewi.
The Balinese people are exceptionally beautiful and friendly: it’s impossible to travel here without being won over by the locals.
When you see the men working wearing those cone-shaped hats with the palm trees towering ahead, it just feels like you’re somewhere very beautiful, yet very far away from home.
“Road rules” seems to be a bit of an oxymoron here, and every ride is a thrilling rush to not, you know, fall off and die — but it’s also incredibly liberating and satisfying to ditch the trapped feeling of being stuck in a taxi jammed in incessant traffic.
There’s nothing better than stretching into a sun salutation while staring out at a sea of green rice paddies and listening to monkeys screech in the distance. Yoga Barn in Ubud is a hub for culturally hip and flexible travelers and expats: try flying yoga for something different or unwind after a long flight with restorative yoga.
From super trendy restaurants in Seminyak to hippie vegan joints in Ubud to cheap and delicious food wrapped in rice paddies on the street—Balinese food is spicy, fresh and incredible. Check out a cooking class to learn how to recreate your favorites at home.
There are touts everywhere, but it’s particularly bad in Ubud: it’s impossible to walk down the street without being harassed about your immediate need for motorbikes, taxis, bicycles. And in the Kuta/Seminyak area, taxis announce their availability by honking their horn while driving down the street. Needless to say, a quiet walk down the street is an impossibility.
The humidity leaves you drenched in sweat and covered in mosquito bites, particularly if you’re out in the late afternoon. Pick up a bottle of Utama Spice mosquito repellent at Bali Buddha: it’s organic, smells amazing and keeps all the bugs away.
If you’re visiting between the months of November and March, be prepared to spend your afternoons indoors as thunderstorms sweep through the region. Pack an umbrella!
The Balinese used to eat on banana leaves and then toss the leaves in the river when they were done: it seems like the “toss it in the river” mentality has prevailed, but with plastic bottles and paper products. It’s a shame to see how much trash piles up in the rushing creeks and on the sides of the street.
It’s not uncommon to see young Westerners walking around with crutches or massive bandages: the likely result of a motorbike crash. Road rules aren’t taken too seriously here, and the streets can be a bit dangerous as a result: always wear a helmet and only drive if you know how and you feel comfortable navigating the streets.
About the Author
Since earning a degree in journalism in 2009, Christine Amorose has worked in high-tech PR, backpacked through Europe, bartended on the French Riviera, worked in Australia and explored Southeast Asia. Follow her adventures at C’est Christine, or catch her on Twitter and Facebook.