Bali – Beaches, Bintang and Bowl Movements
After finishing my 6 months in Darwin, the girls and I decided to jet over to Bali for a few weeks. Neither Katy or Jamie had been before so I figured it’d be a good experience for them. Bonus being, I got to spend my 27th birthday eating an incredible dinner on the beach, drinking wine and salsa dancing (I really did try to salsa, the results were questionable at best). I planned the whole trip out in an excel spreadsheet, because I’m type A and that’s my shit. I knew setting up such a strict itinerary was going to leave me disappointed when we weren’t able to accomplish everything, but alas, I did it anyways. Before we left, and currently, there is a volcano warning on the island because Mount Agung (in the North East of the island) has been showing signs of an imminent eruption. We were initially only worried that it would potentially cancel our flights to Bali, but we arrived not a minute late. However, it did interrupt part of our itinerary. I had wanted to visit the town of Amed on the eastern coast, but that turned out to be in the evacuation zone so my driver, Wayan, told me it would be unsafe. I hadn’t had time to visit the black sand beach town on my last visit, and I had really hoped this trip would be the one. Until next time, Amed! As a result, we ended up spending 3 days in Canggu, 5 days in Ubud, 9 days on Gili T (we got stuck), 3 days in Lovina, and 5 days in Seminyak.
After visiting Bali last May, Canggu was my favorite town we explored. I love the relaxing beachy feel. It’s not overly touristy yet, it has some excellent food and Old Mans and the Sand Bar throw outrageous parties. As our first stop, the girls were expecting more I think. They seemed a bit underwhelmed with Canggu, but that could be because I over hyped it a bit. I, on the other hand, fell in love all over again. We stayed at Hideaway Hostel, which is about a 15 minute scooter ride outside the center or town, so it was quiet, it had dogs and it made me instantly forget the stress of 6 months at Monsoons. We had planned to take surfing lessons here, but ended up deciding against it. Neither Katy or I were really feeling up to too much physical activity those first few days. Instead we watched sunset on the beach every night with some great people, went to Old Mans and the subsequent beach party, and got a really nice A$7 60-minute massage. Cheapest one we had, and I’d say it was the best. Oh Canggu, will be back for you.
Ubud was the first place I ever went in Bali and because of that, I’ll always love it. There is something about being in the jungle, in the very center of a tropical island, surrounded by volcanoes that just sets your soul on fire. I had initially only planned to spend a couple of nights in Ubud, as I’ve found I get bored there pretty quickly. We ended up spending 5 days there because of the Amed situation, but it was definitely worth it. We went shopping, went back to the Monkey Forest, found an epic waterfall, climbed Mt. Batur (another active volcano, overlooking the one that might erupt) at sunrise, and got another excellent massage. We didn’t end up going out at all here which was a blessing in disguise. Our livers needed a rest after Old Mans. We stayed at Puji Hostel and I highly recommend it. They have 6 bed dorms which weren’t bad at all, a gorgeous pool overlooking the rice paddy, and they serve food, which is always nice when you are trying to save money. If not, Ubud had amazing restaurants which is another reason I adore the place. More pics from Ubud because, why not?
What can I say about Gili T? It’s one of the greatest places I’ll never remember. What I can tell you is this, I broke my phone, I had my debit card eaten by an ATM, I met some amazing people, I now know that you can survive off vodka joss and soup for 9 days, and Gili Castle is my favorite hostel in the world.
After Gili T, we needed some peace and quiet for a few days. I wanted to have a relaxing spa day for my birthday so we decided to drive up to the north side of the island (not too close to the volcano though). Lovina isn’t really a town, but a stretch of coastline, and the name is a play on the words Love Indonesia. We rented an amazing 3 bedroom villa with a wrap around terrace with pool views, and if you looked hard enough, sea views. We spent my birthday laying in the sun, getting massages, shopping and then going out for the best dinner we had in Bali. We went to Spice Beach Club. It was right on the beach in a beautiful venue. I told them it was my birthday and they gave me the royal treatment, free drinks, a cake, and the entire staff sang me happy birthday. The owner even came out to introduce himself and shake my hand. They had set up a stage for salsa dancing and were encouraging patrons to try it out with the pros. I was only pulled on stage once, if that tells you how well I did. We ate beef carpaccio, oysters, beef tenderloin, and salmon and had a couple bottles of an Australian cab sauv because we were missing home. It was the best way I could imagine spending my birthday. The next day, we woke up early, went out to breakfast and found a driver to take us waterfall chasing. We tried to visit three, but again always over scheduling, we only made it to two. We visited Aling-Aling and Sekumpul Waterfalls, both of which were outstanding in their own way. Aling-Aling has two natural water slides and you can cliff jump there. I being the wimp of the group, did not participate. I swam though, and enjoyed it just as much. Sekumpul is just sheer beauty. Set in the mountains, the large fall is 98m high. It was overwhelming and you could hardly capture it on camera. All I can say, is if you are in Bali, don’t just stay in the south.
I stayed in Seminyak for one night last year because my friend Chris wanted to go to SkyGarden (huge ridiculous club with good drink deals and thieves), and I had refused to stay in Kuta. This time, we had to drop Jamie at the airport and pick up our mate Josh that we also met in Darwin. Since Seminyak is so close to the airport, I figured it wouldn’t hurt to spend a few days shopping and going out in the “big city.” We had a treat yourself day where we went to a huge shopping mall in Kuta (we hadn’t seen a proper mall in almost 7 months) and gorged ourselves on Chinese food because Darwin doesn’t have that either. We went to La Favella, which is probably the most beautiful club I’ve ever set foot in. Seriously, google it. The hostel we stayed at was perfect, New Seminyak Capsule Hostel, do it. It was only my second ever capsule hostel and I had forgotten how much I enjoy sleeping in a cupboard. The bar staff were crazy cool, shout out to Miriam and Tio, you guys made the end of my trip amazing. Tio even offered to keep my passport so I could tell the airline I lost it so I could stay longer.
Overall, I have to say that for my health, I am glad Bali is a once a year holiday for me. 26 days in, with an imune system weakened by copious amounts of Bintang, Bali Belly finally caught up to me. But, I am really going to miss it. And everyone I left behind. This one was one for the books.