We are evolving, altering beings whom absorb every little detail and experience, changing accordingly. And one of the things that can alter us the most is travelling. And this summer I’ve had the trip of a lifetime, that got me completely out of my comfort zone, and I’ve never felt more comfortable, at peace and in my own skin.
Bali was an oasis, I didn’t dare to dream I’d be able to explore its beauty until one day one of my favorite people in this world asked me if I wanted to go. I don’t think I’ve ever been as scared to say yes to something and so excited and over the moon at the same time.
And so we went. And we spend the best 20 days one could ever dream of.
We stayed in Sanur, that soon became our home away from home. Sanur Beach was amazing but Bali is not for the relaxing beaches, that I can assure you.
We roomed around the main streets, filled with amazing restaurants, and took the pool of the hotel by storm (pretty sure people were dying for us to leave the place…). It rained most of the first days we got there, but the only thing playing in my mind, in a loop, was “It’s Bali. You’re in Bali!” and no rain could damp our mood.
We took a bike ride along the path on the side of the beach which was filled with little shops and their sellers, men working on the typical boats and more people than I could count making the bike ride… interesting? Shaky? Loud? All of the above!
We made our first little trip to Ubud and it was a filled day. Our first stop was a temple were we saw their typical theater play. I have to admit I was lost most of the time and the masks were quite unique, sometimes scary. But I did enjoy it and it was really interesting to see more of their culture.
We then move on to the most breathtaking waterfall. Hidden between the woods and with little to no human touch, I felt lost in the deepts of Bali. The water was so so cold and clear, I can still hear it falling down. Stupidly enough I did not go into the water, my one regret. Let me just add that the way down was tricky, but the way up was almost impossible! I was debating just staying in the middle of nowhere just drinking coconut water.
We made a quick stop at a coffee plantation and then to the center of Ubud, where we saw the Ubud Palace and got a little lost in its gardens before heading to the market right across the street. One thing I’ll say, the sellers are quite aggressive which I had only experienced in Mozambique but it always throws me off.
To end our already long day, we stopped at the rice terraces and I’ve never been more amazed! Climbing those steps is so much fun, finding your way and then having that breathtaking view… absolutely mesmerizing, one of the best parts of Bali for sure.
The next day it’s when we decided to go to paradise on earth and head to the Gili Islands, Gili Trawangan more precisely. The boat ride was just the worst thing I’ve experienced, I never get motion sick and I’m pretty sure I was yellow when we got there! BUT, as soon as I saw the color of the water bathing the shore, all went away. We went to the beach to enjoy the water, the warmest water in Bali, and sunbathe in paradise. After grabbing something to eat, we settled on a bean bag and sun lounges so we could enjoy our drinks while admiring the sunset.
I’ve never felt more at ease, there’s nothing better than sun-kissed skin and salty hair.
Breakfast served on the beach is one my favorite things since I had it at the Gili’s, I wanted to make that granola bowl last forever! The next day was dedicated to more beach to make the most of it, and the turquoise color of the water will forever be engraved in my memory. Laying by the shore with the calm water hitting us and getting the sun on our faces is my favorite place.
Describing the Gili Islands as paradise comes short, it’s impossible to put into words the atmosphere, the sounds, the smell in the air, the busy street with people going everywhere and nowhere, the sound of the waves crashing everywhere you go.
Back to Sanur, we booked several trips with a personal taxi driver, which was the best way for us to get around because of the crazy traffic.
We managed to go to the Padang Padang Beach which was filled with surfers and surfers wannabe (if only I had the courage to join them!) and the sand was the softest, with the water slightly cold. Getting to it was interesting as you have to go down the steps inside a little cave, but It’s Bali so that’s completely expected, right?
Having lunch at the Single Fin Beach restaurant on top of a cliff with the waves hitting the shore is the best view one could imagine, seeing the surfers so far on the water was amazing. And then making our way down to the Fin Beach was an adventure! First the little sidewalks and stairs leading down, with restaurants, massage spots and surfboards stores on the way; surfers making their way up or down with surfboards in hand and barefoot; the signs made f wood and finally hitting the bay, with the cliff creating the most amazing nook, absolutely breathtaking. But, if you’re looking to sunbathe and hit the water, then you have to make you’re way under the rocks.
It was so amazing to finally get to the beach, with a wrecked she abandoned in the sand and just a handful of people. It was just a shame the water was so agitated. And of course we almost didn’t make it out of the each because the water was rising, covering the path under the rocks, but we did made it and I would not change it for the world, it felt so gratifying and fulfilling to make it to the beach, I enjoyed it all the more.
To end our eventful day, we went to a temple to watch the sunset.
After having such an amazing experience at the Gili Islands, we were debating actually going there again but the boat ride completely throw us off so we though going to Nusa Lembongan, a 45m boat ride, was a good compromised. We couldn’t be more wrong, Lembongan is a 180 from the Gili’s. Much more family orientated, with loads of fancier resorts and… that’s it. No light in the streets, no taxis or other transport (you can rent motorbikes, but we were both too scared to drive them…) and it’s so… boring. I can’t describe it any other way.
We made the most of it and it’s absolute perfection if you’re looking to relax, but we wanted something more upbeat and fun.
We went to dream beach, that was indeed dreamy (apart from the water, why is it never calm? I can totally see why surfers have the best time in Bali!) and as the heat was starting to get the best of us, we went to the hotel pool which was perfection.
We also made a quick stop at the Devil’s Tear and we stayed there for so long just admiring the force of nature and how beautiful it is when the waves crash with all their strength against the rocks, sometimes creating the perfect conditions to see a little rainbow. We even saw a cute turtle!
Watching the sunset is mandatory, and doing it with a drink in hand is the way to go. The only difficulty was making our way back to our hotel as there’s no light on the streets, so make sure your battery is charged cause that lantern will be your knight in shinning harmer! Of course it helps to sing “The lion sleeps tonight” along the way, otherwise you feel like you’re in a horror movie and something is about to pop out of nowhere to get you…
Lembongan was also tricky in trying to talk to locals but everyone is so nice you eventually find a way to communicate.
We found our way to Mushroom Bay and Scooby Doo Beach where we found loads of hotels and resorts and some restaurants, the sand was tiny and kissed your feet every step of the way.
Waking up at 6am with a rooster is far from ideal but it had us laughing at just how rural the island still was, how pure and clean they maintain it. Our bathroom was under an open sky which was absolutely amazing, taking a shower out in the open with only the stars and the moon as witnesses has to be on the top of my life experiences.
But, when our 2 days were up, I have to admit we were eager to get back to the main island. One of the things we had been trying to do and kept postponing was going to Kuta and Seminyak. We ended up going there our second to last day and if regret could kill….
We made a quick stop at a rice field on the way so we could appreciate it a little more one last time, knowing our time in Bali was almost up.
As soon as we arrived at Seminyak, the difference was staggering. After being in Sanur for so long, and dipping our feet in the Gili’s and Lembongan, Kuta and Seminyak seemed so so touristy and just… not Bali, not at all. Too busy, crowded, with all the fast food chains one could imagine… Needless to say we stayed there for 2 hours, enough to buy a couple of souvenirs and have lunch, and decided to head home. Because that’s what Sanur and our hotel were at this point, home. We know everyone, everyone knew us, We already knew which restaurants to go and the best time, the street seemed to get shorter and shorter (unless we were hungry, as it always is…). We felt safe and truly at home, dreading coming back and crash our little bubble.
The night before our last day we decided to watch the sunrise. I’ve only ever seen the sun setting on the beach, not rising, and was not prepared for the red, warm colors that would fill me at 7am. I’ve never felt more relaxed, at one with myself.
Every country has such uniqueness and is so rich in so many different ways; the culture shock, the smells, the people and their smile, the laughter that was a constant, I feel as if I’ve learned more in 3 weeks than a whole year.
Every trip I’ve made through the years has taught me something and has shown me sides of me I didn’t know existed, but Bali brought out aspects of myself I had no idea I had, it test me and made me get completely out of my comfort zone and do things I’d always though I’d be too scared to tried, to shy to do.
I completely absorbed whatever Bali had to give and I’ll never be able to put into words just how much this trip changed me.