People say that Bali is Paradise, and to be honest, it kind of is. Endless beautiful beaches and sunsets, amazing scenery and views, and all the palm trees you could ever hope for. I wasn’t really sure what to expect from the holiday (aside from paradise, obvs); I kind of thought we would do some sunbathing and some partying but hadn’t thought beyond that. We actually did next to zero sunbathing (but still managed to get an acceptable tan!). In fact we didn’t do much of the ‘relaxing’ sort of activities you normally associate with holiday. We were too busy doing ALL of the mega fun activities, of which Bali has lots of offer. We started off the trip in a group of 20 people which sounds absolutely massive, but surprisingly we managed to organise ourselves to travel around together and do activities without it being too stressful! A few people left and joined at different points but overall we stayed as a big group, which made nights out extra fun
I’ll start off with the one place I wouldn’t recommend, Kuta. I had been warned that Kuta was the Australian version of Magaluf and I can definitely see why! Don’t get me wrong we had great fun, but after two nights there I was definitely ready to leave. Apparently in Kuta normal music doesn’t exist, instead the DJs have decided they must remix all songs with dutty beats and the keyboard pew pew pew noises that you use in Year 8 music lessons. It’s quite impossible to have a conversation in any bar because the music is so intense, you just end up blowing your free whistles along with the music because it can’t get much worse. We found one bar that played a few great 90s hip hop tunes, but after searching high and low for anywhere else we could dance not surrounded by skanks, we were defeated. That plus a near-miss mugging situation and we resigned to McDonald’s and takeaway Smirnoff Ice by the pool.
Although the nights in Kuta reminded me of 16 year old party holidays, we had some lovely days out there (or in the surrounding areas). We took a private boat trip around the islands which was lush aside from the fact that I got seasick and ended up puking in the boat sink whilst an Indonesian man massaged my back and head. Slightly surreal experience. Does massage make sick come out? Who knows. We then got to jump out of the boat and do some snorkelling which cured the sickness somewhat. Our first Indonesian meal was the traditional Nasi Goreng, and whilst we waited we had a swim in the restaurant pool – beats card games!
On our second day we walked down the beach to Seminyak which was a really nice area. We spent a glorious afternoon drinking cocktails in an infinity pool at a beach bar called Potato Head, watching the sunset. It was probably one of the most beaut days of the holiday! I hadn’t fully prepared for the day and so was forced to go to dinner knickerless with dungarees which wasn’t the most comfortable situation of life, but we ended up having a great meal with buckets of bintang and fabulous music.
We then moved onto Gili Trawangan, which I think was my favourite place in Bali. After my terrible seasickness I was wary of the boat trip to the island, but it was actually a lovely journey with some beautiful surroundings (which I slept through most of – oops). Some of our friends actually saw dolphins! Not jealous at all… Gili T is tiny and yet never fails to entertain. It’s uber chilled and fabulously fun at the same time, full of beautiful beach views and yummy restaurants. We stayed in a hotel called Tir na Nog which had a great bar and is located just at the end of the main strip of bars and shops before the road gets more beachy.
Gili is so small that there are no cars, so on a few occasions we hired bikes and cycled up to a couple of different beach bars to watch the sunset. One day we actually cycled the whole way round the island which was a great experience, even if a few sections of the coastline were rather precarious! The whole thing didn’t take long at all, plus we stopped along the way for many a photo opportunity, stall shopping and a cheeky dip in the sea. Our final destination before we made the full circle was the famous ‘sea swing’ where we waited for sunset and only got the best photo of the holiday. Not bragging, but seriously. There’s a sunset, there’s us in bikinis sitting on swings, there’s the beach, and there’s horses. Yep, just some casual horses strolling through the sea behind us. I know, we win at life.
Every night on Gili T a different bar hosts “the party” to make it fair, which is great because you get to try different bars and they are always packed! We started most nights at our hotel beach bar, where they often had games out like beer pong, table tennis and battle shots – lethal! Many a drinking game was played and many a drink was downed. Lots of bars do deals on “local” cocktails which always seemed like a great idea at the time, but often ended in questionable drunk choices and disastrous hangovers. Especially when combined with “local” wines. Let’s just say “local” alcohol turns me into a crazy person…
We did many other activities on Gili T including snorkelling (where I got so close to a turtle!), banana boating (where my friend fell on my head and we almost lost my sister), yoga (which was hotter than bikram yoga, so much sweats), and lots of the group went diving (I took a break instead and went strolling along the beach). The sea was the kind of sea where it doesn’t actually get deep for about 800 years which is great because you can just chill in the shallow waters. I obviously spent a lot of the holiday being sunburnt (who would have thought you need to suncream your back when you go snorkeling…) so tried to find shade wherever possible, including a random tree in the middle of the sea. Needs must!
The last place on our trip was Ubud, which I was really looking forward to because everyone had told me it was basically a hippy place and was very ‘me’. Our hotel was in the middle of nowhere but was the epitome of what I imagined from Ubud, lots of green, wooden huts, and a beaut swimming pool. There was so much to do in Ubud that we struggled to fit everything into our time there. We organised rafting for one of our first days which ended up being one of my favourite days – we paid about £12 each and got a taxi ride to the river, 3 hours of rafting and lunch afterwards! Our guides were hilarious, constantly making jokes and teasing us whilst having competitions with the other rafting companies we went past on our way down. The best part of rafting was the absolutely phenomenal scenery surrounding the river – on all sides there was just endless greenery going up to the sky. We even went past some rock murals that told a ‘romeo and juliet’ type story. Luckily I didn’t end up falling out of the raft but there were some close calls!
The other main activity we did was the trek up Mount Batur. We left our hotel at 2am (wait whaaaat) and drove to the starting point where we were given fried bananas, bread and hard boiled eggs.. great combination. We then started the climb up, with the aim of reaching the top in time for sunrise. Stupidly I only had converse with me which made the climb considerably less enjoyable than it might have been otherwise, but I still managed with the help of some motivational motown. The last stretch was the hardest but so worth it once we got there! The views of the mountains were incredible and it was so surreal to see the bed of clouds below us. Unfortunately the weather was against us so by the time the sun was actually rising it was mostly hidden behind a cloud, but we still managed to get some amazing pics (ignoring the fact that we all looked sweaty and knackered!).
If only we could have teleported down at that point, but alas no. The ‘walk’ down the first part was more of a slip-slide action. Seriously, I felt like I was skiing in my converse. Our sweet 16 year old guide must have sensed I was failing at life because she ended up holding my hand down most of the troublesome bits. Converse = no. Numb toes forever. Halfway down we came across a group of baby monkeys that were playfighting with each other which was the absolute cutest! Finally at the bottom we thought our adventure was over, but no. Our taxi driver decided that instead of sleep we needed coffee. He took us to a coffee plantation and we ended up on a tour. It was actually great, we learnt about the luwak coffee that’s made from cats pooping put coffee beans and tasted many many yummy coffee flavours. However this meant that we got back in the taxi high on coffee and delirious from lack of sleep which resulted in a rather drunk type feeling. All the funs.
Ubud centre itself was great once you knew your way around, the majority of streets were all markets so we spent a lot of time and moneys buying souvenirs and bartering (which I was poor at, obviously. Too awks). I was in my element as there were so many options to feed my elephant obsession, I ended up purchasing an elephant dress, top, trousers and keyrings. Other patterns exist? Wait what? We also had some lovely meals in Ubud, some of which were vegan and yum. Sadly I didn’t have time to do yoga but we still went to the famous yoga barn which was beaut and served up a great vegan lasagne We also found a yum restaurant where I had seafood and avocado curry – so didn’t know this was a thing, but I will now definitely be making it at home.
Our last day was spent not in Ubud but actually back near to Kuta at a water park, supposedly the third best in the world! Water parks are always great fun and this one didn’t disappoint, we spent the day flitting between the float rides and the lazy river and then finally plucking up the courage to go on the drop chute – it doesn’t help when all of the boys stand outside your glass box jeering you on whilst you wait for the floor to fall away. Not fun. But also so much fun. Take me back please. That night we had our one and only ‘night out’ in Ubud – there’s not much in the way of bars but we found a saloon themed place with pool tables and table tennis that kept us entertained for the evening. They even let us climb up ladders and sign our country flags I would like to say that our night ended there and we went home to bed, but instead we decided to go back to a friends hotel for pizza.. great idea at the time, not so great when you realise Ubud has ZERO taxis at 5am. We wandered the streets for a while hoping one would miraculously turn up but to no avail, so we finally admitted defeat and walked uphill to our hotel. Not ideal when the legs are still aching from doing a trek in converse. Bed was the best thing ever that night…
All in all Bali was the most beautiful holiday spent with some amazing people and I would go back in a heartbeat.