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If you’ve read my previous blog post, you’ll know that I have visited Sydney twice. Both times I was backpacking; however, the second time around on the way home to England, I decided to pit stop on the island nation of Bali.
When you think of Bali, you think of an exotic location half a world away. You think of long stretches of golden, sandy beaches, palm trees and laid-back island life – and that’s before you’ve even ventured there. Once you have been, you come to the realization that it’s all of the above – and so much more.
Bali, in large part, is “typical South East Asia”. By “typical South East Asia”, I mean that it’s cheap to us western folk (with affordable beachfront villas), it’s hot and sweaty, and the road system is chaotic. Usually, roads in South East Asian suburbs have no set lanes, so cars and motorbikes are free to roam wherever they please. There are more bikes than there are cars, as bikes are cheaper to buy and maintain, and getting across the roads is an art in itself. You have to take a big leap of faith and just set off walking. If you watch the oncoming traffic, and try and swerve around them, you will most likely cause an accident. However, if you concentrate on getting to the pavement on the other side, and let the traffic swerve around you, you will make it across in one piece!
Bali looks a lot like the rest of South East Asia, with a lot of buildings only one storey high, and an abundance of electricity lines visible in the streets. However, the feel of it is sometimes very different – in a good way.
There is definitely more variety in Bali than some of the other places in South East Asia. For instance, Bali is home to the village of Kuta, which is essentially known as the “backpacker central” area. But it is also home to Seminyak – and Seminyak equals luxury.
Kuta is one of the most touristic areas of Bali. Here you will find lots of little shops, which sell knock-off goods and souvenirs, nestled in rows down charming roads and quaint back streets. Staying in this area is very affordable, with high quality budget accommodation costing half the price than the standard rates per night in England.
During the day, visitors tend to visit the tranquil shores of Kuta Beach – or laze around their hotel pool – as having water close by is imperative. Even in Bali’s winter months, the temperature will be in the late twenties (Celsius); however, the humidity makes it easily feel like it’s in the mid-thirties. The humid climate means that the streets of Kuta are relatively quiet during the day. (The average tourist isn’t physically able to walk far in that kind of heat if they’re not used to it, myself included! Can you imagine having to do it all wearing a 60 litre backpack as well?) However, Kuta undoubtedly comes to life at night. Night after night, there will be swarms of backpackers on famous Kuta’s Nightlife Strip, drinking, dancing and having a good time as they party their holiday away.
The best nightlife spot in Kuta, without a doubt, is Sky Garden nightclub. This nightclub has multiple floors and rooms, playing all kinds of music, and hosts renowned DJ’s and dance acts. Every night, on the rooftop, they have a Texas-style “all you can eat” BBQ and a free bar from 5-9pm. The food is decent, the drinks are strong, and there are plenty of warm, friendly people from all different corners of the globe who are all there to make friends. I, myself, spent two nights there – and how memorable they were! In classic party style, the start of the BBQ is quiet, the people are reserved – but then, all of a sudden, the drinks are flowing, people are mixing, and the dance floor is heaving. It really is a fun night out!
Further up the west coast lies a village that couldn’t be more opposite to Kuta, attracting a high-end clientele. The shops are designer boutiques instead of knock-off stalls, the restaurants are fancy and the hotels are luxury five-star resorts. Once I had experienced Kuta, I was keen to try the upmarket area of Seminyak, so I could compare the two.
Bali has so much to offer; it is rather diverse and the people are incredibly welcoming.KD
In Seminyak I stayed in a luxury villa, which cost me the average price for a night in a mid-market hotel in England, and it was incredible! My villa was in the heart of Seminyak, therefore in walking distance of sophisticated cocktail bars and fine dining experiences. This is definitely worth doing, as is taking a tour of some of the other areas of the island. There is so much to see!
I did a fabulous day tour where I visited a couple of waterfalls, including the incredible Tegenungan, before heading off to the artistic village of Ubud. Ubud is similar to Kuta, but it has more shops with local hand-made produce – anything from pottery to paintings – and is home to the Royal Palace, which is worth seeing. It is also one of the best honeymoon destinations in the world!
There are several temples on the island if you want to immerse yourself fully into the Balinese culture. One of the most famous is Pura Tanah Lot, just off the coast of Tabanan, which is on a rock formation in the ocean. Then there’s Uluwatu Temple, located on the Bukit Peninsula, which is perched high on some cliffs overlooking the ocean.
Unfortunately I didn’t get to visit the temples (even though they sound extremely impressive), but I did get a traditional Balinese massage! After experiencing the slow torture of a Thai massage a couple of years prior, I can confirm that Balinese massages are much more relaxed and enjoyable. I’d certainly recommend!
I was only in Bali for six days, but what an incredible six days they were! I absolutely loved that I got to stay in two completely different villages; it felt like I went from one extreme to the other, from the budget backpacker side to the luxury holiday resort. However, both experiences gave me amazing memories that I will never forget. Bali has so much to offer; it is rather diverse and the people are incredibly welcoming. I really hope to go back to Bali one day – nothing beats the chilled vibes of island life!
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