I’ll admit, I am annoyingly anti-mainstream sometimes – always have been. But when it comes to traveling, I know I’m not the only one. Massive crowds of tourists and touts are a huge turn off from visiting some places (I’m lookin at you, Thailand). For this reason I was hesitant to go to Bali. It’s a super popular/famous destination, and I kept hearing the stereotype that it’s just a place that Australians go to get drunk. While this may be true, upon landing on Bali, I truly felt that ‘magic’ that people describe it as. I only drove through the heavily touristed areas, like Kuta, and stayed at a much less populated beach, Balian Beach, which I’m sure contributed to my positive feelings. 🙂
I went to Bali with 3 of my coworkers. Our airbnb in Bali was a long haul from KL – after our 3 hour flight, we had an almost 3 hour drive. But, the drive there was quite interesting. We first got to go through the super developed and super traffic-y Kuta area. There are furniture stores, Western cafes, really nice grocery stores – basically, I can see why there is a big expat population there (or maybe these stores are more a product of this expat population).
Once we got out of the traffic jam, there were rolling hills full of rice paddies and beautiful temples everywhere. Bali is where most of Indonesia’s Hindu minority live. (Fun fact, Indonesia is the country with the largest Muslim population in the world.) Due to this religious influence, Bali has a very distinctive architectural style. I feel like this Balian style has influenced a lot of people throughout the world, because it looked pretty familiar!
During our drive, besides noticing beautiful green rice paddies, we also noticed tons and tons of kites being flown – our driver said it was kite season in Bali, I guess due to the wind! I also noted that the roads there were really new and smooth, even a couple hours out from Kuta.
We finally arrived at our airbnb, which was located in a remote area of Balian beach. And when we did, my jaw basically dropped. I stay at a lot of hostels and other budget lodging, so this weekend was a luxury. I read through the reviews, and it seems like most people who stay at this place are on their honeymoon! Most of its walls were made of glass, and it had a beautiful kitchen and infinity pool. And from there a great view of the big, crashing waves on the black sand beach. Out front of the apartment there were tons of trees and cows grazing. So gorgeous yet wild and calm too. 🙂
Unfortunately, right after our airbnb host left us, the power in the apartment went out. It was apparently out in the entire village due to maintenance from a storm earlier that day. So, we got settled in the dark, then decided to walk to get food. There was only one restaurant down on the beach, so we went there! They had no power either, but they were able to cook – so eating in almost total darkness on the beach was fun. 🙂 We then went and drank and hung out at the pool. It was a full moon, which was beautiful and so super bright. We didn’t really need power anyway – and it came back late that night.
The next few mornings, our airbnb host came to cook breakfast for us! Eggs, local fruit, nasi goreng (fried rice), tea…yum. On this first day we had, we just hung out at the pool for a bit, then walked down to the black sand beach. We saw some cute stray dogs chilling there – there were tons of cute dogs and kitties on the beach and hanging out around our aribnb. But anyway, the beach was so pretty and deserted, and the waves were huge – probably due to the full moon and the rain. We walked down to see where the river met the ocean. The main village was on the other side of the river.
We walked back to the airbnb, and had more luxuries – we had some local spa people come to our place to give us massages. 🙂 I did a quick yoga session while I was waiting my turn, and although I sweat a ton due to the humidity, it was so nice to practice while listening to the waves. For dinner we walked to the village. We ended up walking on the main road all the way around the river, which had some cool views, but was a bit precarious due to tons of trucks zooming right by us. The village seemed very local and had a lot of cool architecture.
Once we reached the beach there were some restaurants, and we decided on some really good sushi. We ate on the beach with the sunset, then crossed the small river at the beach to get back to the airbnb.
After another night of hanging and drinking at the pool and a nice sleep and breakfast, we had one more day to relax. This day we went to lay on the beach for a couple of hours. The sun was so super strong but it was nice and breezy. We were able to watch some surfers nearby – I really don’t think I want to try surfing! But good on them, very impressive. We returned to our apartment and relaxed at the pool, then had a nice seafood dinner. Another local guy came to our apartment and cooked for us there. We had wine and ate and enjoyed our final moments there!
I loved the Balian beach area – the people were really nice and it is a very unique, gorgeous, and quiet setting. I don’t feel like I missed out by not seeing the ‘main’ part of Bali. But I really liked the ‘feel’ of Indonesia, and I think I will have time to return to another part before I have to the return the US. Terima kasih, Bali!