BALI

THE ISLAND OF BALI

5 décembre 2014

Hello English article!

It’s a special article coming now, for lot of reasons. First of all,  this is the first article in English that we’re writing, not because we don’t like to write in English, but because we think that writing in French, our native language, is more adapted to translate in words our real feelings, with the emotions that we felt at every moment of our trips.

But, and because once isn’t always, we wanted to make this article in English,  so that English speakers can be interested by our website, our travel pictures… And of course, about the wonderful Bali !

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If English isn’t your cup of tea, you can of course read the french article about Seminyak, about Bambu restaurant or about the Indonesian sunset. 

Welcome to the Island of smiles

We sincerely think that there is no good or bad way to travel, but that there are two types of travellers, the one who just go somewhere and decide day after day what to do and where to go, so that they can discover all the secrets of a place without following existing plans, and the one who plan the trip far in advance and know every day what’s going to happen, more or less of course! I have to admit that we are part of the second type, and that we like to know about the country we are visiting, about the to-do, the local population…

So we were prepared to the natural kindness of Balinese people as everyone describes it, but we now think that words are not enough to describe it properly. From our first foot out of the airplane at Bali airport, it was all smiles, wavings, laughing and enjoying everytime… Some people will say that smiling to the tourists is easy when you think about the money that they spend on the Island, but we went in Riviera Maya where the economical context is almost the same (tourists being important part of the earnings of the region), and we didn’t feel the same joy and the same wanting to share with each other, so there’s nothing to see with money in the way people are in Bali, it’s just a way of life, taking life with pleasure and enjoying every moment, and this way of life is communicative, you end your trip by waving and smiling to everyone on the side of the road, in the little shops and the warungs…  Mainly because of that spirit, we are convinced that, whatever happens during your stay, you’ll leave Bali with a good feeling and lot of memories.

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Talking about memories, if  you had to save only one it would be :

It’s a quite a challenge to keep only one memory of a 10-days stay, but that’s the point right ?

Our moment, would be the one when, we made a mistake and took the wrong way from our hotel to go to Tegallalang rice fields. We drove trough a mud road during a few miles, and arrived in a local village, surrounded by cows, ducks and chickens and amazing rice fields.

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At our left, some small houses, and 4 little girls in traditional dresses running in the rice fields, who seemed to play a sort of game that we didn’t understand. At our right, an unstable wood bridge from where naked children were jumping in the river, proving us again that the funniest game could also be the cheapest one…

They naturally came to us, probably used to help the lost tourists coming by their tiny village. As we didn’t speak Indonesian, we just talked with hands and sort of sounds, and our prononciation of “Tegallalang” must have been the worst ever, seeing how long they laught about it and how we communicatively laugh with them.

We stayed there about 15 minutes, we parked our motorcycle, Madame tasting the fruits that the girls were eating when we arrived, some kind of sour tropical guava, and Mister offering air balloons to the boys who then tried to catch it in the air while jumping in the river ! (These air balloons are just the best way to please children anywhere you go, magical and cheap gift, give it a try you’ll see, we now always take 20 of them when we go on a trip)

 We loved this moment because it was all about sharing and enjoying the present moment, but also because we arrived there, to this moment, because of random and bad orientation, and sometimes random is just too nice with you to forget it!

And what about the places you visited ?

Bali is just an island, but there are so much things to do that we had to make choices before going there. We choose the south of the island, and we decided to first go to Seminyak, to rest a little from our long travel and to discover some foodies places, then Ubud, to explore the art of Bali and all the beautiful near places in this area, before going to Uluwatu and finally visiting the little island of Nusa Lembongan, to snorkel with manta rays and to appreciate the amazing beaches of the island.

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Did you sleep well ?

We are not big sleepers, but we admit that we like to choose some cosy places to sleep when we are travelling, for the only reason that, when you do some physical activities or some tours during the day, you’re just the happiest on the way back, for the day you lived, but also for the evening and the night you’re going to have, with a nice room to rest and excellent service to assist you for all your needs… That’s how we see things, get up early, move a lot and discover all you can during the whole day, and then get the relaxation and sleeping you deserve, and go back for new adventures on the next early morning!

 For us, one isn’t going without the other, It would be hard to run the day and to have a rough evening and night after it, but at the contrary we wouldn’t go trough the day just staying around a pool, chilling and sunbathing, that’s our travel lifestyle, the one that pleases us the most!

 When you consider that, we can easily understand that we take time to choose our hotels. We first visit the websites that are, for us, the bests concerning luxury hotels and villas, to have an idea of the type of staying we can expect during our travel, and then we choose our stays, considering the advices of the websites, the deals running on at the time we want to go, and of course considering how confident we are concerning the website advices!

 For us, and after a few travels around the world, the best website to choose your villa when you’re expecting for some high services, is the luxe nomad.

The luxe nomad is like the bible for those accommodations, that’s where we found the hotel that is for now, the best hotel we have ever seen, the Viceroy Ubud. Some prices are very affordable, and some prices are higher, corresponding to the most incredibles villas existing on earth, so if you want to discover these hotels and villas, or if you just want to please your eyes and dream for a while, here’s the way: https://www.theluxenomad.com/bali/villas

 During our trip, we stayed in a few different accommodations, beginning with the Villa Kukur in Seminyak, incredible pool, very nice garden, few meters away from the center of Seminyak. Chrissy provided us all we needed, even the best driver who drove us at Pura Tanah lot, Ubud, Seminyak, Uluwatu, pretty much everywhere, with good price, nice English and lot of advices to help us, his name is Yuda, just message him on facebook if you go there, he will be happy to help you!

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Then Viceroy Ubud, just out of the league, with a price quite out the league also (600$ per night, that we negociate, a lot… just try it or ask to The Luxe Nomad, they have some huge deals sometimes, but it definitely worth it, private villa, gazebo and pool, huge room, a la carte breakfast from the chief of Cascades gastronomic restaurant, 2 hours of couple treatment at the SPA offered, and located between Ubud center on the one hand, and Tegallalang terraces on the other hand… It should be on every one’s bucket list for sure!

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Still in Ubud, we stayed after the Viceroy at the villa Amomaya, so much typical, located at the end of a 300m pedestrian only path, surrounded by rice fields and local houses, local shops and of course local people, private villa, a big pool shared for 2 villas, and a very good price, it’s a good deal if you want to stay in Ubud without paying the rates of Viceroy or Hanging Gardens.

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And here comes the biggest deception, and the word is nice, of our trip, The dreamland luxury villas of Uluwatu, Pecatu more precisely. Just don’t, ever, think about booking this hotel, these is not a place you want to stay in… To be brief and because we don’t want to be rude, pictures on websites are not the present reality, villas are old, dirty, and the complex might have been great, but 10 years ago… all was just catastrophic, banana pancakes at the breakfast were good but that’s it… Just don’t, don’t be fooled by the 5 stars, or the 50% off, please…

And finally, Bersantai villa in Lembongan island, nicest staff ever, fresh coconuts every day, booking of the boats and all the restaurants we needed, Andre, the clerk of the domain, even came on his day off to print our boarding passes, cutting off his surf session…  When you consider that the villa was also perfect, few meters away from the deck bar and Coconut beach, then you just now where to stay in Lembongan!

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You’re playing with our nerves, just give us your Top 10 now!

If we had to select a top 10 of all the places we visited, all the activities we did, without including the hotels and villas staying, it would be this one, of course it’s personal, don’t take as a reference but more as a little help from people who went there.

 1- East Coast Sunsets 

This is not only about sun meeting earth every evening, but it’s global moments that make the whole sunsets our Top 1 of our short stay in Bali. We saw 4 sunsets in Bali, from the beach of Seminyak, from the Rock Bar in Uluwatu, from the temple of Uluwatu and from the bar Le Pirate in Lembongan. For the peace on the Seminyak beach, the great cocktails and food and of course the amazing location of the Rock Bar (very good tip by the way, don’t make the queue for the elevator, just ask for the stairs, 2 minutes walk with nice view, and 1 hour of more watching the sea instead of waiting the elevator), for the mystic aspect of Uluwatu temple and finally for the “far of everything” of Le Pirate, just go for the maximum sunsets you can, wherever you are, sunsets are special moments…

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 2- Rafting

About Rafting, first it’s important to say that the price to do it, is quite high for Bali, but not as high as in some other countries believe us… but still, for transfer from the hotel, 2 hours of Rafting (4 people per boat), buffet lunch (average plus), and 30 mns of elephant riding and entrance to the elephant park, we paid around 100 dollars per person, it’s better to know it before reading this description!

It was our first time Rafting, and it was absolutely fantastic, great ambiance between all the rafts, swimming, water falls, and the most important, an amazing nature all around you during the two hours, that was absolutely gorgeous, Madame thought that it was a little bit too calm but still, we had a great moment, if you can afford it, just go for it, our advice, would be for example to see some big temples like Tanah Lot and Uluwatu, and to skip the Pura Bratan (expensive because of the transportation, and we were a little bit disappointed by the temple, no more water around it, maybe because of the season, and lot of trash all around the temple, we think that it didn’t worth the time and the price of the transport) and to use this Bratan budget for Rafting, but as we said at the beginning of the 10, this is just advices, nothing more!

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3- Tegallalang Rice Fields

Of course, there are tourists, but we are all tourists, and Tegallalang terraces are just over the crowd. Be alerted that, the parking fee is more a tradition than an obligation, Bali bad habits, but the price is low, it’s more funny to live it than any other feeling, it’s all about way of seeing things, again and again. Be more alerted, that people working here are under poor, maybe near  the poorest of the Island, they will ask you for money, some of them might be a little pushy sometimes (it happened to us, like touching us when we said no because we already gave 3 times in 10 minutes) but that’s it, nothing dangerous or stressing.

From the road, Tegallalang is beautiful, but just take time and make the little hike down to arrive on the other side, meaning being in the middle of the ricefields, then climb up, and admire the whole location once you’re at the top of the ricefields with the green stairs just down you feet, this view, deserves by far the Top 3 ranking.

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4- Snorkelling with Manta Rays

Manta rays are like floating animals in the sea, if you don’t trust the thing just have a look at pictures of them, they are going forward by moving with their wings, literally, with something majestic. Some of them can be 6 metres large from one wing to another.

 So, as snorkelling amateurs that we are, when it was told to us that Manta Rays are visiting Nusa Penida coasts all mornings, we just jumped on the offer. 20 ridiculous dollars per person later, at 7 am, and after 25 minutes of sailing from Lembongan, we searched for grey and black shadows from our boat all along the island, and because our travel was meant to be perfect, they just came to us few minutes later.

If you don’t like snorkelling or diving, it’s hard to understand that feeling, but it was absolutely out of time, looking at them flying, grey ones, black ones, stripped ones, following each other like respecting a dance, and approaching us, almost touching us, guided by wild curiosity, was breathtaking, that’s the word, give it a try you’ll understand.

 If you don’t want to see Manta, coral snorkelling is also possible at Crystal bay, Nusa Penida, and at Mangrove point, Nusa Lembongan, thousand of multicolour fishes are quietly waiting for you there!

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 5- Lembongan Island

The Bali island is living from tourism, and is adapted to it, Seminyak is almost like a summer town of Europe, with nice restaurants and bars, Kuta also, even Ubud is adapting to tourism, and that’s absolutely logical considering the financial interests that are representing tourists for the island. So when you leave Bali for Lembongan, you’re agreeably surprised to discover a village, with only little shops, rocky roads everywhere, and some special spirit guiding the whole island, it’s all about freedom, no helmets given when you rent a scooter, pretty much no police, just beach, coconut, paddle, snorkelling and cliff jumping (on Nusa Cenida, Blue lagoon point, incredible 13 metres jump), the whole Lembongan-Cenida Island is only PLEASURE.

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6- Indonesian cuisine at Bambu

We loved to taste the indonesian cuisine in some local shops in Ubud, it’s important to give it a try everytime you discover the country, it’s almost like showing respect to the country who is receiving you, and Bali knows how to receive you culinary speaking.

And if you like Indonesian cuisine from local warungs, then you will have to go to Bambu restaurant, which is giving a fantastic tribute to Indonesian cuisine by offering to their clients specialities from all Indonesia, in a place absolutely wonderful, with a service and a quality that place him, for us, as the best restaurant of Seminyak, and also as the best restaurant we tasted during our whole stay in Bali.

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7- Uluwatu beaches

We were a little bit disappointed by Uluwatu area, but Padang Padang beach, and the area of Karma Kandara private beach are a must see if you stay in Uluwatu. To go to Padang padang, you have to pay the traditional unofficial parking fee to the man upstairs, then you just follow the stairs, going under the rocks literally, and then you’ll arrive to the beach, perfect blue for the water, perfect yellow for the sand, and big rocks between sand and water, making the beach so special. Don’t be afraid to go to the right of the beach to avoid the crowd.

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For the Karma Kandara area, you’re supposed to pay like 25 bucks per head to go down there, including 10 bucks of voucher food during your stay. But here is the tip, when you arrive to Karma Kandara beach indication, just near the parking, you’ll see a little way just at the left of the official entry, take it, you’ll arrive to stairs, which go just a few meters away from the Karma Kandara, then you don’t have to pay the 25 dollars, you’ll enjoy a incredible view from some point of the stairs, and you’ll get some muscles, isn’t this one the best tip ever ? The Karma Kandara beach is nice, but the one in front of Finns is much better, no rocks, less waves, and affordable prices for sunbeds, just a 25 metres walk from Karma Kandara beach.

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8-Elephants riding

It was part of the pack with the rafting (100$ per person), it was short, like 30 minutes, but it was great being up there, guided by our elephant, Melany, and to see her like eating almost everything around her and playing with water, refreshing and own washing herself while we were on her back. Then we took pictures with elephants, which are very clever, we didn’t know it! Then you can go to the nursery to see the babies of the Elephant Park, sleeping or playing in their big private area, a good souvenir!

 

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9-Pura Tanah Lot

 With the sunset, Pura Tanah Lot would probably have been in our top 5, but because of our schedule we went to visit the place in the afternoon, and in a low water period, meaning that sun wasn’t at his best, so did colors, and the main temple wasn’t surrounded by water but more by people. But anyway, to see a temple constructed so close to the sea is something you wouldn’t miss, even without sunset, but if you can go for the sunset!

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 10- Monkey Temple

 Here there are, little playing monkeys! This forest, located at the south of Ubud, is not so big, and giving it 1h30 is enough to appreciate it, don’t program an afternoon there, it will not be necessary. There are monkeys, absolutely everywhere, you’re going to be scared at least once or two when you will see that there is one just at your left or sometimes at your feet that you didn’t see coming! But please, don’t touch them, when we went there, a French man was bitten because of touching a big male, and we heard some scary screamings for help coming from the other side of the park, so just don’t try to touch them, there will be close enough there’s no need to scare them. Of course, take some time to catch the perfect moment, like a monkey roaring, eating, or protecting is baby from other monkeys, it’s always challenging to go for THE pic that you were waiting for. (There’s an intruder in the 3 pictures coming, but you will easily recognize it)

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These are not in our top 10, but are also nice to do and see

 

Kechak Dance at Ubud or better, at the Uluwatu Temple for the sunset

Paddle at Lembongan, very cheap, and always cool to practice at SUP paddle in warm waters of Indonesia

Rent a motorcycle, just to be part of the whole thing, be careful about the police, don’t take risks and just get some flies on your teeth because of too much smiling!

Sisterfields restaurant, Seminyak, nice place, perfect staff, amazing food, we went there 3 times in 3 times in 4 days, addictive is the word

 

We do not trust you, it’s too perfect, and you must have some regrets

 If to want to stay more is a regret, then yes, we would have stayed one more day in Ubud to go and hike for the sunrise at the Volcano, and few more years in Lembongan so we can continue to fall in love for this little Island. But yes, for the rest, Bali was just perfect, not less, P-E-R-F-E-C-T, and we hope that you don’t believe us, we don’t want you to, we want you to buy your tickets and go and check by yourselves!

 Travelling is not about escaping life, it’s about embracing it, don’t forget it!

Sorry about the bad english, our current one year trip in Australia and making this article are helping us to improve!

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