Understand me. I am a spontaneous person. I don’t plan things, I often don’t research things and I definitely do not book things in advance. The same goes for when I’m travelling.
I did, however, only plan to stay in Bali for a week before venturing off to the heavenly realms of Raja Ampat, West Papua, and then a stopping by at a few more exotic islands before arriving back in Lombok. But after a worthless mosquito injected me with its poison and left me sick for the week I had planned to travel around Bali, I couldn’t deal with not seeing the beautiful island I had so desperately wanted to explore. So one week turned into five, and the following 3 posts are a summary of the crazy good (and not so good) experiences I’ve had in Bali. Buckle up boys and girls!
The day after I was declared dengue free I hopped in a taxi and then onto a boat headed to the island paradise of Nusa Lembongan, 30 minutes off the coast of Bali. This island may be small but it definitely is not lacking. Beside it lies an even smaller and less developed island, Nusa Ceningan, and further south, Nusa Penida, the largest of the three islands and the least inhabited. In the 5 days I spent here I circumnavigated both Lembongan and Ceningan on my scooter, saw some of the best views I have seen, swam with manta rays, met my first travel buddies and fell in love with the place 10 times over. This island was heaven, and if I couldn’t go to Raja Ampat then this was the next best thing. Highlights? Zip-lining across a bay surrounded by massive cliffs and crashing waves below me, standing at the edge of a rocky outcrop and letting nature mesmerise me with her power and beauty, swimming with manta rays and eating lunch atop of a 70m cliff, with sweeping views of Nusa Penida and the ocean below.
After 5 days of being encompassed by the warm Indian Ocean it was time to head back to the mainland for something different – Ubud. Bali’s own Byron Bay, the laid back town close to the islands centre brings it’s own unique, relaxed vibe, greatly contrasting the tourist frenzy of Kuta and Seminyak further south. Still mainly surrounded in lush green rainforest, Ubud is also Bali’s art centre, with art and craft shops lining most of the streets. You will also find endless rice terraces, hipster cafés, cheap anklets and some of the friendliest people in town. Ubud was also home to my first, and one of the best, hostels I have stayed in. I’m no extrovert, and while meeting strangers isn’t hard for me, I never would have expected myself to book a dorm in a hostel. But pushing myself into the deep end has actually taught me so much about getting out of my comfort zone and trying new things. Staying in a hostel full of strangers from around the world was definitely not my idea of a comfort zone, and it sounds so cliche, but had I not stayed there I wouldn’t have known how much fun I would have missed out on. Within 2 hours of checking in I was on my first adventure to a waterfall with 2 other hostel guests. And then I hiked a volcano at 4am in the morning with 4 other guests (check it out here). I booked for 1 night and ended up staying 4, the only reason being that I loved the backpackers culture, the people and the atmosphere of this hostel! So much! I met nearly every guest there, talked about my life and listened to their stories, ate together, drank together, went to a festival… It was seriously awesome.
Another first for me was experiencing Bali’s silent day, Nyepi. This is the Balinese New Year, and on this day the streets become ghost towns, the residents hide away behind shut doors and closed curtains, the airport closes and no form of life is visible on the streets. Bali turns silent for 24 hours. But to be locked in the hostel for a day wasn’t half bad. With games, chats and a cold pool to swim in the day was passed away like any other. And of course, a party when the clock strikes 6pm to mark the end of the silence.