The best way to describe Bali is serendipity .
By definition, serendipity means ' the occurrence and development of events by chance in a happy or beneficial way.' More on that later...
In 2017, I have been to a couple of places, because I promised myself to actually use my passport this year but Bali, hands down, is the best trip I have ever taken in my life.
Not to be corny, but I have been obsessed with Bali since the movie EAT, PRAY, LOVE with Julia Roberts released in 2010. So when I found a flight deal back in April for a round trip ticket of $630, I booked it without hesitation. Usually flights to Bali are $1,200 + up.
Now, this is by far the farthest place I have ever traveled. I go to LA a lot for work and that's a 6 hour flight but the thought of traveling half way around the world scared the living shit out of me. Thankfully, my boyfriend who is quite the traveler, is use to long flights so having him there was comforting.
Before I get to all that is Bali, I want to share our travel experience.
One thing about me is, I am a planner. I like to plan the shit out of things. I mapped out a whole itinerary weeks before of what we planned on doing while we were there for 8 days.
HOWEVER... LIFE HAPPENS!
We were expected to leave NYC for Bali, with a connection in Guangzho China on Sunday, November 27th. I was still in DC that Saturday, the 26th, running final errands before I got on the bus to NYC. I was talking to my very nervous Mother, about me flying half way around the world and she says the simplest thing ever... "So both passports are six months validated, right?"
I knew my passport was fine because I lost it a couple of years back and had to get it replaced so I knew mine was good for at least 6 more years, however when I got home I glanced at my boyfriend's passport and saw his expires in April 2018... which means, 5 1/2 months validation... which sent my mind in a fury!
Note: To travel to different countries your passport must be validated for 6 months before you plan on entering that specific country. China & Indonesia are one of them.
To say the least, there were tears and threats to cancel the trip by me. My boyfriend = cool, calm and collected and instead found a solution where we changed our flights to leave two days later so he can expedite his passport.
Yes, we changed our flights to leave two days later but now the task of expediting a passport in 2 days and mind you, it was late Saturday morning during a holiday weekend, was now sinking in. Some backstory, I went on a trip back in 2014 and had to get my passport expedited and the company sticker was still on the back of my passport.
We immediately called the company and my boyfriend got the last spot for one day expedition of a passport....
The travel part of the story is not over.
We woke up Sunday morning getting ready to travel to NYC to get his passport and we see the news of Mount Agung, one of the biggest volcanoes in Bali erupted after 50 damn years of being dormant so airlines were cancelling flights left and right due to the volcano ash that made visibility difficult for planes to fly into Denpasar and ultimately they closed the airport for two days.
If he didn't have passport issues and we still planned on leaving that Sunday for Bali, our flights would've been cancelled and we would have been stuck in China for a week.
We still traveled to NYC as planned, in hopes our flight on Tuesday would not be cancelled. Me, being the over-thinker that I am, kept refreshing our flight status and it was still scheduled to fly into Bali even when we were boarding our flight to China. We traveled 15 hours to China and when we got to international transfers in Guangzho we heard the daunting news of "Your flight to Bali is cancelled due to the volcano ash." Once again, fury ran through my mind and my boyfriend = cool, calm and collected (do you see a trend here? lol)
Ultimately, the airline put us up in a hotel for the night, we had the best ramen ever and experienced that part of the world for 24 hours (Oh and people kept taking pictures of me with my box braids, they don't see black people, ever!). I got a notification that night to my email that our flight to Bali was rescheduled to Friday night... it was Wednesday night, which meant we needed another 24 hour visa to stay in China for another night until Friday.
We got to the airport on Thursday to ask for another stay at the hotel and to extend our visa, the airline agent said those magical words "We have a flight going to Bali tonight!" Our eyes lit up and we got those boarding passes so quick.
Usually, those flights to Bali are packed because this is their high season with people traveling on vacation/holiday this time of the year. However, there were a total of 14 people on our flight. I still made my boyfriend sit next to me because I hate flying.
We landed around 11pm on Thursday night and while we were waiting for our bags we met the cutest couple from LA and struck up a convo with them and told us they were staying in Bali for 14 days (we were jealous). They too were delayed coming into Bali but were persistent in getting there just like we were. As we were leaving the guy said to us "This place is magical, just wait." Of course, you hear this all the time but it really is!
side-note - We saw this same couple in our hotel towards the end of our trip in Ubud where they were staying too! I was up early having breakfast and I hear, "No WAY!!! Can't beleive you guys are staying here too!"
Before I get into "The Do's" of Bali because there are not many, if at all 'dont's', let me explain why Bali is that, magical.
The natural beauty of Bali is breathtaking, here in the U.S. we get so caught up in tall buildings, having nice cars, the woes of living an everyday millennial life that we forget that there is a whole other world out there living - quite, simple. Bali shows you to bask in the moment of what we call LIFE, love purely and intentionally and be good to people. What we worry about in everyday life, really and truly do not matter. It put so many things into perspective for me. While my visit to Bali was short it was really life changing.
Bali is magical, from the beautiful temples, beaches, the best food I have ever had in my life and meeting people from around the world that you will probably never meet makes you feel inspired to live, love, be happy and travel, OFTEN. We met another cute couple from London while we were there and wound up hanging with them for two days just partying, eating and enjoying Bali life. We truly made, life long friends.
If you ever have the time to make that long (super long) trip to Bali, it is worth it! You will come back inspired to live a more intentional, pure life.
NOW! Apologies for my rant but on to "The Do's" of Bali.
This post can get quite long so I'm going to break it up by what to do & eat ( I mean, this is a food blog) in each area that I visited.
Where to Stay?
The most popular places to visit in Bali are broken down into four parts. I HIGHLY suggest breaking your trip up into two parts, where you can experience the true essence of Bali. We stayed in Seminyak the first half & ended our trip in Ubud. There are many other parts of Bali however these are the four places that I visited on my trip.
See my breakdown below:
Seminyak - Highly populated with tourists, known for the nightlife, shopping and great restaurants. The more posh places are located there.
Ubud - more remote area (about an 1 1/2 from Seminyak). Surrounded by the jungle. Known as the 'country' of Bali.
Canguu - up & coming area in Bali. Super hipster vibes. Cute cafe's and restaurants.
Uluwatu - This is at the end of the island where you will find most of of the resorts and restaurants are built on a cliff. Spectacular views!! Great for a day trip!
How to get around?
The best way to get around the island is a scooter. The traffic in Bali can get quite bad so having a scooter is beneficial since you can weave your way around the tiny streets. It's also the best way to experience the island since the wind is blowing through your hair and you really feel like a local. The best thing about technology, is Google maps works everywhere!!! Usually, where you're going around Bali is no more than a half hour ride so you can just follow the directions and boom, you're there.
If a scooter isn't you're thing, I highly suggest hiring a driver where they are with you 24/7 (About $40 for 9 hours). We took a day trip to Uluwatu where the streets are a little windy and about an hour away from Seminyak, so we hired a driver. If you are staying in Airbnb your villa host can arrange one for you or your hotel that you are staying at.
All of the below places are in the Seminyak/Kuta area where they are around the Center of Seminyak, Semiyak Square. No more than 10 minutes to get to any of these places.
The W - SUNDAY BRUNCH here is a must! It is more on the expensive side where it is $100 US but it is so worth it! It is all you can eat and all you can drink until 3pm AND they don't put a time limit on how much you can indulge. The food options are amazing from grilled stone crab, bao buns, make-your-own fruit smoothies to suckling pig, the food is WORTH EVERY PENNY! After brunch, your receipt allows you to enjoy the pool and day beds and be sure to stay for sunset. AMAZING!
Potato Head - Renting a day bed here is one thing to check off your list. The infinity pool overlooks the beach and watching the sunset there is pretty amazing. Even if you don't rent a day bed be sure to make reservations to watch the sunset there at the bar above the pool. Also, the food is top notch! So worth it!
Sisterfields: One thing about Bali is there are a lot of Australians there because it is so close, about a 6 hour flight. So a lot of Australians move there because it is so cheap and obvi, beautiful so some restaurants in Bali are started and ran by Australians. Sisterfield's is one of them. Very good food and drinks here, worth it for lunch.
Ku De Ta: Super chic restaurant with amazing food. The ambiance here is romantic and gives NYC/Miami vibes while overlooking the ocean. A spin of local Indonesian flavors with an updated twist. Perfect for dinner!
METIS: Known as one of the best restaurants in Indonesia. It is part art gallery and part restaurant while it over looks a rice field. The cuisine is French with a Indonesian flare to it. Dinner here is a must, make reservations in advance.
Revolver - CUTEST COFFEE SHOP EVER! Super cute, hipster vibes with shop on top.
La Favela - Best place to party, the design of La Favela is based off Brazilian neighborhoods. There are so many levels and quaint places to party with your crew. Super cheap drinks $6 for Jameson and they play Hip Hop. Always packed and open til 3am!
Spa Bali: Massages are a thing in Bali! Anywhere you go, you can get a great massage for the low low but our airbnb host recommended Spa Bali. For around $20 US dollars you can get an hour long Balinese Massage, Body Scrub and flower bath. You feel so relaxed and like jello from the whole experience.
Uluwatu is GORGEOUS! This is the part of the island that is formed off a cliff. About an hour from Seminyak with crystal blue water. We took a day trip here so we hired a driver instead of using the scooter.
Karma Beach: NO MATTER WHAT YOU DO IN BALI, GO HERE! NO seriously, it is the most beautiful private beach where for $75 us dollars, for 2 people total, gets you access to their private beach where yes, you travel down to the beach by tram since it is located at the bottom of a cliff. One word, BREATHTAKING! Part of the $75.00 goes towards your food and beverage costs. Be sure to get a hookah and the Chili crab. I mean smoking hookah and cracking crabs while you're getting a tan. NOTHING LIKE IT!
The Rock Bar - Once again to get to the actual bar you get on a mini tram from the top of the Ayana Resort. Perfect to watch the sunset and order some appetizers. The food is OK but the ambiance is great. You're really there to watch the sunset anyway.
Uluwatu Temple - THE VIEW IS BREATHTAKING! Also, you will see monkeys roaming around. Don't wear anything they can easily snatch off you, like sunglasses.
La Laguna - The MOST beautiful place to watch the sunset. You can either choose to sit on the grass, overlook the Indian Ocean on their balcony or walk on their private dune beach where they host bon fires. The food and drinks here are really good too! A MUST SEE!
Sacred Monkey Forest - Basically, Monkeys jumping on you to get to a banana. Instagram pic worthy but also scary and cool at the same time. We were kinda over it after 20 minutes. You can't look monkeys in the eye because they see it as a sign of aggression so it was all too much so we left lol.
Tangalalang Rice Terrece - About a 20 minute drive from Ubud Center where you can see the beautiful rice terraces where you actually see people working, collecting all the amazing rice we enjoy in Bali.
Bali Bahama Swing - THIS IS A MUST! There is another Bali swing right next to the Bali Bahama Swing but this one is the one where it is owned and operated by local Indonesians. It is wild, they strap you to a harness and push you on a swing attached to trees and fly into the air looking over the Ubud jungle and water. Amazing, breathtaking and so fun. Get yo phone out for some pretty dope social media pictures - I mean, I am a millennial.
Clear Cafe & Spa - Another must in Ubud! This was another Serendipity moment because our new found friends from LA told us about this Natural Raw Vegan Cafe while we were having breakfast at our hotel. They said it was a must before we leave and it truly was! The ambiance is calm and so peaceful. As soon as you walk towards the entrance door you are asked to remove your shoes so you succumb to the Indonesian culture at is fullest. The menu is both raw vegan, vegetarian and "regular" so it caters to every ones palette. All the ingredients are sourced local from Indonesia and they make the best pressed juices ever!! When you go, make sure to get the Chai Dream and the prawn Quesdilla - DELISH!
We went to Clear Cafe & Spa on our last day and contemplated on getting a massage before we make the long trek back to the US. When I tell you, I was so glad we did, is an understatement. For a total of $10 we received an hour long calming Balinese massage and it was worth it!
We didn't get to do a lot of what I planned due to Mount Agung not letting us be great, the trip certainly taught me that when Life happens the best lesson is listen to the changes it gives you and enjoy every minute of it because life is truly, beautiful. Oh, and having an amazing travel partner is a blessing from God. Thank you boo, for dealing with me :-)
Some notables that we did not get to see:
- Jimbaran Seafood (known as one of the best seafood restaurants in Bali located in Jimbaran - not too far from Seminyak)
- Elephant Safari (Ubud)
- Tegenungan waterfall (Ubud)
I hope this breakdown of 'To Do's' helps and to make it easier, see my summary below. Happy Traveling!!
1. Get Massages any chance you get. Ask the locals around you of where to go.
2. Watch the sunset every night you can.
3. Break up your trip in 2 parts. Seminyak to party & Ubud for serenity.
4. Uluwatu for a day trip
5. EAT GOOD! Ask the locals where to go.
6. Seriously, rent a scooter - you won't regret it.
7. Enjoy #BaliLife
8. Reconnect with yourself.