I Fell in Love With Bali Unexpectedly

I imagined Bali to be a party destination. While I like to have a good time (I have been known to dance on a bar or two), I prefer destinations that offer more than just a party scene. We thought that Lombok would be more our style. Short on time, though, we decided to spend five days in Bali and in that short amount of time, I fell in love with Bali.

My image of Bali started to change once I started to research the island. In fact, I became sad because we would miss out on a lot of wonderful activities. I am happy with what we did in only five days–you can read about our itinerary here, but I’d like to return.

We opted to stay in Legian, which has nice beaches with the right amount of nightlife. On our first night, we watched a Balinese dance at our hotel. The intricate dancing to the haunting, soothing sounds of the gamelan tugged at my heart.

The Balinese people helped me truly fall in love with the island. We had the most authentic and warm hospitality everywhere we went. I enjoyed learning about their lives and talking about mine.

It seemed to me that the Balinese hold their traditions very close to their hearts and guard them against the invasion of the four million plus visitors a year. It drew me closer to the island. To this day, it still intrigues me. I’m sad that I wasn’t able to spend more time learning about it–the museums, the temples, the performances. It’s an island known for its beautiful art. And it speaks to the soul.

Tanah Lot Temple

The island also appealed to my adventurous nature. We hiked up Mt. Batur to watch the sun rise and did a day of scuba diving. I hadn’t hiked up a volcano before nor had I seen manta rays–two wonderful firsts in Bali. I’ll never forget watching the sun slowly, and then quickly, rise over the mountains.  The serenity of seeing the graceful manta rays soar by stays firm in my heart.

Yes, Bali does have its tourist cliches, but you can easily avoid them. I encourage you to see what the island has to offer you.  How do you feel about Bali?  Share below!

 

A Week in Bali and Singapore

Here’s how I split a week between Bali and Singapore. To my surprise, I fell in love with Bali. I can’t recommend it enough.

Tips:  

  • If you are short on time in Bali, like we were, you can jam a lot in on one day. We hiked Mt. Batur to see the sunrise, went to a coffee plantation, saw the Tegalagang Rice Terraces, explored Ubud and saw Tanah Lot. We customized this day trip with Bali Jungle Trekking, which was a great tour operator.
  • The climb up Mt. Batour is fairly tough. It’s loose volcanic rock on a steep incline. I recommend trekking shoes/boots, but it can be done in sneakers.
  • The current is very strong around Bali.  Be careful at the beach and when snorkeling and scuba diving.
  • There are many areas to stay in Bali–it really depends on what you’re looking for.  We wanted a relaxing area next to the beach and near restaurants so we stayed in Legian. Our hotel was amazing–the Bali Niksoma Resort.
  • For Singapore, if there’s no price for its famous dish, the chili cab, negotiate a price before you order it. At the time of writing, a medium sized chili crab was about US$60.
  • The MRT transit system in Singapore is inexpensive and easy to use, but Uber and cabs are also cheap.
  • The Helix Bridge and Merlion Park provide excellent views of the city skyline and Marina Bay Sands respectively.  Merlion Park is especially fun at night.

Must Do’s:

  • Scuba dive or snorkel at Manta Point in Bali
  • Hike Mount Batur to see the sunrise
  • Eat in Singapore! The country is a foodie’s paradise with its numerous hawker centres.
  • Explore Singapore’s neighborhoods, especially Chinatown
  • Wander around Marina Bay Sands and its Gardens
  • Have a very expensive Singapore Sling at the famous Raffles Hotel

Do overs: 

  • I wish we had more time in Bali.  You can do a lot in Ubud alone (read about nine activities here and all of the waterfalls nearby here.) There’s a ton more to Bali and its surrounding islands–here’s a top ten list.
  • For Singapore, I would like to have done the night safari at the zoo.  You can see the animals when they are most active.

Itinerary and Packing List:

Download my itinerary and packing list here.

Recommended reading: 

  • Snowing in Bali
  • Love and Death in Bali
  • Indonesia, Etc.: Exploring the Improbable Nation
  • Raffles and the British Invasion of Java
  • Singapore Noir
  • Tanamera
  • From Third World to First:  The Singapore Story 1965 – 2000
  • The Defense and Fall of Singapore 1940 – 1942

Why You Need to Learn How To Scuba Dive Right Now

I live in the middle of the US surrounded by flat lands and no ocean. When I traveled internationally to beach destinations, I always saw dive shops that offered scuba certification courses. Every time I saw those, I vowed to learn to scuba dive…one day.

I decided that to truly experience the Great Barrier Reef, I need to be able to dive.  I wanted to experience its beauty. And with that resolution in my mind, I got certified in the middle of the US, doing my open water work in a quarry. It wasn’t pretty but it got the job done. It’s been almost four years since my certification and it’s changed my life.  Here’s why you should get scuba certified right now:

  • The amazing beauty hidden under the water
  • The sense of soaring when swimming through the ocean
  • The meditative experience–hearing yourself inhale and exhale, controlling your body in new ways, it’s only you and your thoughts
  • The excitement of discovery–the hidden flounder, the sand covered rays
  • The adventure–you never know what you’ll see underwater
  • The sense of accomplishment–learning to be calm under (water) pressure, doing more challenging dives
  • The awesome community of scuba divers–they look out for each other, they love to travel, and they have great travel recommendations

If my words aren’t enough to convince you, watch my videos from the Great Barrier Reef, Belize and Bali:

Great Barrier Reef 1

Great Barrier Reef 2

Blue Hole Diving Belize

Diving Half Moon Wall

Soaring with the Manta Rays in Bali

Have I convinced you?  Where do I need to go for the best diving? Leave your comments!