As mentioned in my previous post about Ubud, Bali always seemed like an exotic escape and it is just that however, I was not expecting the level of poverty there is and that was very naive of me. Because I like to have a pure experience I try not to research too much into a country before I go, I like the element of surprise and exploration. The most surprising part about Bali was just how beautiful the people were, everyone was so kind and helpful and I felt completely safe in this country. We were not approached by anyone with bad intentions and all prices and transport were fair. The hotels were great and we left all our valuables and money out in both places we stayed with no problems (Always use caution with this though as you can become complacent!).
We stayed in a place called Bali Agung village which was situated in Seminyak only a short walk from the beach with free breakfast and rooms under $100 a night. The hotel was in a traditional Balinese style, the rooms had old wooden painted doors and the rooms had so much greenery around them. Breakfast was simple, a mixture of cooked foods (western and Balinese) and continental. Coffee, tea, juice and water is served.
Our first stop was to see Batik being done. I had done this whilst studying art and design so it was such a good experience to see the locals in action – they were working on everything from traditional Balinese styles to vintage rock bands. There is a shop which is linked where you can buy all your souvenirs however it is quite pricey. After this we made our way to a silversmith, I must mention that I am obsessed by sterling silver and for those of you who know me it is bordering on the ridiculous. Prices for silver in Bali are good as long as you are not going to the huge places that over charge, but your driver will help you with this. The people who work there are always up of bartering especially if you are buying a few pieces so don’t be shy!
Next was visiting the Batuan Temple in Batuan Villiage. This temple was beautiful however not one of the top ten recommended as I later found out. I hope to visit a wider selection of temples on my next visit so that I have a better comparison. The nice thing about Batuan Temple was that it wasn’t very busy so you had a chance to really explore. There were several women working on the side who ended up shoeing me away – I think they enjoy the peace this temple brings too.
We decided to make a trip to Bali Bird Park, what with my bird obsession it only seemed fitting. The park is situated about an hour north of Seminyak dependent on traffic so it is best to get a driver especially if there is a few of you. The entry fee was fairly pricey however upon entry to the park you can see that it is well looked after and they even have several endangered bird breeding programs. It does not take long to walk around the park so take your time and admire the exotic animals and foliage. There are several stations where you can get pictures with a bird on your shoulder along the way, as well as a large bird enclosure that you can enter. There is a large selection of birds that they choose from and they are not caged which did not make it feel cruel at all. I am usually quite dubious of this sort of thing however the birds were not distressed in any way and some even came to you for a head stroke.
There is also a reptile park which is next to the bird park and your entry fee includes both. This park was a bit less exciting for me as the reptiles are not as active, you can however get up close and personal with a rather large Iguana. This came to my attention after following the screams coming from several tourists when they thought that it had escaped when it greeted them halfway round the park.
Uluwatu is a surf haven, the area is littered with surf camps and people heading out to the water. Surfing is one of those things that I always liked the idea of however the reality was a very different story (I will regale you with more of these experiences another time). I would recommend a visit to Uluwatu temple, we did this before heading down to Single Fin for drinks at sunset. The Hindu temple is built on the edge of a cliff which has stunning views. A common misconception is that you can actually visit the temple itself but this is not the case. I actually saw a woman arguing very loudly with someone from the temple as she had paid money to see it but still was not allowed in. It is not a tourist walk through but a sacred place of worship and we were happy to appreciate it from a distance.You can still walk around the grounds and get fairly close.
The cliff boasts a 70 meter drop and the views are spectacular. Beware of monkeys in this area, you may not see them as much as you would in the Monkey Forest in Ubud however they have still been known to steal things! Also if you are blonde like myself (long hair is even worse) then this may be your mini celebrity moment. The tourist attractions are very multicultural and I was greeted with many squealing girls and involved in family photos. I love that brief moment of joy in their faces so I always go along with it a its good fun. Although I am not sure how excited I am about appearing on several Instagrams across Asia #Imetcinderella #closeenough.
As you walk right of the temple there is a magnificent arena which also gives a great view, we found it by chance while it was empty. I would highly recommend popping over for a look as it is definitely worth it. As you can see visitors are issued with a purple piece of fabric to hide their legs, whoever is dressed appropriately gets a yellow tie on their waist.
Watching the sunset at Single Fin was an experience I will never forget. Get there a bit earlier to get a drink and a good spot in time for sunset as its gets really busy. The bar is built precariously on a cliff face overlooking on of the best surf spots in the area. It almost feels like being in a bar back in Manly, the crowd is fun and everyone has a story to tell. After a brief altercation with a Russian girl who decided that my bag was going to be her ashtray and that she was going to push me out of my spot, I got to enjoy the sun setting.
Having been told by friends and cab drivers that dinner at Jimbaran was a must we decided to give it a go. There are several restaurants along the sea front and you can sit inside or down by the water in the sand. We opted for the latter, wanting to experience the true Jimbaran eating extravaganza. These restaurants mostly offer fish, the service was good and the food was average, I only say this because the meal cost the same as a slap up dinner in Sydney.
While you eat there are several musicians who depending on where you are from will serenade you with music from your home country. After hearing way too many renditions of ‘Land down under’ we said we were English and promptly received a very slurred version of Ronan Keating’s ‘When you say nothing at all’. These musicians expect a tip but don’t worry about forking out too much cash. I think it would have been a nicer meal if we had gone at sunset however I much preferred the idea of watching the sunset at Single Fin so I was happy enough.
Lastly I was going to mention Potato Head Beach Club and Kudeta. We were recommended to go to Potato Head for sunset drinks so decided to leave early in order to get a good spot but after waiting in a long queue in our cab for about twenty minutes, we were turned away. I must say they could have had someone at the entrance telling everyone but instead we tried to get all the way down the narrow driveway to the front before we found out what was going on along with many others. We ended up going to Kudeta for drinks which was nice enough however you cannot see the sunset from here. The atmosphere was good but you will need to get here early too for a good spot and I would say that the best seats are upstairs on the balcony as its quieter. As we are no quitters we ended up trekking it to Potato Head after but were relegated to sitting at the glass washing station whilst others sat by the pool in luxury. Drinks were insanely over priced, If I manage to get there for sunset I will review it hopefully in a better light (no pun intended).
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