Bali – Mopeds, Beaches and Cheeky Monkeys…
For those of you who have spent a year travelling and working in Australia, you will know that at the end of your travels you get a wonderful little treat. All those crazy backpacker jobs you worked to fund that next Aussie experience, you will be rewarded with all the tax you had paid, back in your pocket. For us, there was no question what to do with this little refund, 10 glorious days spent in the relaxing, spiritual land that is, Bali.
With 10 days to explore the island, we would recommend splitting that time up to explore both sides. Talking to most travellers who have found their way to Bali, will generally talk about the Kuta, Seminyak and Legion areas in the South, and rightly so, these are amazing, beautiful destinations. An area that is sometimes overlooked is the beautiful south east coast.
FIRST 5 DAYS – SPIRITUAL EAST COAST…
We arrived late into Ngurah Rai International Airport and it was about an hour and a half taxi ride to our first base camp, the small town of Candidasa. It being late and dark, the only real feel of Bali we got was the madness that is the Balinese roads. As with all travels, the excitement of a new destination, the sights, the smells, the lack of road rules, make any airport transfer a quick, wild journey. Arriving at the Temple Cafe & Seaside Cottages, we could hear the waves crashing outside, but the views would have to wait till the morning, and quite the view we had waiting.
After a delightful breakfast with stunning ocean views, Candidasa is a great spot to explore the east coast of Bali and all the temple goodness it has to offer. In Purposely Wandering distance from the hotel, there’s a number of beautiful Balinese settings to get the feel for the real Bali; Temples, Rice fields and seaside lunch spots to get your authentic Pad Thai cravings.
It’s well worth speaking to your hotel reception, as we assume all will be as extremely helpful and accommodating as ours, about a private driver for the day. For no more than $40US, you can have your own Chauffeur to explore the countryside of Bali. We focused on exploring the temples local to our area and had a wonderful driver and comfortable car to explore. The Taman Soekasada Ujung – Water palace is everything that Bali encapsulates. Beautiful, serene surroundings with that feeling you are in a special place. Being taken into the clouds at the Besakih Temple, perfect to get the classic Balinese temple shot. Stopping for some local street food is not always recommended and we would say do so at your own risk. Andy couldn’t resist the smells and draw of the street vendors, thankfully this only left a great taste of the local spices and flavors. Delicious.
We had heard the only way to really get out and see the “real Bali” was to hire a Moped and feel the wind in your hair, rushing past the rice fields. Who were we to turn down such an experience. Cost is not something that comes into play hugely when planning these experiences, however we felt one Moped for us would suffice. Now just to back up, neither of us had ever swung our leg over anything other than a bicycle, but as we all know, travel gives you the energy to embrace all new opportunities.
Jackie took control for our Moped adventures, and adventures they were. It turns out there is a skill to ‘leaning’ into the turn, which unfortunately for our safety, Andy on the back, was struggling to master. As we sped around a hairpin bend, Jackie was turning into the bend like a speed racer pro, knee close to the ground, while Andy leaned as far away from the road surface as possible, which led the Moped to veer onto the other side of the road. Thankfully we had visited the temples the day before as there were some higher powers working in our favor and kept us safe. After a stationary lesson on leaning, we were flying.We had the Tenganan Pegeringsingan Village as our destination and it did not disappoint, keeping it’s authentic Bali, ancient village charm. A Purposely Wandering Must Visit! (Andy was never allowed to drive)
After all that Moped fun, we were in much need of relaxation, and what better way to relax than a day at the beach. The east coast has some great beaches, and we were given great advice by some locals to head to Virgin Beach, in Karangasem. We were offered a ride to the beach, but of course, on the back of Mopeds. No longer having to be in control, we felt better about this option. We had arranged to be picked up by the Moped Taxi driver after 2hrs, the Moped Taxi drivers were never seen again. Be prepared to make alternative return transport.
To continue our day of Balinese relaxation, we signed up for a Massage at our hotel. As the east coast of Bali has not been taken over with the mass tourism that the likes of Kuta has, the massages do not quite have the glamour of what Western folk have come to expect, with a couple of tables and a curtain, but the massage itself was everything we needed.
The east Coast of Bali, in our opinion, is where you will be able to beat the crowds and really enjoy the serenity and peace that Bali has to offer. We highly recommend spending some days in the Candidasa area and find your inner peace and explore the spiritual land of temples.
LAST FIVE DAYS… That Monkey stole my lunch!
A little 2hr drive from Candidasa, back through the countryside of Bali, this time the madness of the roads was clearer in the daylight, you can reach the populated, party area that is Legian, Seminyak and Kuta. With a little confusion over our next accommodation (There is a big difference from the Padma Resort Legian where we were dropped off, to our actual Hotel, the Balisani Padma) we were settled into the Little Australian Town that is Legian. How spoiled Australians are that Bali can be a little weekend trip to get away from their own beautiful country.
A Purposely Wandering Must see is the Monkey Forest, in Ubud. This is still a bit of a drive from Legian, and after our Moped experience on the calm streets of Candidasa, we opted for the private taxi option through the crazy, controlled madness for this journey.
This wasn’t quite the feeling of trekking through the rainforest and wild monkeys swinging from tree to tree. These Monkeys are very domesticated and will stalk you until you have offered every last one of the bananas you had to buy at the entrance of the forest. It is a surreal environment, tourists sprinting after Monkeys who have stolen their Rayban sunglasses (This seems to be their favourite item to thieve, hold on tight) and screams across the forest as Monkeys pull ladies hair to fight for that last Banana.
Even with all the tourists, and the monkeys complete lack of care towards humans, it is a truly wonderful experience that makes you appreciate these smart, adorable creatures, roaming around the Ubud temple ruins. Andy learned the hard way to get your lunch when you’re in a safe distance of the Monkey’s. The chips never made it out of the forest.
The rest of our Bali journey was focused relaxing around the local area. If your looking for the Bali massage experience, with tranquil water features and gentle nature sounds, book in to a massage at the All Seasons Bali. Enjoying the beach by Kuta and taking in the beautiful sunset will put you in the peaceful mindset that Bali requires of you before heading back to the real world.
The small Indonesian Island has absolutely something for everyone. Luxurious lifestyle living for a an affordable price. From the temples and country side of the east coast, to the wild party excitement of Legian and Kuta, we were hooked. We have no doubt that Bali is a destination for every traveller out there who’s looking to get a bit of spiritual relaxation in their life.