We landed in Bali after a short flight from Australia, straight to the news that S’ sister had given birth to a little girl. We toasted Holly’s arrival on our Kuta hotel’s rooftop with Bintang beer, enjoying the warmth of the night and the rush of Jalan Legian beneath us.
Our arrival also coincided with the tenth anniversary of the Bali bombings, meaning events were fresh in people’s minds and the beautiful memorial was covered in flowers. We went and paid our respects in this surprisingly peaceful place.
Our week on Bali was gloriously unplanned. We knew we wanted some beach time, some surfing time, some massage time and some glorious let’s-just-sit-here-and-relax-in-the-sunshine time.
Well, we got all that.
We ended up spending two days in Balian Beach, two days in Ubud and two days in Padangbai, sandwiched with a night either end in Kuta.
Balian Beach is pretty quiet; a dark, sandy beach strewn with coconut husks, strong waves, bright flowers peeping from behind carved doorways, a handful of restaurants and homestays and glorious sunsets.
We got our surf on here, although it was the strongest rip I’ve ever experienced and therefore I spent a lot of time paddling to the right in order not to get swept out beyond the rocks. The waves were too strong for me, as a pretty bad surfer, but the one I did catch was the most exhilarating ride back to shore, ever.
Ubud is one of the loveliest places I’ve ever been to. We had the most amazing homestay, where breakfast was served on our verandah, overlooking a duck pond. One night just wasn’t enough. And Ubud town is gorgeous; temples and monkey sanctuaries and little cafes that suddenly give way to rice paddies and stunning countryside.
I will forever remember sitting out on a warm night in the grounds of a temple, watching exquisite Javanese dancers move to the beat of the gamelan.
Padangbai was busier, but just as lovely: we snorkelled in a miniature Great Barrier Reef and ate coconut curry overlooking the sea.
Kuta was the most touristy place we went, but even with the hordes of Aussies and the rest, the beach was amazing and the surf a lot more gentle. S and I rented boards one afternoon from the “Bali beach boys”, and while he went out first, I was invited to sit with the boys under their sun umbrella, to be asked questions about the English language. (Including “where does the phrase lovely jubbly come from?” Try and answer that one in a context that a Balinese will understand!)
Afterwards we watched the sun set and thanked our lucky stars that we’d decided to include Bali in the itinerary.
Everything in Bali is geared towards beauty, in order to please the gods.
There are little offerings everywhere: on statues, on windowsills, even right in the middle of entrances to shops. A joss stick, some flowers, a piece of gum or a biscuit or a sweet, all beautifully arranged in a woven basket.
And the food… oh, the food…
People ask me where I’d like to go back to most of all, and Bali wins this, hands down. The people are incredibly friendly, there are beaches enough for the most diehard sun worshipper, the sea is warm and the island is a true paradise. Book a trip there now, right now. You won’t regret it.