Our time in Bali was short and sweet, and this week I'm going to share all about it! I'm going to start with the big, then the small, then share something mini, and then talk about all the amazing food we ate. For various reasons I will elaborate on below, our trip to Bali ended up focusing more on the small than the big. But here are some of the big reasons someone might want to go to Bali!
Bali is an island in Indonesia so of course one of the main reasons to go here are the beaches. In this hemisphere of the world, November is the end of spring/start of summer so the weather is heating up and becoming perfect for days spent on the beach. If you like that sort of thing. Which, I must confess, I don't. If I've learned anything about myself during our last few months of travel through Thailand, Australia, and now Bali it's this - I love the idea of the beach, but not so much the reality. But, we figured we couldn't spend a week in Bali without at least seeing the beach so we took the 20-minute walk from our hotel to get see Petinget Beach! It really was beautiful - a wide-open sandy expanse, not crowded, and perfectly blue water crashing on the shore in picturesque waves.
From the minute we stepped foot off our plane into the airport, it was clear we were going to see some beautiful architecture in Bali. We wandered all around the airport as we figured out how to get money in the local currency and then get a taxi to our hotel, and I was impressed by how much of the airport was beautiful and unique. Large portions of it were open-air as well so the heat and humidity also hit us right away.
Our hotel was located in an area called Seminyak, and we were located right in the heart of a busy commercial district. We were surrounded by restaurants, bars, and shops, with building types ranging from very modern (our hotel) to open-air (most restaurants we ate at) to intricate and detailed. I particularly enjoyed these randoms gates placed on the roads, though they made walking a bit difficult as they blocked the sidewalk.
The predominant religion practiced in Bali is Balinese Hinduism. As such, there are gorgeous statues and temples located all over the place. The practice of this religion really seems to be infused into daily life. Everywhere we went we saw offerings that I have since learned are called canang sari. These are daily offerings made to thank the Sang Hyang Widhi Wasa, or "Divine Order." These offerings are placed not just at temples and shrines but at everyday places like outside our hotel, various restaurants, and even at the cash register of the local convenience store. I never took a picture of any that we saw (for some reason it felt disrespectful to me) but you can see a picture of them here on Wikipedia.
Our trip to the beach also took us by the local temple. There was a fee to go inside and you had to be dressed a certain way (which we were not) so we didn't go inside, but it was beautiful to behold even from the outside.
Go Big or Go Home?
Two things conspired for us to not be able to do as much "big" on this trip as we would have liked.
First, budget. When we planned this trip we were supposed to be in Australia through the end of the year, which was going to save us travel money and allow us to spend a bit more while we were in Bali. Due to an unexpected change in circumstances, we are now leaving Australia next week to return to the UK. This means we had to shell out money for our flights to the UK and there went all (plus some) of the money we had budgeted for Bali.
On our flight from Perth to Bali, we ended up chatting with our seatmate, an Australian named Russ who happens to own a company called Expedition Bali that runs various excursions for tourists. He told us all about some amazing things we would have loved to do - hiking to the top of a volcano and walking around the top, visiting a natural hot springs spa, and catching the sunset at a particular temple one evening. As much as we wanted to follow his advice, when we looked at the cost (even with the more budget companies, his is luxurious!) it just wasn't in the cards for us. Yes, we know that it's likely we will never return to Bali and there is an argument to be made that we should have just gone for it anyway. But, well, we have bills to pay and only so much money to last us until my job starts next year so we had to make the tough choices. We still might have stretched it if it weren't for this next factor playing a part as well.
Second, illness. I think I caught something on the plane because the first day we were in Bali I started having cold symptoms and it just went downhill from there. By Thursday I spent the whole day in the hotel room fighting off congestion and a sore throat. I'm still a bit under the weather and my left ear went wonky on the flight back and still hasn't fixed itself. It's nothing serious, just annoying, and sucked that it happened while we were in a country for only a short time, but such is life!
We enjoyed Bali as much as we could but we have realized that for us, island destinations are just not our favorite. I'd take a ski weekend or a night in the snow looking at the northern lights over a beach vacation any day. We are going to keep this in mind and plan our travel accordingly, going forward!