Bali

This is an overdue post about our Bali vacation back in January.

After spending about two weeks exploring Guangzhou, China and Java, Indonesia, it was time to rest our sore feet in the island of Bali. January is rainy season, but the weather didn’t noticeably hinder us from doing what we wanted to do. Because it was low season, finding nice, affordable accommodation was no problem.

The predominantly Hindu populated island appeals to travelers of all ages and budgets. From observation, there were a lot of couples visiting the island as opposed to young, single backpackers looking to party that crowd Thailand. Kuta is the exception, though – the busy area that bursts with tour package offices are flooded with people looking to catch a few waves, guzzle Arak & Bitang beer, and perhaps get lucky. Elizabeth Gilbert’s Eat Pray Love has also inspired yogis to flock Ubud, the culture and art center of Bali, and indulge in massages, yoga, meditation, and natural alternative medicines. Scuba divers and snorkeling enthusiasts would be pleased to explore some of the most beautiful spots of the underwater world for a fraction of the price elsewhere. Retirees kick it back in the quiet beaches and honeymooners can escape the world in luxurious waterfront resorts. Those who really want to be immersed in the culture can easily rent a scooter and zip around, visiting the seemingly thousands of shrines, temples, and daily offerings laid out in the streets.

In Korean, Bali Bali means hurry, hurry, the cultural psyche of speedy production and activity while often sacrificing quality. This mentality could not be further from Bali’s, which radiates the quintessential island life aura. Shoes are optional and time doesn’t exist.

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My favorite spot in Bali is actually off of the main island. A thirty-minute bumpy boat ride from Sanur will get you to Mushroom Bay on Nusa Lembongan. Since we shared the bus from Ubud to Sanur and the boat over to the island with a handful of really friendly long-term travelers, we jumped in a make-shift taxi to Jungut Batu, a quiet village scattered with cheap eateries, seaview rooms, and a prime sunset location.

We snagged a bargain at the seaview room at the Pondok Baruna. At $20 per night for a private room, we enjoyed sitting on our porch with the sea seconds from our doorstep. Breakfast is included, like every other place we stayed, and we got a steal for our snorkeling trip.

First thing was first – get some wheels. We found a scooter rental place called Jonnie Walker. Upon entering the garage, a 20-something barefoot man who appeared to have just woken up from a nap gave us keys after we requested a scooter. “Pay me later, no worries”. Easy as that.

The hilly roads were laden with bumps and puddles, so we had to be extra cautious. Rarely would one see a car; scooters, bicycles, and feet dominated as the forms of transportation. We (Adam driving, me as the passenger) spent hours zipping around the island, crossing the bridge to a quieter neighboring island, making short pit stops for a shake and a particularly breathtaking scenery at Sunset Point, and just plain wandering and enjoying this newfound freedom. To wind down, we met with our friends again for a lovely dinner with our table right on the beach.

My favorite part of the trip was snorkeling in the clearest of clear waters. We shared the boat with a couple from China & Saudi Arabia and their little boy, Abraham. Cute, but I’m thankful I didn’t have a mini-me to take care of while traveling. Props to them!

“Captain” drove us to three different spots: The Wall, Mangrove Point, and another forgotten named one. Now, it was my first time ever snorkeling and I was not disappointed. The first time I dunked my head to peer into the deep waters marveled me to no end. I’ve always been above the water, swimming only in the shallow ends at the shore, and never did I use goggles at the beach. The underwater world really is a vastly different life so unknown to me. I realized once again that I don’t even know a fraction of a tip of the knowledge of this here Earth, and forget about the universe. I suppose there’s always things to look forward to learn.

Schools of brightly colored fish zipped by, coming close but never touching me. Coral of various textures, colors, and shapes dotted the ground behind which critters hid. We played a game by fixating one particular fish to see where he goes and what kinds of activities he engages in on his daily fishy fish life. I didn’t have an underwater camera and therefore don’t have any photos, but the sights are ingrained in my memory.

We ended up snorkeling in two other spots on our Bali trip: viewing a shipwreck in some cloudy waters in Amed and in the Blue Lagoon at Padang Bai (this place was up there with INCREDIBLE as Nusa Lembongan).

While I enjoy snorkeling, I probably won’t opt to get scuba certified in my lifetime. I’m still much more of a mountain girl than a beach bum, but I still appreciate nature in all of its forms.

I of course loved Bali, but I didn’t like how much begging took place. The Balinese are painfully kind, laid back, and spiritual people who live a simple lifestyle. Every Balinese person we met said they never even left their own island. Bali is a popular destination for its beauty, value, food, and culture; its economy heavily relies on tourism. Still, I came to learn that most locals working in tourism make a measly $100 a month. It is still a very poor island. The local people are begging at the feet of rich tourists, offering to massage their tired feet for pennies. I initially was annoyed by their constant attempts to sell sarongs while I was trying to quietly enjoy myself or the men asking if we need a taxi every other street corner. In analyzing it further, a mere two dollars can be a matter of them eating tonight whereas it doesn’t affect me at all. Next time, I will have more patience with their aggressive sale attempts.

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