Bali’s Top 5

Bali Ha’i may call you,
Any night, any day,
In your heart, you’ll hear it call you:
“Come away…Come away.”

Bali Ha’i will whisper
In the wind of the sea:
“Here am I, your special island!
Come to me, come to me!”

Bali called to us, like it does to so many…. & we came! We were granted one week to escape Saigon’s motorbike fumes and relax amongst Bali’s peacefully green rice terraces, white sand beaches, & mysterious ancient temples. My plan: do Bali better than Elizabeth Gilbert in all of her Eat, Pray, Love glory. Bali by bike. Cruising between rice fields, driving towards distant volcanoes, and powering through monsoon rains. With our bags strapped to the back– we had nothing to lose, Bali was ours for the taking!

5. Kecak Dance

Kaka-kaka-ka-ka-ka-kaka-kaka- KA! Bali’s Kecak dance is widespread and easily seen across the island. We watched the crazy dance as the sun sank over the ocean’s horizon off the coast of Uluwatu. The dance is meant to scare off any bad spirits before the temple is put to rest for the night, but I think these so called evil spirits take refuge in the men performing the dance– it’s mental to witness! For an hour these men sat cross-legged, eyes rolling, heads and arms flailing, yelling ka-ka in a rhythmnic pattern together. Definitely an experience for the taking!

Balinese Kecak Dance - Ulu Watu

Kecak Dancers sending evil spirits far away!

4. Sideman Road

Sideman Road should have been the biggest KABOOM. The big WOW factor. Easily our number 1. It was wowing.. but I don’t know if it was the force of the rain that was mesmerizing me or the beauty of the rice fields surrounding us. We were two of the most unlucky peope in the world… during Bali’s dry season the rain god’s poured their rage down on us.  The skies opened up and soaked us on the one day we choose to explore Bali’s most inspirational road, where the beauty around you turns the drive into more of a spiritual experience– it was hard to be too inspired by the gray clouds and rain pelting down on my face… but I will say that despite the rain the infamous Sideman rice fields are infact a beautiful site and a must see for anyone traveling to Bali. Just pray for sunshine, and this will certainly be one of the best things you do! Even through all the rain we were awed at the beauty around us, so on a fluffy white cloud day I can only imagine how spectacular it would is!

Sidemen Road - Rice Terraces

Rice terraces rising beside a gloomy Sideman Road

3. Snorkeling through a WWII battleship at Tulamben

thelittlemermaidFeeling like Ariel and Flounder (from the Little Mermaid!) we dove into Tulamben’s cloudy waters with our rotting snorkel gear on ready to rock ‘n’ roll. The murky waters added a whole new level of eerie to the old sunken battleship. I swore sharks were on the outskirts ready at an instanst to start chasing us… and I would have to swim through the ship and trap the shark inside an old rusty anchor… or maybe my imagiantion was getting away from me and thoughts of The Little Mermaid were creeping in?! We quickly learned the details behind the mysteriously sunken ship. Japan blew up the US ship and America towed it ashore where it was stripped of everything & left to rust. A volcanoe erupted in the 60’s and (lucky enough for us) sent the battleship out to its final resting place.

Tulamben horizon

Tulamben’s eerie wreck lurks below this peaceful horizon

2. Munduk

We found the ‘real‘ Bali in the Northern mountains at a little overlooked agriculture town called Munduk. Munduk is famous for it’s beautifully structured farming terraces, perfectly placed on top of each other, and full of fruit, coffee, cloves, vegetables, and rice which sprout from the rich volcanic soil. The clouds always seemed to roll in during the day, but the morning hours teased us with views of distant volcanoes looking high and mighty as they reached into the skies. The view and the beauty of Munduk wasn’t what made me fall in love and broken hearted to leave.. that was all thanks to One Homestay & its kind-hearted owner Kadek. Kadek owns a small house, perched on the top of Munduk’s steep hillside. He does it all too. He’s the owner, the cook, the trek guide, the cleaner, the cashier, the tour operator, and a friend. Fair prices for the best Baliense food we had during our whole stay in Bali, the cheapest price for a room in the entire town, we played Baliense instruments with his family down the road, and he sat talking to us about the changes he’s seen in Bali and what tourism has done for him and his family in the last 10 years. A real guy, down to Earth, and running a homestay not for the money but for the love of travel.

Munduk in the morning

The view from our room was amazing!

1. Ubud

The small town of Ubud wins the award for one of the most alluring, peaceful, and artistic places we’ve ever been. We spent a few days hidden away from the world in our very own 2 storey bungalow we found on Expedia for a great price. Situated in the middle of a lush, green rice paddy, with our own pond full of fish in the front. Paradise. We spent our days lazily wondering around, weaving in and out of the rice fields from one terrace to the next, smiling locals pointing us in the right direction, taking in everything around us. Upon arrival to the laid-back, artsy little town, we were immediately floored by its beauty & charm creeping out of every palm tree, rice field, art store, and crafty coffee shop. With every turn of my head I could easily understand why Elizabeth Gilbert from Eat, Pray, Love chose Ubud as her sanctuary of love.

Balinese rice farmer - Ubud

Balinese famer reaps rice in Ubud’s beauty

4 Responses to “Bali’s Top 5”
  1. Alexa says:

    Amazing! I cannot wait to go back to Bali one day and explore the north and east parts of the island. Ubud is phenomenal and I felt so at peace there.

    • Nicky says:

      Bali is a great place! I was surprised though, I went there for beaches and left loving the lush green rice fields!

  2. Great photo essay. We’re headed to Indonesia next year and looking forward to Bali and some of the ‘real’ surrounding Indonesian towns.

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