From the volcanic hillsides to the sandy beaches, to that “eat, pray, love” experience – Bali is a tropical paradise that has so much to offer to every traveler. I just returned from 10 days experiential and realized there are some places that pull you in the right way – and Bali was one of those. The people, with their wide smiles and accommodating spirit, welcomed in a way that I haven’t experienced since my Bhutan trip. The rich culture could be found everywhere. Temples occupy nearly every block. The landscape shifts flawlessly from tropical beach to the lush jungle. And the food – with options from organic/vegan/gluten-free to traditional Balinese fare – is as diverse as my cravings.
I traveled to Bali with a group of friends and we packed in so much during our 10 days but could have easily stayed for months – There’s no doubt that I’ll be back to Bali someday…and I hope that someday is soon. Here’s listing some of my favorite experiences from my trip:
1) Surfing: The beautiful beaches around Kuta-Legian-Seminyak are blessed with the good waves that makes it a surfer’s paradise. I enrolled in the Rip Curl School to try and ride the waves. From developing my first surfing moves to struggling to stand up – I enjoyed all of it!
2) Legian: Legian sandwiched between Kuta and Seminyak is the party capital of Bali. An entire strip lined with bars, nightclubs, cheap restaurants, and other raunchy entertainment, Legian is not only good for a night out, but there is also plenty of opportunity for retail therapy. Skygarden is where I’d frequent each evening.
3) Sunset in Uluwatu Temple: Perched 80meters above sea level, the magnificent Uluwatu Temple stands on the towering cliff overlooking the Indian Ocean splendor. Watching the sunset from here was extra spectacular
4) Trek an Active Volcano: Mt Batur was the perfect adventure that I wanted on the trip. Standing at 1700 meters above sea level, Mt Batur is one of the famous volcanoes in Bali. The trek started around 4 am and reached in time to watch the spectacular sunrise over the crater and the mountain that was encircled by a stunning lake.
5) Horseback riding along the coastline: May not be the most classic activity, but I truly enjoyed everything about the horse riding in Bali. Galloping along the coastline, reveling in the sound of the roaring ocean, and trotting through the rice fields was a unique and fantastic experience
6) Casa Luna Cooking: There is so much more to Balinese cuisine than Nasi Goreng and Mee Goreng. The experience at Casa Luna Cooking School in Ubud was a one-stop place to learn all about the history, culture & religious beliefs associated with food in Bali. I loved how each traditional ingredient is explained, followed by hands-on experience in an immersive classically designed kitchen complete with wood-fired stoves, antique wooden furnishings, and earthenware. The experienced ended with sit down lunch meal that we had prepared as part of the meal.
7) KopiLuwak Coffee: It may sound a little gross, but Kopi Luwak is one of the most expensive and delectable coffees in the world with a retail price as high as $700 per Kilo. The main factor of its high price is the uncommon method of producing – Civet Poop. A bit skeptical at first but I was blown away by learning the intense craft and precise art of poop that is required in its curation. The coffee in itself was smooth and had a very unique and earthy aroma to it.
8) Scuba Diving & Snorkeling: The three tiny islands of Gilli offer a bohemian vibe, laid-back atmosphere and a good variety of dive sites. I enrolled in a two-day extensive Dive course with PADI. After some extensive training – I did my first dive and the whole experience made me fall in love with the unseen underwater world. What a surreal experience it was and as rightly said in Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara – diving is like meditation. I can’t wait but go for my next dive again!
9) Circumnavigate Gilli Trawangan on a Bicycle: Gilli Trawangan, known for its white sand beaches and Caribbean blue waters has no cars or motorbikes on the islands. Bicycles and Horse-drawn carts are the main modes of transport. It takes roughly about 1 hour to circle the perimeter of GIlli T where you’d come across beachside cafes, bars, spas, yoga studios and plenty of shops.
10) Ubud Countryside Biking: Imagine biking along the quiet road, in the shade of rice terraces, coconut groves, with birds chirping – the decision to explore Ubud on a bike was extremely worthwhile. Every moment in this place was much more enjoyable when the pace slowed down.
11) Temple Hopping Ubud: The temples in Bali are unique and reflect the predominantly Hindu culture that is prevalent. The architecture of these temples is also used in homes and garden. A stroll around the backstreets of Ubud, you’d notice that around every corner religious offerings line the street and every home bears a family shire. Celebrated with color and smiles, religion is an integral part of Bali and therefore you’d find so many temples around this island.
12) Kecak & Fire Dance: The Kecak and Fire Dance that I experienced in Ubud was a sight to behold. Almost hypnotic, trance-like, the performance starts with a chant by the thirty-odd bare-chested Indonesian men sitting on the ground in a circle and in the middle the drama unfolds. Two young princes, a demon king, a damsel in distress, a mischievous monkey- the all play their parts in the ring of unceasing cantillation.
13) Swing above the ocean: While you are at Gilli T – the Instagram worthy picture of Swinging above the ocean is the perfect finish to prove you’ve had the most relaxing-yet-adventurous time of your life.