A First Look at Bali

We arrived in Bali, Indonesia yesterday. An island renown for its colourful culture, it is indeed an eclectic mix of Western and Balinese influences, both old and new. You will find locals and tourists alike zipping around haphazardly on scooters and motorcycles, small offerings of dried flowers and wrapped candy to the Balinese gods placed outside shopfronts and houses, large stone statues of gods and mythical creatures in proudly conspicuous or concealed places, and stray dogs you will be trying to dodge in streets and alleyways.
It is not, however, a place known for its efficiency, most notably its airport where we spent nearly two hours waiting in line for our visas upon arrival and watching out for a reliable taxi to drive us to our hotel. Like in many parts of South East Asia, the arrival hall at Ngurah Rai Airport was filled with taxi hawkers, and as they always do for some reason, they scared me with their gentle hassling. When we finally negotiated with a cab driver what we thought was a fairly reasonable price (it wasn’t, as we later discovered), we hopped into an unbranded car and was on our way. By the time we reached our hotel, it was already late in the afternoon but we had enough energy left in us to want to explore our new surroundings.

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I always think the first day in any new place should be spent trying to get to know it and its ‘feel’ as much as possible- how safe is it, how the locals are, the road conditions, etc. So of course, we got ripped off a lot, and we realised that the roads in Bali are messy and uncoordinated- or so they seem to us tourists, and especially to my boyfriend who is the stereotypical German. The roads and pathways (sometimes non-existent) are difficult to navigate, even with a map, and it is often better to take a taxi to get to a destination rather than going by foot since taxis are cheap starting from 6,000 RP (equivalent of 60 cents AUD).

We ended our first evening with drinks on Seminyak Beach while watching the sunset.

Our second day started off on a more relaxed note, waking up at 11am and spending an hour slapping on sunscreen, a hat and sunnies before going out the door. We began with pre-breakfast drinks (don’t worry kids, no alcohol was involved) at the restaurant Sardines next to our hotel. We actually mistook the place for another that we wanted to eat at, but decided to stay because we felt awkward after having already been seated. The ambience was fantastic though, and the view of a rice field behind us added to the feel that we were in paradise.
Smeinyak Bali

We then embarked on a 30-minute journey by foot to find Warung Eny, an Indonesian restaurant offering authentic Balinese food we found on TripAdvisor. It was not an easy trip, and we were on the verge of giving up when we finally found it tucked near the end of a road junction, next to a fancy villa. And lucky we didn’t surrender to the appetising cafes we had passed because the food was delicious!

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Though I had some qualms about getting a massage so soon after eating, we decided to go anyway to Jari Menari. This time, we took a taxi rather than walking on our own, but this one taxi ride taught me an important lesson in taking cabs in Bali: do not take taxis other than those from the Blue Bird Group. Our first driver not only ripped us off, but dropped us off at the wrong place, lying that he could not drive into the street where the massage parlour was apparently located. After walking down that street and being unable to find Jari Menari, we realised he had cheated us and I felt so scammed. The next cab we took, I made sure it was a Blue Bird one (Lonely Planet also recommends it as the most reliable taxi service in Seminyak). Our second cab driver took us directly to the massage place where we were soaked in lavender oil, and rubbed and massaged for 75 minutes into total oblivion. It was absolute bliss and I totally recommend this place! The service was professional and clean, and our muscles feel so loose and relaxed now. I am definitely returning to this place before we leave Bali.

We spent the evening watching the sun set by the beach again, this time at Legian Beach with live music, Bintang Beer, french fries and virgin colada, a glorious way to end our second day in Seminyak, Bali.

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Tomorrow, we’ve hired a private driver for a day tour around the south of Bali, where we’ll be visiting GWK Cultural Park, Uluwatu Temple, Padang Padang Beach, doing parasailing, and dining in the evening at Jimbaran Bay. All in all, I’m looking forward to what Bali has to offer us tomorrow and for the next few days!

Stay tuned!
xx Lucy

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