5 Reasons to Love Bali
Updated: Aug 29, 2019
Not counting an 8th grade trip just barely over the US/Mexico border, Bali was my first international trip. What can I say? When I do something, I go all in. Andy was working in central China at the time and I'd barely been anywhere. After thinking about it for about half a second, I decided I was going to China. I had no idea what it would be like to travel in China. Honestly, I was hoping to see the Great Wall. That ended up being over 700 miles away from where we were. Opps.
Anyway, once I convinced Andy that I was really going to fly out to meet him, he suggested we explore some other places in Asia, too. I had just read Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert, so I instantly shouted BALI! Thankfully Andy was on board and added Singapore to the mix because a few co-workers suggested it.
After meeting Andy in Shanghai's international terminal following hours of terrified waiting (On top of the exhaustion from the longest flight of my life, I couldn't get my phone to connect to wifi for the first couple hours and no one spoke English, so there was no help to be found.), we flew together to Denpasar and the adventure began!
I fell for Bali, fast and hard. It is so different than any other place I've been, even now. Although I want to go everywhere and love exploring new places, I often long to return to Bali. There's just something about this place that keeps calling me back. I can't quite put my finger on the magic that exists on this beautiful island, but here are a few reasons I fell in love with Bali:
1. I was a millionaire. This one is a bit silly, I admit. However, one US dollar currently equals almost 15,000 Indonesian rupiah. So exchanging just $100, results in almost 1,500,000 rupiah. Instant millionaire. Since the increments are so high, they have coins up to 500 rupiah, so even when all the bills were spent, I still felt rich. There's something so fun about that, even when still having to pay 100,000 rupiah for something.
Not only were we millionaires, but with the low cost of accommodations (and really everything else) in Bali, we were able to stay in an partially open-air house that looked out over the ocean, with nothing block the view. This is not the type of place we typically book when we travel, but was so affordable, that we were able to treat ourselves. This is still my favorite place that we've ever stayed in, with its glass walls that open up to the ocean breeze, the private pool with ocean view, and the short walk down to the black sand beach. Andy found this gem and many others we've stayed in on Airbnb. We highly recommend booking through Airbnb, especially for more unique accommodations.
2. The locals are so friendly! Pictured below is our driver, Nyoman. He was kind and so open with us, answering all of our questions about Bali and taking us to all the beautiful places. We couldn't have asked for a better guide to the island.
Nyoman even gave us a tour of his family's terraced rice fields on the way back from our day in Ubud. It felt like an inside look at daily life in Bali. We weren't expecting anything like that and felt so fortunate to have Nyoman showing us around.
3. We explored intricately designed temples all day. Bali is not lacking in places of worship. There are uniquely beautiful temples at every turn, so we rented a scooter and zipped around the island trying to find them all. We got a bit lost a couple of times, but found our way eventually and were rewarded for our efforts with beautiful temples, each one different than the last.
4. The water temples are unbelievably beautiful. Though we were fascinated by all of the temples we saw, the water temple, Gunung Kawi Sebatu in Tegallalang was by far our favorite. It is one of the least visited temple complexes on the island, which meant that there were very few tourists there with us. A dream! Instead of being filled with tourists, it's filled with blooming gardens and clear pools fed by natural springs. It's only about seven miles outside of Ubud, but offers a whole other level of tranquility.
Since we were in shorts, we had to wear these sarongs while inside of the temple, but they were provided to us for no change at the entrance. We did have to pay a small entrance fee, but it was probably less than a dollar with the exchange rate.
5. The street food is insanely good. We tried Nasi Campur, and it was incredible -- flavorful, with just enough kick. And so cheap! As a novice traveler, I was hesitant to buy food from a random street vendor in a foreign country, but Andy encouraged me to go for it and he was so right. I would order this again in a heartbeat.
There is so much to love about Bali, but my favorite thing is how natural it feels. It doesn't seem as though it has been designed for tourists to enjoy. Sure, there are resorts on the white sand beaches near the airport that probably have that feel, if that's what you're going for. But for tourists who want to get off the beaten path, away from resorts, hotels, and tour packages, Bali is a dream. Rent a scooter and explore. You won't be disappointed.
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