“So who took your pictures?”, “Weren’t you bored by yourself?”, “How’s the food?”… Just a small number of all the questions I was asked while on my solocation in Hong Kong and Bali, Indonesia and when I had returned. Worry not beloveds, I’ve dedicated myself to answering any possible questions you may have about the exquisite pilgrim and tropical destination that is Bali.
Initially, my solocation was purposed to be a girls trip with my best friend. To get away and just relax and spend some time together, considering we don’t get a lot of time to.
Behold the universe… always working its plans for your own good, unsolicited. For me? soul searching plans, solitudinous plans, plans for discovery and boy was it everything I needed.
Anyway, before I go on into a philosophical song, let me get right into it!
I’m not going to cover much of my stay in Hong Kong because it was really nothing to write home about. All I really did, was do some work, go to Disneyland and shop. The most exciting thing being Disneyland, I’m sure you would guess. The Hong Kong Disneyland is quite small if I must say, nonetheless like any other, a lovely place to go on a cute and fun-filled date or to take your little terrorists to live out their Disney dreams and have a one day pass at a sugar high.
I was quite exhausted and feeling really sick on this day, so rest and planning towards the rest of the week was top of mind.
The energy in Kuta, Bali is ever pumped and I can confidently say that this is the case in every part of Bali that is popular with tourists. I had so much FOMO (fear of missing out) watching everyone walking up and down the streets, cocktail or beer in hand, jamming to the music coming from the pubs and restaurants. My mind was telling me yes, but my body… my body was telling me no!
I decided to get myself some snacks, drinks and ramen, stream Married to Medicine and plan towards making this a picturesque pilgrimage.
Let’s look pretty and go get to know the town! Okay I didn’t get up this enthusiastically. Firstly, nausea was making a home out of my body, secondly my body clock was still tuned to home and not to Indonesia (I didn’t mind when I was in Hong Kong, because as I said, it wasn’t exactly anything to write home about. On my first day, I went to bed on the second day so hey).
I got up anyway, did my make-up, got into a cute outfit and headed out. I’m not a fan of bikes, like I am terrified of them, but bike culture there is like taxi (not meter) culture at home, they’re the economical and readily available option should you not want to take a meter cab and unfortunately the same way that sometimes the passenger taxi doors will be broken/the seat belt be non-existent here at home, with the bikes you won’t always be handed a helmet… so hold on tight! I visited the markets, which aren’t necessarily designated in a particular ‘spot’, there’s a vendor selling something in almost every street and on many different parts of the street and many of them sell the same things.
Now, the first mistake I made upon arrival was not enquiring with tourists or reception at the hotel how much a local bike ride (places within about 0-10km radius to where I was staying. Or let me say Kuta Beach for a general reference) should cost. On this day, on my first bike ride, I was charged 200 000 IDR (Indonesian Rupiah), almost R200 from my hotel to Kuta Beach. I was shocked but I considered a few things – I’m not from here so I wouldn’t know, I was too busy instastorying to tell how far we’d travelled and I had also made the driver stop to take a pictures of me in the middle of the trip.
Later that evening when I had learned that my hotel is a walking distance from/to Kuta Beach and that a local bike ride is in fact 50 000 IDR (almost R50) I was so annoyed! But hell, we live to learn.
Kuta Beach is quite a vibe. Lovely place to head out with friends to drink, soak in the gorgeous sunset and chill. I wouldn’t advise one to go swim there, but that’s just my overall apprehension with being in a bikini and getting in water in front of hundreds of people, speaking. Look that beach gets packed.
Following the sunset, I headed to a restaurant right across the road called The Sandbar. What honestly ushered me there was the 2 for 1 cocktails, and man do they make a bomb ass Cosmopolitan! The food isn’t the greatest, but those cocktails honey… everything!
Just a heads up, there’s many Western as well as other specialty cuisine restaurants in Bali, but please don’t expect all the food to taste how it ‘should’. You are in Indonesia after all, so the best food you’ll get is Indonesian food. (Kind of like South Africa and Romans Pizza).
A lovely spot to have good Indonesian food around Kuta Beach is at a restaurant called Gabah Indonesian Cuisine.
My day started at 7A.M. I booked what is a called an Instagram tour on Get Your Guide, and it was the best thing I did for myself (I’ll put a link below). For about R3000, you get a personal guide who doubles as a photographer and takes you on an adventure and activity filled 2 day tour – all the popular tourist attractions in Bali, but not only that, the ones deemed Instagram worthy (I am a blogger and an insta-storyteller after all).
My guides name was Katut (like the shaman on Eat, Pray, Love), and right upon introduction my spirit new he was going to make this an incredibly unforgettable experience for me. I think I felt this way, because I really fell in love with Katut the shaman when I read the book.
He first introduced me to the distinctions between the Bali Mula, which are the ‘old’ Balinese people (Mula meaning Origin) and the ‘new’ Balinese people. The Bali Mula, were believers of the spirit – everything in life and around us has a spirit. The new Balinese people surfaced in the 14thcentury, this was in the time that the big Hindu Kingdom in East Java was collapsed by several smaller Muslim Kingdoms. Hinduism was then brought into Bali, but they didn’t diminish or remove the beliefs of the Bali Mula, instead they combined the two. He then told me about the Hindu religion, how they praise, the sacrifices, the shrines on each building and every home. You’ll notice on the shrines, two different cloths. The black and white represents the Bali Mula and the yellow represents the new Balinese.
This teaching from him made sense considering our first stop was the famous Lempayung Temple, where the Gates of Heaven are.
The drive from where I was staying to Lempayung temple was quite long, but it was worth it. The strip of the drive is so beautiful, you pass the stunningly architected and manicured rice fields, see a couple of beautiful statues that have interesting mythologies attached to them and you just become so taken by the modest tropical sites you see in passing. If you’re not one who enjoys long drives, I’d suggest staying in different areas of Bali when visiting, because everything there is to do is far out from one another, usually in different districts/areas.
You will need to wear a sarong and a shawl to cover your shoulders at the Lempayung Temple, this so as to show respect to the religious customs. This temple is magical! My word, the minute you walk in you’re just overcome by an appreciation for architecture and an amazing view, but also a secondary appreciation for the Hindu’s and their efforts at making this pilgrimage so easy to the eye aesthetically. Behind the temple, you can take in the magical views of Mount Agung which is in fact a dormant volcanic mountain.
The second stop was at Tirta Gangga, this is known as the most beautiful former royal water palace in Eastern Bali. There you can see beautiful fish while you walk over the water and admire the the tiered fountains and lush gardens. Quite underwhelming after experiencing the Lempayung temple and all its wonders, but beautiful nonetheless.
Next up, Tukad Cepung Waterfall. This is in the package, but I didn’t go because I was just too hungry, but it’s stunning! You get up close and personal with the waterfall and can swim in it. So we headed to this beautiful and scenic restaurant called Mahagiri Restaurant and Resort, and it overlooks the rice fields. Trust me, they look way better from the restaurant than they do from the roadsides of Ubud. Restaurant is a buffet style restaurant as well as off menu, but it’s better to opt for the buffet option for the tastiest and soulful Indonesian food experience.
I ended off my day at the jungle swing! This is about 30 meters of rope that extends you over the valley and jungle, the most adrenaline filled fun I’ve had in a while. The jungle swim park that I visited also incorporates coffee and tea tasting. They make their own coffee and tea, and as you walk into the park each tree carries the different ingredient. So you’ll walk past a coconut tree, then a mint tree, then a cocoa tree, then a vanilla plant and, and, and…
Another early morning. Day 2 of my 2 day tour and this day was spent on a small island right off of the east of Bali called Nusa Penida. How we get there? Aboard a fast boat at Sanur Beach. At most it takes an hour to get to the island. The islands roads are incredibly narrow so quite often you or the person coming from the opposite direction will have to come to a halt, so as to give the other right of way. We started at Pasih Uug known as Broken Beach, the view here is one of a kind. The water is the blue on a retouched stock image, it’s incredible. Because there are so many people coming to see the very wonders that you are coming to see, it’s quite hard to get an image here with no one in the background, so I had to move around quite a bit in order to get a picture with just me and the perfectly blue ocean in the background. I have to give Katut creative direction credits though. Love him!
Next up, Kelingking Secret Point Beach.
I love the saying, “The best view, comes from the hardest climb”, because I can apply it so well to this experience lol. I had to hike down the steep cliff for about an hour, mind you, the ‘stairs’ going down are really just carved out the rocks and the railing is bamboo sticks that you can’t exactly apply all your weight on. I hiked in flip flops because I had come to the party unaware of what was really going to go down. Imagine… scorching heat, rock, parts of of your soft feet occasionally touching the rock, if there was anything urging me down that cliff, it was getting my toasted feet into the beautiful cold beach water.
I finally get down and Lord behold, my feet are swallowed by the soft untouched sand and in my view is the crystal clear water that I’m itching to run into. Surreal.
I managed to get some rest into today, to start my day a bit later than 7A.M. Today I had set out to do the one thing that everyone has to do when visiting Bali. The floating breakfast.
I booked my breakfast the day before, at the Kamandalu Resort in Ubud.
I had been looking for scenic resorts or places to have my floating breakfast on several Instagram accounts as well as on google, and I finally came across Kamandalu on Asiyami Gold’s (@asiyami_gold) account and I was sold. I’m staying there on my second visit to Bali.
It took about an hour and a half to get there from Kuta (which is why I suggest staying in different parts of Bali when visiting) and I had been told that it’s quite a mission to get a cab around the area in which the resort is located, but fortunately my cab driver was kind enough to offer to wait for me - at a charge - and then take me to my next destination. The cab was fortunately a metered cab, so there wouldn’t be any cheating me this time, he then charged me a waiting fee of IDR 150 000 (about R150). Kamandalu Resort offers a floating breakfast, brunch and lunch, so there is no pressure to arrive early in the morning, if you’re a lazy sleeper like moi. The only condition is that you book a day or a few in advance, choose a time and commit to it because it’s very possible to find yourself sharing a pool with two other couples if you’re late, I witnessed this when I was getting ready to leave. For the floating breakfast, set aside about IDR 1 000 000 for two, and about IDR 600 000 if you’re by yourself.
My next stop was at the popular Potato Head Beach Club. I hadn’t been out the entire duration of my vacation in Bali, so I had to throw a couple back at the Beach Club. It’s very difficult to find a table and the beach couches and chairs are generally packed by the time that I arrived. Fortunately, I found the perfect spot at the bar facing the beach, and I was by myself so I wasn’t too stressed about seating and tables.
Almost everyone is walking around in a bikini, swimsuit or that and a cover up, so feel free to rock up in the same.
There’s metered cabs outside ready for use or you can get an app called Grab, it’s a similar concept to Uber.
I spent the 6thand the 7thdays taking walks on the beach, relaxing and doing last minute gift shopping for my loved ones. This trip is one that I’ll forever cherish and lean on for reminders of a time I grew into my solitude and fell in love with it.
Travelling alone for the first time is nerve wrecking and scary. I’ve done it before for New York Fashion Week but that was only for two days, ten days is quite loaded but it truly was one of the best things to happen to me.
TIPS & TRICKS
- Please master your negotiating skills before you get to Bali. Remember, you’re a foreigner with no clue on how informal businesses and vendors price their offerings, and they may take advantage of that. But, bargain respectfully.
- Do not pay more than IDR 80 000 for a local bike ride.
- Download the Grab app.
- Currently R1 = IDR 1030,50
- To book the tour that I did : https://www.getyourguide.com/bali-I347/bali-instagram-tour-the-most-scenic-spots-t162114/?referrer_view_id=740de5201aa1deba1305748f77bfce96&referrer_view_position=0
- Expect crowds. It’s one of the most visited islands in the world. So expect to wait in long lines at tourist spots.
- Respect religious customs.
- They really do appreciate it, I guess as in any other nation, when you attempt to speak a few words of the local language.
- Selamat pagi – Good morning
- Tolong –Please
- Terima kasih –Thank you
- Selamat sore –Good evening
- Selamat siang –Good afternoon
- Apa Kabah –How are you?
- Mahal –Expensive
- Berapa –How much?
I truly hope this gives you an idea of how you’ll experience this beautiful island when you go! People experience it differently, but one thing you’ll be told by many who’ve visited is how lovely, simple and friendly the Balinese people are. Enjoy!
Written By: Lerato Kgamanyane