This year, for the one week national holiday, Seth and I went to Bali, Indonesia. While we didn’t get to stay as long as we wanted and didn’t see nearly all the island has to offer, we had a great time and would love to go back.
We mainly stayed in Ubud. Ubud is in the center of the island, surrounded by jungles and nestled deep in Indonesian culture. The area is not nearly as developed as other parts of the island, which is just the way I like it. Ancient temples and traditional craftspersons are everywhere.
The first thing you need to know about Bali is that the airport is crazy! It was so much worse than any airport I have been in in China. The taxi drivers are very aggressive and will massively gouge you on rates. If you are going to Bali, make sure you book a hotel that provides an airport shuttle so you can get to your hotel safely and at a good rate. Taxis in general, though, are expensive compared to how cheap everything else on the island is.
The first thing we did was go to Monkey Forest. The forest delivers what it promises. There were monkeys everywhere! They are used to being fed by humans, so they will jump on you and take food from you (or your water bottle, or earrings, or Disney pins, or anything else they can grab) with no fear. The monkeys are free range and could leave the walled area if they wanted to, but they generally don’t because of the food. The forest isn’t very big, though, so it is a cheap, fun way to spend half a day.
The next day we went for some water fun! Bali is an island, so it is famous for its beaches and water sports. We did this really cool thing called a sea walk where you walk along the bottom of the ocean and wear a big dive helmet. It is great for people who wear glasses and can’t wear regular goggles or have problems using snorkels. We also did some snorkeling and a glass bottom boat ride, but those kind of sucked in comparison after the sea walk. If I ever go back, I really want to try some proper scuba diving.
After that we went to Sea Turtle Island. This made me a little uncomfortable. I mean, sea turtles don’t live on islands. After they are born, they go to the ocean and most never return. Male sea turtles never return to the land and females only return to lay eggs. The people running the island claimed they were all about sea turtle education and preservation, but it still made me feel squicky. I wouldn’t do it again. But they were super cute. We also got to hold a python, a toucan, and a big bat. So that was cool.
After that, we pretty much hung around the Ubud area, which is gorgeous. We did lots of shopping and eating! We also discovered my new favorite thing: the barong!
The barong is similar to the lion dancers we have here in China. The Barong is a lion-type of creature that is the King of Spirits and the Host of Good. We went to see a traditional Balinese dance/opera show that featured the barong, and it was so cool. If you ever go to Bali, there are dance troops putting on shows every night all over town. If you ever go, make sure you choose one that features the barong!
Bali really has a lot more to offer than we experienced. I hope to go back someday!
Have you been to Bali? What did you think? Let me know in the comments.