I’ll put my hand up, I was a sceptic when it came to Bali.
Typically labelled as the Aussie getaway for all things boozy, cheap and ‘bogan’, I’d been dodging Bali for quite some time, opting for places like Fiji or New Zealand instead. But this year I took the plunge, in desperate need of a holiday and something (dare I say) cheap, I booked myself and my partner on a two-week escape to Bali. Keen to make the most of my time and to ensure myself an experience beyond the typical Aussie piss up, I did my research and decided to leave my trip to the experts at Intro Travel.
Up at, what seemed like, the crack of dawn for our flight. Everything went as you would hope when it comes to flying, without incident. Waiting to disembark at Denpasar as the warm humid climate starts to seep into the plane, I have to refrain from making any sort of animal noises as the crammed aisle reminds me of cattle being herded. We make it off, collect our luggage and make our way through border security; I didn’t even bring a boogie board but I’m suddenly concerned I’ve smuggled drugs in with it.
For a bit of relaxation, before we started our 12 day adventure on Balintro, we booked in for a night at a private villa. Based in Seminyak, Nyuh; which is Balinese for coconut, was the perfect place to recoup. Collected at the airport by a member of staff, we needed not think from that moment onward as the staff catered for our every need and were happy to answer any questions. I’d never had food so delicious served to my room from the fresh fish served for dinner to breakfast by the pool; I often fantasize about devouring plate after plate of their French toast.
Sadly, we did have to leave the next day but what ensued over the next 12 days with Balintro completely opened up my eyes to the beauty of Bali and it’s people. Bali, being so close to home and so regularly frequented by Aussie’s it’s not uncommon to have news stories highlighting the thievery, blackmailing and misfortunes that befall holiday goers. It was exactly these types of stories which made me wonder why anyone ever went. But if you get beyond the resort holiday destinations of Seminyak and Kuta, you begin to see the wonders that Bali holds.
Balintro allowed us an insight into Bali that on my own I wouldn’t have even known existed, yet I got to experience and absorb every last morsel of Bali’s splendour. Beyond Kuta to Uluwatu, Canggu, Lovina, the Gili Islands and Ubud our guide, Dave ensured that our adventure was also a culinary delight, meal after meal I indulged in the most delicious fresh seafood; if you’re going to Bali and not lapping up the smorgasbord of seafood available to you, you’re doing it wrong.
Not just a treat for the tastebuds, Bali is a delight for the eyes albeit rubbish that lines the streets, bear in mind this is a third world country, Bali has some amazing landscapes. Unfortunately, despite the advancements in technology, photos just don't do any justice to the rice fields panoramas, nor the blue waters surrounding the Gili Islands or the lush rainforests that hug the winding mountain roads.
But the real highlights of Bali is the beings that inhabit this small piece of Indonesia; thepeople and the animals. One incredible experience that Balintro allowed us that we otherwise wouldn't have had is an insight into the life of a Balinese family. Atop the mountains of Lovina we were able to visit a local families house and learn about how they make a living from the land and from basket weaving. We got to interact with their kids, who mainly took pride in upstaging us with their basket weaving skills, and sitting down to a Balinese feed (honestly some of the best food I've ever tasted).
And at every stop along the way there were animals; monkeys, snakes, dogs, dolphins, fish, turtles and more monkeys! The cheek of the monkeys created for some entertaining moments along the way. Catching an unsuspecting tourist off guard with a slap before run off with his sunnies and another showcasing his prize; a thong (flip flop) for all to see. Although hilarious to watch misfortune befall others, I kept an eye out for any sudden movements when in the presence of these mischief makers. And then the days spent in and on the water; watching pods of dolphins surface, jump and spin out the water and swimming alongside the fish and sea turtles, all incredible experiences.
Bali, I apologise for my initial opinions and recoiling whenever someone mentioned your name. I'm grateful that you had so much more to offer than I expected; thank you for proving me wrong!
20 May - 2 June, 2017