We made it! We arrived in Seminyak, a beach town in Bali, Indonesia on 3/1/17 around 3:30pm local time and went straight to the beach. The weather was perfect – sunny, hot, and somewhat humid. We jumped in the ocean to wash off the feeling of cramped, stuffy airplanes and went for a stroll. We caught a fantastic sunset and let the feeling of our arrival sink in while we enjoyed a tasty Bintang (the local beer). It’s really happening! Totally surreal.
After cleaning up in our hotel (Primera Hotel Seminyak -good location but mediocre overall – http://primerahotelseminyak.com), we strolled the town and took in the sights. Busy, hot streets full of scooters and vendors. Lots of international tourists. We slept REALLY well that night after almost 24 hours of travel.
On 3/2/17, we woke up and hit the beach. We surfed, we napped, we walked, we read.
That night, we drank in another amazing sunset while enjoying some live music on the beach. The highlight of Seminyak seems to be the beach party scene. To us, it felt similar to the beach party towns of Mexico, but with an Asian twist. Incredibly fun, and a perfect, mellow start to the trip, but we didn’t feel a need to spend more than two nights here.
On 3/3/17, it was off to Ubud! How incredibly easy it is to fall in love with this place. Charming streets full of curious shops and unique restaurants, all surrounded by lush jungle terrain and beautiful rice terraces.
Ubud caters to those seeking to cleanse the mind and body – a place of healing, health, and spirituality. Think yoga, spa, meditation, and organic restaurants (although there are still plenty of bars full of Bintang and cigarettes for those not looking to cleanse). Overall, the atmosphere is slower and cleaner than Seminyak. Less aggressive vendors. Picturesque surroundings everywhere. Very friendly locals.
Our lodging in Ubud, Jati Homestay (http://www.jatihs.com/), was a fabulous treat, especially for the price. Perfect location, beautiful rooms and grounds, and warm, welcoming staff.
We stayed in Ubud for three nights, although we both wished we had decided to stay for an extra night or two. On our first day, we hiked through the rice terraces just outside of town and enjoyed a dip in the local river to freshen up before heading to dinner. Swoon.
We ate as much of the local Balinese and Indonesian food as possible (delicious) without blowing our budget. Our favorites were Rendang and Gado Gado. Healthy fresh fruit smoothies are big in Ubud as well and are fantastic!
Our second day in Ubud, we hiked a bit more and explored the rest of the town, including a stop by the entrance of the Sacred Monkey Forest. There were many monkeys scurrying about the several blocks outside the entrance. We stopped to watch for a while and were certainly amused, but neither of us felt a need to pay to go inside the actual forest itself.
That night, we were picked up at 2am to go on the local sunrise trekking tour of Mount Batur, a 1717 meter (5,633 ft) active volcano on the Northeast part of Bali. It was most recently active in 2000, and a large lava field from an eruption in 1968 is still visible.
All of the locals we spoke with told us that it is illegal to hike the volcanos without a guide. Although many online accounts state that it is not actually illegal, there are many stories of people trying to climb without a guide and getting harassed by the local “mafias”. So, although not our preference, we decided to go with one of the local guiding services.
Regardless, our guides were friendly and the hike was certainly worth it for the views alone. Although beware, it is definitely a popular tourist attraction! You are likely to be in the company of many others on Mount Batur.
If we would have had more time, we would have preferred to hike Mount Agung, the tallest volcano on Bali (3031 m, 9944 ft); however, we weren’t able to book this trip due to our time constraint. This trek would have been far less crowded as it is a seriously rigorous climb, so it’s on the list for next time!
Overall, couldn’t have been more pleased with Bali as our first stop. Somehow, we managed to have perfect weather each day in spite of forecasted daily thunderstorms. Okay, it was a little hot for us, but we’ll take it! Fun fact, we’re 2 for 2 for finding cockroaches in our hotel rooms so far…
We are filled with overwhelming gratitude and excitement. Is this real life?!? On to Singapore!