Name: Amy Hadley
Place Travelled: Bali, Indonesia
What was your favourite city in Bali and why?
Candidasa is a beach paradise far away from the tourist oriented areas like Kuta, Seminyak and Ubud. I was lucky enough to be staying with friends who live in Bali, who always recommend this place to visitors (they have been visiting Candidasa for years.) It is a relatively secluded area with beautiful beaches and few resorts. I’d definitely recommend it if you want a little escape from tourist traps and highly populated places.
Five items that were absolute must have on your trip to Bali?
⇒ Tropical strength insect repellent – the insects take NO mercy. When buying repellent, don’t skimp on buying tropical strength.
⇒ Both laxatives and anti-diarrhoea meds – at some point, you will either need to poop your pants, or not poop for a week. It’s better to be covered for both scenarios.
⇒ Bottled water – drinking out of a tap in pretty much any South-East Asian country is a terrible idea. Thankfully, bottled water is sold everywhere. Plus, icy cold water is great relief for when you’re hot and sweaty.
⇒ Lightweight shawl – popping into a temple? Going to a beach? Don’t want to be sunburnt? Wrap yourself up in a lightweight shawl thing. (Is there an actual name for these?)
⇒A bag with a zip – as with many countries, pick pocketing isn’t dangerous, but it is opportunistic. Instead of leaving your items in pockets, put everything into a bag with a zip. Tote bags definitely not recommended.
Did you find any sights or activities down the road less travelled?
Mt. Batur is one of the most beautiful places in Bali. The winding drive there is stunning, and if you make it to Batur hot springs, your jaw will drop! The view from the natural springs looking over the river and mountains is truly incredible. It’s in a pretty remote area, so I’d recommend taking a day trip to do it. There are also hiking tours up to the top of Mt. Batur. The walk starts before sunrise and takes about three hours. I didn’t actually do it, but apparently it is well worth the battle to see the beautiful view at the peak.
#TBT to the weirdest thing to happen to you in Bali?
I have always been non-religious, however I accidentally became Hindu on this trip. When I was staying with my friend, he invited me to his family’s village to celebrate Galungan (a Balinese Hindu celebration). I met his whole extended family, and was allowed to participate in their rituals and prayers. I bowed my head, did the relevant movements, drank fragrant water and placed wet rice on my head as a sign of blessing. As a blonde white girl, I stood out like a sore thumb, particularly when inside the village temple. After the ceremony was completed, my friend whispered to me, “You technically just became Hindu.”
This didn’t change my lifestyle in anyway, but I truly appreciate that his family welcomed me into their celebration. It also made me very thankful that I was able to enjoy a Balinese tradition which is so important to their culture.
Mandatory student austerity question: What was the budget like for Bali?
I was lucky enough to be staying with friends, so in my case accommodation was free. However in Bali, you can stay in a resort suite with your own pool for about as much (per night) as you’d pay to stay in the Sydney CBD on a weekend. In areas such as Seminyak, Kuta and Uluwatu, accommodation prices are hiked way up as those are the most popular areas for tourists to stay. Try staying in neighbouring areas to keep accommodation prices low, but your baller status high.
Food is very cheap if you’re eating in warungs or cooking your own food. If you’re eating in restaurants or on the beach, you’ll be paying a bit extra. Same goes for drinking – you’ll pay more for sipping a cocktail while watching the sun set over the ocean. That being said, there isn’t a huge disparity between food and drink prices across Bali. I’m talking an extra dollar or so to recline on a beanbag with a Bintang.
Clothing and souvenir shopping in Bali mostly goes one of two ways. You go into a store where you can’t negotiate and buy X, Y and Z. Or you go to a market, battle crowds, attempt to wheel and deal with the sales person, and end up with knock-off X, Y and Z. The shopping really isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. That being said, if you’ve been dreaming of buying fake Ray Bans or a Bintang singlet, go crazy in the markets.
#Foodbucketlist: Best eats in Bali?
For an authentic experience, don’t shy away from warungs. They serve food cart meals, but at tables. I’ll be the first to admit that they look a bit dodgy, however they are worth trying. Warungs serve massive plates of traditional food. Like at an old-school RSL, you choose which hot meals you’d like. Add a drink or crackers, and you have yourself a true Balinese feed for about $3 AUD.
If you’re craving Western food, try Pizza Hut! For locals, going to Western restaurants is a big deal, so the customer service is that of a fine dining restaurant. It’s a bizarre experience.
What advice would you give to other people who is traveling to Bali?
If you’re travelling to Bali, do not spend the majority of your time inside a resort or at the tourist hot spots. The resorts trap you in a beautiful little bubble where you don’t experience the reality of Bali. Locals live completely differently to what most tourists experience or hear about, so don’t be alarmed if you see something which other people didn’t mention to you.
My travel mantra is…
Prepare for as many situations as possible, but be ready to freely go where your travels take you.