Photography and travel blog

Indonesia – Bali

Denpasar
We arrived here at 9 pm on New Year’s Eve with no accommodation booked. We knew it would be tough to find a room since we had called many hotels earlier to no avail. We walked in the area by the bus station and found a beautiful, high-end hotel. They were fully booked so we sat in the lobby and called different guesthouses. We were planning on spending the night in the lobby until the manager said that a room had opened up. It was an expensive room, basically 15 times the price we usually pay. We decided to take the room since we were feeling really sleep-deprived from our time in Java. We couldn’t find accommodation the second night either, so we stayed in the beautiful hotel again. It was exciting to be in such a nice room. It had a flat-screen television, there were no ants in the room, the shower pressure was amazing, the room was beautifully decorated, the room-service food was delicious and best-of-all, it was clean! It’s amazing the little things you miss, or rather the low standards you become accustomed to while travelling.

Ubud
A touristy but lovely bohemian town in the middle of Bali. We visited the various temples within its vicinity including Goa Gajah, Tirta Empul and Gunung Kawi, the latter which was the most beautiful since it was set in a valley lined with rice paddies. Tirta Empul was the most interesting since it was built around hot springs which the local Balinese believe have purification powers. The pools were overcrowded with locals cleansing themselves.

The city is also home to many artisans and artist productions. We caught a Kecak Dance which was great. And we saw a shadow puppet show which was a huge disappointment because it was of the “man-in-his-basement” quality.

We pampered ourselves with excellent cheap food and full-body massages. The only negative was our hotel: our room was ant-infested and the hotel was managed by a really strange man. Ubud was one of my favourite places in Southeast Asia.

Padang Bai
We came to this small fishing village on the east side of Bali so my friend could go diving. I snorkelled for the first-time. The atmosphere was amazingly relaxed and the people were very friendly. We took a daytrip to Tirta Gangga, site of an amazing water palace with pools, statues and fountains.

The village is set amidst volcanoes and lovely rice paddies.

Kuta
It is the most Westernized and touristy city of Bali. It’s overpopulated with Australians, young and old. My friend wanted to dance so we went to a club. It was patronized by underage White Australians, middle-aged White men and Indonesian escorts/prostitutes. It was a strange demographic distribution for a club. It was clear who was there to party, who was there to work and who was there to buy some services. My friend and I did not fit into any of those categories and I’m sure most people assumed we were there to offer our services. A man took my photo when I walked in, my friend had men grabbing her arm, and I had a drunk Australian girl try to dance with me.

We took in a Barong Dance, a mythological storytelling about good and evil. The background is filled with the lovely sounds of the gamelan. The most interesting aspect of the dance is the end, when the men come onto stage in a trance and stab themselves for a ritualistic cleansing.

Bali was a refreshing change from Java. Although the first two days were tough since we spent a lot of time looking for accommodation, the remaining time was wonderful. I can see why my friend called Bali her favourite place on earth. The people are generous, the atmosphere is relaxed and the landscape is beautiful. It’s a little piece of paradise and I hope I can go again in the future.



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