I’ve always wanted to visit this seemingly magical place that has been hiding across the globe. Also, I have to admit that reading and watching Eat, Pray, Love only turned that interest into longing. However, on this trip we’ve received mixed reviews of this island in Indonesia from fellow travelers so when we finally decided to add it as a destination on our trip, I wasn’t sure what to expect.
What I learned from my visit is that Bali will reward you for what you put into your trip there. Yes, it is overrun with tourists from Australia and yes, they are partying non-stop on the coast, especially around Kuta.
It wouldn’t be hard to get wrapped up in the constant party scene of vacationers and expats there. However, there is more to this island than first meets the eye. To see the beauty and culture of this unique island, you have to do the work and dig deeper under the touristy beach scene.
When you go to Bali, I advise you to travel deep into the island to see a small town of Ubud, the historical spot of Bali. There you will discover what the locals are most proud of. On the picturesque way into the town, we passed rivers, forests, rice plantations and multiple local temples.
As we explored the island, we quickly noticed something very interesting that makes the island unique in the most muslim country in the world, which is the fact that Bali is mostly Hindu.
It is believed that a holy man from India, whose name was Rsi Markaneya traveled to Bali on a spiritual journey to spread the teachings of Hinduism. He fell in love with Bali and was attracted to the spot where Ubud stands now, a magical place that he thought radiated light and energy. I know what you meant, Rsi.
Once in town, we visited the Hindu Temple that was established by Rsi, the Ubud palace and cave temples at Goa Gajah. I recommend doing them all – the images of these sights with stay with you forever.
What I enjoyed the most though was simply strolling through town checking out sights, watching folks selling various handmade good and peaking into medicine shops. The name “Ubud” comes from the Balinese word ubad (medicine) so you will also find many local, handmade recipes to heal your soul, body and mind.
We stayed at a really nice hostel by the beach, called Island hotel, and lounged around by the pool sipping on cheap beers during hostel’s happy hour.
Those beers were only a little over a dollar. A great thing about Indonesia is the exchange rate for a dollar so being there truly felt like a vacation even given a tight backpacker budget.
Honestly, I loved Bali and everything about it. Maybe it’s overrun with drunken tourists but we’ve had a few conversations about moving there. We’ve met a few ex-pats who are enjoying the comfortable life in a country with a lower standard of living and where many people speak at least a little English.