RU Abroad with Jasmin: Bali

I was so excited for reading week abroad because it meant the opportunity to take a trip for longer than just a weekend getaway! My options moved from Australia to Myanmar, Dubai, Philippines, and then somehow ended up being Bali (an Island in Indonesia)! But I wouldn’t have had it any other way.

Bali ended up being a solo trip. Before I left for my time abroad, one of the things on my bucket list was to complete a solo trip because I’d heard so many great things about travelling alone. I did end up meeting up with a few friends while I was in Bali. The idea of going alone and even doing a lot of my trip solo, scared me. But I’ve always been told that if something scares you, you should try it. So I did! And I have no regrets whatsoever.

Check out the highlights of my Bali trip below!

HELLO PARADISE

I stepped out of Denpasar airport scared, excited, and ready to conquer Bali! I had made an itinerary in advance, so I had a rough idea of how my trip was going to go. But I made sure to keep an open mind and some room for flexibility, just in case.

Not going to lie, I stood at the front of the airport for about 15 minutes before I finally gathered together my courage and told myself it was time to go. My first solo adventure… eee!!

UBUD

First stop was Ubud! I had initially planned 2 days in this city, but I probably could have stayed here for my entire trip. Ubud was definitely the calmer more holistic side of Bali and I loved it. Balinese culture oozed from every street corner, as the Balinese people went forth on their daily rituals and worshipping. I was told that about 90% of people in Bali follow the Hindu religion, and the culture was unlike anything I’ve ever seen before. The balinese were so proud, welcoming and happy. It was one of the most beautiful sights of culture I’ve ever witnessed.

Aside from culture, Ubud was health food HEAVEN. Every street corner had cafe’s and restaurants with menu’s filled of fresh pressed juices, smoothies, vegetarian health food and even healthy desserts. I definitely went overboard that week in eating food, but hey, splurging is sometimes a good thing. Here are a couple yummy meals that were finger-lickin delicious.

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The first dinner I had was Balinese coconut curry, rice and a green juice. Mmmm!
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Lemongrass Ice cream! Yup, that’s a thing and it was SO. GOOD.

 

While in Ubud, I stayed at a home stay called ‘Wayan Family Homestay” Home stays are essentially families who have really large properties that rent out their rooms to tourists for a relatively good price. Bali was one of the more pricey places I visited, so a home stay was a great option both economically and comfort wise. I ended up with an adorable room with a large queen bed, and private bathroom for about $14 a night. So I really couldn’t complain! Plus there was a smoothie shop right down the street (meaning I went there every single day!)

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The cozy room of my home stay!

The thing about Ubud is that there are so many activities to do! Bali is definitely in the list top places for a lot of tourists. But I liked Ubud because it didn’t feel extremely touristy and busy as the main city (Kuta), yet still had so many activities to offer that were exciting and new.

My First Honeymoon (And rafting experience)

On an impulse, I booked a tour to go white water rafting. When I arrived at the place, I was put in a group with two other people, Amanda and Aaron, from Australia. The three of us would be in a raft together, and I soon learned that Amanda and Aaron were on their honeymoon. At first, I felt bad as if I was intruding on their honeymoon. But they were both such friendly and kind people, that it felt like we were a group of friends going on an adventure. There was a ton of laughing, splashing (I also almost fell out of the boat), and a serious arm workout from paddling and maneuvering the raft. But our guide was so funny and we had a blast splashing other rafts and making out way through the rafting course. 100% would recommend this for anyone looking for an exciting activity on the water (and also if you want to build some nice arm muscles).

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Climbing my first mountain

One my accomplishments in Bali was hiking up my first mountain! It was scary, exhilarating and one of the most challenging things I’ve done in my life. But hands-down, one of the most rewarding and memorable as well.  The hike was a sunrise hike, meaning that we’d reach the top of the mountain in time to watch the sunrise. A friend from one of my classes in Singapore happened to be in Bali at the same time as me, so we decided to do the hike together.

At 2 a.m. there was a knock on our door: it was the driver picking us up for the hike. It was pouring rain outside and I was having second thoughts about the hike. But the driver assured us that we would still be hiking and that it wouldn’t be raining at the top of the mountain.

On our way, we picked up 5 other people, all who were travellers and whom we ended up bonding with. After a quick breakfast of tea and pancakes, we were off to start the mountain climb!

Mount Batur is 1,717 M above ground. We were handed flashlights, a snack-pack and started the hike at about 3:30 a.m. Every group of 4 people were assigned a guide and our guide was so sweet and helpful. He pointed out the best ways to climb and told the funniest stories on the way up.

About two hours later, I can remember running up the final part of the hike, seeing the top of the mountain and an insanely stunning view of the city below us and another mountain in the distance. My legs were tired and it was freezing at the top, but the feeling of being what felt literally like on top of the world, was incredible.

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What’s an adventure without a selfie stick?

At the top of the mountain, we were given some breakfast and got to relax  a little bit. In the middle of eating, we heard a bunch of noises and suddenly a herd of monkeys appeared. I know what you’re thinking, “Aw that’s so cute.” But to be honest, I’ve learned that monkey’s aren’t actually the friendliest of creatures in SE Asia. They are actually pretty mischievous and one of them walked right over to me and stole my whole box of breakfast! I honestly was in shock and sad that I had no breakfast. But it happened so quickly and unexpectedly that I couldn’t help but laugh.

The monkey minion that stole my breakfast!

 

The climb down was actually harder that the climb up. But we made it down safe and sound, and on the way home we stopped in to sneak a view of the amazing rice fields as well as a coffee plantation to see how they made coffee in Bali.

 

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7 a.m. overlooking the stunning beauty of rice fields. Happy is an understatement.

 

SEMINYAK

Next up on the Agenda was Seminyak! Seminyak is a smaller town not too far off from Kuta. But it’s less busy and more artsy. I would probably describe this as the Queen West of Bali.

I stayed in Seminyak only for a night, but it was a night to remember. My friend from Singapore I had met up with, Elvira, alongside with another friend I had met up with by chance from back home, Dana, all decided we would splurge on a Villa for one night. It was a nice way to relax after the business of all the activities in Ubud. The villa came with it’s own pool, kitchen, two giant bedrooms, and the coolest outdoor showers ever! Definitely worth the splurge. (And by splurge I mean it was about $30 each,)

The next day, we explored Seminyak’s quaint and cute streets, that were lined with independently owned clothing stores. Later into the evening, we took a trip down south to Uluwatu, where we visited one of Bali’s famous temples called the Uluwatu Temple. In order to enter, you have to wear a piece of fabric around waist known as a Sarong. This is for respect purposes to ensure people are dressed appropriately to enter a place of worship. The temple was on top of a mountain and there were some spectacular views overlooking the sea.

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Overlooking the Uluwatu Temple.

 

In addition to this, we also watched a traditional balinese dance known as a Kecak Fire Dance. It was extremely unique, and I can’t say I’ve ever seen something like it before. It was like a cultural dance combined with a love story and a lot of fire (yes, real fire). Definitely a cultural memory I’ll never forget.

 

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Dana and I with one of the performers from the dance show.

 

SANUR

Sanur was up next on the list, and most people I talked to described it as a place for the retired and laid-back because it was super slow paced. But I knew I wanted to explore Sanur regardless, especially because I had two things on my mind: Yoga and Açai bowls!!

I knew I wouldn’t be leaving Bali without taking a Yoga class. So after doing my research, I picked a place called “Power of Now Oasis.” It got great reviews and the classes were done in a large bamboo hut that overlooked onto the beach. It was a beautiful scene to really set the tone for the class. Now I’m not going to say it was the best yoga class only because it was Bali. But just the overall atmosphere, the instructor and my mindset truly made it the best yoga class I took. I’ve taken many yoga classes before, but this is the one where I found I was truly focusing on myself and listening to my body. I’ve found in the past that I sometimes compare myself to not being as flexible or strong as other people. But honestly, yoga is not a competition! At the end of the day, it’s between you, your body and your mind, and that learning lesson never felt more true to itself than in that class.

Part two of my exploration in Sanur was to track down my dream snack: A Pitaya Açai bowl!! Açai bowls are a new health food trend and they’ve also made their way to Toronto. But this one used purple Pitaya, also known as dragon fruit, which is not as common back home. They blend it together with Açai, which comes from the Açai berry, and is known as a super food. Finally, it’s topped with a delicious amount of fruits, granola and coconut (my fav!). IT. WAS. HEAVENLY. It tastes like a delicious fruity explosion in your mouth and I probably shouldn’t have eaten lunch beforehand because it was so filling, I couldn’t finish it!

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THE BEAUTIFUL AÇAI BOWL

KUTA

The final stop on the list was Kuta, Bali’s main hustle bustle city. I must admit that there wasn’t too much to do in Kuta, but I’m still glad I saw it regardless! I spent some time at my hotel I was staying at, and they had a rooftop pool (WHICH WAS SO BOMB). Weirdly enough it was my first time swimming since I came to Asia (what?!) but it was nice to relax and reflect on my last day in the city. I even got some reading in, which I definitely need to do more of!

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Balinese bliss.

The last bits of my time in Bali were spent aimlessly wandering the city, which always ends up being a good idea because I find new things every time. I came across Kuta beach right at sunset, which was such a lovely sight. I’m a sucker for sunsets because of the colour melange that happens to the sky; it’s such a great way to appreciate nature’s beauty and enjoy the calmness of the atmosphere.

BYE BYE BALI

Bali was a blast to say the least! Though I didn’t travel entirely solo, it was a trip that taught me a lot about having an open mind and how human connection and conversation can go a long way. I know that a full solo trip is still on my bucket-list of things to do, and I’m making sure that I do it before I leave!! If you are considering visiting Bali, do know it’s something you won’t regret! From the beauty of culture, to the to-die-for health food, and all the fun activities, there’s no way you could be bored! (And I only travelled less than a quarter of the Island!) I always remember thinking “Why would I do something that scares me.” But now, I understand why. There’s always adventure to be found, and sometimes, doing something you never thought you’d do before, might exactly be the push you need to uncover what awaits you.

 

Take care and keep smiling!

x o

Jas