Sun And Sand: Best of Bali, Indonesia

16th Jan 2014
Photo of Sun And Sand: Best of Bali, Indonesia 1/5 by lucy m
Padang Padang Beach
Photo of Sun And Sand: Best of Bali, Indonesia 2/5 by lucy m
Padang Bai bay
Photo of Sun And Sand: Best of Bali, Indonesia 3/5 by lucy m
Pura Ulun Danu Beratan
Photo of Sun And Sand: Best of Bali, Indonesia 4/5 by lucy m
Photo of Sun And Sand: Best of Bali, Indonesia 5/5 by lucy m
Tanah Lot

My first impression of it was more relaxed than mainland south east Asia. The culture there is very different due to certain factors such as predominant religions like Islam and Hinduism and the country's situation as an archipelago. The roads are smooth and traffic moves efficiently, Indonesians are among the friendliest people on the planet even if it is the country of the hard sale. I felt the way I felt when I landed in Australia for the first time: relaxed and looked after. I was slightly awed, anticipating but trying not to expect anything.

To get around Bali for as little money as possible, rent a bike for the equivalent of £2 a day. Learn some basic Bahasa and enjoy the best of Bali by endearing yourself to the locals. Most importantly, try the street food, Coffee Luwak (the afore-mentioned cat coffee) and get out of Kuta and in to the North to the rice terraces, fishing villages and mountains. I stayed in the lovely In Da Lodge in Ubud for 150,000 RP per night. There is more to paradise than beaches. Having said that, Padang Bai, the port town to the Gilis and Lombok, is well worth a visit. There is a great lack of development in this area, an abundance of diving and a secluded and empty bay here.

Deepest, darkest Kuta is just like Patong. Hiding underneath a shiny sheen of clean footed and flip-flopped tourists with glowing skin, neon lights and pumping house music is an underbelly of poverty. Girls in skimpy dresses and people trying to make a buck where they can.

Photo of Kuta, Bali, Indonesia by lucy m

It takes about an hour to drive to the lovely little beach of Padang Padang in Pecatu from the mouth of hell. As you leave Jimbaran and follow the signs to Uluwatu, the road starts to transform in a building site. Half-started development upon development sit next to garish plastic billboards and giant signs promise a tourists' mecca to come. The beach itself is gorgeous. Yellow sands, bright blue turquoise seas that I haven't seen since Thailand. (Most shallow water looks quite dark here as many of the beaches are a dark volcanic sand). Maybe it's the high concentration of surfers nestled in the waves and in the seated crowd lining the shore, but the vibe here is quite relaxed, there's something a bit Thai, maybe even a bit North Devonshire about it. The walk down the steep cliff steps and the long, right peeling break flowing smoothly does seem to add to it. The green back roads coming up to Padang Padang remind me of Woolacombe, North Devon. As you climb the hill, the air becomes cooler underneath pockets of shade from the trees along the road and the lack of traffic hints at the undisturbed countryside. The trees are guarding the roadside and pavements have been abolished! Fresher air, fewer cars and great big coaches clogging up small roads- distinctly Devon!

Photo of Pecatu, Bali, Indonesia by lucy m

The next day I ate up Tanah Lot, a famous Hindu temple built on a rock. Once upon a time it might have been attached to the island but is now atop a rock pile on the shore of Bali. The whole place is like a religious garden, smaller temples are hanging on cliff tops on either side of the main attraction and I couldn't help but be reminded of the Twelve Apostles off the Great Ocean Road in Australia. There, great rock outcrops and eroded land masses stick up out of the sea where they had once been part of the coast line. I always think they are an ever present reminder of the power of the sea.

Photo of Tanah Lot, Bali, Indonesia by lucy m
Photo of Tanah Lot, Bali, Indonesia by lucy m
Photo of Tanah Lot, Bali, Indonesia by lucy m
Photo of Tanah Lot, Bali, Indonesia by lucy m
Photo of Tanah Lot, Bali, Indonesia by lucy m

"So this is the place I should have been for the last two months", was my first thought as I wound my way through a sexily curved hill. Padang Bai is a small, annexed fishing village with a little bay, a secret white sand beach (that's the beach's actual name) a few warungs and guest houses and some deep emerald hills directly behind. Despite its' fishy orientation there's a freshness there that is missing in South Bali. It's the lack of bike fumes and rubbish. Most people pass through on their way to get their rocks off on Gilli-T. Big mistake, this place gets my vibe.

Photo of Padang Bai, Bali, Indonesia by lucy m

When we arrived at Lake Beratan at the top of the mountain we were quite hungry. We parked on the edge of the lake and umm and ahh'd over which Muslim bakso stall to eat at. We spent the equivalent of 50p on our lunches of bakso soup and nasi goreng, and once full we ventured to the botanical gardens and Pura Ulun Danu Beratan. The temple rests on a platform that protrudes in to the vast lake, clouds fringed the surrounding hills and we were shrouded in a protective grey fluff that began to quickly descend towards us like a mother intent on swaddling her toddlers from a bath. We were overcome with a highly meditative feeling of peace and safety, however the threat of rain in those grey comforting pillows and the coming night, take us away to find our bed, and some beers beforehand. The journey back saw us enjoy the great curving bends of the mountain road in the precipitous mountain air, while we saw the same bikes over take us and drop back over and over. Tired, smelling like road, the setting sun got into our eyes. We high-five'd children leaning out of a slow moving truck which which passed in the opposite direction.

Photo of Lake Beratan Temple Tour, Kesiman, Bali, Indonesia by lucy m

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