Think of Bali and the next word that pops up in my mind is Love! From the moment I set my foot in Indonesia from Malaysia, things had been quite a rollercoaster, right from immigration stamps to clearing custom checks. I landed at Denpasar airport. First things first, visa on arrival and that too free of cost for the first 30 days (Sweet surprise!).
No matter the words that follow, I will never be able to truly describe the indelible memories of Bali that have been etched deep in my mind in their complete essence. The truth is it was inevitable for me to not fall in love with the tranquil beaches, the islands, the red & frosty sunsets and most importantly, the lovely people I met. Getting to meet backpackers from all walks of life and from different parts of the globe in their rawest form made this trip worth every moment. The warm feeling emanating from strange people in strange places is what keeps your heart light as you explore the unknown. The best part about solo backpacking is the fact that when you travel you don't need to pretend to be someone else. You end up bonding effortlessly with every fellow travel mate who seems to share your vibe.
The mere mention of Bali evokes thoughts of a paradise. Bali is much more than just a place; it's a mood, an aspiration, a tropical state of mind. In Bali, you can lose yourself in the chaos of Kuta or indulge in the sybaritic pleasures of Seminyak and Kerobokan, surf wild beaches in the south or just hang out in Nusa Lembongan. Ubud is the heart of Bali. This little town in the uplands of Bali speaks the loudest of the island's culture and shares the island's most beautiful paddy fields and ancient monuments.
Day 1. South of Bali - Kuta and Seminyak Beach: Surfing for the first time!
Thanks to my excessive couch surfing, I had a friend who suggested that I check into an Instagram worthy hostel, the Cara Cara Inn in South of Bali (in case you are interested). The aesthetics of the hostel is worth every bit of the price! Yes, they have their own bar and a pool. This said friend of mine had surfing in her plans for the day and asked me if I was willing to beat the waves at Seminyak Beach.
I had made this pact with myself that I will try at least one new adventurous activity every year. I had already tried snorkeling for the first time in Thailand this year and I thought why not try surfing as well! In case you're wondering if swimming is a pre-requisite for surfing, let me tell you that it's absolutely not. Our trainer instructed us for the first twenty minutes on how to keep our balance on the surfboards. We couldn't risk being clumsy on the sea because many people do end up having to get stitches after having hurt themselves with the fin boards beneath the surfboards. The first hour I was mostly exasperated with falling off the surfboard over and again. As I gradually started to get my grip and realize my mistakes, I thankfully got on pretty good for the next couple of hours. Once I could successfully balance on the surfboard, the victorious and exhilarating feeling that followed was totally worth the exhaustion that comes along in this stint. I do suggest that you don't return from Bali without going for a surf! I would recommend you to definitely try (P.S. The tariff for renting is almost as close to 350k-400k IDR).
I spent the following night at SkyGarden, one of the poshest and rad clubs in Kuta. The music is groovy and people are dressed in their best attires. This floor is to get sloshed and dance till you drop like a corpse
Day 2. North of Bali- Ubud: A day meant to be for Hiking Indonesia's active Volcano!
From here onwards things just started getting better and better. I was glad that I made the perfect choice of booking my reservation at Pillow Inn, Ubud. This hostel won my heart with its huge pool, the amiable host and especially the backpackers that I had gotten along so well. This was the day when I had to get ready for the ambitious sunrise trek to Mount Batur which was the main reason for me to visit Indonesia. Lately because of the Tsunami that had hit the northern coast, the weather wasn't getting any better and I was quite concerned about the fog. Fortunately, the very night that I left my hostel along with the other hikers from at 2 a.m. for the trek, the weather started clearing up and I must say that I haven't been under such a starry night in a very long time. I hadn't slept much as I was sipping Bintang Beers with the other people in the hostel. I was so jittery with excitement for the trek. It takes about 2 hours of climbing up the accent over a rocky terrain which is a little exhausting yet greatly rewarding. At about 5 a.m. we were at the peak.
The view that lay unraveled in front of our eyes was too surreal to be true. After a moment of hype, we all calmed down and enjoyed our moments of solitude while taking in as much of the spectacular sunset as we could.
After the hike, after the hike, I felt like indulging in a spa but I didn't go along with the idea for all the wrong excuses that I seem to regret now. However, I did end up with a familiar face in the sense that she was an absolute doppelgänger of Drew Barrymore. ( C
Day 3. Visit to the Nusa Penida Islands; Snorkeling at Crystal Bay : Getting there and the beaches to explore
The time had come to visit the Islands I have been keeping from you for so long. Wanderlust-stricken souls who have been keeping track of the travel feeds on the internet would know what I am talking about- the breathtakingly beautiful Nusa Penida Island. This heavenly island has a possibility of getting submerged in the ocean and that's the reason it has flooded the internet. I had befriended a lovely girl. Our squad got even bigger and better when two other guys who had come from Saint-Denis (a lovely place close to Madagascar) joined us. They need a special mention because they happened to be the best swimmers I have ever seen in my life so far. I will tell you soon enough how I could see the spectacular coral reefs only because of them.
How to get there?: You can either book tickets to the island from any travel agency or you can reach the Sanur harbor on your own and then take a ferry to the island from there. Once you're here, exploring the beaches on a scooter is the most convenient way (only if you're good at it!) or you can hire a private cab. Renting a scooter will cost you 70k-80k IDR.
The time had come to get on our bikes and explore the mesmerizing beaches. We decided to start off with the farthest one, the Kelingking beach. Someone had said, "Treacherous roads lead to beautiful destinations". You would agree as much as I do if you do ride a bike till here. When we finally reached there, I was like, "Oh dear! Glad I made it here." It's a genuine request to all my readers to hurry and visit this island before it gets submerged forever. Plan it as your next international destination. While you're here you can trek to the beach. However, it is not recommended for swimming.
We bid farewell to the broken beach which was worth the ride as coming to Nusa Penida was a day trip's plan. Next, we headed off to Crystal Bay and we were eagerly looking forward to doing snorkeling here. After almost an hour of riding our bikes, we reached Crystal Bay. It was time for us to take a dive into the water with our snorkeling gears. Having satiating our appetite with Bintang and Chicken Sate, we rented our gears and dived in. The waves were pretty strong and I didn't dare go much farther away from the shore until my friend held me and urged me to come with him. I went off without giving a second thought to the risks involved. I tightened the strap of my snorkeling gear and knowing that I have bronchitis, I took a deep breath. Once I was pretty far from the shore, the coral reefs came into view and I was awestruck by their beauty. There are few things in the world that are as beautiful as these reefs. I inhaled and exhaled calmly as I gazed at the fascinating fishes and sea urchins. It reminded me of the Bollywood movie 'Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara'. When we got to the land, I was stunned and at a loss for words for a good 10 minutes. They saw me and realized that it was the first time I have seen something like that.
We got back in the evening and it was time to party away my last night in Bali and to spend some time in the pool for the last time. Wish time could slow down a little! I had to leave the following morning. I had bonded well with my squad over the past couple of days. They insisted that I wake them up in the morning before I set my foot off from the hostel. It was the hardest goodbye but then that's life. We have to move on and along! Ciao Indonesia. Bali was the best thing that had happened to me this year on Durga Puja.