Where the Indonesian Tourist Board took me in Bali
Four fun filled days made me realise that there is much more to Bali than just beaches. The beaches are awesome though, offering great relaxing retreats to thrilling water sports. Bali is very religious and spiritual island with 1000s of beautiful temples and a very unique religion. Not to mention the film Eat, Pray, Love which was filmed here.
Few facts of Bali
Indonesia is the biggest island country in the world. It contains over 14,000 islands and one of them is Bali. Indonesia is a Muslim country, but only Bali is Hindu. This is because Balinese people have Chinese ancestors, they came down from China and stayed for a while in India (where they picked up the Hindu religion) and then went onto Java where they settled. Over the years, there was conflict between the Muslims and Hindus, so the Hindus decided not to fight any more and left for the next island, which was Bali.
Even though the main religion is Hinduism on the island it is not as pure Hinduism like in India – they eat beef! The guide explained that their religion is roughly made up of 80% Hinduism about 15% is Buddhism and 5% of ancient worshipping (Ancient worshipping means that they actually worship materials like trees, metal etc.) When I was there, it was the day of metal worshipping and all cars, motorbikes, fences, kitchen utensils etc. had some decoration and offerings.
Every day people place little offerings outside their home, shops, and I had to watch the pavement all the time not to kick some accidentally.
Every house, hotel has a temple and every shop, patrol station, bank (lets say every single building) has a shrine outside.
The economy mainly relies on tourism, which has still not fully recovered from the Bali bombings in 2002, even the filming Eat, Pray, Love could not completely revive the tourism. However there is no starvation in Bali because there are many many terraced rice fields with enough to feed everybody.
They speak Balinese language, not Bali language. Bali language is spoken in Nigeria.
If you fancy to buy a house in Bali, then a 100m2 3 bedroom house would cost 90,000$.
Bali also has an active volcano called Batur. On a scale of 4 it is on alert level 2 as there is an increased seismicity observed lately and in November 2015 a significant increase in the number of volcanic earthquakes.
The easiest way is to get around the island and try different activities is to sign up with a day tour that all the hotels and many travel agencies can book you. They pick you up and drop you off at your hotel, so it’s nice and easy. I have been taken around by a minibus organised by the tourist board.
Activites I have participated
I was lucky and won this trip via an online quiz with the Indonesian Tourist Board and they organised all of the activities that I have participated in.
I went to a cooking class in a village called Baledesa which is in the middle of the island. On the way there, we stopped at the local market to have a look what ingredients we would use.
At the cooking class you are in an outdoor kitchen and preparing around 5 dishes which you get to eat later on. The Bali cuisines main ingredient is rice. They also eat lots of seafood, soup, sate. They cook once a day in the morning and prepare all of the food for the day, so breakfast is their only hot meal.
During the lesson, we were told all about village life in Bali, and was shown around a typical house complex where most people live in the country side. There are big families living together and they have different buildings to sleep, cook, relax and a temple. Every house has a temple. Sometimes if the family doesn’t have money to bury a family member who has died, then they keep them preserved in the living area until they can afford a proper burial!
There are many water sports on offer in Bali. Diving is very famous as you have a sunk american ship (USS Liberty) to explore, as well as the beautiful coral reef. There is plenty more on offer for non-divers though, with great surfing places, snorkelling, rafting, parasailing, fly fish, sea walking, fly board, wake boarding, banana and donut rides, stand up paddling just to mention a few.
On Tanjungbenoa beach you can find all these kind of water sports hence we visited this place.
Fly fish is a new thrilling water sport (not sure how dangerous it is though) as you fly up about 20 meters and you just hold on with your hands and the wind flies the inflatable fish everywhere.
I also took a banana ride and a glass bottom boat tour to Turtle island, where you can see turtles, lizards, eagles, bats and snakes. Whilst you wait for the boat to get back, you can have a fish pedicure (which I did) where your feet are munched on by those fishes who love to eat dead skin.
On the way back we had a low tide and at least 10 shipwrecks came to surface which were very cool. At least we saw something interesting as we did not see many fish through the glass bottom boat! The boat driver loved speed though, and made the trip a lot more fun by going fast..so a little compensation for the lack of fish!
Uluwatu and the aggressive monkies
We visited one of the most famous temples in Uluwatu. This temple is inside a monkey forest and the bonus for visiting the temple is to be hustled by the wild aggressive monkies. You’re told not to take anything loose like phone or glasses as the monkeys will snatch them. They definitely do and it’s funny to see them chewing on slippers, hats glasses etc. whatever the ignorant tourist left loose on themselves.
Watching at monkey dance whilst the sun set on the Indian ocean was a truly unforgettable experience.
Tanah Lot Bali’s most famous sea temple. In low tide you can walk to the temple, but we got the timings wrong and did not manage to go on the island.
I ate everything that was put in front of me.
There are many night clubs where you can party your socks off. My favourite bar was ‘Hollywood’ where you had every hour a tacky drag show.
What I would have loved to do if I had more time
- Kopi Luwak coffee experience. This coffee is the most expensive in the world as the coffee beans are eaten by a cat like animal and then poo’ed out. Coffee is then made from the poo!
- Diving school.
- Dolphin watch.
- Massage for $5!!!!!! its so cheap.
- Meditation or yoga classes on the beach.
- Volcano tour.