I have been absent from A Belly Full for over a month now and for that I am sorry – but `I promise it was post worthy! Sometimes it’s healthy to get away from the daily grind and that’s exactly what I’ve been doing. I spent two amazing weeks exploring
Bali with my two best friends and it was the ultimate trip of a lifetime. I travelled across the world to drink in pool bars, hike through jungles, learn all about the Hindu way of life go white water rafting, cuddle elephants and so much more (including a squat toilet… that was a whole adventure in itself)! AND of course I couldn’t leave Indonesia without learning how to cook some of their traditional dishes which I can’t wait to share with you.
I have so many tips and tricks for travelling around this beautiful country which I will share with you in instalments (I literally feel like I could ramble for pages). We visited Seminyak, Ubud, Gilli T and Gilli Air – but there is still so much we didn’t get to see! Which obviously means I have to go back. Right now I just want to share three of my absolute highlights with you, so you just get a snapshot of my two weeks living the Balinese life (well, kind of…)
Exploring the North
On our third day of the holiday, we took a day trip to the North of the island (we were staying in the south, in Seminyak). We had an incredible personal taxi driver – Mano Tours – who
picked us up from our hotel in a cool air conditioning SUV, literally perfect in the sweltering hot weather! We paid around 1,000,000 Indonesian rupiahs for the day, which works out at about £20 each – which is EXTREMELY good value for what we got! We had already agreed some desired destinations and our first stop was the Tanah Lot Temple in Tabanan (this was en route to the north, on the south west of the island). The views were incredible and we started to get an idea of the rich Hindu culture in Bali. Tanah Lot means “Land Sea” in the Balinese language and the temple sits on a large offshore rock which has been shaped continuously over the years by the ocean tide. We went early morning so didn’t see the views at sunset, but the tour guide told us hundreds flocked to the sight every evening to see the sun sink below the temple.
We then travelled further north to visit Pura Taman Ayunand (The Royal Temple) and then even fu
rther north to reach the mountainous area and the Ulun Danu Bratan Temple – one of the most famous tourist temples in the country. All three were gorgeous and it was fascinating to learn about the worship and ceremonial practices of the Balinese culture. As we drove through the landscape, the tour guide told us most Balinese people originate from small villages outside the main tourist spots (Seminyak, Ubud, Kuta etc) and often live and work in their village throughout their lifetime. Some families own rice paddies or farms, whilst other men work in construction. The women often stay at home and cook, clean and look after the family. Many young Balinese children grow up to move to Ubud and work in hospitality – yet tradition states the youngest son must stay in the village to look after the family. Our tour guide says this doesn’t always happen these days – in fact he had earnt enough money to pay for his parents house in the village.
After the temples we visited the most amazing waterfall – a first for me!! We trekked down around 500 steps into the jungle to get down to reach Nungnung waterfall (it was SUCH hard work on the legs) – but the view was 100% worth it.
To finish off the day we took a dip in the Banjar Holy Hot Springs right in the north of Bali , where we cleansed our souls and relaxed in the warm water surrounded by the jungle. It was a three hour car trip back to our hotel in Seminyak, but it was amazing to see so much of northern Bali without taking a chunk out of our trip.
We booked the Mount Batur trek before we travelled to Bali and I have to say – I really wasn’t expecting to enjoy it that much. Mount Batur is an active volcano located in the north west and is famous for its gorgeous sunrise views. When my friend told me we had to be picked up at 2AM for the sunrise climb, you can only imagine my dismay (as someone who values sleep more highly than actually being awake!!) We were picked up from our hotel in the end at 2.30am and took an hour ride to the base of Mount Batur. We were then faced with the two hour climb through pitch black jungle to reach the sunrise point at the top… I know, I’m really selling it right? Once we pulled up at the bottom of Batur we were greeted by our personal tour guide – who equipped us with head torches and walking sticks. And that was it – off we went. In pitch black. It was surprisingly steep in places and often we had to stop to catch our breath – and for the lovely tour guide to offer us a snack from his backpack! The rocky terrain was hard to navigate at times, but wherever you looked, there were teams of other tourists powering up the route to reach the viewing point for sunrise. We reached the summit just before the sun began to rise and we were able to sit on a bench which looked over the entire Lake Batur.
The view when the sun began to peak over the horizon was breathtaking – and even more so when the sun started beaming over. We were lucky to have a day when there wasn’t a cloud in the sky and the view stretched on for eternity.
If that view wasn’t enough, we then were able to get up close and personal with some mountain monkeys, who certainly were not afraid to pitch a hat or two!We also felt the steam as it still spiralled out of the active volcano and saw a sacred cave where Hindu ceremonies often take place. The whole experience was incredible – if not completely shattering! It’s safe to say the rest of the day was dedicated to napping and/or sunbathing!
After spending one week on mainland Bali, we travelled to the Gili Islands, which are part of a neighbouring Indonesian island called Lombok. Our time in the Gilis was the ultimate chill time – spending four days on Gili Trawangan and two days on Gili Air. Despite the islands being more built up for tourists than I initially imagined, the vibe was very relaxed and the pace was much slower to that of Bali. It was a shock at first to be woken by the regular calls to prayer (unlike Bali, Lombok is a Muslim country), we settled into the routine of eat, sunbath, sleep, repeat and our highlight of the day became walking to the north of the island to watch the sunset.
I was absolutely over the moon to finish off our trip with a cooking class in Gili Air after enjoying so much Indonesian cuisine (have yet to cook myself up a Nasi Goreng since being home, the most traditional Indonesian dish!) We cooked up four dishes at the Gili Cooking Classes, including some unique Lombok sweets, a classic satay sauce, traditional fried noodles and a yellow chicken curry.
Look out for a more detailed blog on this and some alterations so you can make these dishes at home!
This post is really only giving you a flavour of what I experienced in Bali and I’m really excited to share more in depth posts on each place we visited so keep your eyes peeled. I haven’t even touched on the elephants, white water rafting or markets! What I have learnt since being away is the soul and the mind needs a break – seeing the world whilst doing it is just an awesome bonus.