The beautiful island of Bali, Indonesia kneels before the gods of survival, trade, and the tourism industry. It’s the place of millionaires and beggars, religions and demons, locals and expats, beach resorts and Ma & Pop shops. Each block brings about the scent of decay and jungle, satay and fried rice, and the wafer of incense and flowers. The loud voices of Aussie tourists and the back ground noise of BEEP BEEP traffic from hundreds of cars and motorbikes remind me I am not at home. It’s a whole different world….a world I have never known before.
It’s 8:23 AM and the heat is beginning to compress the air and the fan above by bed is just enough to keep my body ‘barely cool’ for another hour in this apartment…thankful there is an overhead fan AND AC…both of which I use during the day but just the fan at night to conserve energy! It’s the heat of the day that really gets to me. I have never appreciated really muggy weather and have always thrived better in cooler climates. I shower a few times a day just to cool down after being outside and jump in the pool as often as possible. Some apartments don’t even have hot water. I have had 2 apartments here and so happy the 2nd one had a POOL but I think that unfiltered WATER gave me an ear infection! I wash all my sweat soaked clothes by hand nearly every other day…yes, I could send them out to be CHEAPLY washed at 8,000IDR a LOAD (($4.00), but I have so few clothes to choose from that the two day turn-around would leave me naked with nothing to wear. AND I would rather $pend that on a SPA day where I can get a massage, body scrub and facial for about $20.00 with tip……and well worth it.
I didn’t know what to expect of Bali and it has always been on my BUCKET LIST as a high priority FOR YEARS and now I have such mixed emotions about this incredible but reckless island. I’ve had the opportunity to live in 2 areas of the island while here….Seminyak on the border of Kuta where you can see the sun set over the ocean and Sanur on the opposite side where you can see the sun rise over the ocean. Both have been an awakening. Both have been a struggle. Both have been my home.
I am thankful to have had the opportunity to experience both and am in Awe of those that thrive in the Kuta and Seminyak areas…for me it’s 2 words, MOVE ON! As for Sanur, I found to be much more relaxing, quieter, cleaner and reserved which overall is a much better fit for me. Everyone has different amounts of time to travel, different perspectives and ideas of travel and different needs. RESIDENTIAL travel is much different then all the above. You have time, you don’t need to cram everything into one or two weeks and touristy attractions become a bore. So asking others for their opinions about things to do or places to live is RARELY the same as your own agenda. So do the research, read lots and decipher your OWN needs and not the ideas of other’s good times. Especially when it comes to food and the famous BALI BELLY, which everyone seems to get a bit of, even me, sadly, after being so very careful. Seems transfer of germy CASH from one hand to another is a big factor.
I almost always cook in my apartment’s kitchen, and for those very reasons. I’ve heard so many stories of people getting sick (mostly the runs with horrid cramps) but then uneducated travelers EAT anything and everything without giving to much thought and then suffer the consequences. I bring Natural/Homeopathic meds (like Grapefruit seed extract and Oregano oil – a natural antibiotics, AND eat yogurt when possible) while in 2nd and 3rd world places to help counter the effects of what I may confront….along with a good Imodium and a arsenal of other medications for what might arise. Better safe than sorry. I also found a few Isotonic and Probiotic drinks to replenish my electrolytes and live bacteria and try to drink lots of fluids to avoid dehydration since I am walking everywhere in strong sun rays. Ahhhhhh, The Glamour of Travel! OH, and then there is the BUM GUN which I will let you read on your own…… https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bidet_shower ……NO SHIT!!!
I am just to darn cautious to rent a bike or scooter here because of road conditions, medical facilities, no sidewalks, crowds of aggressive vehicles, tailgating and not knowing the rules or having the right documentation…which many disregard and foreigners often get pulled over, questioned and than asked for $$ bribes or haul you away tactics. So Taxi is how I get around, if not by foot, and taxi’s not so expensive….for under $20 you can go nearly 45 minutes from Seminyak to Sanur or from the airport. Well worth it! And it’s like a tour, entertainment and destination all on one! Remember it’s all about the journey and not just the END destination!
An island tour driver (who can speak a little English) for a 10 hr day drive is around 600,000IDR and that is about $50.00. Traffic is horrendous and even a short distance can take HOURS without an autobahn or large highway. Everywhere is mostly 2 lanes, one in each direction bumper to bumper! There was one moment in a taxi heading to my new apartment in Sanur, when the noon chant took over the radio station with BING BANG BONG music and I felt like I was really in the EAT PRAY LOVE movie..only the part when Liz was in India, Not Bali lol. It was such a hustle and bustle outside my window that I felt like I was in a time warp in my own movie screening. Taxi ride was $12 and over 45 min. just across town, and I was entertained the whole way.
For me, life in Bali is a constant battle of sorts. A battle of mind, spirit, nature, cultures, and living conditions. Being in a resort or hotel IS NOT LIVING like a native in Bali. THAT is living like a westerner on vacation. You only blindly see what you want to envision but really, at the end of the day you head back to your AC, pool, comforter and maids. To really SEE BALI, you have to dive head first, with an open mind into their lives to see and understand this culture….and often I mentally dove right into sand…soft yet solid….oh how I wanted to feel their holy water and longed to blend and understand this complex society but it seems I only got my feet wet…but I tried, I really tried. Girl Scouts Honor…
I also had the chance to visit some other parts of the island like ULAWATU and TEMALOT Temples on the West side and then I traveled North and East into Ubud, Tegallalang, Kermamas Beach and the drive in between all these hubs. All the vista’s were BEAUTIFUL and I was in Awe of the natural Balinese jungles, beach views and rice terraces. W O W factor. The Ubud area is very famous for the ‘EAT PRAY SWEAT, opps I meant LOVE’ film and you do see some of the same incredible views….but nothing is a serene as one would imagine based on that film of 10 years ago now. NADA!
Both our drivers were wonderful, kind and knowledgeable for their limited English, but I would not complain being my Balinese is so very limited…I am grateful for the rest of the worlds effort to learn English. I do have to agree with other bloggers in the fact that you are often badgered by locals selling their wares and after a while it wares on you and you become numb to the giant penis everywhere. And the amount of trash on the beaches was just wrong, so very wrong and that also saddened me and the Wild Life there….I am sure. A massive clean up of this island should, by far, be a priority.
There is so much I could share about this Island of the Gods where the Light always shines behind them….but 30 days only gave me a glimpse of it’s complex mixture and honestly, that was enough for me. I want to say that in the end I really appreciated your lovely SILENT DAY and the quiet contemplation it gave me upon reflection. The ornate dancers with their “orchid hands”…..the embodiment of posed fingers and wrists that circle so elegantly while weaving the air. I also want to add that the ART and MUSIC was wonderful and so many talented sculptors and painters along with musicians are making Bali a better place…embrace what you can because Bali is like a caterpillar ever changing from moth to butterfly to some new species.
GOODBYE fascinating Bali…You have been checked off the ‘Live before you Die’ List and have given ME more to contemplate and question about my own lifestyle, my desires and expectations, my patients and most of all my spiritual beliefs. You gave me many lessons about this world and for that I am grateful. Asia is a place that everyone should experience in their lifetime so that you have a better understanding of your own values, your own countries differences and similarity’s. Without knowledge you dredge the earth in ignorance and never see the grace the world has to offer. And although not every place you go you will leave you with warm and fuzzy feelings, it’s all about the journey whether you like it or not….what you choose do with that information is your own fabricated destiny.
NAMASTE, Ms Harmonica