Back in May last year, after travelling Australia I flew to Southeast Asia to visit three countries I hadn’t been to on my previous trips: Malaysia, Indonesia and Singapore. I didn’t have long altogether, with a flight booked home from Singapore in six weeks time, so I had to choose how to spend my time wisely! I chose my first stop to be Indonesia because Bali is the natural next step from Australia in proximity and popularity (its an Ozzy holiday hotspot!). There were a couple of things on my bucket list that I definitely wanted to tick off whilst in this country- like climbing a volcano in Bali and seeing a wild Komodo dragon!
In three weeks I could only scratch the surface of Indonesia – it is a huge country made up of thousands of islands and has the 4th largest population in the world. However in that short time the places I spent my time- Bali and the Komodo Islands- and the things I did there were incredible. To top it off, the Indonesian people were the friendliest I have ever experienced in South East Asia. I can’t recommend making a trip there enough and absolutely can’t wait for the opportunity to go back and experience more.
I flew to Bali from Cairns which took six hours- longer than I expected! Because my flight got in late at night, I stayed first in Kuta because of its proximity to the airport. I spent my first day there exploring the area, finding a lot of market style shops en route to the beach. It felt amazing to be back in Asia- the sights and smells are so exciting! It was also so lovely to feel proper heat again especially after a few cold days in Australia, having been there in Winter. After exploring the market shops, I spent the rest of the day sunbathing on the beach, eating tropical fruit and watched sunset with the classic Indonesian beer in hand- a Bintang. Life is good! I had dinner just off the main strip, and managed to order a selection of Balinese food (I like to try EVERYTHING) for a very cheap price! My first impressions of Kuta were good but I was staying just outside the main town area. I know a lot of people don’t like Kuta; it is fun but can feel quite seedy- the strip of bars felt like Magaluf or somewhere. But for what I needed it for that day and night, it was perfect!
The following day after an early night (somehow I felt jetlagged?), I travelled up to Ubud which is more or less in the centre of the island of Bali, via a very hot and sticky minibus. We got dropped off in the town centre and I loved Ubud right away- it had a lot of character. It was green everywhere with lots of rice paddies and hills and the town itself had lots of cute shops, a big market and amazing cafes. We settled our things and then headed off to one of the most famous tourist activities in Ubud; to visit the Sacred Monkey Forest which was a short walk from my hostel. It was a cool setting, a huge leafy jungle forest surrounding an old temple ruin but it also quite scary- the monkeys were pretty terrifying! We got told to literally bring nothing because the monkeys would steal it- no jewellery, no bags or anything. As soon as we walked in, a monkey grabbed my water bottle and put it in his mouth- safe to say I let him have it! You can buy bananas to tempt the monkeys to sit on you- I tried this and the monkeys kept running up and stealing my bunches before I could do anything. Finally after many attempts and a lot of money spent, I managed to get an insta-worthy photo! Some of the monkeys were cute, massaging and scratching each other but others were scary- during a big fight one of them bit me, thank god it didn’t break the skin (no rabies jab!)
When I got back to the hostel- thankfully in one piece and rabies free- I booked myself onto a volcano trekking trip which was one of my bucket-list things to tick off. It was due to pick me up from my hostel at 2am the following morning so I went to bed shortly after. At 4am, after a two hour journey (with a few stops) we arrived at one of several volcanoes on the island, but the one most popular to climb; Mount Batur. It was still dark when we began our climb and we were given a torch by our guide to help us see where we were walking. It was quite a slow ascent, partly because the terrain was quite difficult in parts and partly because of the hundreds of groups of people that were climbing at the same time! I really didn’t expect to see this many people- you could see the path of torchlights snaking their way up the mountain. It took about two hours to reach the top and became quite a hard climb as it got steeper towards the top! The ground underneath was quite uneven and rocks kept dislodging from the amount of people walking on them. But when we reached the top, the view was 100% worth it. We found a spot to sit and watched the sun rising above the clouds. As far as you could see, there were clouds and the tips of other volcanoes, it was quite amazing. It was quite cold up there, especially once we’d cooled down after the hot and sweaty climb!
After an hour or so we begun our climb down the volcano and it was probably harder than climbing up! It felt steeper and harder on your legs. We travelled back (buzzing) making a stop at a coffee bean place on the way back. I spent the rest of the day recovering by a pool and then on the following day, I joined some friends I had made to walk around Ubud village and then trek around some of the rice paddies. It was really pretty and peaceful, and just so green everywhere. It was also ridiculously hot- we were all sweaty messes after a short while. We then went shopping in Ubud market which was huge, cheap and REALLY good for clothes shopping. I hadn’t got into the bartering thing yet so I let my friend argue my prices for me. The food was amazing there too- loads of healthy, hippy stuff like smoothie bowls as well as amazing Asian food. I can’t rave on about Ubud enough!