Bali – Temples, Gardens and Incense Sticks

15.3.17 – 22.3.17

Late in the evening we arrive at Denpasar airport in Bali and already the aiport building is very impressive, being built like a temple, beautiful. Our first hostel is outside of the buzzing city, close to the coast in Uluwatu – luckily our airport shuttle awaits us already and we drive through tiny crowded streets. Bali…unfortunately, all we think we know about this spot on earth is that it is known to be a hotspot for young Australians, searching for party and party…and party. 🙂 But! It is absolutely not like this, read for yourself „8 interesting facts about Bali“:

1. Most expensive coffee
The world’s most expensive coffee in the world comes from Bali. It is called Kopi Luwak and is not your typical coffee bean… They collect the beans from the digestion of a Civat Cat, which is a shy cat-like creature living in Asia. The Civat cat only eats the ripest and finest coffee cherries but doesn’t digest the bean
2. Black Beach
When thinking about the beaches in Bali you’d probably think of white beaches and clear blue sea. While there are some stunning beaches like that around the island, there are some with black sand instead! Take for example Lovina Beach, where the beach is covered in black sand that comes from the cooled lava of the Mt Agung volcano. Even though it’s not what you’d think of when dreaming about a tropical beach, it’s still worth a visit!
3. Tourism
Due to the fact that Bali is a popular tourism destination for travellers all over the world, around 80% of its economy is related to tourism. From leisure activities to hotels and restaurants; tourism is the largest industry in terms of income.
4. New Year celebration
Did you know that the Balinese New Year starts in silence? The first day of the new calendar is called Nyepi; and no one is allowed on the streets. Noise and light are to be kept at a minimum and these rules apply to everyone who is on the Island.
5. Language
There a lot of different languages and dialects spoken all over Indonesia, although Bahasa Indonesia is the country’s official language. Most Balinese residents speak 3 languages: Balinese, Indonesian and English (the last one mostly due to tourism).
6. Children
Balinese babies are carried everywhere the first few months of their lives, this is because they are not allowed to touch the ground. They are considered little angels, their connection to the spirits is kept in tacked by not touching the earth. When the time has come that they are allowed to touch the ground, a big ceremony is held.
7. Teenager
Another big ceremony is held when a Balinese reaches puberty; the tooth filing ceremony. This ceremony symbolises three things: a coming of age, the transition from animal to human and the control of the 6 human evils (desire, greed, anger, confusion, jealousy and being under the influence of strong
8. Names
You will also find a lot of people called Wayan, Made, Nyoman or Ketut. Actually, most Balinese people are given one of these four names, male or female. It simply means ‘first born’, ‘second born’, ‘third born’ and ‘fourth born’. So, what do you call your fifth child, you may ask? Simply start over again and name him or her ‘Wayan’ again!

Wow. Okay. How ignorant we are…^^ And how fortunate that we still decided to come here and explore this wonderful country. 😉 Let’s first get some money from the ATM…aha, maximum amount: 2.5 Millions….OMG, we are millionaires! 😀 Yeah…or not. Just a crazy currency exchange rate of 1USD = 13.000IDR…

Anyway, our first day we decide to spend at the beach Padang Padang. To get there, we need to climb tiny steps downstairs and need to pass some serious predators living here: monkeys!! To be honest, these animals can be sweet and everything, but most of the time we don’t wanna get too close to them in case they start a revolution or something and we find ourselves living on the planet of the apes! 😀 Just kidding.

As we reach the beach, there is little space to actually lie down and enjoy the sun, because the tide is so high pressing the waves in the little bay. At least we can swim in the warm water. After our quick refreshment, we wanna go to the next beach, Uluwatu beach. Since it is „only“ 2.5km from the first one we start walking…a very smart idea, with tiny streets, people on scooters driving like maniacs and honking cars. Ellen was convinced that sooner or later someone hits us and we die painfully on the side of the street….this did not happen. No, contrary a lady in a street cafe where we enjoyed a fresh watermelon juice encouraged us walking along the street! Well, all good then. 🙂 Uluwatu beach was not accessible either, but the terrace-like cliff next to it counted many bars and restaurants where we sat and watched the surfers taking massive waves.

Now for the next stop we decided to take a Tuk Tuk – we want to visit the famous Uluwatu temple. Typically, our driver stared with a price twice as much as we wanted to pay and so we met somewhere in the middle. The temple was huge and nice to see, built directly on the cliffs close to the ocean. What an amazing firth day! And no drunken tourists to be seen. Haha.

Our next location is Canngu, a beach town on the South Western part of Bali. Once we checked in our hostel, we headed to the beach and took a swim in the ocean – the waves were crazy here, coming in fast and strong. We actually needed to calculate the exact moment when to get out of the water to not being hit by a wave and end up with a ton of sand in the hair and other parts of the body. 🙂 In the evening we went out for dinner and found a restaurant, a local place, very cute and filled with friendly smiling locals – we ate there the first night and returned every evening, because it was so good and had fair prices!

The next day started rather cloudy and when it started to rain, we decided to give ourselves a little treat and got a massage! One hour, 8$, sounds like a good deal. 🙂 In the beginning we didn’t have any music since, due to the thunderstorm the electricity was gone, but after 10min music and AC went back on. 😉

Canggu, other than being a surfer spot and a tiny beach village didn’t have much more to offer, which is why we used the time to do…nothing much. 😉

Next destination: Ubud! This city in the middle of Bali is mainly famous due to the movie „Eat, Pray, Love“. Which we have never seen, but we know it’s about Yoga and Julia Roberts is the main character. Already the entrance to our home stay hostel looks fabulous – it’s basically a temple garden, with beautiful plants, offerings for the gods and the smell of incense sticks. Wow. There is one mini downside to this however: no AC. We’re not big fans of an AC normally, but here, having constantly 30C plus and high humidity, the room just doesn’t cool down unless you have an AC. But we’ll survive without it 😉

We want to explore the city first and dive into the beautiful world of local food, street market filled with clothes and souvenirs, sweet cafes and countless yoga places. We decide to take a small walk outside the city through the countryside, ending up at some rice terraces, where we drink fresh coconut water and smoothies – we love the fresh tropical fruit here!

On our last full day in Bali we do a temple tour with a guide, who speaks surprisingly good English. We first drive to the Taman Ayun Temple, the Royal Family temple. They do not live there, but it was originally built for them. The temple area is super big and looks amazing.

Next stop: Holy Monkey Forest….oh no. Let’s just not have any prejudices and just see what will happen! We walk in direction to the forest and have to admit that the whole place is simply beautiful. There is an old temple overgrown with moss which makes it look very magical. It seems to be a popular wedding photo place since we have seen 2 wedding couples being photographed here. 🙂 Along with a guide we walk through the forest, the monkeys being suspiciously close by. They know that the guides usually feet them and make them climb up the humans, waaaaaaa. Ellen doesn’t wanna have any monkey on her shoulder, but Jakub eventually gives in and let’s one big animal climb up his arm. Of course he ends up with scratches on arm and shoulder…haha.

We are about to try one of the most expensive coffees in the world: the Luwak-poo-coffee. 😀 As explained in the beginning, the coffee is made from the Luwak cat poo, which strolls around the plantain during the day, eating the fruit and comes home in the night, pooing in his cage. So weird. Admittedly, the coffee tastes very fruity! 😉

Our last stop is the Bedugul temple, probably the most famous one when thinking of Bali. We see a lot of local people here as well and are fascinated by all the colors! Our guide explains that in Hinduism, the colors red, white and black are important. They represent the three gods Prahma (the Creator), Shiva (the Destroyer of evil) and Vishnu (the Protector). Mostly the Hindu use yellow blossoms, because it is another version of the color white. Our guide asks us a lot about our culture as well and when he mentions that he has never seen real snow in his life, we again feel so grateful and privileged for being able to travel around the world and exploring small and big wonders.

Bali was a real highlight on our trip, because we completely underestimated this country and were biased by clichés. To sum it up, what Bali really is like:
☆ Friendly smiling people
☆ great food and tasty fruit smoothies
☆ the smell of incense sticks
☆ temples & gardens

TERIMA KASIH, BALI!