The Beauty of Bali

February 2012 - Sunset at Seminyak Beach
I heard a lot of wonderful stories of Bali, well mostly having read and watched Eat, Pray, Love. So just imagine what my expectations I had of it were. 

I've been to Bali twice, the first time was a trip with my girl friends (February 2012) and the other was with my family (October 2012). 

The Hotel and The Beaches

February 2012

Having searched thoroughly where to stay, we have chosen Seminyak area. I still had doubts of Bali's security given the fact that it had bombing incidents before and based on reviews, Seminyak has the more positive ones in terms of well, "security".

We stayed at Bali Agung Village. This is by far one of my favourite hotels that I have stayed at. I just really loved the traditional interiors of this hotel. It feels much more like a home rather than a fancy, typical hotel. The staff were all friendly and very hospitable. I highly recommend this place.

Our room at Bali Agung Village that really looks more like a house.

The whole place is surrounded by trees and plants which makes it more native

Pool Bar

Sunset at Seminyak

Another factor why we chose this hotel is because of its close proximity to the beach, about a 10 minute-walk. So as soon as we arrived and had our lunch and nap, we walked to the beach.

This beach is actually for surfing. So one of my girl friends tried it out. I decided to sit this one out (I am not confident with my swimming skills). So me and my other girl friend, Trina, just watched the sunset and took photos. I am a sucker for white sand beaches so this wasn't really my type of beach. But I did enjoy watching the sunset. That's always my favourite part.

My friend Cecille surfing at Seminyak, Bali

Enjoying the sunset with my friend, Trina

Nusa Dua Beach

Nusa Dua means 'Two Islands'
I'm quite surprised that the beaches in Bali are different from place to place. Unlike in Phuket and Coron, whereby most of the beaches I've been to look the same to me, Bali has a variety of beaches. One of the best I've seen so far is Nusa Dua. It is a quieter beach where you can just relax and soak up
the sun.

Padang Padang Beach

It is one of the many surfing beaches in Bali. This beach reminds me of Siam Beach of Phuket because of its massive rock formations. You also need to hike down to get to the beach. This is quite popular for tourists and is very crowded.

The Temples and The Rice Fields

For the rest of the two days of our trip, we have rented a van that will take us around Bali. Cabs and motorcycles are available too as other means of transportation but I recommend hiring a van or a car would be more convenient if you want to see the temples and the rice paddies, which are quite far out. The driver, Abe ( served as our tour guide too. We paid IDR 900.000 (USD 75) for the two-day trip. It's actually more of you pay for the van and gasoline because you can ask him where to take you. Although he did offer some itineraries but we decided to create our own.

It was quite hard to squeeze in three days to see Bali. While I was doing my research, I didn't realise Bali is so huge that I personally think you'll need at least two weeks to properly explore this island. There's just so much to see and to do in Bali. I have always had this impression that Bali was just all about beaches. Certainly, it was more than that.

Tanah Lot Temple

This temple is situated on a massive rock along the sea coast. There were a lot of devotees and tourists when we got there. We were not able to get up close because there was an ongoing ceremony when we arrived. 

View of the Tanah Lot Temple from afar

It was spectacular to see not just the view but also the Balinese who were in a festive mood. There was music everywhere and we saw some little girls prepping up for a dance parade. It was a celebration of a rich culture indeed.

Balinese girls all dolled up for a dance parade.

Jatiluwih Rice Fields

Bali is well known for a lot of their rice paddies. The Jatiluwih Rice Fields has been actually named as a UNESCO Cultural Landscape (protected rice fields) and by seeing it, I knew why.

This was truly a refreshing place to see. It was like a massive green cloth laid out under the sun. It just had that perfect oil-canvas-painting-like view, with the mountains at the back drop and the clouds hovering on top of it. If my eyes could smile upon seeing this view, I knew it did. 

Stunning View of the Jatiluwih Rice Fields

The weather was really nice too when we got there, not too hot and not too cold either so we went down and walked along the rice paddies. It was amazing.

Ulun Danu Temple

I have to admit, this temple looks way bigger on photos when I was doing my research. But even though it was a smaller temple, it was still a beauty. 

It is one of the water temples in Bali and the most popular. Situated in a massive lake (Lake Bratan) with mountains at the back drop, the view was just serene and a definite must see. We didn't get a chance to see some locals praying but what they do is pray from the shore and then cross the bridges to get to the temples. They offer prayers to the water goddess as this lake is one of the main sources of irrigation in Bali.

Ulun Danu Temple

Uluwatu Temple

This is a temple situated on a cliff. We had the wrong timing visiting it as the temple was temporarily closed. So we just stayed and enjoyed the magnificent view of the cliff and the waves of the Indian ocean. 

From the three temples that we have seen, I noticed how there is a strong connection between nature and their religion. Like seeing where their temples are situated (mostly near bodies of water). They have a high regard for nature the same way they have for their religion.

Cliff by the Uluwatu Temple

There are strict rules for the attire on entering this temple. We had to wear sarongs, which were provided at the entrance, to cover our legs.

Wearing our 'Sarongs' at the entrance of Uluwatu Temple

Beware of the monkeys around too. They all seem playful but we were warned not to get too close to them as they can easily grab things from you, like sunglasses. 

Posing for the camera

The Food and The Streets of Seminyak

We had a taste of some of the Balinese food. The most popular one is the Babi Guling (roasted pork) which is very similar to a Filipino dish Lechon.

Babi Guling

Of course we didn't miss to have a taste of their Satay, which originated from Indonesia (Java to be exact).
Chicken Satay

Where we stayed at was pretty close to the markets so we walked around to get a feel of it. There were some interesting "signage" that we saw.

What's with all the "Gay" stickers?

I saw a lot of this towering "plant posts" around and asked what it was for. 
It was actually their offering to the gods. Those that were placed on the floor were to get rid of the bad spirits.


Back to Bali

October 2012

Eight months after, I was invited by my cousin, whom I haven't seen for ages, to come and visit him and his family in Bali. So I didn't hesitate and flew back to Bali but only for the weekend, with my brother and sister-in-law. It was a family reunion trip in a way.

We stayed at GrandWhiz Hotel in Kuta, where my cousin and his family checked in as well. It was definitely very different from the hotel where I stayed at during my first trip. This was quite fancy but a nice hotel. The pool looks very inviting too and hard to miss out.

My room at GrandWhiz Hotel, Kuta
The hallway
The pool

I suggested to go back and see Nusa Dua Beach, which was my favourite one from my last trip. It didn't disappoint me the second time around. It was as beautifully calm as I remembered it was.

A beautiful day at Nusa Dua Beach

Some of the things I didn't try from my last trip was para-sailing! It was my first time to try it and I'm so glad I did!

Parasailing in Nusa Dua, Bali

The view from the top was just absolutely breathtaking. To be honest I was in awe on how beautiful not just Bali is but what God has created. I wasn't scared at all, I was just enjoying the stunning view from above. It was an amazing experience. I wish I had photos of what I have seen from the top to share on this blog.

Up, Up and Away!

Then we had seafood dinner while watching the sunset at Jimbaran Beach in Kuta. The sky was just a stunning view - like it was splattered with pink and orange paint. 

So overall, I would say that Bali is definitely more than just about the surfboards and beaches. I had the wrong impression of it, I was expecting it to have the beaches the likes of Phuket and Coron but I am beyond grateful I was able to experience its true beauty. 

Bali is its people, rich culture, traditions and strong beliefs.

View from the Cliff of Uluwatu Temple