*Locations: Uluwatu, Nusa Penida, Nusa Lembongan, Ubud, Canggu
I don’t even know where to start. I was totally unprepared for Bali and had no idea what I was getting into upon arrival. I was somewhat relaxed after my time in Singapore, ready to get out of that country since I was there for a week. As soon as I walked out of the airport in Denpasar, I could feel the nice ocean breeze and hagglers trying to ask if I wanted a taxi. I had ordered a Grab while I still had Wifi in the airport and thankfully found the pick-up zone on the 3rd floor of the parking garage (after having to ask around of course). It was around 9pm when I was finally off to my homestay that was about 45 minutes away. As I drove through the streets of Bali, I was amazed by all the mopeds, it was busy and much different than being in Singapore - where there’s more than one lane and fancy cars. There were Hindu statues and stray animals everywhere, and locals dressed in Hindu clothing/wraps and bird cages hanging from stores. After some windy roads, I arrived at my homestay where I was greeted by this woman who didn’t speak English and later found out was the owner’s sister, and so she brought me to my room. The owner (this short dark fray haired looking balinese man) came up right away and I could tell he was a bit drunk when he introduced himself, apologizing for having been drinking (said they had a bonfire earlier) and showed me around the space. The steps leading up to the main building were designed with the yin yang symbol and there was a shala above my room that was large with a small kitchen and I was excited to use it in the morning..seemed like I hit the jackpot with this really nice private room underneath a shala. The owner, Ichi, offered me to rent a moped for 70,000 rupiahs/day which I thought was a good deal ($5), not knowing anything about the rental prices there, so I just said yes and he handed over the keys. As soon as I tried charging my phone, I realized the outlets were different than what I had previously researched, so I didn't have the correct adapter and had to ask Ichi for an extra adapter. He said he could get one in the morning so I just showered and went to bed (thankfully I still had some battery left on my external battery).
The next morning, I woke up a bit later than expected around 10am and was ready to go explore, but needed an adapter to charge my phone so had been texting with Ichi until his sister brought one to me. It was almost 11am at this point so I was really hungry and needed to get breakfast and didn’t see that Grab or Uber was working in the area. So I asked the sister to show me how to use the moped since I hadn’t really driven one before (the last time was probably in Italy when I was 17 years old)...so she showed me the basics like turning the key and lights, etc.. (again, she didn't speak English). I was a little nervous to drive this thing but didn't think it could be that bad (I had just driven on the opposite side of the road and that didn't take long to get). I put on my helmet and started to get the feel for it as I drove off on to the small street with some speed bumps and really cool yoga/surf homestays that I hadn't seen upon arrival since it was pitch black, so I was going pretty slow as I drove on this new moped for the first time. On the way up to the main road, I was contemplating if I should go back towards the beach and keep practicing on these smaller roads, but I was hungry and wanted to get to the cafe that was close by (5 minutes) so I decided to just go for it. As soon as I got to the main road, there were many mopeds and cars driving by really fast. I stopped and looked both ways and didn’t see anyone coming, so I decided to start to turn right and as I was looking to my left, there was a moped coming around the other corner so I sped up. Before I knew it, my right hand was pulling on the handle to go faster at the same time as my left was trying to steer, but as I was going too fast and wasn’t used to driving on the other side of the road, I completely crashed into the sidewalk on the left, bashing my knee and elbow into the sidewalk...BOOM. It all happened within seconds and I somewhat went into shock for a few seconds, thinking I broke my knee. Thankfully, there was a woman who came running to me right away and spoke English as I tried getting myself up (with her assistance). She asked if I was okay and I said yes, but wasn’t sure if anything was broken as it was swelling and bleeding profusely so quickly, and my arm scratched with two gashes that were bleeding as well. I tried to keep calm as she was pouring water on the wound and the locals were pulling the moped up from the street. Then this other English speaking guy comes running and asks if I need help and if I could bend my knee and I tried to slowly scared as hell but thankfully I was able to and that was a relief. They asked where I was staying and how far and the girl said to make sure I close up my wounds to not get infected in this kind of heat, etc. and the guy with long curly hair and bright sunglasses had gone to get me ice since I said I needed ice and brought me a huge pack of ice and then offered to drive me back to my hostel on his moped with a surfboard, since I told him it was only 5-10 minutes away. I’m pretty sure both of them were from the USA but didn’t ask, very appreciative for their help as the locals weren’t helpful and the only question from them was about where I was staying. On the moped ride back to my hostel, my adrenalin was on fire..I was thinking about the possibility of me having to go home because of a broken knee or not being able to participate in my yoga training I had just signed up for in India a month away. The sister was still there changing her 2-year-old baby’s diaper as I walked up and told her I needed help, she looked stunned out of her mind and quickly ran over to me with her 5-year old daughter. She brought me some of this healing oil and rubbed it on me as I tried to ice my knee in bed. Thankfully I had some wrap left from when I burned my other leg on the moped in Costa Rica and put that on it so it wouldn’t get dirty. She helped me clean my wounds, especially on my arm and asked if I wanted to see a doctor and I told her I did and needed to get food (thankfully had these flax seed snacks from the flight that I quickly ate as I didn’t want to get sick). We are communicating through Google Translate (savior). Then Ichi showed up and was shocked and asked what happened and took me to the pharmacy on his moped (after I wrapped it up) about 15 minutes away where they said I needed to probably get an x-ray, so we went to the hospital. It was hot and hard being on a moped again straight after this happening and driving through the busy streets all the way to the hospital was probably 30 minutes so I was hopeful that it wasn't getting infected or anything along the way as it was still swollen and cut up. We arrived and I had to first pay for the visit and insurance before seeing a doctor, and they charged me first for the pre-screening, to see a doctor, to get the x-ray and then for all the utensils and medications they used. It took about 2 hours total and I had to press them for time as I needed to get more food in my belly, I wasn’t feeling great and lightheaded a bit but drank as much water as possible. It hurt a lot as they cleaned it and the x-ray was quick but they said I would have to wait 2 hours to get results and so I asked if they could email it and they did (after having to exchange so much information).
Thankfully nothing was broken, I was relieved of that and didn’t think I did since I was able to bend my knee. The whole hospital visit was stressful and afterwards, Ichi and I went to get another adapter on our way to the cafe (I was originally supposed to go to). I ordered a tuna salad and then he drove me back to the hostel to get my icepack and we went to the beach so he could surf and I wanted to relax and ice my knee. We had to walk down all these steps to get to the beach that didn’t have much of a shore but a really cool hidden spot, perfect for surfers. It was far down but I moved slowly and Ichi knew everyone as he headed out to surf, I found a spot on the beach where there were tons of Europeans vacationing, enjoying their time and surfers out in the water and locals working. I chilled and watched as the surfers took some smaller long left sided waves. After a couple hours, we headed to this sunset spot I had heard about which was crowded with tons of tourists, but Ichi knew of this smaller spot with the same view where we could get cheaper drinks and he ordered French fries. He told me about him and his wife being in an open relationship and I was like “oh boy” and then asked if I wanted to go check out the beach after the sunset so started to get the impression that he was trying to hit on me. At first I thought he was a nice guy and that completely changed within seconds of him telling me about him and his wife, what a bummer that he couldn’t just help a girl out and leave it at that. On the way back we stopped at a Japanese restaurant and ordered this sushi that was really yummy and then finally got back to shower and go to bed. He had the nerve to try hitting on me again, telling me he wanted to come to my room and hang out...I was completely disgusted. What a day it had been...I told my family about what happened and went straight to bed, exhausted.
I slept in but was ready to get out of there so Ichi gave me a ride to the atm since I needed to still pay for the room and then he took me to this surfers cafe, BGD, so I could catch a Grab to the harbor to go to these islands I had already booked. I was in a town called Uluwatu which had tons of cafes, restaurants and stores, bird cages hanging in all the shops, mopeds everywhere, tourists, side street markets and surfing vibes. It was a very interesting combination of cultures and I would’ve maybe enjoyed it a bit more if there weren’t so many tourists. The night before, I was chatting with these 2 older men from Australia at the sunset place and they were telling me that 20/30 years ago, Uluwatu was not like this as they could go out to surf without no one being there, so it has completely changed. The staff at the BGD surfers cafe were very friendly and accommodating, helping me re-bandage my wound and calling me a Gojek which I found out was cheaper than Grab. And then I was on my way to Sanur harbor, about 45 minutes away to catch a ferry to Nusa Penida.
I arrived in the early afternoon and was bombarded with locals asking me if I needed ferry tickets but knew I just needed to go straight to the ferry to catch the public boat. I had about an hour to spare so I left my big backpack in the little ticket storefront and walked around these markets right on the beach with many stray dogs and poverty everywhere. I found a SIM card booth and bought $10 for 4gb/month and then walked to this restaurant right near the harbor to get some fried fish. I saw a lot of people eating there so knew it would be safe and went to the bathroom which was located all the way back in the steaming hot kitchen. After lunch, it was time to board the ferry and thankfully the local guys helped me get on the boat with my backpacks which you have to walk in the water a bit so thankfully one of them carried me on their backs so I wouldn’t get my bandage wet on my knee. We were off on this fast speed boat and as soon as we arrived at the harbor on Nusa Penida, there were locals asking left and right again if I wanted a taxi. I looked to see if Grab was available but it wasn’t so I negotiated from 100 to 25 rupiahs to go 5 minutes driving (couldn’t walk that far with all my bags and an injured knee or else I would’ve) and arrived to my guest house which was a beautiful 2 story building and my room on the second floor with a nice view of the ocean. I relaxed for a bit before venturing off for sunset and then walked along the beach to see the sunset at this really chic bar with flashing colorful lights and bean bags. There was a 2 for 1 special so I got 2 drinks with Akra liquor included which is the local liquor there and then walked back before it was pitch black and had a beer with the receptionist and workers at the guest house. They were all interested in my travels and we chatted about the different cultures and traveling in general. Then there were these two Italian girls that came and asked about a tour the next day and we all sat and chatted as we planned the next day. The whole night was spent with these girls and them explaining to me their family history of how they’re more German than Italian but their ancestors migrated to Italy and the Italians made them speak Italian but they still try to keep their German traditions going, set in the Northern mountains of Italy.
The next morning, the 3 of us split a taxi to Kelingking beach, which is this peninsula shaped like a T-rex dinosaur and there were tons of tourists around, it was about an hour drive and thankfully they just let me tag along. I had asked this guy, Jerry who worked for his older sister at the guest house and had tattoos on his hands of Jerry the cat from Cartoon Network if he could pick me up at 1pm and he said yes and I negotiated with the sister from 175 to 125 rupiahs since I didn’t want to go to the other places the Italian girls were going to. I was ready to leave that area and thankfully he picked me up on time and we went a back road way with less traffic and there were tons of locals sitting outside their temples with those straw hats and stray dogs everywhere. Then I went to walk around the area where my guest house was since I hadn’t really done that to admire all the temples around and then sat at the restaurant nearby to get some lunch before heading to Nusa Lembongan. It was a quick 20 min drive to the other harbour and the boat was ready within 5 minutes as I went to get some ice and a diet coke and got picked up by this smaller speed boat for a 20 minute ride to the bridge. There were these 2 guys from the Netherlands asking me about my injury and we chatted for a bit and then the driver was at the bridge upon arrival, waiting for me at the harbour to bring me to my next homestay (surprisingly these mopeds were able to carry all of my backpacks along).
This homestay was way nicer with an infinity pool and my own cabin room with an open ceiling bathroom attached. The lady working, Itha, was nice enough to drive me to this pharmacy 5 minutes away so I could get more bandages and antibiotics. The lady working at the pharmacy wouldn’t give me a receipt so unfortunately couldn’t submit that to my travel insurance. I went back and chilled at the pool until sunset beautifully set right in front of me, it was absolutely perfect with no one there. Then I went and walked to find something for dinner which was harder than expected as I had researched on a place but then wanted to keep looking around since I hadn’t really gone past the pharmacy, there was a lot more to see. I checked out the menus at these places and there were many locals just watching me and waiting for me to come into their restaurant. I got a beer and water and headed to the original restaurant I had looked up and sat next to this couple that was very friendly. The guy from Minnesota and the girl from Spain and the waiter were all very chatty and talking about Hindu ceremonies and explaining to us the prices of everything and how the tourists had recently come just 3 years ago (same as what Itha was explaining to me the following day). The waiter gave me this coconut oil that was dark and said to rub it on my wounds after I showered so I took that back and did that and it stung like hell but looked up the benefits before putting it on and it really was a helpful remedy with natural antibiotics and skin-healing benefits. Then I sat and listened to this loud ceremony continue from hours before, of humming and chanting in Hindu...the neighbor was even chanting some things as well (I'll never forget all the chanting at this place). Then I went to bed (a little later than I hoped), but woke up in time for breakfast at 10am (Itha had knocked on the door saying my friend had left me the ice pack and I had no idea what she was talking about at first). Thankfully the Italian girls had brought me my ice pack that I had left at the previous hostel! As I sat eating breakfast, I saw one of them had messaged me on Instagram that morning, skipped the tour they were going to do in Nusa Penida and came straight to Lembongan, so brought me my icepack and booked the same hostel. Itha sat with me and explained the ceremony that was taking place as you could hear more chanting and I wanted to go see it that morning (she had informed me the night prior that I could visit and participate if I wanted). She said that after all females complete menstruation, every family partakes in this ceremony once they have enough money to get rid of any sins, particularly 6 including being selfish, stealing, money driven, sexual harassment, and competitiveness. Then the Italian girls showed up and we all talked for a bit before they left to explore and I was taken to the ceremony by Itha’s husband. It was more than I expected. I had to walk up on this hill to get to the top temple that was inside this fort looking place with all these women sitting and chatting in their colorful gowns and staring at me. As the lady who took me up told them who I was staying with, they all went “ahhh” and I thanked them as I was taken over to the shrine where the pig was slaughtered with a temple-like thing above it. The men were also starring at me but I tried not to take too many pictures and then I sat and waited for the girls in the other room to finish getting all dressed up/ready and this lady who spoke English well gave me this dessert that was homemade and it was like a pudding cake that tasted more like a semi-sweet date cake. It felt warming that they invited me into their special sacred space.Then I told them I had to go so I left after 10 minutes and Itha's brother was going to take me to the other main island Lembongan (since the place I was staying at was actually right across the yellow bridge on Cenning island). Itha’s brother was very friendly and took me across the bridge to Devil’s Tear (this blue cove) and Dream Beach with clear aqua water and some nude women. I couldn’t get in the water so I asked for some ice at this beach bar and headed to lay down and relax. Then I went to the main bar/restaurant overlooking the beach and ordered a coconut and these veggie spring rolls that were delicious as I called Australia to pay for my stupid speeding ticket. It was time to head back to be at the harbour in time, so we left and he took me back so I could grab my backpacks and dropped me off at this meeting point for a shuttle to take me to the harbour on the other side of the island. The shuttle bus picked up a few others and then dropped us off at the harbour about 20 minutes away, where there were tons of tourists coming and going. It’s a whole process the way these Balinese people run the speed boats back and forth, with local guides waiting for you with your sticker and where to be placed. I had to wait a little when we got back to the main island and then I was sent to this van with an Australian guy and was off to Ubud. It was nice chatting with him and explaining what happened to me and my experience so far in Bali as he explained his experience so far as well and was dropped off at this place on the way. I never got his number but he was a firefighter with 4 weeks off in periods throughout the year, nice guy.
As soon as I arrived to Ubud, I could tell it was packed with tourists and I was really not in the mood to deal with a lot of people. Thankfully the driver took me straight to my guesthouse (before I was told I would just get dropped off in the center of Ubud). My guesthouse was situated down a sidewalk with the most beautiful sunset view overlooking rice fields. I was taken to my room and the receptionist was this really friendly Indian looking guy who gave me his WhatsApp so he could help me find a taxi for the following day as I wanted to go see the famous rice terraces which were 25 minutes away. After checking in, I walked to get more bandages at the pharmacy and was stricken by all the locals calling out taxi and tourists walking around and small tiny streets with tons of restaurants, cafes and stores. Not really what I was picturing Ubud to be but I went to the Italian restaurant those Italian girls recommended and ordered pasta bolognese which was delicious and some wine. Then I went to bed after negotiating all night with the taxi driver on prices for the next day..he was trying to charge me 300 and I got it down to 200. I woke up in time for 10am breakfast and there were these two girls chatting by the pool (one from France, the other from Germany) and then I was tired so I stayed in my cool room and slept a bit before heading to this cool French/Balinese cafe overlooking a rice field. I ordered this rice and curry dish and then set off to the monkey forest filled with tourists and monkeys. It was cool to walk around with all the monkeys but I felt bad and it was a bit strange, and one jumped on my backpack! Then the driver I had been messaging with picked me up and we were off to the rice terrace which was filled with tourists walking around and locals trying to sell postcards and swinging pics. I walked around the beautiful rice fields, something I had never seen before, up and down and along the columns (even though it probably wasn’t the best for my knee but it was okay) and then did the swing at sunset and drove back. The driver was nice enough to stop and show me where to get these corn rice cakes and I ate them that night. I was in desperate need of a massage and was possibly going to get my nails done but when I walked by this spa, which was so relaxing and beautiful set inside this village temple place with tons of flowers and statues and fountains everywhere, the owner said it was too late. But then when she saw my injury she said they would have time for a shoulder/neck and foot massage, so I did it. It was a pricey spa but I did it because it was close to my guest house and it actually was more than I expected, the massage therapist did an amazing job and I booked him again for the following morning at 11am for a full body massage. The second massage was very relaxing as well and then I walked to this cafe I was told was really good but was feeling a little gross from the heat and finally got there and had this smoothie/chia seed drink. Then I walked back to my guest house to call a Grab to head to Canggu, but the Grab was confused and didn’t want to stop where I was because of it being illegal in certain ranges so it took 30 minutes to finally get him to come (after having the receptionist help me explain where I was). The trip to Canggu was about an hour and nothing really different, very similar temples and surroundings as in Ubud.
I showed up in Canggu mid-afternoon not knowing what to expect and the yoga guest house I had booked was more about “health & wellness” than I remembered from the posting. It had an alkaline restaurant attached, 3 shalas, a pool, and rooms in the back, and about a 5 minute walk to the beach. I was taken to my room next to the pool in the back and I was a bit worried it would be too loud being under the spa area by the pool but it ended up working out. It was about to be sunset so I headed to the beach and bought a Bintang beer and was shocked by the amount of surfers and tourists out and about on the beach. The sunset was beautiful watching all the surfers glide along the perfect longboard swell (it was such a bummer I couldn’t get out there) and then I walked by this fancy restaurant/cafe on the way back to my guest house and ordered the salad I had wanted to try with this special peanut sauce-it was yummy. After, I showered and bandaged up my wounds which took a long time and then finished booking my India visa and yoga training and then went to bed. I woke up in time for breakfast which was storming with yoga girls chatting about their bodies and how full they were. Thankfully I got the last bit of food at the buffet which was this spinach juice, fried corn patty things, sourdough homemade bread and watermelon. I wanted to get my nails done so I called this nail salon I had looked up and they had space for me so I ordered a Grab which was like .6 rupiahs or $1 and 10 minutes away. As soon as I walked into this cute chic colorful nail salon, I could hear a loud obnoxious American girl chatting about her diet and how much she loves to work out with her British friend...lovely. It was not what I was in the mood for but thankfully I didn’t let it get to me even though it was so disrespectful the way they took over the shared space with their gossip. The second half of my time was more relaxing and I got an organic purple color and I was out of there within an hour and a half and headed to this cafe I had seen on IG called Lifescrate Cafe, famous for its crazy food designs from sandwiches to salads. As soon as I arrived, it was packed with many tourists, typical. I wasn’t in the mood for this either, but after waiting in the line and ordering this avocado toast I had been craving since seeing the picture, I found a nice cushioned seat and enjoyed my meal before going to another cafe I had looked up called Shady Shack. This cafe was also crowded but not as bad, and with older respectful people, not immature holiday tourists. I snagged a barstool seat and started journaling before chatting with this kind lady from Copenhagen, Pia. We chatted for about an hour about life and work balance and how we came to where we are and the experiences in Bali and all the tourists. Then I went back to my guest house to enjoy the pool which was not so great and filled with flies everywhere (thankfully didn’t plan to stay there all day) and was going to meet Pia at the beach but she had lost service. This man was grilling corn on the beach so I immediately ordered one and enjoyed a corn cob at sunset before getting my last Bintang and going back to shower. I completely covered my wounds with aloe vera before going to get a bite to eat at the alkaline restaurant attached. I enjoyed a nice salad, golden milk and raw carrot cake before journaling and going to bed. I woke up with a headache and quickly ran to get breakfast in time before ordering a Grab to take me to the airport. I really wasn’t feeling well so I took Umka (for congestion/symptoms of a cold) and eventually Tylenol since the Umka wasn’t helping. The airport was packed with shoppers since it was another mall-like airport but thankfully got through security quickly..right after having to puke in the bathroom. I felt a little better after that, washed up, went to order a chai latte and my last smoothie bowl drink (very popular in Bali) and some Ritz crackers and then was off to to my gate to fly to Vietnam. Thankfully I asked if I could change seats so I could elevate my leg and was allowed to sit in the second row (a whole row to myself) and relax and get some rest before arriving in Vietnam.