Bali, the Island of Peace, an invitation to reflect and unwind. That’s why Max and I decided to visit Bali at the first place. After a year of travelling at high-speed all around Australia, we needed the luxury of taking the time to wonder, wander and reflect. That was at least our ambition before getting there…
We didn’t expect to find as much diversity of cultures and landscapes within a relatively small territory. If our intentions were to sit back and relax, I can say that the plan changed quite a bit once we landed! We all know how hard it is to change our habits.
We are avid adventurers and we’re always looking to learn as much as we can about a new destination.
This led us to travel almost all around the island, where we got lost so many times in rice fields. We also hiked a volcano at night on the island of Java.
I discovered that Bali is a place in which you can live your adventure one day at a time. Don’t stress too much with planning all your trip in advance, enjoy the moment.
I love this flexibility and simplicity in travel. Some of our best memories in these 10 photos.
1-Mandala of flowers
Bali has a very zen community and a tradition (among others) that attracted all my attention is the mandala of flowers. This shot was taken at the hotel Hanging Gardens Ubud, where the mandala was standing at the front desk.
I remember being like hypnotised by the harmony created out of this fresh piece of art. I couldn’t get my eyes off!
Every day is a new one to be made with a single aim: to take you on a spiritual journey. They can be found a bit everywhere on the island but mainly in touristic spots. I wish I could do that at home!
Bali would not be Bali without its cheeky and numerous monkeys! Doesn’t matter how many times you heard it before your trip “watch out the monkeys”, it will be a story to tell for sure!
Ubud, the cultural centre of the island, is one of the best places to observe monkeys in their natural environment.
At the Monkey Forest, they are everywhere climbing on trees, sunbathing, playing Peek a boo with tourists, a true animation!
The rule is simple: don’t take food with you, don’t leave anything that they could grab and steal…But even respecting this, they are wild and very curious…
3-Sunset at Uluwatu
Bali is an island of religious freedom. It’s a place that is tolerant about your way of thinking and religious beliefs. Hindus, Muslims and Christians live together in peace.
Bali, also known as the Island of Gods, with over 1000 temples. This one is one of the most famous, located on a cliff, Pura Luhur Uluwatu is impressive.
While we visited this temple, we were entertained not only by the beauty of the site but also by the selfie craziness!
Many tourists were trying to get the best shot of themselves pushing them always closer from the cliff…What people can do to get the “best” shot!
4-Trance at the Kecak dance show
Something not to miss while in Bali is to assist to a traditional dance show. Kecak, legong, barong dance and many others to choose from!
All different they do have something in common though: the beauty of the outfits! Masks, dresses, make up are used in a way to captivate the audience.
The stories told can be a bit difficult to understand for a foreigner but the show is here! The kecak dance happening at Pura Luhur Uluwatu temple at sunset is a memorable experience of ours!
Seated at the first row, we found ourselves a bit submerged when 40 mens gathered in circle, started to yell “Kecak kecak kecak”!
Getting lost in the rice terraces is part of every good trip to Bali. Seeing the rice fields was a beautiful moment.
We did see it a lot on photos or on TV but it is a way different feeling to be standing in front of such a stunning scenery. Serene and peaceful.
I had to find my spot, sit for a while and soak it in! Max took this shot at Gunung Kawi temple, we got there early morning and were the only souls to be found: amazing!
6-Holy water temple
Tirta Empul temple, which is in the village of Tampaksiring, was one of the best memories of our Balinese trip. The site is famous for a sacred water coming straight from the Earth.
People from all around the island come on special occasion to have a bath and giving their offering to the Gods. The day we went was specially crowded, a day full of significance to the believers.
We did feel a bit weird and out of place to observe them while processing through the bath…and I would have felt better to participate in this communion. It was a possibility but I forgot my swimsuit…#BigRegret
Bali is small in size but the diversity of its landscapes is huge! South is mainly dry and hot, while North is lush and green. This is where we found our little heaven: Mundunk!
A tiny village located in the mountains and characterised by breathtaking waterfalls! Here I’m facing Blemantung Falls! One km further down is Melanting falls which is as impressive.
A visit we won’t soon forget as we got “lost” on the way back to the village! No signage, no house and the sun getting downer and downer..
For once my sense of direction was better than Max’s one and fortunately as we might be still there wandering through the rainforest!
8-Hanging Gardens Ubud
Bali is also the place of incredible luxury hotels and we had to try a few. Hanging Gardens Ubud was the most amazing resort we stayed in. Located in the heart of the jungle, 40 minutes from Ubud, this truly unique place reawakened our senses!
The resort has an amazing bi-level infinity pool, which surely has to be the best pool in the world! This contemporary piece of art left us speechless.
The design of the pool is integrated with its surroundings and has a shape that echoes the terrain, I wanted to spend my whole trip in it!
At sunrise, we were again the only ones there and it was pretty special, with the birds flying around the pool and drinking from it.
9-Java: staying in a traditional village
In Bali we had no plan and this was the best. Usually we are very organised and there is not much time for the unexpected. For once, we decided to let it go and see.
Thanks to this attitude we met wonderful people, went off the beaten track and lived unforgettable experiences. I’ll particularly remember that day we stayed in an authentic Javanese village, very far away from the touristic roads.
Mr Paing and his wife Nini hosted us for one day. Mr Paing is a former sulphur miner. He changed his life by becoming a tour guide. With his brother Chunk, they take people to the Kawah Ijen volcano. Such a great moment we had with all the family in the village.
10-Climbing the Kawah Ijen
Indonesia is the place to go for an adventure on a volcano. Which one to choose, that’s the difficult part! I’m glad to say Kawah Ijen didn’t disappoint.
We flew to Java for two days and went down the heart of the volcano at night to see a very special phenomenon, the blue flames. It was absolutely magic!
As the sun rises up in the sky, another show started: the contrast between the turquoise acid lake and the yellow sulphur.
We were with the best guides ever, Mr Paing and Chunk who used to work as sulphur miners here in the volcano. It’s a job I would describe as the worst in the world.
Miners work hard to collect and carry loads of up to 100kg of sulphur on their shoulders for a distance of 4km up and down, three times a day between midnight and midday every day of the year. They face toxic gas, heat and pain, all that for a ridiculous wages of US$13 a day.
I was so happy they decided to change careers and take tourists down to the crater for a living. At least, they have a better life.
The place is stunning but the reality of these miners had an enormous impact on me so discovering the volcano under the guidance of former miners was a really special experience.