Bali presented me with an excellent opportunity, the chance to meet up with a friend from London who was vacationing in Indonesia and to visit a tropical holiday destination that I never considered visiting. I was incredibly happy to visit my friend, but having done no research about Bali whatsoever, I genuinely had no idea about what there was to see or do.
In spite of having no expectations of Bali and I ended up having the perfect time, I spent over a week not engaging fully with my surroundings, and I loved it! Having just completed a heavily researched and pre booked trip in Japan, the idea of traveling without purpose appealed. I was happy to be indecisive, to do absolutely nothing of substance if that was required. Bali delivered the ideal place to do just that, a place to chill, unwind and relax, I didn’t even feel I was wasting time, because wasting time before my organised tour in China began is what I was in Bali to do.
Of the 3 locations I stayed in Bali, Ubud was my favourite, I found it reminiscent of many places in Asia, a little of Thailand, of Vietnam and of Malaysia. For me Ubud delivered the rustic charm of a place that was rice paddies not so long ago.
I was lucky to be staying a little out of town, just the other side of the monkey sanctuary, an ideal distance from town for me, with the hotel close enough to walk to the restaurants and bars of Ubud town without being inconvenient, and far enough to be quiet and tranquil. I especially enjoyed the tropical, leafy green resort type feel my hotel offered.
I also enjoyed strolling into and around Ubud town, sure the footpaths are of limited quality and the roads remarkably congested but the street side temples, ornate statues and boutique shops of these main streets were fascinating, the mostly sympathetic development of Ubud not clashing with local aesthetic. I did however find it tricky to capture engaging images, as there was often an obstruction or an angle I couldn’t quite get to work.
Seminyak had the beachside tourist town feel I had expected to experience in Bali, with many souvenir stalls, clothes stores and boutiques, along with many restaurants and cafes offering a full range of foods for people who want to travel without culinary adventure.
I didn’t find Seminyak to be intrusive or pushy in the slightest, I found it to be quite tasteful for a resort area with limited interest for me, that is not to say I didn’t enjoy myself, I did, my enjoyment being directly linked to the fact that I didn’t care what I did or didn’t do.
Seminyak’s crowning glory are the beachside café’s restaurants and bars, these venues being the perfect place to rent a sun lounger during the day and to grab a cocktail or beer while enjoying the stunning sunsets over the sandy beaches.
Jimbaran was my final location in Bali, it’s what I imagine Seminyak looked like before it became a bustling tourist town. Sure there are big plush resorts here, but a surprisingly small amount of infrastructure otherwise. Refreshingly there are no tourist shops, heck, there are almost no shops at all, just a Starbucks and a few local shops.
The interest point Jimbaran offers is a much quieter beach than Seminyak, with just a little low rise development of the dunes, a few stretches of beach have almost no development at all. It is possible to find the occasional sun lounger and associated shack at intervals along the beach, there are also clusters of beach side restaurants selling local fish at night with tables nestled in the sand. All in all Jimbaran is a great place to be a beach bum.