Bali, Indonesia in March 2020.
After almost 2 months, while in quarantine, I finished the pictures from Bali.
The first thing that met us in Bali was a huge queue at the airport in front of passport control. Then the coronavirus pandemic was just at the beginning, but they were already checking the temperature with a thermal imager and it was necessary to fill out a health questionnaire. After passing the “feis-control” we were given papers that everything was ok, and those who did not pass were sent to another queue for quarantine. Next was passport control. In general, the whole procedure took about two hours.
At the airport, like ours, there are taxi drivers who are ready to take you anywhere for big money. A tourist from New Zealand recommended me to need to download the Grab application (this is a taxi, bike rental, food delivery and a bunch of other options, sort of an Asian Uber). The taxi arrived quickly, the road to the hotel in Canggu (first stop) cost about $20, which is 3 times cheaper than the taxi drivers at the airport wanted.
Canggu is a village and a paradise for the hipsters! In general, I liked this area the most. There is an active life here, a lot of cool beach clubs, designer shops and especially a lot of “fashionable Instagram” cafes. Of the tourists, mostly Europeans, Australians, Americans. The most important thing in my opinion in Canggu, except for cafes, is surfing! For this reason, we returned here for a couple more days at the end of the trip. It is better to move around Canggu on a bike, since nothing is provided for the car here – narrow streets, ditches along the edges of the road (rivers, sewer drains), lack of parking for the car. By the way, there are no sidewalks for pedestrians either, it seemed to me that 90% of people move on bikes. I also had to master the bike, the first two days were of course very difficult. Left-hand traffic, no traffic lights (turns to the right were extremely difficult) and complete chaos on the road. I rented the simplest bike — Honda Scoopy ($4/day). Gasoline is very cheap – $1.5 for a full tank of the bike. It seemed to me that there were a lot of geckos in Canggu, more than in other places where we were. Be ready for this))). They are everywhere, in hotels, cafes, streets, do not touch anyone, scream funny, live their lives and enjoy Bali.
This was the first attraction where we went from Canggu on a bike. The road was very difficult. After it, I decided that I would not ride a bike anymore! Tanah Lot is a Hindu temple (“Pura” in Balinese) which is located on the ocean, 30 minutes drive from Canggu. This is one of the sacred temples of the island, which is under the protection of the world organization UNESCO. Tanah Lot means “Temple of the Earth”. The chip of the temple is that it is located on a rock and access to it is possible only at low tide. To be honest, it didn’t make much of an impression on me. Perhaps expectations were too high, perhaps we were unlucky with the weather – it was rather cloudy, there was a low tide and there was no “island” effect. The island itself is very small. There are a lot of people, pilgrims and tourists crowding around. I liked the rock with a natural arch and a temple at the top, which is located next to Tanah Lot. In general, the presence of temples on the ocean is very impressive and picturesque.
After a trip to Tanah Lot, the next morning we took a car (rental Toyota Yaris, automatic – $ 15 / day) and then traveled around the island in it. The first point was Ubud, it takes about 2 hours to drive from Canggu.
Ubud is the spiritual center of Bali. There are many temples here. They are really everywhere and they are all quite large. There are also enough temples in Canggu, but they are more compact there. The Balinese are very religious. Before building a house, they first build a small temple, and then a house for themselves. Therefore, everywhere, in any house, institution, cafe, hotel, shop, there is a zone for offerings. Offerings are made several times a day.
Ubud is surrounded by rice fields. Narrow, winding roads, often one-lane runs right through them, which is quite scenic. By the way, there are many hotels that are located on the territory of rice fields. You can get to most of them only by bike (I don’t recommend doing this on your own if you are not an experienced biker), since the roads are no more than a meter wide. We were taken on a bike to see such a hotel. It was such a stress!
There were two key attractions in Ubud: the royal palace of Ubud Water Palace and the temple of Taman Saraswati Temple. The Royal Palace turns out to be a remake, although you can’t tell from the outside. The modern building was erected in the first half of the 20th century, the old one was destroyed by an earthquake. Interestingly, the heirs of the royal family still live here. Only part of the palace is open to visitors. It is located in the very center of Ubud, so we went there right after our arrival. The territory itself is more like a traditional Balinese temple, pagodas, sculptures of deities around, a lot of greenery. In the evenings, traditional Balinese performances for tourists are held in the first courtyard. Tickets can be bought from hands near the palace.
Saraswati – middle of last century
The passage to the Saraswati temple goes through the lotus pond. Incredibly beautiful place. The temple is made in all the traditions of Balinese Hindu shrines. It consists of three courtyards (mandalas). The first courtyard, the actual entrance with a pond, the second courtyard with a gate that separates the middle mandala from the outside world, the third courtyard, the inner mandala with a statue of the goddess Saraswati and statues of other gods.
Rice terraces — Tegallalang
The rice terraces of Tegallalang are probably the biggest impression on me in Bali. Firstly, these are historically the oldest terraces on the island (founded more than 1200 years ago). Secondly, this is a truly unique place, very unusual and beautiful, I have never seen anything like this before. We arrived there early in the morning, there was a light fog, but with the appearance of the sun, the colors of the fields changed every minute, from dull green hues to bright, saturated colors. There were few people in the morning, so I recommend going there until 10, then crowds of tourists already appear. The impression was slightly spoiled by local grandfathers, who seem to work in the fields, but at the same time do everything so that you take a picture of them and pay. That is, they directly invite “hey, look, I’m with a sickle and a bucket, let’s take a picture of me!”. It is clear that they are trying to somehow earn money from tourists, but all this is a little intrusive. There are also “selfie spots”, places for selfies!))) that is, these are such heart-shaped nests where you need to take a picture. If you stand there, a local immediately runs up to you and asks for money for using a selfie spot!)) It’s lucky that they don’t take money for photography and flying on a copter yet, so friends, enjoy the views!
Sangeh Monkey Forest
On the way to Oolong Danu Temple, we passed Sangeh Monkey Forest. Outwardly, this is an ordinary park with a beautiful stone fence, statues, all in Balinese traditions. But when we got closer, dozens of cute monkeys ran towards us from the park. Interestingly, they do not move further than two meters from the park. The leader immediately showed up, who went straight to the car and began to beg for chips. The rest, young people))), sat and calmly watched. We met monkeys a few more times, for example, on the beach in Uluwatu.
Ulun Danu Beratan Temple
Pura Ulun Danu is the second most important temple in Bali. It was built in the middle of the 17th century and is dedicated to the Balinese Hindu goddess Devi Dan, the mistress of the water element. This is one of the most popular places and is very often found in pictures from Bali. The temple itself is located on a small island near the shore of Lake Beratan. The lake is located high in the mountains and you will have to get there for a long time along the serpentine, but the road is very beautiful. It’s about two hours drive from Ubud. Several times we got under a tropical downpour, I can’t imagine how we would have reached if we were on a bike. On the shore of the lake there is a park with walking paths, restaurants and the temple itself. I confess, having seen enough pictures on Google, I imagined something very large-scale, majestic, but the temple turned out to be quite modest and miniature in my opinion, there are only two buildings. The magic of Photoshop and the right angle of course do their job. Most of the “spectacular” photos on the Internet are taken from the water at a wide angle, at sunset, which gives this “fabulous” and majesty. Since it was raining all day and when we arrived it was quite overcast and gray. I had to stretch the image with the camera settings, and it was also impossible to fly a copter on the territory of the temple.
We can say that we got to the Handara Gate by accident, since we did not plan to visit it initially. We had some time left after Oolong Danu and after looking at the Google map, we found this place nearby. In fact, Handara Gate is quite a popular location and is often seen on Instagram photos. Gates symbolize good and evil, the main energies of the universe. For the entrance, or rather for taking pictures near the gate, you need to pay. There are even barriers for the queue, where tourists wait for their high point for a selfie. There is even a whole tariff scale!))) But since we were in the evening, we were very lucky and there were no people at all. So we were able to enjoy the scenery in peace. I really liked it there, very atmospheric. Probably even more than the gate at the Lempuyang Temple (there will be a separate post). At that moment there was some special light, a light haze, and due to it the colors of the trees looked extremely saturated. I invite you to enjoy this wonderful place too!
Penataran Lempuyang Temple
Penataran Lempuyang Temple was my biggest disappointment in Bali!))) I naively believed that I would see this unique place with my own eyes, the gateway to heaven with a mirror pond. But in reality it turned out not to be so. The temple is located very high, not far from Agung, on the top of the mountain of the same name. From there you have an incredible panoramic view of the island and volcanoes. The ride is quite long, the road is difficult, very narrow winding serpentine, the angle of elevation is not less than 45 degrees. I have no idea how to get there by bike. In order to enter the territory of the temple, you need to rent a “sarong” (like a dress), cover your legs with it and make a donation. The fact is that this is one of the few functioning temples where tourists are allowed. Then, having risen to the very top on foot, you enter the territory of the temple.
Temple Lempuyang Temple is considered the oldest on the island of Bali, founded in the 9th century. He is one of the nine main shrines that maintain the spiritual balance of the island. In fact, this is a complex of 7 temples, but we only looked at 2 main parts (outer and inner courtyard). There were few people, it was evening and in this sense we were extremely lucky. So my disappointment was just connected with the gate, I did not find a mirror pond in front of them! The gate turned out to be small, the previous Handara Gate was much more impressive. In front of the gate is the usual platform and a path that leads through them to the stairs leading to the shrines. The trick is that a Balinese man with a black mirror is sitting in the middle of the path and for a fee he makes you this super effect on your phone! My world will never be the same …. I also managed to achieve this effect by placing another iPhone under the iPhone camera))) or even easier everything can be done in Photoshop. Friends, do not believe what you see in advertising photos!)))
Nusa Dua is an area and beach in the southeastern part of the Bukit Peninsula (southern Bali). We drove here at night after Lempuyang Temple (see previous post). Several times we got under a tropical downpour, the road was very difficult. We drove through a new toll road that connects Bali with the Bukit Peninsula, east of the airport. It was a separate adventure because you need a special card to travel, which of course I didn’t have. We had to negotiate with local drivers to let us through. It was the longest drive, over 4 hours.
The area is home to luxury chain hotels such as the Hilton, The Ritz, Hyatt and Sofitel. The area itself is a closed area, like a small town with luxury infrastructure. It is not like the rest of the island, more like the resorts of Dubai or Antalya. Beautiful streets, golf courses, large white sand beaches. Tourists move around on golf carts, there are a lot of guards around. Prices for everything are 3 times higher than in other places in Bali, but admission to the territory is free. Everything seems to be cool, but the beaches are a little disappointing. It was very dirty. Perhaps we were unlucky and it was high tide and all the garbage from the ocean was washed ashore, maybe it’s not the season and the beaches are not very clean. I don’t know, but the fact remains, paying a lot of money for a hotel and swimming with plastic bottles and garbage bags is not the most fun. We were at the Hyatt Hotel. Large beautiful area with swimming pools and a huge sandy beach. It’s funny that squirrels live in the trees on the beach, which all the time tried to steal something!
Nusa Dua seemed boring to me. There is no movement here (maybe not the season), there is nothing to watch, only a relaxing holiday on the beach far from the Balinese reality. Should I fly here just for the beach? I’m not sure, it seems to me more interesting to explore the island itself and soak up its flavor, and leave the beach holiday for Antalya.
Uluwatu is a district on the western part of the Bukit Peninsula (southern Bali). It is interesting for its beaches and surf spots. Compared to Canggu, it’s like a village here. There are also trendy cafes and quite a few surfer shops. But there is not much infrastructure, there are few people. Maybe because it’s not in season. We stayed here for 2 days and then returned to Canggu to surf and take a break from frequent transfers. There are very spectacular and expensive hotels in Uluwatu, those with pools right on the edge of the cliffs with a panoramic view of the Indian Ocean, such as the Edge Hotel, which can often be seen on Instagram photos. All the beaches are far enough away, you need to go down the paths from a height of hundreds of meters to them. But these are all wild beaches with insanely beautiful views. We were lucky with the weather and here we saw amazing Balinese sunsets.
The beaches we visited are Nyang Nyang, Padang Padang and Suluban Beach. Now more about each. Nyang Nyang is a huge wild beach located in the south of Uluwatu. It takes about 40 minutes to get down to it from the parking lot, maybe more. Unfortunately, we did not pass this path and hung half way. It was already evening, there are no paths as such, you go by feel, so we decided not to risk it. Enjoying the sunset and the beach from a bird’s eye view came from a very unusual place – a house on a rock! It can be booked on airbnb. By the way, it is on this beach that there is the famous bubble hotel, where the rooms are in transparent bubbles. So, we got into the house on the rock by accident, just getting lost. At that moment, two Canadians lived there, who allowed us to shoot the sunset from the balcony. Friends, he was incredibly handsome! But if you plan to stay in this house, remember that there are running geckos and monkeys right on the roof, as well as a toilet and a bath without a ceiling and doors, right in the open air ….))
We got to the other two beaches the next day. The first was Padang Padang. He became a substitute and popular thanks to the movie “Eat Pray Love”. The passage to it is not as extreme as on Nyang Nyang. It is more civilized and they charge money for entry ($1.5). You go down the stairs through the temple with monkeys. The beach itself is quite small, there were many tourists and locals on it. The place seems to be very popular. There are even tents with surfboards and food. The beach is quite picturesque due to the rocks and the azure ocean. Very good place for photos.
Suluban Beach was a fatal test for me))) because it was on it that I crashed the drone… But the place is very beautiful, I recommend it to everyone to visit. Admission is free, there are many local cafes on the top of the coast and there are even some hotels. The passage to the beach itself lies through the rocks and it was a bit difficult for me to wade with a photo backpack. The beach is very popular among advanced surfers, there are quite a lot of them, but by the way, there is nowhere to rent a board. It is difficult to swim there, there are many stones and reefs. But the views and the sunset are unreal!
Hotels at Bali
A small post about hotels. The choice of hotels on the island is huge, for every taste and budget. Since we often moved, hotels were booked literally before the arrival itself. We lived in traditional villas, a small family hotel and a 5* chain hotel. We booked through booking.com, everything with a rating of at least 8.7-9. I liked @pinkcoco the most in Uluwatu, with its unusual pink color scheme and service. In Canggu we stayed at the family hotel @mahumustika, there is the best owner we have ever met!
Cafes at Bali
As promised, a separate post about cafes because they are really cool. They are mostly held by Australians or New Zealanders. A lot of vegan, healthy. We usually go to cafes for breakfast. On average, breakfast will cost $8-12 per person. It is worth noting that in addition to the amount of the order, the state tax + 10% and the tip “service tax” + 5-7% are added to the check. For breakfast, I serve eggs of all kinds))) smoothies, bowls, toasts, fresh juices, etc. Among the cafes there are quite a lot of burgers, there are pizzerias, Japanese cuisine, European. All cafes are very coolly decorated, the interior, the presentation, everything is very “instagrammable”. In most cases, everything is simply decorated, but insanely stylish. Local cuisine can be tasted in “warungs”. Of course, it’s super cheap there, but it’s dangerous, there’s a problem with sanitation) but there are also warung restaurants for Europeans where you can try local dishes prepared under normal conditions (let’s hope so). From the local it is usually rice, chicken, some vegetables, everything is quite spicy. The service in the cafe is top notch. As soon as you enter a cafe, they immediately run up to you, show you to a table, bring some water. Everyone is very friendly, actively helping with the menu. One hundred and fifty times they will say thank you.
If you are in Canggu, be sure to visit: Butterfish (burgers), Crate Cafe (breakfasts, smoothies), Cactus (breakfasts, salads) and The Commons (breakfasts, smoothies).
Uluwatu: The Mango Tree (burgers, breakfasts) and The Loft (large selection of everything)
Ubud: there are not as many interesting cafes as in Canggu, we were Europeanized warung
Surfing at Bali
A separate post about surfing! It was my first experience on the board and I think it was quite successful. I want to share my experience with you. There are several surfing spots in Bali: Canggu, Kuta and Uluwatu. The main ones can be called – Kutu, popular for beginners, but we did not get there and Canggu, where we lived at the beginning of the trip and a couple of days at the end. I realized that more experienced guys practice Uluwatu, I didn’t even see surfing schools for tourists on the beach there, but it’s very beautiful there! Chang is another matter. Going to the beach, Batu Bolong, you will immediately see a lot of offers for renting boards and Balinese who want to teach you. The price of renting a board is the same for everyone – about $ 3.5 for 2 hours. Training with an instructor will cost about $ 20, the price includes a board, jacket and water. There are our guys who teach, but I have not met. Maybe they work at surf camps. Frankly, I will say that office work made itself felt))) and at first it was a little hard physically, then you get used to it. The main difficulty, where you lose a lot of strength, is to swim to the “third” wave. When the tide was at all unrealistic, the waves were under 2 meters, you are swimming and you are simply blown away. When you get to the right point, it’s better to take a break and then catch the wave! If with an instructor, then he helps you by pushing you when the wave approaches and tells you when to rise. It is important not to miss the moment when you rise, understanding the moment does not come immediately)))) you just need to practice hard. I caught a wave and stayed on the board several times, which I am extremely happy about! Very strong sensations from “conquering the ocean” when you stand on the board and under you all the power of the wave. Of course, for good results, you need to train for more than one month, but I still drove my couple of meters!
My top 5 conclusions and recommendations:
1. it is better to go in the morning until 12, then it will be hot and strong tide
2. buy sweatshirts for surfing in a company store, those that are issued with a board are not in the best condition)))) There are a lot of surfer shops in Canggu and Uluwatu.
3. buy tanning powder! This is super important. Not oil, not cream, but talc. It is sold in surf shops but can be found in Delhi. Talc chip is that it is not washed off with water like oil and cream.
4. take training for the first 2-3 days. Then try to ride on your own for a couple of days to learn the technique. After that, you can take another trainer to pump other skills. Be sure to workout!
5. Practice on a large soft top board taller than you are. Don’t let the size bother you, it’s extremely difficult to stand on medium ones, I generally keep quiet about hard tops and small boards.
Happy waves, friends!))