I wanted to take an entire-blog-post moment to talk a bit about Bali because well, I feel like a lot of people who want to quit their jobs look forward to the possible traveling-aspect of it. That desire to see the world; to find yourself in the skies or on the seas; to be in a new place where the primary language is not your own. Someplace where you come to appreciate so much how smiles and laughs and tears and just, overall body language, can still be understood even when words seem to lose you. It’s a very humbling thing to experience how time kind of stops when it hits you how you have so much in common with this person you’ve never met before. It’s true – when any of us experiences joy or love, our eyes sparkle and our faces glow all the same. All the same.
But ah, again, I digress.
The Week Leading Up to Bali
For the week leading up to Bali, I left my home and stayed with other family members in the city my plane was departing from. Between revising drafts of my children’s book, setting up web hosting for my already-purchased domain (at that point, it wasn’t this one), watching videos about Instagram, blogs, and LLCs, spending time with my family, and babysitting my niece, I scrambled to do a million last-minute Bali-travel things:
- International outlet adapters (Because for someone who likes traveling as much as I do, I was surprised – how did I not already own this?!)
- Toothpaste (Because if I’m going for as long as I am, I might as well put a bigger tube in my checked bag rather than taking a bunch of minis. Duh.)
- RFID-blocking travel neck pouch (Because I borrowed a friend’s on a past international trip and I loved having this for my passport, cash, etc.)
- Afterbite Mosquito Bite Treatment (Because I’ve used this on other trips and it was a saving grace! Had to have it for mosquito-prone Bali too!)
- Thick socks for my hiking boots (Because will my thinner socks hurt my feet inside those shoes? I don’t know! I should have worn thinner socks and gone for a practice hike!)
- Hiking sandals (Because how hot will it be there when we’re hiking? Will I even want to wear my hiking boots? Everyone seems to have these and love these… Would they be a worthy investment?)
- Sunscreen (Because how did I forget this? It’s going to be sunny AF in Bali!)
- Carabiner clips (Because my hiking boots won’t fit in my checked bag, and I decided I’d try to clip them onto my backpack.)
- A beanie and gloves (Because last time I went hiking up a mountain, it was cold AF at the top, and I forgot mine at home for this trip.)
- Neck pillow (Because I actually use this as lower back support on long flight. When I was a consultant, I traveled with this every single week, but one day, I left it on the plane and never saw it again. Sigh.)
- Luggage locks (Because I left those at home too. Sigh again.)
- Hot Cheetos and Oreos (Because I always travel with these on international trips. Always. So much unapologetic love in my heart for that junk.)
- Comfy sweats (Because I forgot those at home too and I needed this for the plane! Leggings wouldn’t do – those were too tight/form-fitting for a 30+ hour travel itinerary!)
- Get cash from the bank
- Photocopy passport and ID
- Notify banks that I will be traveling
- Download Bali travel apps for the phone (Grab, GoJek, TripAdvisor, some currency converter; I heard that it’s not recommended to use Uber or Lyft there for safety purposes.)
- Charge my Kindle
- Charge my portable charger (You guys, if you need one, you should definitely get this Anker charger. I love mine. P.S. If you use that link, I might get some $$ from it with no extra charge to you. WHICH WOULD BE SO COOL ‘CAUSE YA KNOW, I’M JUST STARTING OUT WITH THIS WHOLE BLOGGING THING. Insert cheesin’ face here.)
- Charge iPad
- Decide which dress to wear for the wedding (This trip has been planned for months because my friend was getting married there!)
- Decide which heels to take with me for aforementioned dress
So basically, I had plenty to keep me busy. Seriously, how? How was life after my “real” job busier than ever?!
Truth nugget: In case you’re interested, I didn’t end up getting the hiking sandals. My favorite sandals of life (from WALMART, I tell you!) did the job on normal days and my hiking boots came in so clutch for day we went hiking. Nor did I purchase luggage locks, travel adapters, a neck pillow, or a beanie and gloves. I borrowed each of those from my cousins.
Officially in Bali
Putri Bali Spa in Ubud was our favorite massage place of all the places we went to. (We got a lot of massages during this trip…. No shame. They were like 15-20 USD max for full-body deeeeep tissue massages! Bodyworks in Seminyak was a VERY close second for me, but some of my friends might even argue that it even came ranked first.
If know me, you know that I’ve got a lot of Phoebe-from-the-TV-show-Friends-like qualities. So it shouldn’t surprise you when I say that we also visited a healer, Tjokorda Gde Rai, in Bali. I found his name on another blog. And guess what?! It turned out our drivers had gone to him before too! Felt like fate!
The Infamous Jungle Swing
Okay, so you guys know that infamous Bali Jungle Swing picture that literally shows up everywhere when you look up Bali on Instagram? (Go ahead, try it.) Well, we found the location! There are actually a ton of Instagram-worthy backdrops setup there. But surprise, surprise! You know what this place ended up seeming like to us? The epitome of how social media makes things look fun and amazing because no one posts the entire back story to show how it’s really not that great.
- Turns out it costs like 35 USD to go inside, which is really expensive for Bali.
- There are long AF lines for each scenic picture station. Loooooooooooooong lines. Also, remember, it was SO hot, you guys.
- If I remember right, I’m pretty sure you had a limited number of photo taking opportunities at each station.
When we saw the pictures prior to coming, we were like YES! This looks amazing! Let’s stamp our authentic trip to Bali with an iconic picture on this swing! But when we got there and saw what the behind-the-scenes entailed, we realized that there could be nothing more inauthentic about our Bali trip than this super-staged place. And then we asked ourselves if we wanted to stand in line for half the day so that we could get these pictures. After a bit of thinking, the answer was a resounding no. And then we left. I mean, if I wanted to stand in a long line for a swing, ummm… I’ll just go to Six Flags.
Sites to See (Pictures at the end of this post)
- Jimbaran Beach for seafood and sunset
- Tanah Lot temple for the sunset
- Uluwatu temple
- Rice Terrace (Just FYI – it was incredibly humid and hot inside this place. We were so tired at the end. Felt like hike #2 on this trip. But it definitely was a cool sight!)
- Mount Batur for a sunrise hike
- Ubud Market for shopping
- Seminyak Beach for sunset (I’m a big fan of sunrises and sunsets if you haven’t noticed)
- Tegenungan waterfall
- The Monkey Forest (We didn’t actually go to this, but a monkey stole my sunglasses at a beach and someone who works there had to bribe him with food to get it back lol.)
- Potato Head Beach Club
- Luwak Coffee Plantation (I loved the Avocado coffee! Such a pleasant surprise!)
- Sorry guys, I don’t remember any of the restaurants we went to! I’m horrible with names!
The Places We Stayed
- Dash Hotel in Seminyak: My California friend booked this because she’s a pro at using Trip Advisor and you guys, it was the best! Breakfast was included EVERY DAY. And it wasn’t just a typical small buffet at your typical SPG (now Marriott) hotels. Oh, no. It was an “Order Anything You Want from the Menu and Pay Nothing Because It’s Included in Your Rate” breakfast. And the breakfast dishes? The sides? It was all so good. Not to mention the fact that everyone at this hotel was so genuine and so hospitable. But such was the nature of the service industry in Bali in general. Good people, those Balinese. Good people. Also, roof top pool anyone? This hotel has you covered. Oh, ALSO ALSO, everything you need is literally walking distance from this place – restaurants, nightlife, spas, the beach, even pharmacies, guys. Y’all, I’ve stayed at many a hotel in my consulting career; I even stayed at The Westin Resort in Bali for part of this trip… and my final evaluation? The Dash Hotel is where it’s at.
- The Westin Resort in Nusa Dua: This place was expensive compared to the Dash Hotel. Glad I booked on points. My Platinum status got me free daily breakfast, and praise the lord for that because the breakfast everyone in the wedding party went to was $20 a day! Other than breakfast, the meal prices were similar to what anyone would pay for meals in the U.S., and after spending a week in Bali eating great food for minimal dollars, this bugged me about the Westin. However, the hotel was secluded, quiet, had its own private beach and a ton of pools, so that made for a pretty relaxing time. Yes, the introverted side of me needed some time to unwind and recollect myself, and I did feel like I could do that here. Also, the wedding was here, and it was beautiful, y’all. Just beautiful.
- Some villa in Kuta: OK, so here’s where we failed. We booked a villa in Kuta which we thought was close to the beach. I mean, it technically was, but it wasn’t walking distance nor a safe area. It was also incredibly hard for us to find, let alone for our Grab or GoJek drivers to find. Seriously. When my Grab driver tried to take me there, it took us probably 15-20 additional minutes until we finally succumbed and he just called the owner (because communicating via Whatsapp was not helping) before we found it. When we got there, the Wi-Fi wasn’t even working in our room! Thank GOD my plan with T-Mobile included no roaming fees! Seriously, it didn’t cost extra. I could Whatsapp while out and about and also in that no Wi-Fi room.
After much frustration, worry, and the first mosquito bites I got in Bali during the 6 days I’d been there, we connected with AirBnB and got a full refund. (Thanks so much, AirBnB, for taking care of us!) At around 11 PM that night, we rebooked with the Dash Hotel and went back. Seriously, Dash Hotel is where it’s at.
One of my family members recommended Wisnu Wijaya from Bali Nice Holiday, and guys, he was literally the best driver ever. It makes so much sense to book a driver in Bali if you have a lot you’re planning to do and/or the places you want to go are scattered all across the island. Wisnu had a very reasonable daily rate (10 hours a day) and then each additional hour was some minimal amount of $$. He speaks perfect English, is so knowledgeable about the area, and gosh, overall, he has such a kind, genuine spirit. You can find him on Facebook but reaching him on Whatsapp would probably be even better. If you try him on Facebook and it doesn’t work for you, email me – I can see about connecting you both.
All in all, it was a very packed trip. I finally gave in and did absolutely nothing my last two days there to curb my exhaustion. I realized that my ideal international travel trip-length is 7 days max (not including travel days). This trip, not including the to and from flight, was 10 days. Too much for me. Too much. By the end of it, I was ready to go home, sleep in my OWN bed, walk over to my OWN fridge to get something homemade (No more eating out, please!), lounging on my OWN couch, and keeping in touch with my family and friends during normal hours of the day. I guess this introvert just needs her recharge time.
Enjoy the pictures! Let me know if you’re feeling like I should have posted more!