When I was a little girl, I used to sit in front of my parents’ TV for hours, singing along to Rodgers and Hammerstein’s South Pacific. “Bali Ha’i may call you, Any night, any day, In your heart, you’ll hear it call you: Come away…Come away.”
This siren song, while technically not about the idyllic Indonesian island of Bali, played in my mind long after the glow of the television screen had dimmed. And in my dreams, visions of rice terraces, palm trees and temples appeared–the waves washing over me.
I can’t believe I waited so long to go. Especially after living and traveling around Asia for five years. But, I’m happy to report that it was everything I hoped it would be–a week of sunshine and bliss.
Here’s a look at the highlights:
1. Staying at this placeSome trips are for traveling, and some are for relaxing. And while there were things I definitely wanted to see while in Bali, the top items on my to-do list were: 1. lounge by a pool, 2. stare off into an infinite field of rice paddies or pandan trees, and 3. do not think about work.
Originally, I had my heart set on staying in Ubud–Bali’s cultural and artistic hub. But after finding this private villa in Canggu for less than $100 USD a night on AirBnB (including breakfast and maid service), I had to stay there. I had no idea where Canggu was, and I didn’t really care. All I knew was that I wanted to eat in that open kitchen. I wanted to read in the open living room. I wanted to swim in that pool.
Canggu is a small village, about 20 minutes (by scooter) from Seminyak. In recent years, it has become an enclave for surfers and health-conscious sun worshippers. As a result, the Echo Beach area is dotted with boutique surfing schools and healthy cafes. While I didn’t spend time on a board, I did frequent many eateries. My favorites were Betelnut Cafe, Crate, Cafe Avocado and Nalu Bowls.
3. Taking a cooking class in Ubud I’m not posting too many pictures here, because I plan to write a separate post about my experience. But let me tell you, Paon Bali Cooking Class was the best way to spend a morning.
We rode our scooter (about 45 minutes) from Canggu, and met our guide at the Ubud market to learn a little about the local fruits and vegetables. About 30 minutes later, we took a van up the mountain, to arrive at a Balinese family’s home, where we were greeted with lime juice and smiles.
The property was beautiful and the class was well-organized. And I kid you not, it was the best food I had while in Bali. Will post recipes next week.
4. Renting a scooter to see the sights (and getting lost)We rented a scooter for $5 USD a day, and spent most of our free time getting lost and exploring the island. Word to the wise: pull up the intended address on Google Maps before you leave, while you still have WIFI. It will continue to track your location, and you’ll save a lot of time and energy.
Places to go: Tanah Lot Temple (go in the late afternoon to catch the sunset. We also stayed for the Kecak Fire Dance, which was interesting, but we didn’t stay for the whole performance.), Pura Ulum Danu Bratan (a beautiful temple on an even more beautiful lake), the Ubud Monkey Forest (I liked it much more than I anticipated), and the landscape/rice paddies around Ubud (we enjoyed exploring by ourselves rather than the more touristic “scenic spot.”).
In one week, I feel like I simply scratched the surface of an island filled with beautiful landscapes, dynamic and healthy food, and welcoming people. The siren song is still calling. And I plan on answering it soon.