We spent our final two days of our Bali holiday in Jimbaran; just 15 minutes south of the airport. I had heard good reviews from coworkers about Jimbaran and wanted to try to see as much of Bali as possible during our short trip. Unfortunately, Jimbaran did not come close to our expectations and was the least enjoyable part of our trip. Allow me to explain..
Regardless of how cliche it now is, we couldn’t pass on the opportunity to visit Padang Padang Beach; where the filming for Eat Pray Love’s beach scene took place. We were looking forward to seeing whether this beach lived up to how it was portrayed in the movie.
To begin with, it’s definitely not an easy beach to get to. In fact, nothing is that easy to get to if you’re staying in Jimbaran. So, we rented motorbikes for the day (though I highly recommend you don’t due to an awful experience we had) and set off to find this beach. We were on the road for at least half an hour before we found it – you’ll know you’re there when you see cars and motorbikes lined up on the side of the road right before a bridge. And lots of tourists, of course.
After leaving the Gili Islands, we went back to Ubud for one night as we didn’t get a chance to do the Mt Batur sunrise trek when we were there earlier. I love hiking and didn’t want to miss what was to be an incredible hike up during the night (which I had never done before) in order to see the sun rise up behind the massive mountains of Agung and Rinjani on Lombok.
I highly recommend you visit a few tour stalls before settling on a price. We were being quoted between 550,000 – 750,000 IDR ($50 – $71 CDN) per person from a few companies. Then we came upon one tour agency that offered us 600,000 IDR for both of us. We were so glad we took the time to look around before making a final decision; this price was half the cost of all the other companies and the itinerary was the same. The name of the trekking tour company was Pineh Trekking and we had no complaints during our trek.
Gili Trawangan is a great island getaway from Bali without being completely cut-off from the world. Gili T is actually a lot more developed than I had initially thought – there are numerous funky cafes selling rather expensive coffee, unique clothing shops, boutique hotels that charge you to spend a day on their beach, and a fast-developing party scene. If you’re looking for a more quiet, relaxed, and rustic island trip, you should consider going to one of the other two Gili Islands: Gili Meno or Gili Air.
You just can’t leave Gili T without having seen the sunset and enjoyed some hearty, local grub at the night market.
The majority of accommodations and activities are found on the eastern part of the island. For those of you who remember your grade 6 social studies lessons, you’ll know that the sun rises in the east and sets in the west. If you’re keen to wake up at an ungodly hour in the morning (which isn’t hard since the morning prayers are blared on loudspeakers at 4am each day) you can catch the sunrise just minutes from your place if you’re by the beach.
Spending some time bumming out on the beach on Gili T is a great escape from the fast-paced lifestyle of Bali, but if you’re like me, laying around every single day can become a bit boring. Thankfully, you can rent bikes on the island for next to nothing – we paid about $3 CDN to have our bikes for the entire day and there are bike racks in front of most shops on the main strip to park your bike for a few hours while you enjoy a refreshing beverage. Or two.
After spending three nights in Kuta, I was ready to leave the craziness behind and head to Ubud. From all the hype that I had heard from others about Ubud, I was really excited to spend some time there. Afterall, Eat, Pray, Love had portrayed this area as a haven for soul-searchers and those wanting to escape their big-city routine life. Though I found Ubud to be much more enjoyable than Kuta, there were a few things that surprised me. And not in the jumping up and down sorta way.
One thing I’ve noticed when travelling is that pending your destination, the name of your accommodations change; hostel, pension house, guesthouse, and so forth. In Ubud, most places were referred to as “homestays” and it is quite a fitting name, as the accommodations were very home-y, alluring, and comfortable.
When walking through the streets of Ubud you will notice steps leading up to a narrow passage with an over-arching frame and usually a statue of an elephant or some other symbol at the front. These are what the entrance-ways to most homestays look like, which is very different from other accommodations I’ve stayed in. Once stepping through the entrance, it felt as though I was transported to a different time and place where I was surrounded by the beauty of Balinese architecture and the simplicity of a far-off time. Finally. This was the Bali I was looking for (you can check out my opinion on Kuta, our first stop, here).
When someone mentions Bali, what are the first thoughts or images that come to mind? For me it was serenity, beauty, Balinese architecture, culture, and so forth. If that is in fact what you’re looking for, you should scratch Kuta off your list. However, if you’re looking for any and every possible souvenir to bring home, shopping galore, lots of Australians, and are ready to party like you’re back in first year university, this is definitely the place for you.
We began our trip to Bali in Kuta, spending three nights in a homestay about a ten minute walk to the rather polluted beach. My opinion on Kuta might be slightly skewed due to the constant on-and-off rain the entire time we were there, so perhaps my experience here would have been a little more pleasant had the weather cooperated. Emphasis on the “little”.