Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Around Bali | 1 of 3

Bali... a tourist haven, and for good reason.

Indonesia is the world's largest archipelago and has around 18,000 islands! Bali is one of them. 

Mountains, beaches, surfing, volcanos, endless rice paddies, beautiful temples, 92% Hinduism, colorful culture, amazing food. 

To be honest, we were a little annoyed when we first arrived. The first place we landed in was Kuta Beach... a touristy, congested city on the beach with a Hard Rock Cafe (a bad sign in our book). It could be because we had no where to stay and ran around in the heat with our luggage, trying to find a decent hotel that had vacancy. We had to switch hotels several times because they were full (later transferring from Kuta to Legian Beach, which we liked better). It could have been all the tourists and typical shops. Perhaps the constant traffic and the worst roads. But we were mostly ticked that every time we walked anywhere (day or night), every few steps local guys would be calling "transport! transport! taxi! where you going?" No matter how many times you said no, they would often follow you and yell "transport, transport" over and over and over. The funny thing is they were offering rides on their personal scooters, not a taxi cab. It didn't matter how harsh you were with them... you couldn't get the point across. When they could tell we were angry, they would sometimes laugh at us. Walking past souvenir stands was the same thing. Same goes for walking past a massage parlor. We started to resent the locals which made me feel terrible because the Indonesian people were so nice as soon as you got off the sidewalk and away from the touts. Having visited several Asian countries (including many touristy cities), we were expecting this, but not to this degree. We couldn't help comparing everything to Thailand (and Thailand kept winning). 

Once we got out of the busy city, we discovered the beautiful Bali that everyone raves about. The scenery is incredible. We rode on a scooter down curvy roads winding through rice fields and around foggy mountains. We saw some of the most beautiful temples. We found some quieter sandy beaches and hiked dramatic green cliffs that drop into the aqua blue Indian Ocean. 

Next time we go to Bali, we will skip the big cities and stay on a remote beach or in the mountains. The reason we stayed near Kuta (the big touristy city) for an entire week was because we kept waiting for our new camera to come in. Turns out it was being held at customs and Yuriy ended up flying back to Jakarta for the day to pay the fees and pick it up. FINALLY, a camera! 

- Julia 

This post includes photos from our little back-up camera, but the following posts will finally have better quality photos from our good camera!

Gasoline sold in vodka bottles on the side of the road is a very common sight.
There were so many DVD shops (pirated versions) that we wondered how they all stay in business. Movies here were $1-3 USD and they had movies that were still playing in theaters in America!
Little offering baskets full of rice, flowers, and food sometimes looks like garbage scattered around the city (especially the trampled ones). They are daily placed by the locals in front of entrances to thank the gods and bring good fortune. You will find these when you enter businesses as well, and those tend to look a lot nicer (since they are not kicked around). I admire the discipline of these people.
A quieter beach we drove to that was supposed to have good surfing -- Balangan Beach. Yuriy briefly tried surfing here, but after getting cut up on the rocky bottom (and the lack of waves), he quit. It was a beautiful place to eat lunch and walk around.
Since we weren't surfing, we hiked to the top of these beautiful green cliffs instead.
Cliff top fishing at Balangan Beach.
Images of rice fields snapped from the back of a scooter on the way home.
One of the charming places we stayed (cheap and lovely hotels are one of the great things about Bali).  
The pool had a swim up bar and happy hour every evening. Such a nice oasis from the noisy and crowded streets.