First things first, let’s get something straight because people sometimes confuse Indonesia with Bali. They are different. Bali is an island in Indonesia and is more than just a hedonistic destination for young Australians on school holidays; that’s Kuta. Indonesia is vast and extremely diverse, hosting thousands of species of animals, as well as religions, and local cultures. In fact, Indonesia is probably one of the most diverse countries we have been to on this trip, and we were only there for ten days.
Our time constraints meant that in Indonesia, we could only visit the island of Bali and Lombok’s Gili Air; we still fit a lot in though. In the future we’d hit Jakarta, Yogyakarta, Mts. Bromo, Kelimutu, and Rinjani, and Indonesian Borneo.
Our first stop was Seminyak, an Asian metropolis/surf town full of boutique swimwear shops and fast food restaurants. We heard that it was the upmarket version of Kuta (the aforementioned hedonistic destination for Aussie schoolies), but not as exclusive as Nusa Dua, Uluwatu, or Legian.
It was ideal for our first few days in Bali as we were keen to meet some people and socialise. We went to the Fantastic Trick Art Museum which has on display a variety of 3D art works. We spent a day at Potato Head Beach Club – a must do – and visited some good restaurants.
Ubud was next, the home of the famous Monkey Sanctuary. We met up with Emily and Bruce, another British couple that we’d spent time with in Laos, and spent a few days chilling out in the laidback jungle setting of Ubud. We climbed Mt. Batur, an active volcano in the north of Bali, and we got attacked playfully by Macaques in the Monkey Sanctuary. We also visited the Tegenungan Waterfalls which roared dramatically over black slate cliffs.
The paradise of Gili Air came next and it was wonderful. White sandy beaches to rival any in Asia, and reggae bars as far as the eye can see. No motorised transport of any kind is allowed on the island, which makes a stark contrast to Seminyak and Kuta. We spent a few days here sunning ourselves and relaxing some more. Then, we made the fateful last minute decision to get Katherine a working holiday visa for Australia, instead of the three month tourist visa she already had.
Australia’s stringent immigration laws meant that Katherine had to undergo an intense and intrusive health assessment which could only be made in Kuta’s hospital. We were reluctant to visit Kuta, because of its less than sterling reputation (its all true) as a seedy tourist destination, but the tests were necessary. With only six days left until we were due to fly to Melbourne, we hastily packed up in Gili Air bound for Kuta.
As the video will testify, we didn’t get up to much in Kuta. Though the waves are huge, the beaches are filthy, and there are western fast food chains on every street. We mostly stayed in our little hotel with the green swimming pool, and waited nervously for Katherine’s visa.
You do hear some dubious stories about Bali, and Indonesia in general like, ‘it’s corrupt,’ ‘it’s dangerous,’ ‘its dirty’ etc. But as with the other countries in Southeast Asia, if you’re careful and aware, you will really reap the rewards.
Here are our highlights. Please watch in-browser on this post for best results.