Nicole the traveljunkie and her love for Bali

Bali again huh? How come you travel all that way for the third time in a year?
Well I’m not sure where to start. I could tell you all about the fantastic vegetereian and vegan food in Ubud and other cities, I could tell you about the beautiful beaches, mesmerizing waterfalls. But I will start elsewhere. A few years back I lived in Jakarta while doing a fellowship for UNICEF and their Child Rights Protection Unit. I got to travel around in Indonesia both in work and in my free time. I started to develop this strange hate-love for Indonesia but there was this one place I mainly felt love, Bali. Bali has come to be the one place in this world where I can always find myself, my inner peace and where I feel at home.

They might call me bule (western) at first sight, but usually they understand pretty fast that I am not like any other bule, this is my home too. I’ve been to Banda Aceh where they practice the sharia laws, I’ve been to the cultural centre Yogja, the breathtaking rainforest in Bukit Lawang, backpacking on remote mini islands south of Sumatra, hiking volcanos in Eastern Java, waterfall hunting in Lombok and enjoying paradise on the Gili Islands and so on. Indonesia has become this traveljunkies playground and there is still so much more to discover in this beautiful country.

One thing I love about Bali is that every area/village is different. While travelling around for 2 weeks you can really get a lot of different impressions and experiences. This trip I brought my boyfriend with me so I decided we should do some backpacking around the island, startiing in the Northern part Singaraja and Sukasada where there is a lot of jungle, waterfalls and even a lot of unexplored jungle areas where one might find still secret and “new” waterfalls if one is brave enough to enter these areas. We spent 3 days up north exploreing the jungle, hiking to find waterfalls and just relaxing in our little house with an amazing view over the valleys and mountains. Perfect place to get in touch with nature and stress down, and get some brutal ass training. Damn those hills are not fun to hike/climb if you decide to not take the motorbike one day. Note to self, if you live on top of a huge hill, don’t try to hike up there.

After living pretty primitive in the jungle area we moved on towards the rice fields in Ubud. On the way there we made a few stops, we stopped in a little garden trying out different coffees and teas and we also made a stop at one of my favourite waterfalls, Banyumala twin waterfalls. When we finally reached Ubud my boyfriend was up for a treat, we were gonna stay in a little tree house called the birdsnest out on the rice fields. I have stayed at this place before and I just felt that he had to experience it, I recommend anyone going to Ubud to stay at least one night at this place if you’re up for a unique experience.

After spending a few days in Ubud enjoying great food, nature, doing some shopping at the Ubud market and spending some time at the Yoga Barn and looking for spiritual and medical healers, we decided to spend a night in Sanur before heading out to some smaller islands for adventures.
I have not really felt anything special for Sanur before but this time a luxerious night in a suite with a private pool just a few minutes from the beach was exactly what we both needed. I don’t mind backpacking and I usually travel on a smaller budget and choose accomodation that does not go hard on my wallet. The lovely thing about Bali is that through Airbnb you can find the most cool, unique and amazing places and still keep your budget. But this night, we went a bit loco and wanted to treat ourselves. Totally worth it!

Early the following morning we went to the harbour to hop on one of the speedboats to Nusa Lembongan, oh my, I didn’t realise how much I missed this island. Only 30 minutes south of Sanur you reach a small paradise, the island is tiny, people are super friendly and the snorkeling is amazing! While you there, make sure to not miss out on a sunset at Devils tear and go on a snorkeling tour, if you are lucky enough you might find yourself swimming with magestic mantas in the crystal clear water.

After 3 days on Lembongan we took a local boat over to Nusa Penida which is a bigger island but not as developed as Lembongan. The roads are pretty bad (like really bad) at some places and we actually got in to an accident with the motorbike when going downhill on a really crappy road. We must have had gardian angels cause it could have gone really bad but we got away with bruses, scratch marks and one almost broken ankle. You might think that accident would put a stop to our adventure plans, well, we deciced to not use the bike we rented again even though it is the easiest way to get around on the island. Instead we hired a driver and a car through our hotel for the last day. There are several things to do in Penida and I would say you need at least two full days to see them, maybe tree if you don’t want to stress.

Our last day was planned to be spent back on Lembongan, just packing and chilling all day before going back with the speedboat and then go straight to the airport the day after. Well, in Indonesia, things usually don’t come out as you plan. We had just got back to our homestay and layed down on the bed ready for a long nap when I got a message from our host asking if it was tomorrow we were planning on going back to the main island.

Apparently that specific day no boats were aload to enter the ocean because of a cultureal and religous happening and the sea has to be silence. No matter what you pay, no one will cross the ocean on that day. The funny thing is that I got a confirmation by the boat company on email that they would come and pick us up at the homestay that day and what time the boat would leave, I also made sure to mention to them that we had aflight to catch the same day. When we ask our host to call the company they take no responsibility for not informing us and advicing us to take the both the day after (the day after our flight leaves?) Yes, that’s what they reccomended since the last boat leaving this afternoon was already full.

Well, I’m on the last plane now, just lifted from Dubai, not thanks to the brains at the boat company but thanks to our host informing us about the “sea of silence” and maybe I was a little bit less nice in the futher contact with the boat company. But they were right though, the boat was not only full, it was really full. We couldn’t even leave the harbour because of the weight. Let’s just leave ii at we got back to Sanur alive and spent our last night ordering deleivery food to the hotel room and finally getting some rest before the long flight.

Despite that they try to give me bule prices before they realize I understand some Bahasa Indonesia, despite that wifi is poor, electricity goes in and out, things don’t really work, the traffic is horrible and some areas people don’t speak a word english, I love this island more than any other place. I feel like I’m in my right element and everytime I get there I feel like home and everytime I am about to leave I feel like I’m not ready to leave yet. Don’t be surprised if you find me living in a little treehouse in the jungle or in a bungalow at the beach a few years from now. Now I am done talking and will let the pictures from Nusa Penida speak for themsleves.

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