As summer draws to a close and autumn peeps through the shadows, my 2017 year of travel is only just beginning. I want to taste the world around me and feel its scent on my lips and drink in the rain that pours over my head. Most of all I want to explore the fruits that this earth has given us; the hidden waterfalls cascading over lush green mountains, the scent of freshly baked bread in rural villages, the seven wonders standing proudly through time.Whether it be a vacation in Indonesia or a trip to the Philippines, there is no doubt that travelling is in my blood. Because it might have lain dormant for 5 years but the beast has awoken and this girl wants her borrowed time back. Next month I begin my journey, flying through the Tuscan mountains and into the jaws of Valencia before strolling my way through into the promised darkness of the unknown. I will journey into a realm of luxury retreats but at the same time live like locals, immersing myself in a culture that is so different from my own.
Ever since I was a child I would curate ‘wanderlust bucket lists’ of where I would like to go and noticed how my bucket list would change over time. There was the child like me who dreamed of the day she would be let loose into the chaotic crowds of Disneyland and the teen me who craved a visit to Egypt, watching her footprints fade into the desert, brushed away by volatile winds. But what does the adult me want? I want to go anywhere that my feet take me, following the beat of my heart until it becomes still. I want to bathe in crystal clear waters and feel the dazzling blaze of warm sun on my weathered cheeks. And where better to feel the blazing glory of the morning sun than a vacation in Bali, land of pristine white beaches, overlooking local villagers cheering tourists on?
But you may think I am just some blathering idiot, who is caught up in wanderlust, whose judgement is clouded by virginal travel haze. However Bali is not the ‘party island’ that tourists have made it out to be, because beneath the surface lies an island that boasts natural outstanding beauty, where locals merge with the tourists for one day only, so they too can see life through our eyes. Where the waters glisten ever so tantalizingly, beckoning you into its clear, transparent realm. It is clear that Bali in Indonesia is breathtaking, but what is it about this famous island that makes it the perfect destination for tourists to travel to?
- Luxury Accommodation Rentals That Take You Into Another World
Amid the serene rice fields in South-Western Bali and less than a mile from Berawa beach, lies the stunning ‘Villa Army’, awash with tropical gardens and cascading waterfalls. I can imagine myself sipping on a pina colada, drinking in the tropical weather as the sun soothes all my worries and stresses away. I can feel myself sinking into a meditative state as deadlines and emails are a thing of the past, renewing my strength in the land that they call paradise. While it is all very well conjuring fantastical imaginings where I can dream of a day where I would be able to afford a ‘luxury rental’ I was surprised to find Indonesian ‘vacation rates’ being far cheaper than I expected, with average rates for a week’s stay being £520 (8 876 488.19 Indonesian Rupiah), as opposed to Tuscany, which was £900 for my luxury vacation villa rental. But its not just the price that is appealing; rentals like villa army, have self-catered apartments- although for me I would like to go out in Bali and explore its magnificent Pan-Asian cuisine- and many of Bali’s vacation rentals are also ‘family friendly’.
Although I do like to go to bars and clubs in the UK, when I go abroad, all I long for is long walks on the beach, walking among ruins and settling into authentic accommodation that takes me into another world. Imagine yourself for one day only, surrounded by staff who can show you Balinese customs and offer you advice on the best places to go? Wouldn’t that be fun?
2. To Step Into Its Modern Street Art Urban Landscapes
While Bali in Indonesia is renowned for its serene lush green and blue landscapes, as we encounter a proliferation in ‘social, economic and political’ change, a new world in Bali is emerging. Behind the rice paddies and the luxury vacation rentals lies a series of poignant murals, chronicling and expressing Balinese locals emotions through art. Jagged brush strokes tell of Indonesia’s ascension into ‘street art’, where the earliest form traces back to 1945, although the street archives in Indonesia are fragmented and broken. Governors don’t like it that its people remember the struggles they went through and would rather stay blind to the procession of murals and graffiti scrawls that are etched into disheveled buildings, desolate and bleak as they are optimistic. But that is the beauty of street art- while history books might document the deeds of the winners, there is no sides but truth to street art, especially in Indonesia.
Berbeda dan Merdeka 100% movement is just one of many ways where street art can help change the lives of its people for the greater good. Originally known as the Jakarta Sunday Street Art Movement, it is dedicated to fighting for human rights and ensuring that its people are respected and treated as equals by all. Jakarta was created as a response to reports of interfaith violence in Indonesia, especially in the wake of the attack on members of the minority Ahmadiyah Islamic sect, and the burning of churches in Central Java. However, like street artists once were in the UK, most Balinese street artists remain anonymous and have in some cases established alternative methods of disseminating the ideas associated with their medium, whether that be through code names that mask their true identity or puzzles for people to solve.
Bali Neighborhoods like Canggu or converted stores like All Caps, all demonstrate the rising prevalence of street artists in Indonesia, but should you prefer to step afield, there are plenty of other cities, villages and neighborhoods in Indonesia that have street art below.
Where To Find Street Art In Indonesia
1.Respecta Street Art Gallery (RSAG)
2.The Mural Project, 15th Jakarta Biennale, Indonesia-An initiative that aimed to spread more awareness of street art as an expressive art form in Indonesia and to gather an insight into hidden narratives in Indonesian Culture i.e. fairytales.
and many more…
3. Breathtaking Geological Formations That Have To Be Seen To Be Believed
While beaches are always stunning, there is something about Bali that takes you into another world. Beyond its vibrant nightlife and serene tranquil beaches lies a series of geological formations that are beyond belief. Board a ferry from Sanur and take a trip to the nearby Nusa Island, which is home to attractions like ‘The Broken Sea’ Pasih Uwug in Nusa Penida, Natural Infinity Pools like ‘Angels Billabong’ (similar to the natural swimming pools in Porto Moniz, Madeira) and much more. Check out the most ‘instagrammable geological formations’ below!
The Broken Sea Pasih Uwug in Nusa Penida
Known as the ‘Broken Sea’ Pasih Uug features a natural arch in the middle of the ‘said sea’ which was created by the rock cliffs nearby. While many have accepted this ‘natural rock arch’ as being a natural ‘beach feature’, the reality is the arch began as a ‘large cave’ whose roof weathered away over time to become the disjointed rock arch that it is today.Pasih’s unusual appearance is also due to volcanic activity, as well as ‘climate change’ as the beach appears “trapped” between the cliffs, allowing a giant pool to develop. Above the entrance to the water, lies a natural bridge of rocks that you can cross.
Naturally the translation of ‘Pasih Uwug’ (damaged beach) might not entice you by name alone, but surely the image below can tempt you into visiting this natural wonder on earth?
Speaking of the ‘broken sea’ , nearby Nusa Penida beach also boasts a natural infinity pool known as Angel Billabong…
Angel Billabong, Also in Nusa Penida
Best viewed at low tide, Angel Billabong is a natural infinity pool, framed by the ‘broken sea’s rock cliffs. The pool boasts crystal green waters and can be accessed by boat from Sanbur beach, which is a 40 minute drive. Like Pasih Uwug, you can often see ‘mantas’ and turtles swimming through the water, a tranquil sight away from the city life in London which I am so used to.
Menjangan Island and West Bali National Park
Located in the North West of the Island, Bali’s National Park is an area of stunning natural beauty. A conservation area featuring unique eco-systems, the national park is home to open savannahs, dense rainforests, mangrove swamps, and coral reefs. The National Park also includes a tiny island ‘reserve’ known as ‘Deer Island’ (Pulau Menjangan), which is home to breathtaking ‘diving’ spots, gives you a chance to catch a glimpse at rare Javan rusa or menjangan and the endangered bird known as ‘starling’. In fact it was discovered that the rare starling was a species that was endemic to the region only. While some of the zones are only permitted to be accessed for scientific research, the cultural utility zone is open to the public, as long as you have been issued a permit by the park.
4. To Sample It’s Rich And Flavorful Cuisine (Even For Vegetarians)
While I may be a vegetarian that does not make me ‘immune to good food’ as some may say and in fact Indonesian cuisine has plenty of delicious specialties that are suitable for vegetarians. From the mouthwatering Nasi Timbel (rice wrapped in banana leafs) to Ketoprak (a vegetarian dish from Jakarta, Indonesia which consists of tofu, vegetables and rice cake with rice vermicelli served in peanut sauce) it is clear that Pan- Asian influences run through its national cuisine. Because Indonesia is home to more than 30 ethnic groups that call Indonesia home, indiginous culture is merged with Middle Eastern, Chinese and Polynesian cuisine. For example ‘rice and noodles’ is a staple ingredient in Indonesian homes, with rice in particular reflecting Indonesian jobs and agricultural constructions like the infamous rice fields.
For those who ‘crave authentic meat dishes’ , Lawar (chopped coconut, garlic, chilli, with pork or chicken meat and blood) or Balinese sate, known as sate lilit, is made from spiced mince pressed onto skewers which are often made from lemon grass sticks, should sate your hunger.
Of course let us not forget about it’s drinks; while many of its drinks are non-alcoholic like Sekotang (hot ginger drink with peanuts, diced bread and pacar cina), wine made from palm sap known as tuak, drank by the ancient people of Java, is a popular if secretive alcoholic drink (as the majority of Indonesia is Muslim)
My personal favourite Indonesian Specialities are:
- Es Teler-an Indonesian desert that consists of avocado, jackfruit and young coconut in shredded ice and condensed milk
- Nasi Goreng- Fried rice, often featuring the ‘green stinky bean’ (not as gross as it sounds) and in meat alternatives ‘goat’, although I opt for the vegetarian version
- Tempeh Burger- Soy based burger, often served with noodles and fresh salad or greens
5. To Visit Its Mystical Spiritual Temples
I might not be religious but even I can appreciate the breathtaking splendor that is Bali’s temples. While many of the temples speak to me as being ‘beautiful places of worship’, perhaps the most ‘aesthetically’ appealing is Tanah Lot, known as the most ‘photographed and featured’ temple in all of Bali. Although it takes 45 minutes to drive to Tanah Lot from Kuta, the drive is well worth the panoramic views. Located on the coast of Beraban village, Tanah Lot features an ancient Hindu shrine perched on top of an outcrop and surrounded by a white spray of waves. But it wasn’t always the important ‘cultural spot’ that it was today as by 1980, erosion meant that Tanah Lot was in danger of falling into the sea… forever. Luckily thanks to conservation efforts the temple was restored and a third of the temple’s outcrop is now made from ‘artificial rock’ to keep it standing.
Many visitors from abroad come here during pilgrimage season but Tanah Lot is open all year round and remains a popular spot to pray at, bring offerings to ‘the shrine’ and simply to watch the waves lap at the neck of the outcrop.
Other Temples You Should Visit
- Goa Gaja-Otherwise known as the ‘Elephant Cave and built as a site of meditation in the 11th Century.
- Ulun Danu Beratan Temple- During high tide, the reflective surface of Beratan Lake gives us the impression of a ‘floating lake’.
- Vihara Dharmayana Kuta-An Old Chinese Buddhist Temple in Kuta
- Uluwatu Temple-A sea temple that is believed to be one of six spiritual pillars in Bali.
Have You Ever Been To Bali Before?
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