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Bali. The home of our Colour of Summer campaign and one of my favourite places in the world. There’s no surprise that when Benno and I agreed to put some money aside for our first significant marketing project, that my mind skipped straight to ‘location’. Not necessarily the logical first step when marketing but hey, you’ve got to take advantage of those perks of running your own business right?
I went to Bali twice back in 2015. Once with my girlfriend at the time and once with a group of mates. I must admit, I saw a lot more of the island with my girlfriend and a lot more of the bars with my mates but both trips were very memorable. The reason I love Bali is that it seems to have everything you could ever want from a holiday, across what is a reasonably small island. And all at a very reasonable / cheap price. As long as you stay away from the commercial parts that is.
Where do I start. You can learn to surf on the famous Kuta Beach, which although not the most glamourous beach in the world, is definitely worth a visit. As soon as you walk onto the beach, you will get harassed by local beach bar owners ushering you to have a drink with them. I use ‘beach bar’ loosely. These are essentially locals with ice boxes full of beers and some plastic chairs. Everywhere. You’ll be able to spot lots of Aussies, they love Bali as it’s so close to their own (massive) island. I’m surprised I didn’t bump into Benno there. I would have spotted his towel on the beach a mile off.
Although slightly annoying, the experience was actually really fun and very unique. Your bar tender (again loose term), would also be your surf instructor (even looser) which meant once we’d settled on one bar, we normally were committed to them for the day.
I couldn’t give too much feedback on the quality of surf lessons as our instructor seemed much more keen to make sure my girlfriend was getting to grips with it OK. That’s alright, I enjoyed getting hit in the face by my own board.
Next to Kuta beach is a shopping centre with all the mainstream restaurants and shops you could ever want. Not where I wanted to spend my time but more to reiterate that the island really does have everything and if you’re looking for that sort of thing, Kuta is the main place you’ll find it.
If you’re looking for a much nicer beach, head to Seminyak, I absolutely loved this place. The road leading up to the beach is lined with really unique bars and restaurants such as Zibiru, an Italian, which served the best seared tuna steak I’ve ever eaten. The food in Bali is next level. I mainly ate fish the whole time I was there as it was just so fresh. At the end of the road is the famous ‘Potato Head’ beach club. This is definitely not Bali prices and nor is anything once you reach this line of beach. It’s much more Western pricing but definitely worth a day out if you’re treating yourself. The infrastructure is really cool and you can literally eat on the very edge of the beach, looking out at sea. This beach club gets lively on weekends so definitely worth a visit.
Other things to see include the Sekumpul waterfalls in the north end of the island, up in the mountains - great for a day trip. And you’ll almost definitely drive through a road of monkeys at some point. Keep those windows closed when you do unless you want to ride home with one. I’d also recommend visiting the beautiful rice fields and temples around Ubud, if you really want to experience the heart of Bali culture. I must admit, I wasn’t hugely impressed by the upkeep on the temples that I visited but the rice fields are a must. And watch out for the famous 'Bali Swing' that swings high above the rice fields. Perfect for you Instagrammers wanting to get that like winning shot. Whilst in Ubud, you should also pop to the Yoga Barn. You’ll need to book in a session, which will help you relax after all that strenuous chilling out. The electricity was broken whilst we were there so we did our session in candle lights, which really added to the unique experience. My attention span is a little small for Yoga though, I never really 'zoned' out, more giggling to myself at the positions I found myself in.
Jimbaran is a famous area, purely for the line of restaurants on the beach, where you eat on plastic tables on the sand and they serve the freshest seafood. The mixed platters are highly recommended so that you get a taste of everything. I’m a big fan of sharing though (why I love my visits to China as it’s the culture there) so this was right up my street.
Sky Garden in Kuta is a cool club if you fancy a wild one and if you want to go on an excursion, there are lots of great scuba diving trips! Get your PADI at an affordable price.
And that’s Bali in a nutshell, I really could go on forever about this but for now, I’ll fill you in on my top 3 things there, otherwise I’ll never leave this blog page and I've got towels to sell.
This isn’t technically Bali but the Gili islands are just a 2 hour boat away and a must visit when you’re there. As it’s still Indonesia, I hope you let me off. There are 3 main Gili islands, all of which I have heard great things about but I’ve only visited one, Gili Trawangan. The other 2 are known to be more relaxed.
This particular island has two sides to it, which is why it attracts so many people. On one hand, there are lots of nice hotels (as well as budget options), filled with couples and a famous ‘sunset swing’, which everyone rushes to for photos as the sun goes down. The sunsets there are incredible. There are tonnes of lovely restaurants and I can’t recommend the fish enough, I know I keep going on about it. But you have to visit ‘Scallywags’ where you get to choose your fresh fish. It genuinely tastes like you made your order and then they headed into the sea with a spear.
On the other hand, when the clock starts to hit 11pm, the party goers come out (if you wanted to, you wouldn’t even notice this side to the island as it’s really not obvious during the day, which makes it so great). Every night, there is one bar, which everyone floods to. If you like to party, this island has all the great ingredients. During the day you can do anything from horse riding to scuba diving to boat trips to surfing, it’s all there. And the island generally feels safe. But be careful if ever entering into the centre of the island at night, I wouldn’t recommend this on your own. The island boasts the fact they have no police and don’t require it but that doesn’t mean to say it’s completely safe. Always have your wits about you, like with any new location.
You can bike round around the whole island in about 1 hour and the only other transport is horse & carriage. This sounds cool but I didn’t enjoy this part. If you’re an animal lover, it’s hard to see the horses having to carry people around in such heat. But that said, it’s also hard cycling after a few too many beers.
But those smaller things aside, the Gilis are a must visit. I’ve been back twice now and would definitely go again. Paradise with all the extra trimmings.
You have to climb Mt.Batur. We did the night climb, which means you get picked up at 2am from your hotel room (I’d stay in Ubud, it takes about an hour from there) and you are driven to a base point of the volcano. You then climb in the dark for around 2.5 hours. It’s quite a hard-mental experience for any non-climbers as you are climbing a mountain in the dark, half asleep, only being able to see as far as the person in front of you and it’s very cold. But when you get to the top and the sun rises over the mountains, it’s really worth it and will be the best memory of your trip. Just make sure you keep going to the top, however tired you are as they will give you the option to stop at various check points. And it’s tempting. But the best things come to those who wait.
This was a crazy experience. Although in theory Monkey Forest is a specific concealed area (by walls only), it is not a caged area in any way. So as you approach the entrance to the forest, the monkeys are all over the road and running along the buildings. Kind of like a scene from Planet of the Apes but with really small versions of the apes and they don’t have the brains to work guns, still thankful for that. As you enter, you get the chance to buy bananas. I’d actually recommend against it, they can smell them from a mile off and once they realise this, they’ll be on you like a rash. All in all, an amazing experience where it felt like you’d entered their world rather than seeing them behind cages in a zoo.
Andy - Get Out There