I left Sri Lanka and I arrived in Bali, my last stop in Asia before going to Australia. Indonesia is the last big country in SE Asia that I haven’t visited and it was on my list for a long time. It is also the place where I decided to celebrate three months on the road and my 30th birthday. Yay, I’m old!
Indonesia has over 13000 islands, but the most developed and touristic one is Bali. With an international airport in the center of the island, Bali is well-known for the party scene or for the hindu temples in Ubud. From Bali you can easily get to Lombok, Gili Islands or Java.
On top of the amazing beaches and nature, Indonesia has the best touristic services I’ve seen in Asia. Accommodation is at high standards with spacious and bright rooms. Food is delicious and varied and yoga lovers can find their healthy smoothies and bowls. Also, everywhere you go, people are generally nice and they make sure you are happy with their services.
Unfortunately, January was not the best time of the year to visit this part of Indonesia. It is the month with the most rain, but this doesn’t mean I did not enjoy some time at the beach. The weather is so unpredictable that you can wake up with torrential rain and after one hour get sunburnt. I don’t think there was a day without at least a few hours of sun and clear sky, so don’t let the rain season be a deal breaker.
Bali is one of those islands where you can have a lot of fun, but also relax at the same time. Except for the busy streets of Kuta and Denpasar, the island has a chilled and zen vibe. Most properties have large green areas with a lot of plants, big swimming pools and very cool architecture.
The most touristic and crowded area in Bali, Kuta is very similar to Phuket or Khao San road in Thailand. A place that never sleeps, with shopping malls and loads of clubs. If you are walking on Raya Legian, the street with the famous Sky Garden Bar, every step you make someone will try to sell you something. From “cheap cheap” massage, taxi, laundry, souvenirs to drugs or sex. An area that I would not recommend!
Seminyak and Canggu
Calm by day, crazy by night, Seminyak and Canggu are two areas a few km north of Kuta. You can enjoy the beach and the hippsterish restaurants and coffee shops during the day. At night, the party starts and everyone goes in the one or two clubs open. Unfortunately, the local mafia controls the transportation in this area and you can not use Uber or Grab. As a tourist, you have to pay the ridiculous prices to get from one place to another.
Away from the beach and parties, Ubud has other amazing things to offer. Well known for the beautiful rice terraces and temples, it is the place to relax and enjoy the nature. If you feel adventurous, you can do an early hike to Mt. Agung to catch the sunrise. For animal lovers, Monkey Forest is the place to go.
Nusa Lembongan and Nusa Ceningan
My favourite place in Bali, Lembongan and Ceningan! These two small islands, one hour away by ferry from Bali, are incredibly beautiful. Not very popular among backpackers, I think they should be in everyone’s itinerary.
If you are diving, this is the spot to see manta rays. Manta point is a cleaning station for manta rays and the chances to see them are close to 100%. During my dive I’ve seen around 10 manta rays, one bamboo shark, octopus, sea slug and a sting ray. Even if you are not a qualified diver, you can snorkel with these amazing creatures. Manta rays are swimming quite deep, so the experience is not as good as diving.
Risks of traveling alone
I often get asked if I am not scared of traveling alone and if it is safe. Most of the times you are not alone. You meet a lot of people and you spend your time with them. It is not much different than traveling with a friend from home. However, there are some other risks, considering that you don’t have a trustful friend that can take care of you if something happens.
The most common risk is being scammed. There are different kind of scams everywhere, but in the worst case scenario all you loose is money. It can be a few cents for a taxi ride or it can be all your money from the card or bank accounts. There are a lot of stories of tourists being scammed by “very nice locals” that invite them home and then steal their card details and money. If you are travelling with someone this kind of scam is not that common.
More dangerous than a scam is when your drink gets spiked, especially if you are a girl. That means someone adding the “rape drug” to your drink when you don’t pay attention and after that you become a controlled human. You are blacked out for a few hours and you do what your attacker says. It can be just giving away all your money and possessions or even becoming a victim of a sexual assault. During my travels I’ve met some guys that got their drinks spiked. One Australian guy in Prague went out to a bar and ordered a cocktail and someone thought the drink was for a girl and spiked it. Other than loosing memories of that night, he was ok. Another guy I met in Sri Lanka got his drink spiked during New Years Eve party. They made him pay more than 150$. We were staying in the same dorm at the hostel and I remember him being very confused in the morning. Even though we went out that night in a big group, somehow he got separated and this happened. If he was with a close friend or someone from the group noticed what happened, maybe he would have been fine.
When you travel alone you need to be more careful than when you are with someone. You shouldn’t go out to a bar by yourself and even if you are with a big group of people, it is as risky as being alone. As a quick advice, never leave your drink unattended or accept free drinks from strangers.
I’m leaving Bali and going to Lombok, a less touristic island with beautiful landscapes and beaches.