Tag Archives: bali

Fat Turtle Seminyak Bali

The Fat Turtle, Seminyak, Bali: A Top Spot for Brekky

Located on Jalan Petitenget right next to Biku, The Fat Turtle is a casual cafe serving up toast and pancakes and great coffee. A great place for a slow and leisurely breakfast!

The cafe is small with old fashioned tiles, sewing machine tables and hipster lights. We found the tables to be slightly small for groups of 4, but we managed anyway. If you’re a couple wanting to come here, there’s plenty of room.Inside Area Fat Turtle Seminyak BaliWe ordered a range of dishes and all were quite good. The red velvet pancakes came topped with cream and were tasty and moist.Red Velvet Pancakes Fat TurtleThe banana bread French toast was also moist, but some might think it’s too small. We like the size.Banana Bread French Toast Fat Turtle BaliThe corn fritters were awesome and the addition of the avocado purée was a good choice in order to keep the dish from being too dry.

The coffee was too notch and pretty much in line with what we expect in Bali these days.Coffee at Fat Turtle BaliWe’re fans of this place and would be happy to come back here again for breakfast or lunch. A good solid cafe for those in need of sustenance in Seminyak and one of the better places around.

The Fat Turtle
Jalan Petitenget 886A, Seminyak
thefatturtlebali@gmail.com
Instagram: @thefatturtlebali
Opening Hours: 08:00 – 18:00
Red Velvet Pancakes: Rp55.000++
Banana Bread French Toast: Rp45.000++
Corn Fritters: Rp55.000++
Cappuccino: Rp25.000++

Milk and Madu Canggu

Milk & Madu, Canggu, Bali: Great Food in a Fantastic Open Air Pavilion

As Canggu opens up to more and more foreigners, more and more cafes open. Milk & Madu is one of the better ones in Canggu catering toward the foreigner crowd.

Located in a large Balinese style pavilion out towards Pantai Berawa, Milk & Madu serves up a range of baked egg dishes, toast, pancakes and other standard cafe fare.Hotcakes at Milk and MaduAnd the food we’ve tried is good! The skillet eggs are not huge, but enough for a breakfast and very tasty.Organic Skillet EggsThe eggs benedict with smashed avo was sensational. The mango pancakes tasted great, but were just too much for one person to eat.

Coffees and juices are good and worth coming here for on their own.Coffee at Milk and MaduFor people with kids, this is the perfect cafe. There’s a fair sized play area on the back lawn which doesn’t disturb other guests, but caters perfectly for families with kids.Milk and Madu Canggu BaliGarden at the back of Milk and MaduWe really like this cafe and think it’s worth visiting if you want to get away from the hustle and bustle of Seminyak for a while.

Milk & Madu
Jalan Raya Pantai Berawa No.52, Tibubeneng, Kuta Utara
www.milkandmadu.com
Instagram: @milkandmadu
Jam Buka: setiap hari 07:00 – 22:00
Buttermilk hotcakes: Rp60.000++
Sauteed chorizo organic skillet eggs: Rp65.000++
Cappuccino: Rp30.000++
Super smoothies: Rp55.000++

Baby Revolver Petitenget

Baby Revolver, Seminyak, Bali: Small in Stature, Grand in Flavour and Style

You may well have heard of Revolver in Seminyak, that famous coffee shop with the hidden entrance which opened around 2012. It was a hit at the time and in our view is still one of the best places for coffee in Bali.

But since 2013 there has also been a coffee shop called Baby Revolver which we absolutely love. On our last visit, we ordered a couple of coffees and we were blown away by the quality which we think exceeds just about anything else out there.Baby Revolver EspressoGreat temperature, great flavour and great texture.

The iced coffee was on the strong side, just as I like it. But Susan prefers a weaker coffee and would ask for a half shot next time.

They also serve a range of pastries and cakes here which hit the spot when you’ve sipping a coffee.Baby Revolver Espresso BaliThe location is what we really love about this place. It’s tiny and feels awesome when you’re the only one there.Coffee at Baby RevolverWhen it fills up it can feel a little crowded, but not so bad. Surprisingly, it’s not always full, so you’ve always got a good chance of getting a seat.Baby Revolver Boutique Coffee HouseThe staff are cool and helpful and we’ll definitely be back regularly for a coffee fix. Highly recommended and one of our favourites in Bali!

Baby Revolver
Jalan Kayu Aya / Gang 51, Seminyak
(0361) 735 648
info@revolverespresso.com
revolverespresso.com
Instagram: @revolverespresso
Black coffee: Rp25.000++

White coffee: Rp30.000++
Brownie: Rp40.000++

Bali Photo Essay – Culture

So once upon a time, I got all enthusiastic about showing people some awesome Bali sights… And I did that by posting a few photo essays about People and Animals, Food and Beaches. But then I started a new adventure and events overtook the Bali one and here I am, with a bunch of Bali photos that need to see the light of day some 9 months after I took them.

So today I show to you Bali’s culture. Before visiting this small island which is a speck in the vast Indonesian archipelago, most people have visions of an exotic culture of bare breasted women carry offerings to temples, men tilling verdant ricefields and kids playing joyfully with archaic toys. Well, of course that’s fallacy, but a similar feeling can be experienced if you try hard enough – albeit of the more modern kind (ie no boobies).

Rice Offering
Rice Offering

So this is one of the small rice offerings put out by Balinese people at the start of each day from the rice they have cooked. A thanks to the gods for the food.

Rice Field Temple
Rice Field Temple

These “temples” are placed all throughout rice fields for purposes that are too complex for me to understand. Probably something to do with the rice goddess, Dewi Sri.  Needless to say, they are everywhere.

Pura Melanting
Pura Melanting

Pura Melanting is a large temple near the coastal town of Pemuteran in northwest Bali. When I was there, it was decorated coloufully and looked fabulous.

Balinese Penjor
Balinese Penjor

Penjors are used for a variety of reasons, but most tourists will see these around Galungan – a 10 day period of great importance to Balinese. Usually lots of pigs are slaughtered as well and made into lawar and sate. If you get a chance, eat the raw blood version of lawar – it is an experience.

Human Skulls at Trunyan
Human Skulls at Trunyan

Skulls are cool. Especially when they’re on a black flag and you ponce around with a peg leg and an eye patch. Better still, you can get up and personal in the village of Trunyan where local people don’t really bury their dead. Well not all of them anyway. Some of them just decompose above ground and the resultant skulls are placed on a wall for all to see. Cool!

Carved Temple Box
Carved Temple Box

Balinese have quite a few artistic specialities. They carve, they chisel, they weave and they paint. Sometimes all on the same piece. This temple box is similar to many you will see all around the island.

Balinese People Praying at Pura Lempuyang
Balinese People Praying at Pura Lempuyang

Finally, Balinese people pray. A lot. And it’s not uncommon to see scenes like this when you get out of the main tourist centres. The settings are usually unbelievably peaceful and the devotees completely focussed. Bliss.

So there you have it. Bali really does have culture in spades and many people fall in love with it. Wanna go to Bali?

 

 

Bali Photo Essay – Food

This is the third in a series of shameless posts with a lot of Bali photos. Click here for Bali BeachesPeople and Animals and Culture.

I love food. It really makes travelling much more interesting for me. Of course, not all foods I encounter on the road suit my palate, but when it does, I usually like to take photos. So here is a bit Bali food porn to get you salivating.

Nasi Campur
Nasi Campur

A favourite meal of many Indonesia is Nasi Campur. It literally means mixed rice – a plate of rice with an assortment of vegetarian dishes and if you’re lucky, one or two pieces of meat. A meal such as the one above can be had for about a dollar. Maybe a little more when you start to pile on meat.

Gorengan
Gorengan

This is gorengan. The word “goreng” means “fried”. And gorengan is simply an extension of that with a very general meaning of “fried stuff”. Most of these bite-sized morsels contain potato-like substances and are served cold. I can almost feel the fat stick to the roof of my mouth.

Gado Gado
Gado Gado

Gado gado is popular in tourist restaurants around Bali, but it is also a genuine Indonesian dish. It’s simply a bunch of vegetables mixed in a peanut sauce with a bit of soy. Something like this costs around the 50c mark at a local food stall, but isn’t enough food to satisfy fat Western appetites — so buy two.

Babi Guling
Babi Guling

Babi guling is a favourite meal at ceremonies in Bali. A whole pig such as this one will set back a village about $150, but will be shared between as many as 20 families. The pig is roasted with a bumbu (mixed spice paste) and then served in a variety different ways. Sometimes foreigners refer to babi guling as roast suckling pig, but Balinese more often than not use bigger pigs than those that are still suckling — there’s more meat on a big pig.

Breakfast at Grocer & Grind, Seminyak
Breakfast at Grocer & Grind, Seminyak

The local food in Bali is fantastic, but there is also a wonderful Western food scene. Grocer & Grind in Seminyak does the full range of Western food and good coffee as well. I like to go here for brunch…

Food defines many of my experiences in a country. Does it for you?

Bali Photo Essay – People and Animals

This is the second in a series of shameless posts with a lot of Bali photos. Click here for Bali Beaches & Food!

I think I’m getting the hang of this photo essay thing. Easy! Just chuck up a few photos with a bit of commentary and you have yourself a blog post! Might have to do more of it. Anyway, this one is about people and animals in Bali. Why are both people and animals in the same post? Some might say that I’m seeking to draw the viewer into recognising the commonalities between humans and other animals and begging for there to be a greater understanding of the plight of animals in Indonesia which are often deprived of even the most basic living conditions. Others might just say I didn’t have enough photos to do two separate posts. I have no comment.

 

Important Balinese Man
Important Balinese Man

I was inspecting a hotel near Lake Tamblingan when a man in the distance was motioning for me to come over. It was a little awkward, but he had the most glorious smile, warm spirit and wanted to shake my hand forever. We had a little chat in Indonesian and he then wanted me to take his photo. After snapping a few shots, I showed him the results and he thanked me profusely. Of course I felt humbled by the kindness of one of the most incredible spirits I’ve ever met.

Sad Monkey For Sale
Sad Monkey For Sale

 

Photography experts often talk about how people’s eyes are what make or break a portrait photo. Judging by this photo, the same can be said for all primates. This monkey was chained at an animal market in Denpasar and gave an incredible look of sorrow.

 

Fisherman in Pemuteran
Fisherman in Pemuteran

We can talk about warm spirits all we like, but it means nothing until you experience it. In Bali, there are many of these warm spirits – I met this man after he just hauled in a bunch of fish for his family from the local reef in Pemuteran. He was very humble, gracious and a little bit bemused as to why I would care to look at his fish!

 

 

Fresh Fish in Jimbaran
Fresh Fish in Jimbaran

Bali is overfished – to the point where protected reefs are now the target of fishermen in a bid to keep up with ever-increasing demand. To be fair to Bali, large portions of Indonesia are overfished and waters outside those of Indonesia’s own are now the target of fishermen. The array of fish on display at the fresh fish market in Jimbaran is bewildering and a great reminder that the fish you have for dinner may well have been a spectacular juvenile reef fish caught illegally.

 

 

Young Boys in Rural Bali
Young Boys in Rural Bali

These young boys were running amok as young boys normally do. Except in Bali, the world is your oyster with the freedom to roam around and get up to mischief without fear of speeding cars, the stranger next door or an overly critical community. These boys puffed out their chests when they saw my camera and galloped away to continue their reign of terror in no time at all.

 

 

Baby Monkey with its Mother
Baby Monkey with its Mother

Baby monkeys also have much freedom from an early age although their mothers keep a protective eye out for them at all times. It’s not unusual for a baby monkey to scratch around in the bushes while a dozen metres away its mother snacks on bananas stolen from panicked tourists. A great place to spot this sort of behaviour is the Ubud Monkey Forest, although it can be heavily touristed in the middle of the day. The Monkey Forest at Sangeh is also a spectacular setting for primate observation.

 

 

Ploughing the Rice Field with a Cow
Ploughing the Rice Field with a Cow

Man and beast work together to plough the fields near a guesthouse 7km from Amlapura. Many Balinese farmers still use old-fashioned techniques to plough their fields despite the explosion in motorised transport over the past two decades. Preparing a ricefield for planting is a multi-stage process that has not changed significantly over hundreds of years. Scenes like this are played out across the island and outside of the main tourist towns, it’s possible to have a room with views of glorious terraced ricefields such as this one.

 

 

Duck in Rice Field
Duck in Rice Field

An important aspect of preparing a ricefield for planting is allowing hundreds of ducks to forage in the muddy field for spilled rice and unwanted insects. During the process, ducks also add nutrients to the soil which is then mixed through during the ploughing process. I saw this duck chasing its friends across the sprawling fields immediately north of Ubud at the end of Jalan Kajeng – my favourite place to walk in Ubud.

 

 

Monkey on the Beach in Pemuteran
Monkey on the Beach in Pemuteran

These is no human counterpoint to this photo – this animal is pure evil. I think monkeys are cute, but they’re mischievous little critters that are entirely unpredictable. This particular cutie was fossicking in the shallows when I thought it’d be a splendid idea to take a few shots. Maybe I should have asked for permission first, but it took exception to the candid shots I was taking and charged me, teeth all over the place.

 

What a fantastic place Bali is. Ever been? Going soon? Want to go? Do you need more convincing?

Bali Photo Essay – Beaches

This is the first in a series of shameless posts with a lot of Bali photos. Click here for People and Animals & Food!

I don’t even really know what a photo essay is, but everyone seems to be doing one so I thought I’d finally get around to putting up some Bali photographs from my recent sojourn.

For many, the beaches of Bali are a disappointment. The main reason is that people dream of an idyllic paradise – palm-fringed white-sand beaches with bare chested beauties bringing fresh coconut juice and pina coladas at the snap of your fingers. OK, maybe that last part was just me. But really, it’s nothing like that. Perhaps they were once like this back in the 70s, but those days are gone.

The best beaches nowadays are off the main tourist trail, but are still popular enough to attract people with an entrepreneurial spirit willing to build decent hotels, provide delicious food and generally make you feel like you’re not roughing it. The beaches in the tourist areas are OK, but places like Australia and the US have better ones. Each of the photos below look better when you click on them as they expand to fill more of your screen. Lucky you!

Kuta Beach
Kuta Beach

The first beach most visitors to Bali see is Kuta Beach. It’s an impressive stretch of sand that is now developed to the point where it’s no longer pleasant in the middle of the day when all the other tourists are around. Harrassing beach vendors, sometimes dirty water and loads of people. Still it’s a great place to stroll in the early morning before most people wake up and it has a chilled vibe in the evenings.

Sanur Beach
Sanur Beach

When looking at the 5 or 6km long Sanur Beach, it’s easy to be torn. Sections of it are beautiful with trees shading raked sand and turquoise water lapping at your feet. Other sections are an eyesore with dated hotels shadowing unpleasant swimming areas. Overall, however, it’s a more family friendly area than Kuta and less hectic. It can be a good spot to relax with a beer and a nasi goreng.

Padang Padang Beach
Padang Padang Beach

Get away from the main tourist areas and everything changes. Padang Padang Beach is one of the best in Bali and is not visited anywhere near as frequently as those in Kuta and Sanur. It’s also small giving you the feeling that it’s a secret hideaway that the masses haven’t yet discovered. Much like the other beaches on the Bukit.

Sunset at Yeh Gangga Beach
Sunset at Yeh Gangga Beach

Yeh Gangga is one of my favourite places in all of Bali because it is so secluded. The beach stretches for kilometres in both directions and there is hardly another tourist to be seen – just locals playing football and the odd family paddling. What tops it all off is that you can watch an endless stream of ceremonies which arrive at the beach to complete the scattering of ashes of the recently cremated.

Amed
Amed

Amed beaches are different from those of the south as they are generally tainted black as a result of volcanic activity plus they are  home to coral reefs. Loads of them. And they’re easy to snorkel. The place commonly referred to as Amed is in fact a series of fishing villages which starts in the west at the actual village of Amed and finishes in the east at Aas. Amed is a top spot that is relatively empty outside of the Christmas period and the European summer. Cheap food, cheap accommodation and unlimited snorkeling. Could this be the Balinese Paradise that people are searching for?

So there you have it. Beaches in Bali. You like?

Bali Misconceptions

Bali misconceptions — there are a few. And a lot of them depend on where in the world you’re from and in which parts of the world you’ve travelled. The main one for Australians is that it’s a beachside destination full of bogans, chavs, trailer trash, etc. The main one for people coming from other parts of Asia is that public transport is going to be cheap and easy and therefore the best way to get around. The other that has been bandied about on twitter and the internets is that internet access in Bali is poor. So it’s time to clean some of this rubbish up.

Bali is a Bogan Haven

Bali: Kuta -- A great place for sun, sand and cheap booze -- It's not all like this
Bali: Kuta -- A great place for sun, sand and cheap booze -- It's not all like this

As with many myths, there’s an element of truth to this. And it’s usually confirmed by those that don’t extract themselves from the one bogan-centric place on the island — Kuta/Legian. Yes, there are plenty of bogans, chavs and trailer trash here, but they are having a great time drinking cheap beer, eating cheap meals and lounging by the beach or hotel. I say good on them. I actually enjoyed doing some of this for about 2 days as well. I saw hundreds of other backpackers partaking, despite claims of it being “unauthentic”. Of course, it’s not for everyone, but it is only one tiny spot on an island that takes 4hrs to cross so you do not have to be trapped by boganism for a minute longer than you can stand. Most people choose to go to Ubud to avoid bogans, but usually run into bus-loads of other foreign tourists and hordes of monkeys which they inevtiably whinge about too. Me, I love Ubud. But if this is still too touristy, head to other places like Amed, Pemuteran, Yeh Gangga, Munduk, the Bukit. Anywhere. In fact, Bali has so many places that are hardly touristed at all that calling Bali a bogan haven is rubbish.

Public Transport is ALWAYS the Best Way to Travel in Asia

Bali: Public transport is not always the best option
Bali: Public transport is not always the best option

Bzzt. Sorry filthy backpacker that did it tough in India for a year. The same doesn’t apply in Bali. Sure, it’s possible to get from the airport to Ubud by public transport, but it will probably take you 4 hours and about 4 or 5 buses. The price will be more than the price of hiring a motorbike for the day. If there are two of you, the price will be about the same as a rental car. Ubud to Amed? Sure, you can do it, but the costs are going to be running at about $5 each and will involve at least 3 buses, but probably more likely 4 or 5. Estimated time of travel, the better part of a day. Yes yes, it’s authentic, but it cost you more than me in my hire car, your luggage got wet on the roof, I’ve been snorkelling while you’ve been crammed in the bus and I don’t smell like you. So while public transport is definitely a viable option in Bali, it’s often quite inconvenient and you need to pick your battles. Forget the notion that it is always going to be cheaper than the alternatives. It only is for point-to-point travel or short journeys requiring few changes.

Internet in Bali is Crap

Bali: Trunyan -- 3G internet blazing along even in a tiny village across a lake inside a volcano crater -- GREAT internet!
Bali: Trunyan -- 3G internet blazing along even in a tiny village across a lake inside a volcano crater -- GREAT internet!

Oh dear. How this has been bandied about on the interwebs recently. Bali does not have poor internet access. Firstly, I’d like to put some context to the argument that internet in Bali is bad. Bali is located in a very poor country and local 6 day/wk wages are approximately $100 per month. This fact is indisputable as it is set by the Government, regency by regency as the minimum wage and most businesses in the tourist industry tend to stick to this. Some of the better resorts might increase this by 50% and provide free health insurance. Many of the cheaper joints will simply pay their staff what they can afford. Some as low as $30 per month. These people don’t need blazing fast internet, yet in larger towns, ADSL with speeds of 1mbit is readily available. This means that many cafes and guesthouses in tourist towns hook into an unlimited ADSL plan for about $90 per month in order to attact more business. Most of the time it is fast, but as with a lot of infrastructure in Bali, you have occasional blips. If you’re frequenting a place with lots of blips, find another place. I always found Roma Amor in Legian to have fast internet. Likewise Casa Luna in Ubud. Further afield where fewer tourists travel, this sort of free wifi situation dries up and I was left to rely on the mobile phone network. Well, I’m happy to report that in the vast majority of rural Bali — the places where many many poor people live — 3G broadband internet access works like a dream and is CHEAP. Occassionally I’d take a wrong turn and end up in a cloudy valley on a dirt road and my signal would drop to GPRS, but it was still internet and I could still make phone calls. In Yeh Gangga in the hotel I was in, internet was poor. No phone signal most of the time, but that could be rectified if I could be bothered to head up the road to the local mini mart. Plenty of free wifi in tourist towns and great 3G access everywhere else. So in the context of a 3rd world country, the statement that “internet in Bali is crap” is just…

As you can probably tell, I’m extremely sensitive to criticism — particularly of Bali. Happy to argue these points.  🙂

Transport in Bali

Bali Transport. It was a constant item of discussion with travellers I met across the island when I was driving around doing research for the Travelfish Bali guide. Many independent travellers in Southeast Asia become accustomed to utilising public buses and tourist shuttles to visit the must-see destinations within a country and expect the same transport arrangements to be in place in Indonesia and more particularly Bali.

Unfortunately for travellers, the paradigm in Bali is different because of the way transport infrastructure evolved which was based around the needs of the local people — connecting large towns and cities through transport hubs and servicing smaller towns out of these hubs. Many of the tourist towns in Bali were historically small villages and therefore were offshoots to the main hubs. To this day, they are serviced quite poorly by public transport when compared with other Asian countries — the alternatives are as follows:

Tourist Shuttles

Tourist shuttles are a mainstay of the tourist infrastructure in many Asian countries and Bali is only slightly different. The main tourist destinations are serviced by a number of companies, but the most popular is Perama which charges about 50,000 rupiah (US$5) between the main towns. The problem with tourist shuttles throughout Bali is that they only service the main tourist towns and skip what I would consider some of the best areas of the island.

Car and Driver

For more flexibility, many people choose to do day trips from the main tourist towns with a car and driver. Drivers line the main roads of the major tourist towns touting for business and most will jump at the opportunity to take you on a tour around the island on a day trip. The usual cost is around 400,000 rupiah (US$40) for a full day trip involving a long drive, but most will quote enormous prices and fierce negotiation is required. The big tip here is to have your own itinerary otherwise you might be taken to all sorts of tourist traps and shops where the driver gets commissions.

Bali: Miscellaneous Transport
Bali: Miscellaneous Transport

Ojek

Ojek is the term given to motorcycle taxis in Indonesia. In the main tourist areas, it’s easy to find ojeks on the side of the road and most of the time they will find you. They’re usually looking to transport customers short distances around town, but are happy to take people on full day trips which usually cost about 100,000 rupiah (US$10), dependent on distance. The problem with ojeks is that you get wet when it rains and carrying big backpacks is a bit of a pain. But they are perfect when traffic is a problem or you want to go somewhere without a lot of luggage.

Bali: Motorbike Transport
Bali: Motorbike Transport

Self-ride Motorbike

Many people in Asia choose to rent a motorbike and it’s possible to do the same in Bali. A licence is not necessary, but riding without one is illegal and bribing the police when you are pulled over is par for the course — the fee is 50,000 rupiah (US$5) after ruthless negotiation and threats to take you to jail. Motorbikes can be rented for anywhere between 25,000 and 50,000 rupiah (US$2.50-$5) per day dependent on the length of the rental and the quality of the bike. It’s a great way to see the island, but it can be dangerous (as it can be throughout Asia) and some might want to stump up an extra few dollars to get a car instead.

Self-drive Car

My favourite way to travel Bali is with a hire car. It sounds like something that a grandma and granddad might do when visiting a place for a week away from home, but the cost of hiring a car in Bali is so low that it makes sense for budget travellers as well. You can get a Suzuki Jimny for 80,000 rupiah (US$8) per day or something better for the same price if you hire it for a month. It gives you the best freedom in Bali and shields you from the regular tropical downpours that tend to creep up on you while you’re out amongst the ricefields or up in the mountains. The freedom that a car provides is brilliant when visiting such places as Pemuteran (the best snorkelling in Bali) or Yeh Gangga — you can just hop in the car, rain hail or shine, and find food, visit off-the-beaten track places and experience parts of Bali that most don’t have the opportunity to experience.

So the moral of the story in Bali is that public transport is only for the patient. Use the shuttles for the major tourist towns and get a car or motorbike to get out and about. It enhances the experience to levels that most visitors don’t experience — absolutely fantastic!

My Favourite Bali Destinations

Earlier this year I started writing about the parts of Bali I loved and tried to start dispelling many of the myths that exist about this dreamy tropical holiday destination. It was a bit stupid really because it was only a couple of months before I was to travel to Bali to research and write the Bali travel guide for Travelfish.

I now have a much more comprehensive understanding of the parts of Bali that suit my style of travel — relaxed, slow-paced, comfortable. So the following places are based around those themes and generally represent the less-frequently travelled areas of the island. Bliss…

Amed

Bali: Amed bay with fishing boats
Bali: Amed bay with fishing boats

Amed is predominantly visited by European tourists in the months of June, July and August when accommodation options are extremely limited and much more expensive. Outside of this peak season, the place is virtually deserted and it’s a great place to come and relax by the beach, snorkel the many reefs and eat fresh fish. My view is that the experience here is enhanced with your own transport and some decent digs… Without these two things, the vibe can be totally different, so it’s worth a little extra effort.
http://www.travelfish.org/location/indonesia/bali/bali/amed

Pemuteran

Bali: Monkey in Pemuteran
Bali: Monkey in Pemuteran

Pemuteran is another one of those off-the-beaten-track destinations rarely visited by the majority of tourists in Bali. The main reason to visit is for the spectacular snorkelling on the reefs surrounding Menjangan Island offshore — I have never experienced anything like it before. The water here is crystal clear with visibility I reckon to be about 30m, the coral is vibrant and colourful, the fish are abundant and diverse and the drop-off is incredible. I was awe-struck when I saw that drop-off for the first time — I just floated there above it, looking down at the black abyss filled with schools of brightly-coloured tropical fish, mouth agape (there was a snorkel in it, of course it was agape). There’s a few other things to do in Pemuteran as well and contrary to Lonely Planet recommendations and the views of many Balinese I spoke to, it’s not an expensive destination. This is the place to come for reef-lovers.
http://www.travelfish.org/location/indonesia/bali/bali/pemuteran

Yeh Gangga

Bali: Yeh Gangga sunset with fisherman
Bali: Yeh Gangga sunset with fisherman

What a surprise this place was. I got this tip off a German traveller who had been coming here for years. It’s not really covered in the guide books I’ve read, so I visited expecting to stay a couple of nights. I spent a full week in the area and was surprised that such a beautiful place was so infrequently visited by tourists. Yeh Gangga is right on a sandy beach with a pounding surf about 10km east of Tanah Lot. It’s a place to come to see stunning sunsets, walk along the endless beach, observe daily ceremonies and visit surrounding villages which allow for more authentic Balinese experiences. Love.

Ubud

Bali: Ubud ricefield
Bali: Ubud ricefield

Ubud is well and truly on the tourist trail. Some would say it’s over-run with tourists and they’d be right. Down at the market it can feel like the set of a movie more than a traditional Asian market — souvenirs, cheap clothes, useless knick-knacks. But the market is the real deal if you visit at around 7am when the local people are going about their business. In fact, the whole town feels a lot more peaceful when walking around it while most other tourists are still asleep. Another way I’ve found peace in Ubud is to find accommodation in smaller laneways where it can sometimes feel like you’re living in part of  a village, which in some respects you are. Ubud is a place to visit for observing dancing, painting, ricefields, great cafes, yoga and a vibe that soothes the soul. I love it. I always have.

Many other places in Bali are impressive and certainly worth a visit and I’ll try and cover some of those in subsequent Bali musings.