Welcome to Last month of 2015, December.
This month we will give the list Things To Do In Bali
Special for DECEMBER SERIES last month of 2015,
Hope you like, enjoy and find inspiration.
I hate that Bali has a reputation as a party island and in the eyes of many it is synonym with cheap drinks and sunburned tourists. While all these are valid things to do in Bali, I happen to care way more for the cultural and natural aspects of this island.
Bali beckoned me only after reading ‘Eat, Pray, Love‘. But I couldn’t care less for the crowded beaches and bustling nightlife. All I wanted to do was walk the rice paddies and meet the people.
This city girl will never forget her first morning in Bali.
There I was, in an exotic villa near Ubud, the closest I had ever been to the Equator.
As I laid in a huge, four-poster bed, my eardrums vibrated with loud sounds transgressing from behind closed curtains. My brain took its time to adjust and rewrite long established patterns and pull meaning from its primitive cores. I was surrounded by the musical notes of abundant life, with a million happy insects, birds and geckos joined in a choir. There were no traffic noises. Just Mother Nature greeting a new day. I was overwhelmed with all the glee Bali inspired within me.
The magic, however, didn’t stop there. Soon, the plumeria wrapped me in its sweet fragrance, so strong and heavenly and omnipresent. Gosh, this island smells so good! Bali’s bountiful flora gets it one step closer to paradise. And the peaceful aura of the paddies takes it all the way.
Bali has plenty of attractions. Some are simply crazy (like dining by the smoking crater of an active volcano). Others are downright weird (like the small Trunyan cemetery where people don’t bury or cremate the bodies but rather leave them resting under huge Taru Menyan trees). But I was on a mission to find my Zen. So I wanted to visit places that would help me achieve this.
Best things to do in Bali and find inner peace
Situated in the center of Bali, Ubud turned out to be my favorite place. It is also the town where most of the ‘Eat, Pray, Love’ action took place and the cultural and artistic center of the island.
Ubud is, in fact, a network of several villages surrounded by some of the most beautiful terraced rice fields. The heart of the town lays by the royal palace and market. However, I rather loved exploring Ubud’s streets and discovering the small independent shops and quiet temples. Ubud has an abundance of art studios and galleries while the famous Monkey Forest is just a short walk away.
Yet, what surprised me most was that once I left the hustle and bustle of Ubud center, the life seemed to carry on pretty much undisturbed. I met mothers taking care of their babies and women carrying heavy baskets on their heads. People hurrying to the temple and worshippers making delicate canang sari offerings. This was the Bali I wanted to know!
Be inspired by the creative spirit of the Balinese people
Balinese art is truly unique and incredibly beautiful. So it will come as no surprise that I instantly fell in love with the intricate wood carvings and sandstone sculptures. To be honest, I could barely control my shopping urges. And the fact that no matter how large the object, most shops seemed willing to take the burden of shipping off my shoulders, didn’t do my budget any good.
If you are interested in the craft and would like to marvel at the skilled artisans working their magic, there are many workshops you can visit. You will find that most of them are willing to show you how it is done if you are inclined to try. It is a magical moment when shopping can transform into a beautiful cultural experience. And you will leave not only with souvenirs but with life lasting memories as well. Maybe even a newly discovered passion.
Bali is one of the easiest destinations in the world to get in touch with your inner artist. You can take anything from fruit carving and painting classes to basket weaving and batik lessons.
At the same time, the gold and silversmiths of Bali have been creating fine jewelry and intricate religious objects for centuries. Most workshops are located in Celuk, Mas and Ubud and they are open to the public. It is one of the many entertaining things you can do in Bali together with your kids, for they will love it and so will you.
Pura Uluwatu is supposed to offer the most breathtaking sunsets over the vastness of the Indian Ocean. And I have to say I was impressed, until I saw an even better sunset from inland. It’s totally up to Lady Luck, but Bali does amazing tricks with the sun and you should certainly look forward to the sunrises and sunsets no matter where you are on the island.
But back to Uluwatu… The beautiful unrestricted views and the sound of waves crashing against the rocky shoreline can have a pretty magical effect.
The temple is not a particularly memorable one. What’s memorable are the monkeys that roam freely on the premises. I was warned about them right at the temple’s gates. The guy even suggested taking off my glasses, but then I couldn’t see very well, so I decided to proceed with caution. I strongly recommend you wear contact lenses the day you visit Uluwatu and leave all belongings you don’t desperately need in the car.
The devilish monkeys added a layer of stress over an otherwise beautiful experience. They are always on the lookout for food, flip flops, phones, glasses, hats, and of course, expensive cameras. Just when I thought I was off their radar, I was chased by a fat monkey. Eventually, I managed to dodge her attempts.
These monkeys are so cute and cuddly, it is a pity they are not better behaved. They most likely learned to steal objects from the tourists by being compensated by the people at the temple with fresh fruits in exchange for returning the items. There are no guarantees they won’t break anything in the process. So better be careful. You are the only one who has something to lose.
Additionally, if your hotel doesn’t organize Kecak performance, then Uluwatu is one of the several places in Bali where you can watch the psychedelic dance. They usually organize shows at sunset and the half-naked men in a trance state will definitely leave a long lasting impression on anyone. The dance was developed in the 1930s, but it actually depicts a much older battle from the Sanskrit poem Ramayana. I grew up with Rama’s story and the unexpected dance moves and sounds these Balinese guys made had a hypnotic effect on me. You cannot leave Bali without seeing a Kecak dance, trust me!
Tanah Lot Temple
Bali has literally thousands of temples, but Tanah Lot is one of the most interesting ones. Perched on top of a rock amidst constantly crashing waves, it is an iconic landmark that cannot be missed.
Although you are not allowed to enter the temple, the views are magnificent and the sunsets worth seeing. The area gets pretty busy at low tide, but the offshore cliff looks even more dramatic at high tide when it is completely surrounded by water.
I loved exploring the rocky beach and chasing the waves and I actually spent hours doing just that.
On the way back to the car park, stop by the rows of souvenir shops. You can find any trinket imaginable here, as well as gorgeous Balinese handmade articrafts. The vendors will start by asking a high price. But don’t be put off by it. Haggle your way to a price you are comfortable with paying. They will expect you to.
Besakih Temple – Visit the Mother Temple
Pura Besakih is situated on the slopes of Mount Agung, Bali’s holiest mountain. However, the interesting thing about it is that it is rather a complex of 23 temples and most tourists only see the main one. Granted, the terraced pura is a curious construction for any foreign eye. And I enjoyed wandering around and adventuring a little bit past the invisible line where most visitors stopped.
But as opposed to my visit to other Balinese temples, Pura Besakih was a hard one to conquer. It didn’t matter that we paid the entrance fee. The moment we approached the steep stairs we were approached by several men asking for donations. Then another wave of guys demanding to be our guides for $20. They followed us around, they screamed at us and grabbed us by the T-shirt trying to hold us back. It was a scary moment. I couldn’t wrap my head around the idea that after paying the entrance fee I couldn’t visit the temple unless I also paid these unofficial guards to let me pass. The same story repeated after climbing the first flight of stairs.
For all the wonderful Balinese people out there, we actually found the few that were ready to spoil the fun for everyone else. They really didn’t fit in with my previous experiences nor with my idea of a Zen Hindu Bali. Is this an example of how tourism can damage an otherwise magnificent place? I’ve been struggling a lot with this idea lately.
Regardless, Besakih is the most beautiful and complex temple I visited in Bali and I strongly recommend you visit it as well.
Find your Zen among the rice paddies
After the ‘Eat, Pray, Love’ phenomenon, many people, myself included, flocked to Bali as it was the promised land. Unfortunately, Bali is not an island with healing properties. As I’m sure you already know, happiness can only be achieved from within.
This doesn’t mean that surrounding yourself with nature’s best won’t help. I left Bali renewed, refreshed, rejuvanated, regenerated, reawakened, renovated, and remarkably rested.
Taking my time to simply walk through the lush rice paddies was one of the best things I did in Bali. The real world distractions were few and far in between. And I could finally enjoy some ‘me time’. I felt incredibly inspired by all the beauty. The rice fields ending in rows of palm trees, the terraces and the statues of Hindu gods dotting the countryside.
Oh, and I totally recommend you find your way to Petulu Village. At sundown, droves of white herons flock from all over the island to settle in the handful of trees around the village. It’s quite a sight! From Ubud, you can even get there by walking through the rice paddies.
While enjoying the views, I also met some locals. Friendly and without ulterior motives. Beautiful people working the fields and leading harsh but honest lives. This was the Bali I came to see. Far from the maddening crowds, far from the cities and attractions overrun by tourists. As one of my favorite travel quotes goes, “A journey is best measured in friends, rather than miles.” (Tim Cahill). I now have memories of earnest smiles and proud mothers to keep me company.
When you finally grow tired of walking, have a romantic candlelit dinner overlooking the rice paddies. There’s nothing wrong with spoiling yourself and your partner from time to time. Consider it a special date night. Because, believe me, it really is special.
Discover secret beaches
I know this is a difficult one to digest, but popular beaches with sweaty people packed like sardines, are not my thing. I fail to see their appeal. Littered and stripped by their natural state, I personally can’t see their beauty.
Like advertising goes, Bali has its fair share of such beaches in the vicinity of the major hotspots like Kuta, Seminyak, and Nusa Dua. And there is a vast array of watersports to be enjoyed too, from scuba diving to flying fish, so tourists of any age and walk of like can feel entertained.
But I rather prefer the remote and quiet beaches. The ones discovered by serendipity. Where I can watch the father teaching his young daughter about the ocean. The ones with coconuts sprinkled all over the black, volcanic sand. The ones where the locals pick up clams at sunset. And no tourist is in sight.
Bali is renown for its white beaches and people always seem to be surprised when I mention black sand. Don’t forget Bali is actually a volcanic island and it was blessed with great diversity.
Go find your piece of heaven. Your own remove beach. Bali has incredible things on offer. And the best ones are often off the beaten path.
Things To Do In Bali Collection :
Things To Do In Bali
Things To Do In Bali Part 2
Things To Do In Bali Part 3
Things To Do In Bali Part 4
Things To Do In Bali Week 1
Things To Do In Bali Week 2
Things To Do In Bali November Series
Things To Do In Bali November Series 2
Things To Do In Bali November Series 3
Things To Do In Bali November Series 4
See You Next Week…
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