I’ve been thirsty for Bali quite some time, and I knew that was going to be the destination that I spent my “dirty thirty” in! When it came closer to the time to book flights, most of my friends just couldn’t make it for my birthday and I’m not going to lie it made me a bit sad at first. With solo travel you have to deal with being on your own for an uncertain amount of time. Family and friends may come visit or they may not, that’s the risk you take with solo travel. Since I was turning the big 3-0, I knew this portion was going to be a splurge part of my trip. Saying that you’ll splurge in Bali is quite funny seeing how the Rupiah and dollar exchange is quite in our favor! Every US dollar was about 13,200 Rupiah, basically I was living on Queen status! I mean Bali does mean “Isle of the Gods”! Bali, Indonesia was my first Asian country that I’ve ever been to, so I was not sure what to expect. Sure I did some research beforehand, but it doesn’t really mean anything until you actually go! So here are my top 4 reasons to go to Bali!
Yup you guessed it! Food!!!!! I wasn’t sure what to expect other than rice and noodles, but I was surprised at how many fried chicken places there were in Bali! And I don’t mean that nasty KFC stuff, true “homemade” fried chicken! My mouth was always watering at the thought of tasting this deliciousness! And I could get this chicken mixed with veggies, and rice or fried noodles? Come on! I’m in Heaven! So in Bali, like most of Asia you go for the street food or local warungs, which means a small family restaurant. I found the food cheaper at these warungs and also healthier because the food was made right in front of you! There was no guessing where they got their ingredients or how long something was sitting there, but the main key is to go to the warung that has the longest queue! That means the locals are enjoying it, so it must be good! I try to do as the locals do!
I like to eat what the locals eat, so when I heard that a Balinese delicacy was suckling pig, I was all in! And it sure did not disappoint at all! It actually tasted like a roasted pig like back home when we had big pig roast parties! It was served with rice and some spicy veggies, it had my mouth on fire but it burned so good!
Not only was the food tasty, it was dirt cheap!!! Where in the United States can you get a huge plate full of freshly made meals for $3-4? It totally blew my mind how cheap it was, and I had been told it was cheap to eat in SE Asia but I didn’t expect THAT cheap! There was also a plethora of different cuisines to try in Bali, but of course I stuck to the traditional meals and usually that meant it was cheaper! There were definitely times when you could fine the comforts of home, like pizza and burgers but that also meant they were relatively expensive. Plus it’s more fun to have an authentic experience.
As mentioned before, this being my first Asian country I’ve ever been to I was nervous on what to expect. As soon as I landed at the airport I realized I wasn’t in Kansas anymore! All the comforts of New Zealand, Australia, and even Fiji went out the door! Nobody spoke my language nor did I speak theirs but you make it through! I took it as a challenge to get myself out of my comfort zone, because that’s the only way you grow!
Bali is about 90% Hindu and about 5% Muslim, so it was fascinating to see the men and women offer alms in the morning and evening. I also heard Hindu prayers over a loud speaker about four times a day! At first I thought to myself dang they pray a lot and it was annoying because I wanted to sleep! I had to check myself and my attitude because every faith has their own belief, and I should respect that.
The Balinese believe that animals and nature has significant power and are even seen as God. During my visit, I had the “pleasure” of going to the Sacred Monkey Forest in Ubud. These monkeys are quite mischievous and all of us were a bit nervous and didn’t know what to expect. The monkeys are EVERYWHERE! Mommas and their babies, old grandpa looking monkeys but they are all very frisky. I wouldn’t advise anybody to buy the bananas to feed the monkeys as I saw a guy get scratched by a monkey because he ran out of bananas! I tried staying away from them but they loved my camera and they even climbed on top of my friend, who then freaked out because she got peed on! The architecture that was around the Monkey Forest was telling of how much they respect these animals and nature in general.
During my friend, Farrin’s Bali Escape, we got to take part in celebrating their new year called Nyepi. It was cool to be there in Bali when it was going to be quiet, because Bali can be quite hectic and loud. Nyepi Day is their day of silence, where no one can be in the streets, household electricity should be shut off and even the airport is closed. The Balinese are very religious and we could see the pride they took in constructing their Ogoh-Ogoh’s, which are evil monsters or demons. We attended a parade the night before Nyepi Day where young children paraded large papier-mache demons around town with loud drums and chants. These large demons were very scary looking too, it blew my mind how creative these young boys were. Experiencing Nyepi Day was amazing because I got to see and appreciate Bali in a new light, because I had been used to the chaotic and loudness of Kuta and Seminyak! It was nice to sit back and reflect on this portion of my trip and have meaningful conversations with the other girls!
3. KRAZY KUTA VS. MELLOW UBUD
I loved Kuta/Seminyak areas with all their crazy madness, but being in the jungle, laid back scene of Ubud really captured you! It was nice to experience the bustling cities of Kuta & Seminyak but just a couple days to one week is sufficient. If you can arrange to spend 1-2 weeks in Ubud, I would do so. They have an awesome market that you can buy anything from Buddha statues, sarongs, tea, and other trinkets. I had to refrain from buying too much because I would have nowhere to put new items! Of course I did end up sending somethings back home with a friend (thanks Emma!).
My utmost favorite thing about these areas were the CHEAP massages! OMG! Can you say $5 massage? I had an amazing 7-hour spa day on my birthday and it only cost my wonderful boyfriend $70, back home that would’ve been well over $350+! I had an hour massage, a flower bath, an hour facial, mani/pedi, and hair cream treatment. I was literally the Queen for the day and no one could not tell me any different!
4. MY BIRTHDAY!
If you want to celebrate your birthday in an epic way, then go to Bali! I absolutely made the right choice in going to Bali for my 30th birthday and even though I wasn’t near family or friends on my “special” day, I was still treated like a Queen! After all my trip mishaps, my wonderful family and boyfriend wanted to treat me to something nice. They rented a villa for my birthday weekend, right in the heart of Seminyak. The villa I stayed at was called the Villa 888 Watermark where they made me feel like a true Queen, the wait staff listened to my every need and even gave me a birthday surprise! And let me tell you, if you do not have an Airbnb account, you need to get one! Here’s my Airbnb link for $35 off and if you use it, then I’ll receive $35 off as well!
I was real emotional during my birthday not because I turned 30, but the fact that my Dad couldn’t see how far I’ve come! I just wanted to hear him say that he was proud of me and my life decisions. I was also all in my feelings because it was the first time in my trip that I didn’t have to rely on my crutches 100%! I was able to be free of them and slowly move about! I appreciated all the love I received on my birthday, and I definitely felt it all the way over in Indonesia!
This country will always have a special place in my heart because it was my first time being in Asia! Do you have someplace that will always have a special part of your heart?