Bali is beautiful. I went to Bali for an almost two week vacation with Sanglyan and while we had planned to not shoot anything during this “break” we were taking from work, I couldn’t resist the urge to not create content from this breathtakingly beautiful island. Bali had been on my travel list for more than a year. Somehow I kept pushing it off because of work or something or the other that prohibited me from making this trip. However after I booked my tickets in April to make this trip in May, I thought I could finally make this trip. But that was not how it was supposed to be. My trip was pushed from May to July. And since I went to US in July, I cancelled it again to September 1st week. And while I was planning on a solo trip, I changed my mind as both Sanglyan and I had been deciding to take a break and this one seemed just perfect to refresh our mind and prepare ourselves for the upcoming projects. Again, Sanglyan couldn’t travel during the first week of September so we rescheduled our booking again to finally, after so many reschedules, make this trip on the 3rd week of September.
This trip was a backpacking trip. No suitcase, no makeup boxes, no heels – just a couple of dresses, one shorts, a couple of tops, bikinis and basic utilities. We packed our luggages in such a way that we both carried 7kg max and we didn’t carry our laptops or our DSLR even. We did not intend to do any shoots at all except for some pics for Instagram which every tourist posts. However, when Sanglyan and I team up – I guess we never stop creating content. And since I have so much to share with you, I’ll start with my first part of the journey – North Bali.
We landed in Ngurah Rai airport around 11am and I was surprised to see that the airport is actually located in a Beach which I assume would be the Kuta beach. We had our hotel booked in the heart of Ubud as that was the place I intended to visit first in Bali. I’d seen so many pictures of Ubud which inspired me to travel to Ubud first and since Ubud is around 1 and a half hours, almost 2 hours with traffic from the airport, I’m glad we didn’t make Ubud our last stop in Bali. Ubud is beautiful as the pictures show. I feel North Bali is more rich in Balinese culture than what I observed in South Bali. And for someone who want to immerse themselves in the Balinese culture as well as relaxation, we couldn’t have chosen a better place as the first point of our vacation. The first day in Ubud was spent in exploring the Bali market which house a lot of Boutiques, cafes and local crafts. Don’t be surprised to see dick shaped wooden bottle openers, you’ll see them in varied sizes everywhere! I laughed a lot when I first saw them, even felt perverted to be so mesmerised at the designs carved on those wooden things but I suppose it stands for something there for I saw those items sold everywhere in Bali. And if you are visiting Bali soon, don’t bother buying bikinis or crochet items from your countries. It is much cheaper in Bali, especially in the market around the Ubud Monkey Forest if you can haggle well. After comparing the prices in the places I visited during my trip, I deduced that good bikinis are the cheapest in the Ubud Boutiques as there was a sale running then too. And since I almost looked like a local, bargaining was much easier as they jokingly started calling us Indonesian No 2. I love the people there. Kind, Polite. That’s how my friend who visited earlier than me described them and I would second that. Besides in the market, most of the items are handcrafted and they are super cheap so its almost sad to bargain while shopping in the street markets.
We had our INR converted to USD in India and the exchange rate then was around $1= IDR 13175 approximately. That means by the time you convert $100, you become a temporary Millionaire. From the airport to Main Ubud, we paid around IDR 350000/-. We decided to spend our first day to just visit one site and look around Ubud Markets as we were a little tired from our trip as well. Ubud is lined with cafes and boutiques to shop. You can choose any variety of dishes from the wide options the cafes offer as well as shop from Boutiques to take something back with you as a Souvenir. Boutiques shops like Bamboo Blonde, Lost in Paradise, Ahimsa, 69 slam are pretty common across Bali. Also you can shop items from brands like Hurley, Billabong, DC, Flipper, Havainas etc all across the island. Basically you almost get all possible brands in Bali, especially Kuta but we’ll get to the shopping bit later.
My itinerary was planned well in advance through information I got from the web. I knew we couldn’t visit all the places in one go and I had to choose what was it that I wanted to see. For Day 2, we decided to finish seeing some sites in North Bali that had been in my wishlist- namely Pura Lempuyang which directly faces Mt.Agung, Tirtha Gangga and Ujung Water Palace. We sat with our driver and planned our trip according to the location as the sites are pretty far from Ubud and involves almost an 8 hour drive just to see all these locations.
Had it not been for the clouds, we would have been seeing a clear view of the mighty Mt.Agung which is the biggest volcano and one of the active ones in Bali. Pura means a temple. In Bali, you are not permitted to enter temples without a Sarong. Sarongs can be rented at the entrance of the temple for around IDR 100000/- and there is again an entrance fee to enter the temple site. One can hike for almost 3 hours to reach the top of the mountain but we avoided it as all I wanted was to see this location that had me mesmerized for a very long time. Rest assured, I’ll return back again sometime to get a picture with the volcano in the backdrop. We reached Pura Lempuyang around noon as it is almost a 2-3 hours drive from Ubud but if you want a backdrop against Mt.Agung, an early morning trip should be better.
Before you go inside, I suggest you buy fish food from the vendors located near the entrance at Tirtha Gangga and see these Koi fishes follow you around. Some of the fishes are really big, the biggest Koi fishes I’ve seen and they are hungry! So get a couple of fish food packets, one will not be enough, ask your friend or someone to be ready with the camera, put the fish food in the pond, wait for 2 seconds and there you have it – a picture of you surrounded by almost all the fishes there. However this pond in this picture isn’t the only pond in Tirtha Gangga. There are several ponds and feeding them in all the ponds might actually make you happy.
Ujung Water Palace.
I actually got to know of the Ujung water palace via Instagram while planning my itinerary. I didn’t want to go to places which were really common and while I saw very less posts with Ujung Water Palace, the place is unbelievably beautiful. Probably the most beautiful place we visited during our second day of travel. We reached pretty late considering we had been driving for sometime and we did stop to eat as well. All areas of the palace are accessible to tousists and the highlight of the Ujung Water Palace were these columns which are set up in various locations, which I think are for the dancers as I saw Balinese dancers performing in their traditional attire in these kind of structures every evening in Bali.
Day 1 Outfit:
Dress: Chicwish same here
Sandals: Charles and Keith
We wanted to spend our last day in Ubud visiting the neighbouring places around Ubud. We started by going to the Bali swing which was on my wishlist ever since I planned a trip to Bali.
This picture is unarguably my favourite picture from the Ubud trip. Maybe I wanted to be there for sometime so that may be why I love this picture a lot. Bali Swing isn’t difficult to find. They have their own dedicated website too with directions to the place. The place is happening! Great music, Great Crowd.
Things to Do in Bali Swing:
- If you’re a girl reading this, wear flowy dresses for amazing looking pictures. I saw a lot of people had planned their shoot in advance and wore kimonos which looked amazing in their pictures.
- If you’re scared of heights try the smallest swing ( pictures here facing the camera ) where you’re not facing the forest. It isn’t as scary as it looks but looks amazing in pictures.
- If you are the daredevil, try the highest one with the harness. That’s what an adrenaline rush is all about.
- Early birds pays cheaper entry fees. I missed paying a lesser ticket amount by almost 30 minutes but I didn’t mind paying an extra $10 still as all I wanted was the experience.
We just planned to visit the Tegenungan Waterfall because amongst other things, Bali also has a lot of waterfalls and Tegenungan comes in list of places to visit in Ubud. The main waterfall is very crowded and we infact found a smaller one, on the way to the big one, which was almost devoid of tourists wanting to take a picture with the waterfall. You have to climb down a steep flight of stairs to see the main Tegenungan Waterfall and if you have weak knees or bad stamina, I would suggest you skip this place entirely. If you want, you can also take a picture in the waterfall but make sure you’re wearing some sturdy rubber slippers and carrying a bikini or an extra change of clothes. My tip – Avoid wearing uncomfortable shoes, carry a sunscreen always as well as a Gel Cream to relieve the sun burn. You can also buy hats in the market at the entrance of the Tegenungan Waterfall so don’t bother carrying hats with you while you pack for this trip.
One of the famous temples around Ubud. If I’m correct it translates to Elephant Cave in Balinese and inside the cave is a shrine to worship the Hindu Gods – Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva. Some vendors tried to sell us Sarong at the entrance of Goa Gajah but you don’t need Sarongs in this temple.
Another very famous temple in Bali. People come here to take a dip to cleanse themselves – Body, Mind and Soul. Keep in mind to get your own Sarong if you want to dip since you cannot dip into the water in your rented Sarong. In Tirtha Empul, renting a Sarong is free of charge however there is an entry fee.
Tegallalang Rice Field Ubud
Probably the most famous place in Bali is the Ubud Rice Fields. The place also has a lot of markets to buy souvenirs from and I would say you would get the best deal and a lot of variety here if you know how to haggle because I realised the vendors here quote a slightly higher price than in main Ubud but then we had become a bit smarter and knew what the average price for a lot of products were. Crocheted items and woven bags are so common in Bali and I’m so glad I got them from the vendors here instead of ordering at a hyped price online here in India.
My Day 2 Dress is from Chicwish: Buy here
Lastly, Villa Akasha
Makes sense to finally blog about the place that housed us while we were in Ubud. Villa Akasha Moonstone Dome. A magical Luxury Eco hut located in the heart of the rice fields. I was lucky to find this place via AirBnb months in advance as there are only two domes between the rice fields and they are always booked for months ahead. The price per night was almost 6K INR for our Moonstone Eco Dome and was probably the best way to end our Ubud trip. Since a lot of you asked me about this place, you can book your stay here. You get the most delicious organic dishes in Villa Akasha, which paired with your Bintang or Organic Beer ends or starts your day perfectly. Even if you cannot stay in the domes, I suggest you go to Villa Akasha to try the dishes there. I highly recommend it! Plus the place is so beautifully designed that you wouldn’t be able to resist taking a few pictures, one of which I’ve shared on my Instagram here .
This concludes the first part of my trip before I begin writing about our Gili Islands adventure. I hope you enjoyed this travelogue and please let me know in the comments section if you have any questions!