Bali Diaries - 1 - Souther Beaches - 1
Souther Beaches - 1
If you’ve never been to Bali you may have this distorted idea of this paradise beaches all around the island, perfectly clean water, white sand everywhere. I mean at least that was the idea I had in my head. And so the first day, when we woke up in this incredible villa in the middle of Ungassan, we were all excited and ready to visit one of the beaches.
But before that we had a couple of problems to solve: food and transportation. Food wasn’t a problem, we wandered out and stop at one of the first cafes on the road for some awesome pancakes. Transportation was a bit trickier. Most people move around by scooter, or taxi, only if you are totally crazy you rent a private car. Anyway we wandered around a bit to look for a scooter rental, but without luck. Little we knew about the ways to find things in Bali... but more of that later.
Tired of looking around and too excited to see the beach, we went for the easy option and called an Uber... that was our first mistake, we didn’t know about the internal wars between old school taxi and Uber. Basically local drivers are physically threatening uber drivers cause they are stealing business, and tourists aren’t using old school taxis anymore. So there are areas in the island were Uber is banned, there even are signs on the side of the road.
Anyway, after few cancellations we get our car, and after 20 minutes we reach Balangan.
So as I said, in my head I had this clean white sand beach... well the reality was a bit different, the beach was a bit... rough. But in a good way, a roughness that permeates throughout the whole island, a roughness that I learned to love and now miss immensely. Imagine an apple you find in a wester store, perfectly round and sparkling. Now imagine an apple you get yourself from a tree, a bit rough, definitely not polished. Which one would you like to eat more tho? I definitely go for the one I got myself, way more sweeter and natural.
Well Balangan, and Bali in general is like that.
A nice strip of sand, with some rocks here and there, enclosed in a bay. There are a few wooden huts, that serve as restaurant and surfboard rental and schools. The crowd is almost entirely made of surfers, and the local vendors are quite nice and fun to deal with. After a few times we went back we even became friends with them.
Sunsets from Balangan are pretty spectacular, the tight goes back a lot and you are left with this little ponds of water reflecting the red light of the sun setting.
It’s in Balangan that we met Mr Froggy, a funny Balinese man from whom we ended up renting our scooters for a month, we later discover we have been ripped off, but that’s part of the fun. Slowly discovering how to bargain with the locals.
Dreamland beach was the second one we visited, I guess I was expecting something different from a place called Dreamland, but I found it a bit disappointing. Clearly built for high class tourists, and looking at the massive construction sites overarching it, I have the feeling it will soon be flooded by hordes of wonna be rich tourists.
It’s not a bad beach to go to, I simply prefer the vibes and the crowd in Balangan.
Anyway we ended up going to Dreamland a couple of times, one of which we rented a couple of surf boards for the day, and again, later we discovered we obviously overpaid quite a lot.
Padang Padang was a mixed experience for me, the area has the hipster feel that we will later encounter in Canggu. Loads of cafes, shops, good vibe overall. Maybe a bit overpriced but I liked it.
On the other hand the beach itself didn’t impress me that much. I had my first encounter with a Balinese monkey... that was epic! But the rest I don’t know. Quite a lot of people crammed in a really small strip of really hard sand, few surfers doing the famous lefthander but that’s it. Maybe the not so grate weather contributed to my opinion.
I experienced Uluwatu in two different occasions.
First time was from the Fins bar, from where I experienced the most epic sunset of my life. I will let the pictures talk. By the way if you are interested in partying Fins bar is supposed to be the place to go on Sundays.
The second time I was in Uluwatu it was to visit the temple. Where massive hordes of tourists get robbed by trained monkeys. That is extremely funny trust me. I’ve seen a monkey stealing an iPhone from a tourist, and the tourist trying to get it back by throwing bananas at the monkey.
Unfortunately the sunset was less spectacular due to massive clouds, still looking at the sea from the top of the cliffs will leave you speechless. A must go, if you don’t mind dodging a horde of selfie sticks. There’s also a sort of ceremony and a theatre experience but we decided to avoid it due to bad weather.
Days in the south were all about discovering the local culture and all the tricks to live a peaceful life in paradise.
Avoiding western restaurants and look for Warungs was one of them. Warungs are family run restaurant, they look like self service, but the food is actually extremely good and healthy and fresh, and most of all extremely cheap for a western person. A meal of fish, vegetables and rice for 1 or 2 £.
This places don’t look fancy at all, in fact you would be tempted to avoid them, but I can assure it is extremely safe to eat there. For a Balinese food is sacred, and Balinese are extremely religious so they would never poison you.