02 Dec BALI-ing on a BUDGET
Holyyyyyyy moly my people. It has taken me a bit to sit down and write this blog due to the fact that “Jet Lag” is a real thing and it really got me.
I mean, wow. Your girl can usually sleep like a grandma, I would say baby, but as we all know babies do not sleep all that well.
But Grandparents do.
So after the exactly 40 hour travel from Bali back home, my internal clock was not ticking right.
And yes, you read that right. 40 hours. On a plane, or in the airport or in a car to get back to my little babe cave I like to call my home. (I moved into a new house too, which is another blog but it is literally perfect.)
After having a week to catch up on sleep, working out and going into in depth story time with my family and friends I figured I should sit down and take the time to write it out for my future self and all of you who are interested in my trip to Bali, Indonesia.
it’s like my own diary, just a lot more public…
First off, I think I’m going to cover some frequently asked questions in case those of you who are reading this are wondering the same thing.
(I’m pretty sure only my family and close friends read these blogs and you guys already know the answers, but let me live my dream life of pretending I’m a famous travel blogger and go through some of these FAQ’s)
Why did you choose to go to Bali?
- I didn’t choose Bali, Bali chose me. I’m kinda kidding but kinda not. I have always loved the idea of Bali, I mean who doesn’t see the photos or hear about it and not want to go? And I am ALWAYS DOWN to adventure, ya’ll know that! But in all honesty, it was presented to me through my ultimate adventurous travel friend Alanna which she found on Groupon. And it just worked out perfectly!
Groupon? Sayyyyyy What?
- Groupon is the best! I’m 2 for 2 with trips booked off of groupon that were exactly how we envisioned them. First trip was to Iceland which you all know was absolutely wonderful and then this one was as smooth as we could imagine. Its simple and easy. The website has local coupon deals (spas, restaurants, shoes, shops, ect) . I have never used that feature, I would rather go big and make sure it worked with a trip overseas. Haha But the “Getaway” feature of the website focuses on all things travel related, including discounted hotels, excursions, cruises, and group trips.
Now, I want you to understand that there are a lot of things to consider when booking off this website and not doing it yourself.
-You must book in pairs to get the deal. You can book solo but it is significantly more expensive.
-The travel dates are pre-selected and you get to choose from a handful of them.
-Hotels and flights are included, but you don’t have the choice on layovers, airlines, or quality of hotel.
-The flights are only booked out of HUB airports (LAX, BOS, NYC, Ect.) So if you’re from little ol’ las cruces, you have to book your own flight separately to one of the available airports.
-I’m sure others haven’t had the best experience with Groupon, but I’m here to tell you mine.
- Booking in a pair, both Alanna and I payed $1,400.00 for our 8 day trip to Bali, Indonesia. That money completely covered the airfare from LAX to Bali, two hotel stays for all 8 days, breakfast for 5 days, transfers to and from the airport, a full day tour with entrance fees included. I probably spent another $400.00 on other amenities throughout the trip, food, water, more water, alcohol, additional tours or entrance fees, more water, spa’s and gifts for the family.
What was your favorite part?
- I’m going to go into detail of my days with plenty of pictures, stories and opinions but if you aren’t here for a long time and this blog is already not your jam I’ll save you some time.
The sunrise hike up Mt. Batur was absolutely incredible. One of those things I will never forget, the trek up the active volcano was definitely hard, but I think that’s why I enjoyed it. Nothing easy is memorable, and it just seemed so fitting to have to wake up at 2am in the pitch dark and start walking up hill for 2 hours, with no idea where the trail is leading you, with no time to stop, and then to finally make it to the top of a volcano to watch the sunrise. It felt like a movie.
I mean, I could write a whole blog about my feelings on having to walk in the dark, unknowingly where or what is going to happen, to end up on the top of a mountain so grateful and speechless for the hard trek to get there…. But this isnt it…
Okay, now that some things are out of the way, lets roll right into this adventure!
Getting to Bali was more stressful than I thought, of course we could’ve booked a nonstop flight but groupon put us on Singapore Airlines and it took us about 30 something hours to get there. From LAX to Seoul, South Korea to Singapore to Bali, it was sure an adventure. But I did come to a realization throughout that jam packed flight that there is no way that I could wait till I am “older” to travel. Don’t get me wrong, I am going to continue to travel as long as I can, but I have heard people say that they are saving up money so that they can travel when they are older… holyyyyy nope. My knees were not happy, my feet were so swollen, my belly was not happy, my pooping schedule was terribly off, there is nooooo way when im 50 something I’m going to want to sit on an airplane for that long. So that just means I’m going to travel my little wandering heart before I can’t (or don’t want to.)
We left LAX at 4pm on Monday, November 5th and arrived in Bali on Wednesday the 7th, that was due partly to the flight time but also because Bali is 15 hours ahead of New Mexico.
When we arrived, exhausted and eager. We made it through customs with ease, I made sure that the nice gentleman who stamped my passport to make it perfect, my passport stamps are all going on my arm in no time.
We were greeted by Rata, our tour guide, who was nothing but smiles. I honestly had no idea what he was saying most of the trip but he was so full of happiness that it didn’t really matter.
As we traveled from the airport to our first hotel in Sanur, a coastal beach town in the southeastern part of Bali. It became apparent that if we were to travel by car anywhere it was going to a loooong time. There seems to be zero rules when it comes to driving, well maybe there are rules but I didn’t understand them, luckily all the locals did.
There are scooters squeezing between cars, there are no stop lights or signs, turn signals seem to be a way to tell people hello and horns are used more than seat belts. An average size scooter typically had 2-3 people on it. Helmets were occasionally seen, and usually worn by the driver, which surprising turned out to be more females, while the male sat on the back. Sometimes there were young children secured in between two adults. The most surprising thing about the whole thing was that I never once saw an accident, so apparently it works for them.
When we arrived to our hotel, we walked in, or through, because a lot of the hotels, restaurants, business aren’t fully enclosed. There is traditionally a door way but no actual door. Our rooms weren’t ready so we took the opportunity to get out of our 2 day old clothes and into swim suites and jump in our tropical pool.
On our way to we decided to hit our hotels outdoor bar where we quickly ordered wine (only because they didn’t have any liquor and only 3 different beers) and decompressed in our tropical oasis.
We got access to our rooms and unpacked a bit, then hit a small restaurant walking distance from the hotel to have our first taste of some local cuisine.
The best thing you can do when traveling overseas that’s on a different time zone or day then you are used to, is to stay up and try to get on their time on the first night.
(wish that worked when coming home, but nope, i didn’t sleep for like 3 days)
To continue our venture, Alanna and I went for a walk and found ourselves at the beach. To be honest, it was not impressive at all. The beach sand is more like dirt, the water isn’t clear, and the amount of trash was disappointing. Luckily I am not a “lay on the beach and get a sunburn” kinda gal so it didn’t keep me up at night.
We found a little bar that had the best vibe. It was open with fresh (humid) air, everything was made out of bamboo and we got to sit in swings instead of chairs at the bar.
The next morning we had an early start as we headed to a small island off the coast of Bali called Nusa Penida, that we had heard was a must see.
Unfortunately we missed the first speed boat, so we had to wait about an hour for the next boat that would stop at a different island and then we would arrive at nusa penida. As we loaded onto this boat, it quickly became apparent that it was going to be a tight fit.
And I forgot to mention that this is their rainy season, so it is unbelievably humid at alllllll times. Literally ALL the time.
So wow, there was probably 50+ people on this boat with ZERO air flow, just a lot of smelly bodies, trying not to stick to the person next to them. It took about 30 min to make it to the first island with surprisingly only one person throwing up. It was a rough ride.
After deloading the boat, we walked to a truck that we then rode in to a separate small boat.
This trip was kindaaaaaa sketchy. There was 6 of us and no one really knew what was going on. After another 15 min boat ride we arrived at Nusa Penida, which honestly didn’t look like anything special.
After a drawn out conversation with a local, we decided to pay to hire a driver to take us to 3 of the top “spots” on the island.
HOLY SHIT. I CANNOT TELL YOU HOW BAD OF AN IDEA THIS WAS.
I may be slightly overreacting, because you will look at these next few photos and think, “wow that is absolutely beautiful.” And it was. The times we were out of the van in the fresh air. It was great.
But honestly, I have never been more carsick,
and I don’t get car sick.
The roads on this island were comparable to trying to rollerblade on a railroad track. I don’t even know if I would call them roads. I wish I would’ve taken a picture but I spent most of the time trying not to throw up.
To go 12 miles it took an hour and a half. Of winding, bumpy, 5mph, twists and turns.
We made it to our first stop, Angel’s Billabong, which normally you can go down and swim, but because its high tide we could only take pictures.
And yes, I can fake happiness for any pictures.
We then walked about a 5 minutes to Broken Beach, which is a highly photographed location. It is a beautiful sight.
We jumped back in the death trap I like to call the van and drove another 45 min to our last stop on the island, Kilingking Beach.
This stop by far saved the whole day, our tour guide jumped into a tree and knew all the good angels for this spot.
The view was unreal, one of the most incredible sights i’ve seen. It reminded me a lot of Australia, which i miss dearly.
After a VERY long day in the car and an extremely bumpy trip back on the boat, we finished the night with a nice dinner and a lot of wine.
(Thank god for wine.)
On Friday, we did something that was totally random, but one of my favorite memories from this trip. After I had posted a picture of myself in Bali on Instagram a friend from college wrote me, telling me that we needed to go see her friend Healer Jim. I asked her what he did and she explained that he identifies things that cause chaos in your chakras and then helps align an heal through touch and positive affirmations.
I had never thought about doing anything like that, but when in BALI right????
So we booked an appointment for all three of us and headed to Denpansar. When we arrived we were welcomed into his home, which looked like a freaking movie. His villa was unbelievable. Since it was my idea, i decided to go first.
I sat down and right away he started identifying stress in my shoulders.
I’m not going to go into too much detail on my own session because it is something that really i want to keep as my own experience but i will tell you the jist of it.
Healer Jim talks to you at the beginning asking basic questions,
“is there any stresses you need to be resolved?”
“How often do you go to the bathroom?”
(apparently you should be going everytime you eat)
“Do you have any aches or pains?”
He then leaves and like a traditional massage you get undressed and lay face down on the table.
When he comes back in he started at my feet, informing me that he will be pressing and finding points throughout my body that need releasing, he would go into detail about what each tightness and pressure point means, ask me questions about my past, my future about things that have happened throughout my life that could’ve potentially cause it.
He explained how the left side of your body is your masculine side, and the right is the feminine. If one side was more tender, or tighter, he would ask simple questions, then as he pressed onto it he would say aloud positive affirmations and have me repeat it.
“Life is sweet and so am i.”
“All of my relationships with males i have had in the past have been loving and kind. All of my future relationships with males will be loving and kind.”
“I place my tongue to the roof of my mouth.”
As silly and crazy as it sounds, it was one of the most pure and honest moments i have had with myself in a long time. And as much as want to think that i am fully healed of all of my past experiences, i know that isn’t the truth. Speaking truth into my life and speaking love into myself and others is still something that i need to work on.
Along with positive affirmations he helped open some of my chakras and he informed me that as our chakras are balanced and awakened, our potential for loving, healing and leading is awakened.We can live our lives more effortlessly and joyfully, becoming a greater source of light and healing for others.
As the others waited for me, and while i waited for the others Healer Jim let us lounge in his backyard oasis.
It was such a relaxing and amazing morning.
Feeling refreshed and aligned we went to have some lunch and then went to a beach club called Potato Head.
If i could re-do one day of the trip it would be this one, the entire day was absolutely perfect.
Saturday, we decided to get out and hire Rata, our tour guide to drive us around to see some things in the surrounding areas.
We had such a great day, visiting, an Elephant Sanctuary, a Luwak Coffee Tour, a Bali Forest Swing and bird nests then ended the night at another Beach club called The Lawn.
Our first stop was at a park called Uma pakel Bali. We entered and had a tour of the coffee plantation, where we had our guide who educated on us on the way they make their famous coffee the Luwak Coffee. They feed the Luwak coffee beans, then collect the full bean from the animals poop, then roast it. It is supposedly the most expensive and best tasting coffee.
I mean i drink coffee everyday, and you know i just don’t know if i would really want to go through all that trouble. We did get some samples of alot of flavored coffee and teas, which to me is better than beer sampling (jk dad)
After our coffee and tea tour we were able to pay to be total tourists.
This is one of the MANY Bali Swings and Bird Nests that you can see on so many Instagram pages, including mine.
The views were really incredible. Vast green lands, the smell of pure rain forest, fresh and clean. We took the next few minutes (an hour or 2) taking pictures in nests and swinging out into the open air.
After feeling like the worlds worst model, we made our arrival at the Mason Elephant Park and Lodge to see some sweet little elephants up close and personal. There were a few options of activities with the elephants, but we all decided we just wanted to wash them and feed them.
So we spent about a half hour washing this beauty, i say washing, but honestly we just stood there and hugged on her, loved on her and fed her.
WOW. I mean, how amazing these animals are. So gentle and kind, so loving. This is a huge check off the bucketlist and i will forever hold this memory close to my heart!
We finished the evening at another Beach Club called THE LAWN, where we watched the sunset and i lost ALLLLLLLLLL of the coffee i had purchased for my family that was going to be solid christmas presents. Also it cost like $70. So that was definitely a Kelsey moment.
Sunday we decided to take it a little more easy, we ate breakfast and then wandered down into the market and stores by the ocean. Where we stopped and had a coffee and juice and just enjoyed the morning. As we made our way back to the hotel to change and shower, let me tell you, showering was so important yet so useless. Bali in general was like a sauna. Just dripping sweat at all times. I mean as soon as you would get out of the shower you were sweating again. Hair was always a disaster, i think i combed it once. Messy buns EVERYDAY! Makeup? Nope, unless you wanted to drip off your face. Spray tan? HAHA that lasted about 4 hrs. Really this place makes you embrace your natural beauty and really own the sweat mustaches.
For the afternoon we decided to book a spot at an amazing pool called The Edge. Where the pool went over the edge and had a glass bottom to see all the way own to the ocean. We got a VIP section that we each paid $35 USD for where we got a whole table with an umbrella and beds, we got to spend that $35 dollars on food and drinks. It was unreal.
We swam, ate, drank, slept, then got to watch the sunset.
Monday was the day we were moving from Sanur to Ubud. So Alanna and I decided to wake up and walk to the ocean front to see the sunrise, because as we all know, Sunrises are literally my favorite thing about everyday.
Rata came and picked us up and we spent the day touring different tourist spots as we made our way to our hotel in Ubud.
We stopped at a primary school in one of the towns and just walked in, Rata showed us around but all the school kids were so intrigued with us. The little girls just stared and kept waving. It was really cute.
Then we went an outdoor stage and watched a traditional Balinese dance performance. This performance was told like a story. With dancers in full dress, dancing out a tale about a good and bad spirit.
We then made our way to a temple near by. Temples in Bali are a dime a dozen, they have multiple in a single town. A pura is a Balinese Hindu temple. and the place of worship for the adherents of Balinese Hinduism in Indonesia. Puras are built in accordance to rules, style, guidance and rituals found in Balinese architecture. These Temples are absolutely beautiful.
(please don’t mind my neck sweat, I could not stop sweating and you know, apparently a high neck crop top was not the answer)
Rata, then took us to some local handmade wood and jewelry making shops. We toured each one, seeing the detail that these employees put into each piece, then had the opportunity to buy items from each place.
Our next little adventure was to a traditional balinese home. From the outside it each home looks like a little castle. As you enter the wall that surrounds the property, you dont go inside a “house” its more of a compound of different buildings within the “home”. There is a pavilion for the kitchen, the family temple for worship, sleeping pavilion, a workhouse pavilion, a space for guests, and a work place.
We then made our way to the Ubud Monkey Forest, where we wandered around in an open forest, where there were approximately 500 monkeys running around.
A few things I had read before i came, mentioned how the monkeys are aggressive and will bite you, but we were reassured that if you don’t take any foods, wear shiny jewelry or try to pick them up, everything would be fine. It was a pretty unique experience getting to be surrounded by hundreds of monkeys, there were little babies with their mamas, monkeys jumping around into a little watering hole, monkeys eating sweet potatoes, bananas and apples.
We then checked into our hotel in Ubud, which is centrally located and in depths of rice fields and rain forest. It’s promoted as an arts and craft town and is heavily touristy place, but to me, it was more of what i was expecting out of Bali.
Our hotel was placed on the outskirts of a rice field where each room was its own villa. It had an outdoor bathroom, fully equipt with no roof, which made going to the bathroom in the middle of the night quite freaky. There were always lizards, bugs and mosquito’s. The bedroom was upstairs, with a porch that had a view of the rice field.
The next morning we booked a sunrise hike up Mt. Batur, which is a live Volcano. Which i was EXTREMELY excited about, we had done zero active things up to this point, which is fine, but i was very eager to combine a few of my favorite things,
Hiking and SUNRISES!
We woke up at 2am, got picked up from the hotel at 2:30am drove an hour to the base of the volcano an then started the hike at about 4am.
It is a 2 hour hike, and a pretty difficult hike at that. You start the hike with a guide, in the pitch dark with only a flashlight. You have no idea where you are going or walking up.
The trail is very easy to follow, but it is slippery, rugged and steep.
I couldn’t get up to the top fast enough, our tour guide kept telling me that i was “A VERY VERY strong girl.” haha
Once we made it to the top we took some pictures and then our guide brought us breakfast which was a banana sandwhich, a hard boiled egg that was cooked in the a crater in the volcano and a cup of coffee.
We stayed at the summit for about 45 minutes. The clouds started to roll in and it got a bit chilly, but i could’ve stayed up there the whole day!
The trek down was about 2 hours as well, which we basically ran down cause walking down hill is 10x worse than walking up hill on these grandma knees and ankles.
We made it back to Ubud at about 11am, then Alanna and grabbed some breakast. I was totally in love with these smoothie bowls, the fresh fruit, the coconut. Ahhhh it’s making my mouth water thinking about it.
From that morning all, I basically just ate smoothie bowls, because to be honest, I couldn’t eat any more rice or noodles. I was starting to look like a bowl of rice, holyyyyyy moly.
We spent the afternoon walking the Ubud market, which is just a hectic, crowded market full of touristy things. We bought a few gifts for family and and then headed back to the hotel stopping at a Spa, where you get services for super cheap.
In general Bali was a cheap place to travel. Meals were $7-10 at a restaurant, a cab ride was like $4, an hour foot massage was $7. Their currency is Indonesian Rupiah. 1 USD= 13,000 Rupiah.
Everything is basically in thousands. Which for me was super confusing. haha I didn’t get the hang of it at all.
But ya’ll are probably smarter than me.
On Wednesday went wanted to get out and check out some things around Ubud. We started at the Tegalalang Rice Terrace, which is a lust green space that is a tourist favorite when visiting.
The views were amazing, it looked like a postcard. The greenest greens i have ever seen.
After some breakfast and coffee overlooking the fields we went to the hidden Tegenungan Waterfall, which is not very hidden because it is crawling with tourists. Because it was rainy season the waterfall was very strong so you couldnt swim.
Non the less, it was really amazing and i am so thankful to have the chance to experience these kinds of things.
Thursday was our last day, so we took it as an opportunity to relax and get ready for our travel home. A couple days earlier we booked a 3 hour spa session that we were SO excited about. Full body massage, scrub, a flower bath and a hair wash. We could not wait. So that morning before our spa we decided to take a yoga class and it was absolutely amazing. To do yoga in Bali was something that we knew we needed to do, but I wish I would’ve done it more. The vibe was sooooo cool.
After yoga we went and packed up and waited for our ride to the spa… when it didn’t show up, we were pretty confused. After calling the spa we found out that they had cancelled our appointment and had zero available spots for the day, but they did for the next day, which would’ve been great except for the fact that we were leaving that afternoon at 4pm. Mind you, we hadn’t showered from yoga because we knew we were getting a full on scrub down before we got on the plane.
So there we are checked out of our hotel, disgustingly sweaty, stressed and nowhere to go.
Thankfully we walked to the spa that was at the hotel we just checked out of and they miraculously had 2 ladies that could fit Alanna and I in for a 3 hour spa session.
And boyyyyyyyy did we NEED it.
So it happened and it was so magical. 3 hours of just pure bliss.
For the full session we paid about $35 USD.
Unreal right? Tipping isn’t required, but we decided to give the ladies about $7 and they were so happy. The average monthly income is just over $100.
As we loaded onto the plane to come home, I would be lying if I said I wasn’t excited to come home. As much as I love traveling and exploring, I was just really appreciative to what i have at home.
The water is undrinkable, so you have to buy bottled water, which wasn’t the worse thing, but i am so used to having my water bottle with me and the ability to go to any sink to fill it up. The humidity just added to that, I was always feeling dehydrated, and sticky and sweaty. By the last day, I was dreaming of a snow cabin in the woods. (which is very weird because cold weather makes me sassy)
The trip in general was great, I am unbelievably fortunate that I have the ability to take time off to travel and the means to do so as well.
My soul aches for adventure.
To travel to places I have only seen pictures of. To challenge myself. To appreciate my life and the people in it. To change my perspective. To escape the redundancy of life.
I travel because I want to experience the most out of this life i’ve been given. I don’t ever want to look back and say I wish I had done more with my life.
If you’ve made it through, thank you, if you only looked at the pictures, then i cannot blame you. It’s taken me 4 days to write this. WOW.
The trip home took exactly 40 hrs from the Bali Airport till i walked into my house.
It was long, my ankles were massive, my stomach hated me, I was trying not to overdose on zzzquil, I had no idea what day it was and I was ready to not be stacked on top of people.
Looking back now after a few weeks, Bali was wonderful.
Would i return? Probably not.
This is just my honest opinion, even though i wanted to completely fall in love with it like i did with Australia, New Zealand and Alaska.
That’s the thing about love,
I’m starting to realize that even when you choose it,
it doesn’t always choose you back.
Another stamp in the passport and another great adventure.
I sure am,