“If you are happy, you can always learn to dance.” – Balinese Proverb
Everyone loves Bali, they all love Bali even before Eat, Pray, Love was even written. And people get surprised every time I tell them, that for me, it’s just okay. Don’t judge me yet, too, I LOVE my experience in Bali, but I am just not that impressed with the beach there, that’s it.
I visited Bali in 2009 for the first time and I only stayed for 4days and 3 nights. I am always appreciative of visiting new places especially if their culture is as rich as the Balinese, so I did love my trip then, however, I was a bit disappointed for not seeing the “paradise” I created in my mind that I’ve expected to see. I haven’t been back since then, so it’s fair to say that I have not been around there enough to justify why I was not so impressed with it during that time. I know I need to come back to Bali in the future and see other areas or parts of it.
Perhaps I expected too much because Bali is a very popular TOP beach destination and almost everyone is raving about how “paradise” is Bali for them. So when my friend invited me to come with him to Bali one long weekend in 2009, I did not hesitate at all. We stayed in the most touristy area of Bali, the Kuta Beach.
As a Filipino like myself, I must say I have a bit high standard when it comes to beaches, and for me for a beach to be one of the top beach destination in the world, it MUST be better than what I’ve grew up seeing. I realised then, perhaps Philippines’ beaches are just so underrated.
Anyway, because Bali is so popular, it is expensive to go there. So when my friend, Basti, found a very cheap package from Air Asia with a 3-night stay at Wina Holiday Villa (a 4-star hotel) just opposite Kuta Beach, I grabbed the invitation to see Bali finally. I was still living in Singapore then, btw, so it was easy for me to decide at last minute invitations :P
Bali became popular when the hippies in the 70’s started coming here for surfing. Indeed, the waves here are perfect for surfers, that is why my friend surfed for 2 days of our stay. I didn’t mind because I was feeling poorly anyway. I have non-stop cough with my asthma
However, on our last day, I’ve asked him if we could go to Dreamland Beach to see the sunset and I heard it is more beautiful than Kuta. Indeed, the sand here is a lot finer and it’s in ivory colour. So I guess, there are a lot more beaches in Bali that are like this or perhaps much better have I gone and visited more. Maybe on my next visit!
I may not have fallen in love with the beach in Bali, but I certainly fallen in love with the Balinese’ rich culture, I guess this is one of the main thing why this place is very magical for any visitors. For me, it has this effect on me that is very calming and soothing as soon as you get there.
Indonesia is a Moslem country but Bali remained to be Hindu-dominated island but are somewhat different from India (like they do not have images of gods). We have visited few temples like the Tirta Empul or Temple of the Hot Spring where Balinese go for ritual purification. We also watched musical dance and plays like Thed Barong and Keris, which is a lion dance showing a battle of good and evil.
Of course, I’ve had Balinese massage as well which is by far the best experience I’ve had on my visit, and it did cure my heavy cough and fever that has been ruining my visit since we arrived!
And since I’m a foodie, I love Balinese food because they have pork! Haha! Indonesia food does not have pork usually because most of them are Moslems, but Balinese have pork dishes like the suckling pig and pork sausages. We also tried the Padang restaurants that serves authentic typical Indonesian home cooked meals and it was of course a lot better than the padangs we’ve had in Singapore. Oh, I love their avocado smoothies, like anywhere!
We also went to one coffee farm and tried some Balinese coffee and the most expensive coffee in the world they say – the Luwak Coffee or Pea Berry, which is actually a bean from a poo of a rat-looking animal Luwak, yeah ew! Haha!
We also visited the Kintamani Volcano and some rice terraces, but because we have much enormous rice terraces in the Philippines (Banaue) and a lot more volcano in different varieties, I was not impressed that much BUT of course it is still much better to visit and see these places than just stay partying in Bali! And with that, I recommend anyone visiting Bali to see these places too :)
One of my best memory of Bali also is this is where I bought my Djembe (percussion) as recommended by my friend who plays the djembe in Singapore. During that time, I enrolled myself in djembe classes but too bad I did not continue to study anymore when I moved here in Dubai, but I still have that djembe with me up until now, that every time I see it, it always remind me of Bali.
In as much as I wanted to shop for more stuff that is uniquely Balinese, it didn’t happen even just for simple souvenirs I wasn’t able to shop. I wasn’t able to find a snowglobe for my collection too. Beacuse I gave up in the first 10 minutes of my shopping, most vendors in Bali tries to rip you off, I know Bali is expensive but sometimes they give you a price that only stupid or super rich people will believe that price, and it got so frustrating bargaining every single time! To think, some vendors even thought I am from Jakarta! How much more if they knew I am a foreigner?
Overall, despite being poorly with my cough, having failed shopping spree, and my beach over-expectations, I still enjoyed my trip to Bali at that time because I was a happy single woman then. This was the time I was enjoying my singleness.
Unlike the book, Eat, Pray, Love, who found her love in Bali, I found love for myself and was completely happy about it. If you are happy, you can always learn to love everything else around you. One thing I will advice anyone when visiting new places and it turns out to be not what you have expected it to be, try to immerse yourself with their culture and you’ll surely learn to fall in love with it!
But to be happy and be able to appreciate the world around you, you have got to love yourself first. Always remember that you, as much anybody in the universe, deserve your love and affection.