Yesterday we moved to a little seaside place called Amed, on the east side of the island. As I’m typing this post from our guesthouse balcony, I can hear the waves crashing in the sand and I’m enjoying a stunning view of a volcanic beach and thinking just how beautiful this island is.
The other day, on our trip from Ubud to Lovina, we met a Dutch couple who told us that they didn’t like Bali.”It’s too touristy“, they said – yeah, it’s true, some parts of the island are crowded with tourists. Just like Thailand, Bali is probably one of the most advertised destinations in Southeast Asia. So what?
“There’s always someone trying to sell you something” – yes, that’s true also, but this happens everywhere we have been in Southeast Asia, where there are tourists around. I guess we got used to it and we don’t let this spoil our experience. Also, as annoying as it can be, we need to understand that this people are only trying to make a leaving and feed their families – most hawkers don’t have a different way to earn money (the other day on the beach I had a very interesting chat with two ladies that sell stuff to tourists – spending an hour chatting with them was really interesting as it helped me understand more about their world and the way they see us foreigners).
In the end, I just don’t care how touristy this place is. I fell in love with Bali from the moment we stepped out of the plane. We felt a great vibe and we knew immediately we would enjoy our stay here.
During our taxi ride from the airport to Ubud, we got almost emotional with the scenes passing in front of our eyes through the car’s window – young girls dancing in traditional costumes in the school yard, entire families in colourful Balinese attire on their motorbikes, houses that looked like temples with shrines and statues of Gods, beautiful stone and wood carvings everywhere on the roadside, lively temple festivals, old women walking around bare-breasted… and this was just what we saw on a one hour drive. We were both full of excitement to see what else this exotic island had to offer.
Some people who visit Bali prefer to hire a driver with car to move around, but beside being significantly more expensive, having a driver can be limiting and sometimes frustrating. As we’ve heard that some of these people who offer to drive you around for a fee can act as ‘informal guides’ giving you a perspective on Balinese culture and traditions, we thought we would try the experience. So we hired a driver for a day at the beginning of our Balinese adventure in Ubud. First off, he didn’t seem to know much about his own country – of all the many questions we asked about culture and traditions, most of them remained unanswered or if there was an answer, it was confused and (in some cases we found out later) rather imprecise. Second, communication was a major problem because we don’t speak Balinese or Indonesian and he didn’t have good English. Lastly, he drove us to all the tourist traps around Ubud, rather than helping us discover what’s beyond the beaten path.
I don’t doubt that there may be good drivers in Ubud, but it just didn’t work out for us. Actually, we soon realized that if we wanted to see something interesting we needed our own transportation, so we rented a motorbike and since then we got hooked on it. It’s quite easy to drive in Bali. The roads are ok and with Emanuele’s experience driving in Sicily, which is where he is from and where he was raised, Balinese roads don’t seem scary at all 🙂
The motorbike is allowing us to see a different Bali, sometimes even outside the tourist areas and the guidebooks. Most importantly, it’s enabling us to soak up this island at our own pace and with enough independence.
I can say, whether it’s ‘gatecrashing’ a temple festival, mingling with the locals and hearing their stories, waking up at sunrise to enjoy spectacular views, or just driving our motorbike through the rice fields and the luscious vegetation, the Bali we are experiencing is proving so energizing, inspiring and rewarding, that we’ve moved the date of our next flight to Sydney to the 18th of May… Australia can wait! 🙂
Now, I’ve selected a few pictures we shot in the past few days, which I wanted to share with you. I hope you enjoy them.
The rice fields
Temple festivals and religious rituals and celebrations
…In the next few days I’ll post more pictures on our Facebook page, so stay tuned if you want to see more of our Bali images 🙂
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