Spiritual paradise, land of the Gods, scooters galore, cheap as chips… but a nightmare for running.
Tuesday 23rd January 2018
And we’ve made it to Indonesia! Nothing quite prepares you for the crazy phenomenon that is the taxi counter at Bali Denpasar Airport. In fact it’s not even the taxi counter, there are drivers coming at you from all angles pretty much as soon as you leave baggage reclaim and enter the arrivals hall.
A few fellow travel buddies had given me a wee heads up on this and what I can only describe as ‘savage behaviour’ which could be quite overwhelming to those not expecting it. I was so grateful of Natalie’s company. Luckily we were staying close by to each other so we could share a taxi transfer. The drivers appear ruthless in their attempts for your business and many are renowned for charging tourists above and beyond for their fare. My tip for anyone visiting would be to stick with Bluebird Taxis (as these usually have meters and Uber are not allowed to wait in the airport) and work out the rough price quoted for your journey so that you can stick to your guns and haggle.
This time of the year is part of wet season in Bali, so we arrived in the dark to super heavy rain and lots of flooding. Not quite the tropical sunshine one was expecting!
Wednesday 24th January 2018
I am staying at Koa D’Surfer Hotel in Canggu, which not surprisingly by the name has a very cool laid back surfer theme to it. After a very late arrival yesterday, today I am planning on doing nothing, absolutely nothing. I am exhausted. I might stretch to reading my book after a trip to the supermarket but that will be it. Oh and maybe watch some of the Australian Open.
Taking a wander to the supermarket, I realised the surrounding roads with lack of pavements are going to make it pretty tricky for training here, and that’s not excuses, it’s just not safe with the mayhem traffic. Everyone drives a scooter in Bali. Everyone. Narrow streets means they’re the most practical form of transport to try and avoid getting stuck in the traffic jams as they weave in and out of the chaos. I didn’t really fancy trying to run whilst constantly checking forwards, left, right, behind to make sure the route was safe and I did check but there were no gyms close by to where I was staying, as although I hate it I thought I could put up with the dreadmill for the week if it meant still running. The hostel does have a pool though, so a quick email to Tom, ever positive as always, he quickly helped plan some basic cross training in the form of swimming and aqua jogging. Not ideal but definitely better than nothing.
Thursday 25th January 2018
Bali might mean no formal training, but one of its advantages is everything is super cheap, like ridiculously so. A thirty minute Uber will cost around £4. A flat white, 80p. This is much appreciated after spending all of my time so far in pretty expensive countries. I’ve heard no trip to Bali is complete without a massage and at £9 for 90 minutes, who am I to argue.
Though I’m managing, I am missing my sports massage/physio treatments so I’m going to take advantage of these cheap prices in the hope it makes the legs a bit lighter again. I got the ‘traditional’ massage; a mix between Thai, Japanese shiatsu and Chinese foot reflexology. It was brilliant. The therapist was the tiniest of ladies but she had thumbs of steel and didn’t half get the knots out. I might just have another one before the weeks out.
I walked further around Canggu today, along the beach, which was a little disappointing if I’m honest. It was a black sand beach so I knew it’d be different but it was full of rubbish, which unfortunately is common during wet season as all the rubbish from the streets gets washed down the road. I took the ‘shortcut’ route that connects Berawa to Bath Bolong which was quite an experience. It is an unpaved, bumpy road through the rice fields, of course still with no pavements, designed for one way traffic which apparently regularly causes cars and scooters to become stuck or fall off the edge. Walking it I can understand why, my goodness, it resembles something from whacky races.
Later in the afternoon I found a very sweet little French patisserie (I know, not quite the local Indonesian experience) Monsieur Spoon, and got a tasty almond croissant and coffee for the grand total of £1.25!
Friday 26th January 2018
Today I decided to explore Seminyak, neighbour to Canggu and known for its luxury hotels, resorts and trendy bars. You can walk around 40 minutes along the beach to get there which is always nice.
I spent a little time at the beach then went to Revolver Coffee for a little pit stop. It was recommended from lots of reviews online and didn’t disappoint. I ordered some ‘black rice pudding’ in an attempt to avoid the cakes. It’s one of the local dishes, very tasty, just maybe minus the flowers.
A visit to Petitenget Temple, right by another beach was lovely to see too. Temples are everywhere in Bali; one for each home, one for each street, one for each village/region. The main courtyard had beautiful gardens and after some time walking around I took an Uber back to the Hotel.
Saturday 27th January 2018
I had thee most delicious açai smoothie bowl for breakfast today at Bali Bowls and Smoothies. Such a lovely menu, I could have ordered one of everything!
I decided to enjoy some of the hotel facilities today aka the pool and the loungers. I got some more lengths in for cross training then enjoyed some time with my book.
Later in the day, I had booked myself in for another little massage treat, you know just to ensure my legs were in the best state they could be for the next part of the build up. You might say it was more of a necessity than a luxury really, Ha.
Sunday 28th January 2018
There are so many lovely spots on the island to explore but unfortunately I am just too far away from some of them go visit this time around. I really did want to get a flavour for some of the other areas though so I booked a day tour through Trip Guru. It was appealing as it had Hotel pick up and drop off included.
First stop was at UNESCO site, The Royal Water Temple of Pura Taman Ayun. The grounds were stunning and with only myself and one other person booked in for the tour today, we had what felt like a private tour to ourselves. Our guide was a local so he had lots of knowledge about the history of each place and shared lots of information about the island of Bali as a whole.
Next up was the Luwak Coffee Plantation. Luwak coffee is regarded as the most expensive coffee in the world, the main reason for this being the rather unusual way in which it is produced. The Luwak, a small little cat like creature eats the coffee beans, allowing its digestive system to help with the old fermentation process. The faeces are collected and the undigested beans are then washed and dried with their skins removed before being roasted. Like any other coffee as you would, you can add milk and sugar as you please. I was a little unsure but felt it was one of these, ‘when in Rome’ kind of moments. I wouldn’t say it tasted remarkably special but it certainly was strong.
Quite an effort for a cuppa!
We also got to try some of the other coffees and teas the site produces along with some traditional snack, potatoes and brown sugar!
After this big moment in my coffee drinking life, it was on to Temple number two of the day, and probably my favourite, Pura Ubuntu Dana Bratan. A really beautiful and peaceful stop, perhaps being on the water. This was our lunch stop for the day too at a local Indonesian place near by. Buffet in style, I enjoyed trying some of the satay and rendang…spicy and delicious.
Still rocking (or trying to!) the Oofos!
The Jatiluwih Rice Terraces made for quite an awesome site. Undulating paddys that go on for miles. The way they are designed on these tiers is for the water system, (designed by Balinese farmers) to be effective and we managed to spot the odd buffalo helping with some of the work.
Our final spot for the day was Tanah Lot Temple; where spirituality meets the sea. We were supposed to stop here for sunrise, which I have no doubt would have been special but we arrived way ahead of sundown, so instead took just a little time to wander around. With the tide being in quite far by the time we got there, it did make me smile that they had a lifeguard on duty. Though I guess in this day and age, some people will go to insane levels to get that perfect selfie, safety first!
I thoroughly enjoyed the tour today. It gave a great flavour of some of the ‘must-see’ destinations in Bali and our guide really looked after us. Back to the hotel, it’s time to pack up. We’re on the road again tomorrow morning.
Next stop…The Patersons! And I can’t wait.