I know, I know – I’ve gone on and on about Bali. But so far I’ve only covered the incredible, transformative week I had at Escape Haven in the second half of my trip. This post is going to take a look at some of the many highlights from the tour I took when I first arrived in Bali, which was equally amazing in different ways.
I may have to split this into two parts because there’s so much to talk about – so grab a coffee and prepare to be transported to glorious Bali!
I’m currently sat with my travel journal trying to make sense of anything I’d written on the first day! After 27 hours of traveling I was totally done for. I arrived at the hotel at about 3pm and was determined not to nap so that I could get a good night’s sleep later. I’d already had a little unintentional nap in the taxi from the airport – which was the one place I didn’t want to fall asleep as a lone, 24 year old female, in a foreign country, a long way from home! I was, of course, in safe hands, and the nap probably enabled me to power through the rest of the afternoon which involved meeting the rest of the group who I’d be spending the next 9 days with!
I’d booked a tour with a company called Intrepid. Founded by two Aussie mates in the 80’s, Intrepid specialises in responsible, small group travel, sending tourists all over the world whilst making a positive impact to the local communities in the countries they visit. After watching Eat Pray Love, I did the totally cliché thing of booking a trip to Bali and whilst searching for a tour I decided this company seemed like they offered an authentic experience for a great price – and they certainly delivered!
Our guide, Wisnu (pronounced Vishnu), was the most warm hearted, kind, helpful guide I’ve ever met. He went over and beyond throughout the whole trip to make sure we were all having the most fantastic experience possible. After meeting him and the rest of the group on the first evening, I was super excited to see what the rest of the week would bring!
The first day was spent in Ubud, being shown around the area by a local guide. After cramming into a tiny bus (not all our transport was like this!), we traveled out to some rice fields and learned so much about them, as well as the Balinese offerings, called Canang Sari, which I’d seen dotted around everywhere even in my short time on the island!
We also visited a family compound and learned a lot about what life is like for a Balinese family. The guide was clearly very proud to tell us all about his culture, something which rang true with all the guides we met along the way. We finished the tour in a cafe overlooking the rice fields and had our first taste of fresh coconut water!
That afternoon we had some free time. I was tempted to go on the optional white water rafting trip, but instead decided to go with a couple of the others to Ubud Monkey Forest. I was coming back to Ubud before the end of the tour and was planning on going then by myself, but after one of the other girls told me a monkey had bitten her (without piercing the skin thankfully), I thought it best to go with other people!
I was glad I did as I found the whole experience both exciting and daunting. The monkeys are cute and funny, but also protective of their young and there are many signs warning tourists not to touch the babies or look the monkeys in the eye. Thankfully there were no bites while we were in there and it was fantastic to get so close to these awesome creatures!
That evening we all went to see a Kecak – a singing and dancing ritual which involves a dozen or more men all singing acapella ‘chaak’ sounds to accompany dancers performing scenes from the Indian epic poem, Ramayana. What really amazed me was the way in which the dancers conveyed so much emotion simple through their eyes. It really is a sight to behold and I’m unable to convey in words how awesome the ‘singing’ was! I’ve never heard anything like it.
And over 700 words later that is merely the end of the first day! This may become a series of posts…!