We traveled here back in December 2014, but just now posting. I know, it’s outrageous. Someone should fire me!
I had a really hard time writing this post. The cop-out would be that I never had enough time, but the truth is that the subject matter rendered me uninspired.
Bali is a destination famed for its portrayal in Eat, Pray, Love as a haven for soul-searching and wallpaper-worthy scenery. But the truth is, Bali isn’t as idyllic as it appears in movies. And perhaps it was because I didn’t see all of it. I didn’t even make it to Ubud – so there goes my credentials. The thorn that sticks out the most is that there was trash everywhere – I mean an obscene amount! It was difficult to appreciate the rice field landscapes when you turn around and there’s trash in the gutter all alongside the roads. I’m utterly surprised by the fact that Bali is such a tourist destination, but the government doesn’t dedicate more resources to cleaning up the land. (I’m sure that’s my naivety speaking. What do I know about how a government should use its resources.)
With all that being said, we always try to make the best of our travels and did find beauty in the nuances of the island.
We stayed in a private pool villa in Seminyak’s Astana Batubelig. The staff were very attentive, and made us feel very comfortable. The room was spacious, and having our own kitchen was particularly useful for our late-night ramen cravings. The staff arranged transportation for each day trip we requested. Having your own driver was a nice luxury not only because of the privacy, but the accommodation for random durian stops made me pleased as punch.
We were advised to stay away from Kuta, as it had become engulfed with tourists. Seminyak is definitely quieter, but the beach was mediocre. We didn’t spend too much time there, and opted for a poolside afternoon at the Mozaic Beach Club – conveniently located beachside so we got plenty of that sea breeze. We happily sipped our fruity drinks and enjoyed dipping in and out of the pool.
The hotel’s location turned out to be perfect with its easy access to the beach/resorts along with the local streets for restaurants and boutiques. We made it a point to try different restaurants along that road, but ended up returning to the Crab Bar since we liked it so much.
On our first day trip, we saw the Tanah Lot, Monkey Kingdom, Clint held a bat and the driver detoured us to a local tea/coffee farm. Tanah Lot was overwhelming with visitors and underwhelming in presence. Blame it on hanger or the heat, but I ended up very disappointed. It’s hard to enjoy a temple, a signature of peace, when you’re battling hundreds of tourists just to walk across the grounds. An unfortunate cost of being an international landmark.
I did enjoy the Monkey Kingdom, even though they built it so you had to walk through a shopping area to exit. I like shopping, but I don’t like being told what to do. It was a constant barrage of, “Please help me open business, it’s for luck.” I just wanted to hang out with some monkeys.
We also had an opportunity to take photos in traditional Balinese headpieces whilst holding a giant bat. We couldn’t really pass that up.
And as we were headed home, the driver said, “I have a surprise stop for you.” When strangers say things like this, my paranoid brain automatically goes to a dramatic scene of being sold for body parts. Fortunately, he just took us to a tea/coffee farm. For a nominal fee, they sat us by a beautiful landscape and gave us a flight of teas and coffees to try. It was a remarkably simple, yet beautiful experience. Oh, and we tried kopi luwak, AKA the most expensive coffee in the world, aka poop coffee. Clint said it’s better than most coffees. I don’t drink the poison, so I have no valid opinion on the matter.
The next day, we checked out Padang Padang and Dreamland – upon the suggestion of our driver. Clint got some snorkeling and surfing in and I basked in the sun. I’ve never been one for water sports.
The rest of the time, we tried local fare, drank a lot of guava juice and ate tons of tropical fruits. Our favorites being longan and red guava. And of course, durian.
The last couple of days, we spent our time at the Ayana Resort, otherwise known as heaven on earth. We were spoiled with one of the the most famous infinity pools in the world. It’s actually the reason we booked the hotel in the first place, and it did not disappoint. We also had access to their Rock Bar – which was a lot of fun. From our seat at the bar, we watched a thunderstorm brew miles away and caught lighting on camera. It was surreal.
Everything is a haze now, but there was a lot of poolside drinking and snacking. Attentive pool boys were always nearby to pick up your towels and bring you complimentary bottles of water. They’ll even let you order items from the restaurant and bring them to your new poolside home. I think back at that chocolate cake and realize gluttony is my sin, but a damned tasty pleasure. During lunch, we took the free shuttle to their private beach, where they arranged a beach picnic just for us. It was all so romantic. We were truly spoiled.
Does a single resort warrant a visit to any country? For the Ayana, a resounding yes!