Many refer to Bali as Heaven on Earth and after spending just one week there, I can understand why.
After my amazing two days in Ubud, I headed south to a quaint beach town called Sanur. I strategically planned to spend time on the East and West side of Bali so I could see the sunrise and sunset. My alarm went off around 6 AM and the pitch black room wasn’t the best encouragement to get me out of bed so I could march down to the beach by myself. But I couldn’t not see a Balinese sunrise so to the dismay of my nine roomies, I pulled myself out of bed. I’m sure glad I did!
The stillness and tranquility that accompanied the sunrise on Sanur Beach was unexplainable. As I breathed in the cool sea breeze and watched this magnificent view in front of my eyes, I couldn’t help but to think of how truly blessed I am to be able to experience this. Here I am in Bali, one of the most coveted islands in the world, watching the sun rise above the horizon. It was simply magical.
After having breakfast at a cute cafe on the beach, I found a nice spot in the sand and sunbathed for the rest of the afternoon (with plenty of sunscreen of course). I noticed a girl also sunbathing by herself so before I got up to leave I introduced myself and asked if she was traveling alone. She replied with something along the lines of, “Yes, I am and feeling quite alone right now actually.” Come to find out Joany has just moved to Indonesia from The Netherlands to teach English. She arrived during the Muslim holiday so her host family suggested she travel to Bali for the week. So, without even having time to adjust to her new life, she was back on the road. I asked if she wanted to grab some dinner and we were off to find a Warung. Joany and I clicked immediately and even ended up meeting up later in our trip. One thing I learned from this is that sometimes people come into your life to be there for you. And other times you enter other people’s lives to be there for them. In this case, I think we met each other at good time to bet there for each other. Thanks for the great chats and laughs Joany!
I moved onto my next destination the following day – Seminyak, which is a resort/beach town on the West side of Bali. Mind you I stayed in a $12/night hostel, not a resort on the beach! I will admit I was gravely disappointed when my taxi driver pulled up to a street filled with shopping boutiques, Western restaurants and huge hotels. Was I still in Bali? Where were the Indonesians? Where was the culture? Where was my $0.70 dinner!? Although I did end up having a fabulous time in Seminyak (and I did search long and hard to find that hidden Warung with $0.70 dinner!), it’s disappointing in a way to see such beautiful land be taken over by resorts and tourists. On the other hand, tourism is allowing this island to prosper which is gift to the Balinese people and their economy. I did get in some nice relaxation on the beach and some breathtaking sunsets as well.
I took a day trip to a small island off the Southeast coast of Bali called Lembongan. I spent the day wandering around this beautiful island with a French family that took me in as one of their own! I will let the pictures do the explaining on this one.
As you can see, sheer and utter beauty around ever corner. It was also wonderful to spend the day with the French family, The mother was really the only one that could speak English so she acted as a translator for most of the day. They were spending their summer traveling around Indonesia. It’s great to see families that take their children out of their comfort zone to experience different cultures. It was nice to see how much the family enjoyed their time together and how much they had learned along the way. Meeting this wonderful family reiterated how important it is to me that I do the same with my own family one day.
My final night in Bali deserves its very own post but as I am catching a flight in less than two hours, I will tell my great tale now!
Since I began traveling last year, I have come to learn that usually what makes a country, city, town, etc. amazing is more often the people that you share your experiences with, not the actual place itself. Of course those sunsets in Bali and the charming pubs in Ireland surely help but I’ve found that when I am really in awe of a place after visiting, I realize it’s the people I spent my time with while I was there that really made it so amazing. As my main man Dave Matthew’s says, “Turns out not where, but who you’re with that really matters.”
About half way through my trip to Bali a friend from high school messaged me saying that she has a friend living in Bali and I should stay with her. Ironically I had one night to spare so after a few exchanged emails, arrangements were made for Sari to pick me up from Seminyak. I had no idea who this woman was – my expectations were literally nonexistent (something that I’m working on!). For all I knew, Sari would roll up on her motorbike to pick me up and I’d be back to being showerless, smelly Hannah. I paraded down the road to where we would meet with my overstuffed backpacks and found a spot to sit down. As I waited, a large, black, tinted-windowed SUV rolls up and a woman smiling ear to ear tells me to get in. Her driver opened my door and put my bags in the back. As we began driving I couldn’t help but to think, “WHO is this woman!?” I found out through our backseat conversation that Sari is a woman of many talents. She is a scuba diver, master skydiver (478 jumps!), a drummer, a DJ, a chef, a world traveler, a landlord, a pilot (who owns her own plane!) AND an Indonesian diplomat who has been working for the United Nations for the past 22 years (she recently retired at the ripe age of 45), just to name a few.
Sari is such an incredible person that I found myself in disbelief more than once. Without question Sari invited me to her family dinner at a nice seafood restaurant on the beach. After hours of chatting, laughing and watching another beautiful sunset, Sari took us to a beautiful club located at a 5 star resort. The Rock Bar can only be reached by taking an elevator down the side of a mountain. At the bottom you find yourself overlooking the Indian ocean as the DJ plays upbeat tunes and the waves crash into the monster sized rocks, splashing water into your drinks. We called it a night after a couple of hours and headed back to her beautiful home to get some sleep before I had to catch my flight the following morning. AS IF this wasn’t enough, I woke up to the smell of German sausages, coffee, omelets and fresh fruit (of course all prepared by Sari). Luckily I had time to meet Mr. George Bush, Sari’s dog, as well. Unfortunately for me it was time to leave Bali. Sari graciously offered her driver to me so I wouldn’t have to take a taxi to the airport.
My first night in Bali I shared a room on a mattress with five other couch surfer’s and quite possibly some other creatures. My last night I spent enjoying strawberry margarita’s at a five star resort with an Indonesian diplomat (and new friend!). As I mentioned before, the people you spend such amazing experiences with are a huge part of why that experience was so unforgettable. My time in Bali was short but the memories I made and the people I met will be with me forever. I cannot express how grateful I am to have not only been able to make one of my dreams come true by visiting Bali but also to have spent time with such incredible, welcoming people.
After a 30 hour journey and an unexpected visit to Sri Lanka, I found my way to PARIS! After my six marvelous weeks in Southeast Asia I am flying high and could not be happier. Can’t wait to see what’s in store for me in Pariiiiii =)