Bali and Gili Trawangan

Bali’s reputation has grown dramatically in the last few years, with Aussies and Brits alike moving over there for better weather, cheaper housing and a more laid back lifestyle. We were excited to see what the fuss was about and explore the busy coastal towns and the lush countrysides. 

Our first destination was Kuta; we chose this as it is fairly close to the airport and we were arriving late so didn’t want to have to travel too far. In hindsight we would’ve got an earlier flight and stayed elsewhere. Whilst Kuta has a nice beach town, we were staying quite far away from that with nothing around us; our dinner on the first night consisted of chocolate milk and Oreos from a local shop! 

The one thing we have found in Bali is that if you ride a moped it’s okay to stay further out as everything is accessible, however the roads are super chaotic and dangerous – I was not prepared to learn how to ride here!

We didn’t really like Kuta that much so decided to quickly move up the coast to Canggu. The one thing about a lot of people from other countries moving here is that the coast is becoming quite westernised. Here you can begin to see the ‘Instagram culture’ moving in, with quirky cafes and western shops. It’s not a problem but if you want a more Balinese feel to your trip make sure to hunt out the areas that remain more unique! As we were meeting a friend from Laos here we decided to check out the famous Finns Beach Club. It had a cool vibe to it but was not a place for us on our back packing budget. If you’re in Bali for a holiday and have more cash to splash it’s a fun place to spend a day! On the road into Finns you’ll see loads of restaurants to choose from, most of them offering vegetarian and vegan options so you won’t go short of where to choose! As we decided tomorrow would be a day of learning to surf we had an early night at our hostel (we have cookies) which was home to the cutest dogs! 

As with most of Asia you will see a lot of stray dogs on the road. It’s quite heartbreaking to see but the majority of them are super friendly and just want a bit of love!

Before our day of surfing began we had brunch at Monsieur Spoon and it was delicious! A very modern westernised cafe but with a nice Balinese touch to it – I would highly recommend! We then headed to find a surf school. There are so many to choose from and you can research a lot but we just walked along and chatted to a few guys! We ended up surfing with The Wave Company and each got our own instructor. My guy was so great and patient with me that I managed to stand up on my very first wave ever! I honestly had the best day learning to surf and totally got the bug for it. I also got a very sunburnt bum so remember to sun cream up! We finished the day with a few beers before going our separate ways from our friend and packed up ready to head to Ubud. 

As Ubud wasn’t far away we ordered a Grab so that we could just get picked up and dropped off with ease! We arrived at our amazing Air Bnb (Ketuts Place) with was so authentic! We had our own room within the walls of their garden and every morning we were treated with traditional Balinese breakfasts! We couldn’t have asked for better hosts as they also organised a lot of our trips for us, including a waterfall tour and the climb up Mount Batur. As we were only staying a short walk from the centre we spent lots of time milling around, checking out the markets and admiring the temples. 

Our first morning consisted of, as TLC would advise otherwise, chasing waterfalls. We managed to fit in three on our trip. The first; Tegenungan, then Kanto Lampo and finally Tibumana waterfall. This one was the quietest of them all with less people trying to get the ideal photo so was probably my favourite! After a day of swimming and climbing we thought we would treat ourselves to some cake from Bali Buddha and oh my goodness was it yummy! 

Another day, another adventure, this time to visit the Tegallalang Rice Terraces. We made sure we arrived nice and early as we heard they could get really busy and they did, luckily just as we were leaving! This place was beautiful; you could walk through the terraces and see it from all angles. To learn about how the rice is grown and kept was so eye opening, and to see the hard manual labour that goes into it really makes you appreciate it more. From our driver we also learnt that owning a rice terrace is a huge honour and something a lot of people aspire to! 

Even though these were naturally beautiful, the Instagram culture has still come and tried to profit from them. It now isn’t enough to walk around and enjoy it, but you can now pay to ride the swings that hang over the terraces and you can even rent dresses to get THE perfect picture. I found this quite sad as many people now come to take a picture as proof of being somewhere without really enjoying it in reality! We were then shown another rice terrace purely designed for Instagram shots; this was the icing on the cake really. 

In the afternoon we thought it was time to relax and so headed to the Yoga Barn for a spot of yoga. It wasn’t really Jamie’s cup of tea but the surroundings and relaxing energy of the place was what we needed! After a long day food was calling; two of our favourite spots we ate were KAFE and Clear Cafe, both serving healthy and delicious plates. 

The next morning was something we had really been looking forward to. It meant a 2 am wakeup call but we were off to climb Mount Batur. After a terrifying bus ride we made it to the bottom of the mountain where we had some fried banana and coffee to ready us for our climb. We started walking in the dark at about 4 am and made a slow ascent. As this is quite a popular excursion there were a lot of people on the mountain which meant we moved at a slow pace. It was so cold on the walk that you want to move as quickly as possible but also not slip on all the loose gravel underfoot! Even though it was quite exhausting and scary at times we made it to the top in time to see the sky change from black to grey and then the pink hues started to arrive. As the clouds parted we began to see the mountain range in front of us and the town below us. It was such a reward to see this after the climb, just us in the clouds, and a few mountain dogs! 

The climb up took us around 2 hours and we thought the way down would be easier. We were wrong; the rocks were sliding and slipping and so were we! The more people going down the more rubble was coming to! Make sure you’re prepared for this climb with plenty of layers and good walking shoes! 

As I was so exhausted and still suffering from whiplash I treated myself to a back massage in the afternoon. If you want one, they are three times cheaper than what you would pay back in England and just as good! A perfect ending to our stay in Ubud! 

Our next move wasn’t technically in Bali but part of Lombok. We were heading to the Gili islands. Our plan was to visit all three but when we arrived on Gili Trawangan we knew we never wanted to leave. We arrived after a very choppy boat to our apartment (Casa Tropical) and were immediately struck by how many cats there were! Gili T is almost over run with them and they are adorable. Dogs aren’t allowed on the island so they have free rein! We spent the first evening heading down to the beach to watch what would become one of the best sunset spots of our trip! 

If there is one thing that Gili T does well its brunch. We had so many nice meals on the island, notably at Regina Pizzeria, Kayu Cafe, Coffee and Thyme and the Bayan Tree. We spent most of our time on Gili between sunbathing and eating, but what else can you do on a paradise island! Because the island is so small we rented bikes for the day and cycled the whole way around. It only took around an hour and gave us an insight into the different parts of the island! As the days are quiet, in comparison the nights cause a buzz on the island. All along the beach front there are musicians performing, bars opening and restaurants full of people enjoying the night. We spent a few hours sat on bean bags listening to a band by the beach, heaven right! Because we were enjoying ourselves so much we decided to extend our stay for a few days which meant we needed somewhere new to stay. By chance we stumbled upon Little MG and it made our stay. Irwin, the guy who looked after the place was so accommodating and made delicious pancakes every day for us! 

Because we extended our stay we decided to go on a snorkelling trip to see the other islands. We were lucky to see so many turtles, some absolutely giant; although I wish people on the trip were more considerate of the sea life and stayed further away! We spent that evening climbing up to the view point to get a different sunset before heading back down and testing out a few of the bars! 

The next day we decided to visit some local businesses doing their bit for the island. We started with the Gili Eco Trust who sell handmade recycled goods, help with the island’s recycling scheme and do a beach clean every Friday! We knew we wanted to do our part so made sure we headed down for that (you get a free beer at the end so what’s to lose!) We then headed to Cats of Gili; because there are so many cats, a lot of them are stray and need a helping hand. The lady who runs this places works alone and cares for dozens of cats who need her help. When we went to visit she had a few kittens that weeks old that we got to play and cuddle. We were in heaven! We then had a quick visit to Horses of Gili. One negative thing about the island is that as there are no cars or bikes allowed so people rely on horse and cart. Because of this a lot of horses are malnourished or mistreated by their owners. Horses of Gili and the Eco Trust are working hard to educate the owners so that the horses are better looked after. A lot of the time it is also tourists who want to ride in the carts that cause the stress on them. If you don’t need to ride one, it’s simple, don’t.

Another sunset evening gave way to another beach day. We rented bikes again for another trip round the island and played a spot of mini golf before joining in with the Eco Trust beach clean and finishing the day with Paella! 

Our last night in Gili came around too fast and we spent it at the beach cinema down by Villa Ombak to watch Bohemian Rhapsody. We couldn’t have had a more perfect last night down by the beach to end our idyllic week in paradise! 

Off to Seminyak next, via a horrendously choppy ferry and bus journey we finally made it to our hostel. We chose to stay here as it was close to the airport again but also had a few things going on. After unpacking for the last time in Bali we headed for a mouthwatering meal at WACKO burger before having an Irish bar to ourselves watching the F1! 

Another reason we were staying here may have been because of how close it was to the waterpark!  We headed to Waterboom Bali which was a great way to spend the day. With loads of rides, some scarier than others, I plucked up the courage and managed to brave the majority of them! It was such a fun way to end our time in Bali; baking in the sun and cooling off in the lazy river! 

As our Bali experience came to an end we spent the last evening walking along the beach and packing up again to head down under! 


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