Tanah Lot, Bali, Indonesia
Bali has always been one of the most exotic destinations in the planet not just for people living on the other side of it but even to its neighboring nations. Though just a few hours away from the Philippines, it is not always on anybody's list because a few Filipinos think it is too expensive, well, I was one of them. Airfares to Bali does cost a little more than the usual flights to Hong Kong or Singapore, but the expenses when you are there is just surprisingly affordable.
But the real question is, why do I need to visit Bali? What can I see there or what experiences can it give me once I breathe in Balinese air? Let me name a few seven of them.
1.) Be Amazed by it's unexplained magic
Pura Ulun Danu Bratan Temple, Bali, Indonesia
There's just something about this island that is very mysterious. The moment you arrive at the airport, there's a feeling that I can never explain, and no matter what's behind it, it's something peaceful and beautiful. People are warm and friendly and smiles are priceless as every face is filled with so much warmth and hospitality.
The photo I took above is probably the most famous landmark on the island. Located at the middle of the lake, the Ulan Danu Temple is situated magically where the clouds meet the surface of water. It is about an hour and a half drive from Denpasar Airport with a stretch of the road going uphill. I tell you, it is worth the while. By the time it was noon, that was when the clouds kissed the lake above the mountains. That in itself is some magic that nobody can contain.
2.) Nasi Goreng
Joglo Villa's Nasi Goreng
Delicious fried rice surrounded by little bits of other dishes like Mi Goreng (fried noodles), Babi Guling (Roast Pork), Rice Crackers, Veggies, and so much more - Nasi Goreng is just one of the country's most famous dishes. Very close to it's neighbor's kitchen Malaysia, Indonesian cuisine is filled with spices, seasonings and of course, every dish usually has rice in them. Oh the variety of spices they use on their dishes gives every plate a different attack to its taste. Food excites me so much, I mean who travels without having food on their to-do list?
Joglo Villa is where we stayed during our days at Bali. You can book a stay with them through airbnb using this link JOGLO VILLA and they can also arrange tours for you around the island.
3.) Enjoy the calm and mysteries of Ubud
Spas of Ubud
Another thing about this island are the beautiful spas and resorts not just on the usual coasts but inside at the heart of its rainforests. You can really find peace on this heavenly place through these crystal clear pools and enjoy a relaxing massage under the embrace of nature. There are expensive and luxury resorts across Ubud, some of them are Ashoka Tree Resort Ubud, Alaya Resort, and the Amori Villas.
4.) Kopi Luwak (Civet Coffee)
The civet coffee is said to be the most expensive coffee in the world. It undergoes a natural process wherein the coffee beans are eaten whole by the civet cat and passes through it's digestive track and excreted. Then these feces are dried and washed and roasted to mill these delicious tasting coffee. We tried it and I can say it was really good. It is less acidic than the usual roasts but the flavor is still bold and whole.
The coffee shops also sell different kinds of coffee and tea which you can get to taste just like on the photo above. Some of the remarkable ones that I've tried were the Vanilla Coffee, Lemon Grass Tea, and the Bali Coffee. Me and my dad also ordered a cup of their Kintamani Coffee which was not just a cup of coffee, it was an experience.
5.) Walk through the rice fields of Jatiluwih
Me at the Jatiluwih Rice Terraces
These rice terraces of Jatiluwih are rolling across the mountains of the island. It has been there for a long time not just an agricultural marvel but also gives a beautiful view for tourists and hikers. These paddies are irrigated from the uplands and attracts visitors and photographers alike. I tried to follow the trail that leads downhill but it just doesn't end so I stopped at some point and decided to just walk up back to where I came from. Trust me, though you walk the same trail, the view going up is different from the views when you went down and both are amazing.
6.) Be Cleansed at Pura Tirta Empul
Pura Tirta Empul
Though Indonesia is probably the largest Islamic country, the island of Bali maintained its Hindu faith and culture. That is also the reason why there are Hindu temples and shrines everywhere you look around the island. One of the most important temple to visit is the Tirta Empul which is located at the town of Tampaksaring. This water temple is were you can be part of a ritual where you bathe yourself and be cleansed by the flowing holy waters as a form of purification. The pools are clean and the waters are clear so you can enjoy the ritual for yourself as you meditate.
7.) Watch the Balinese Theatrical Kecak
A Kecak Theater before the performance
Performed by a hundred men, the kecak is a traditional Balinese dance and music drama which depicts the story of the epic Ramayana. There are no musical instruments used and just a chorale of different voices and sounds produced by the men will surely fascinate your senses. There are lead stars that perform in the middle, while the chorale chants their music wearing just loincloths and bare upper bodies.
Some kecak's are performed outdoors, one of which was even performed by the Uluwatu cliff under the colorful sunset. But this one was done at a wall-less theater which gave us a very different experience when the rain poured so hard at the middle of the performance. Everyone was so immersed and the singers seem to be in a trance that the rain did not bother any of them as they chant louder and louder. Kecak is a living heir of the spirit of Bali.
Bali was my gateway to the 13th country I visited, Indonesia. I don't think there is any other better island to visit first on the Indonesian archipelago other than Bali. It is nature, culture, love, and life all contained on a single place. I am blessed to have shared this experience with my father and it was a great bonding experience for us both.
Me and my father overlooking wearing our Balinese headresses
I'm ending this post with a quote from a popular novel set on this mystical island of love, 'Eat, Pray, Love'. Think of it as the island speaking to it's people, to people who love Bali.
"There’s nothing you can ever do to lose my love.
I will protect you until you die, and after your death
I will still protect you. I am stronger than Depression
and I am braver than Loneliness
and nothing will ever exhaust me."