I describe myself as a "Jill of all trades and mistress of some" - now retired, enjoy writing, travelling and enjoying life to the full. Am currently a house sitter, and planning to drive solo around Australia later this year.View all articles by Di Hill
Solo in Bali
Recently, on a whim, I went to Bali. I had 6 days between house sits and also wanted to do some research on bamboo for an assignment for university. I booked my flights and accommodation through a major travel agent. Why is it that I am usually more satisfied doing my own online booking? I will never recommend that major travel agent!
My flight from Brisbane was uneventful, and I easily located my guide at Denpasar Airport and was taken directly to my hotel, the Jayakarta Hotel, Legian, which was on the beachfront, with a huge pool, and comfortable accommodation. I thought it interesting that there I was on a visit to the country to research bamboo, and the room I was assigned, was closest to the only two bamboo plants on the property!
After unpacking and checking out my room I wandered around the complex, out onto the beach, and then around the streets. I booked on a bike ride for the next day. No uphill I was assured!
The next morning, after a good sleep I set off in a minibus with other passengers keen to ride through the rice paddies and farms jut like Julia Roberts in “Eat, Pray, Love”, but the bike ride was not to be until we had visited several other places. A coffee plantation or at least a place where we were offered different types of coffee to try. Including one which is made from coffee beans, eaten and defecated by a strange animal called a luwak. Then we went to a café for breakfast! The view to Mt Batur, the most active volcano of the region, which thankfully did not erupt on our visit, but awesome photos of this huge clump of lava.
Then to the bikes. As it turns out, being tall, I found the bike not to my liking and sometimes pedalling was difficult – my legs were too long for the supplied bike. Not like MY bike at home. And for reasons not explained, there was much uphill. In fact 2 kms or more, which I walked pushing the bike! It was too hard to pedal up!! Still I had a marvellous ride through villages and farms on the downhill stretches, and found it a wonderful experience.
Luckily I was offered a ride in the car which carried spare bikes, so for the last leg of the journey I didn’t have to pedal. We finished up near Ubud, and lunched at a place with a wonderful pool overlooking lush rice terraces.
The next morning I woke with enthusiasm to go on another tour, but shortly was in agony as the dreaded Bali belly launched in my body. I spent the day in bed or in the loo! However, by night I had almost recovered, thanks to my supply of medications. One of the challenges of solo travel is that you are alone, even when sick! (Note, never ever travel without Lomotil).
The following morning I was packed and ready, albeit a little weak, ready for my journey to Ubud for the next few days. I had a driver and a guide, and asked them to take me to the Green Village – a resort where all the homes were made of bamboo. The driver who didn’t speak any English, was clearly upset and lost at times, but when he arrived at the car parking area and saw what I had come to see, he exclaimed “Holy Shit!”, and later in perfect English, asked why an Australian would show him such a beautiful place in his own country that he had not known existed! The place is worthy of a visit as is the Green School , though time did not permit me to see that. If you want to learn about the possibilities using bamboo, these two places re a must.
Soon I had booked into Pertiwi Resortin Ubud, on Monkey Forest Road. I wandered the street, and visited quite a few shops. It was a wonderful place, great atmosphere! I loved it in the late afternoon when groups of young men wandered the streets playing instruments and games.
The following morning I was setting out to look around Ubud, and perhaps find a driver, but a gardener quickly offered to help, and found Braus, a driver who waits outside Pertiwi for driving opportunities. He was awesome. I told him I wanted to see bamboo places – and he took me to bamboo factories, bamboo villages and bamboo forests, shaking his head and reminding me that I was not a ‘normal tourist’. What a wonderful compliment!!!
I met a few wonderful folk around the pool, and in the restaurant, but mostly kept to myself. Perhaps if I had stayed longer I might have made more friends, but time was my enemy.
The next day, a driver and guide turned up to take me to the Mother Temple. This is a huge complex and one of the most sacred places on Bali – and a long trek up the hill, and through the various temples. I rode on the back of a motor bike to get up to the temple area, and the bike was waiting for me to take me back to the car. Clearly Balinese are very religious. At the time it was a Galungan festival, so all the streets and homes were decorated in bamboo dragon tails, with tiny altars, and often you would see the Balinese making offering at these altars. These festivals are held several times a year. Lunch was in a lovely resort and restaurant overlooking wonderful rice terraces.
On my last day I did manage to spend some time in the spa, and was well relaxed with a massage My journey was all too short, but I managed to see quite a bit of the island, and gain much information for my uni assignment.
The journey to the airport was interesting, as it was late in the day. I had a long wait at the airport, but when boarding the plane there were so few passengers one could stretch out and sleep a little, though it was hardly comfortable.
I plan to return to Bali, and stay a bit longer next time, spend more time in Ubud, and have my favourite driver Braus, take me on longer tours of the island.
Places to visit? Ubud, Money Forest Road, Pertiwi Resort, Green Village, and Green School.