Bali, part 5: Last days in Paradise

Unfortunately, my little PC that I had brought with me to Bali decided to act up, so I wasn’t able to blog anymore. A bit annoying, I admit, but not everything is fine again (though I’m writing this on another PC). As you also can see, I have moved. I’m not going into details here, but my blog moved. For various reasons.

So, I celebrated New Year’s Eve at Bali Friendship Café in Seminyak. I was fortunately to be invited to two different places. After attending a CouchSurfing meetup in Seminyak, I got to know some people, which was great. One of the people there worked in a café across from where I was staying, so I went there to celebrate the coming of 2018. It was really nice! Friendly people, good laughs, live music and fireworks! It was great!

Photo: Mittens and Sunglasses © 2017
Live music at Bali Friendships Café on NYE.
Photo: Mittens and Sunglasses © 2017

My original plan was to stay in Seminyak the whole time, but after a bit I realised that I really wanted to see ubud as well. So I booked two nights at a villa there, and organised my travel. And I’m so glad I did! Ubud was such a nice town, and i really wish I had more time there. Two days just isn’t enough! However, I did get to finally see some Balinese dance, which I found fascinating. It was so fun to see, and I disagree with those who claim it to be tedious. I suspect those people for not paying attention.

When I had to say goodbye to Bali, I sure hoped I could go back some day! I think I’m in love with the place…

Photo: Mittens and Sunglasses © 2018
My villa in Ubud.
Photo: Mittens and Sunglasses © 2018

Photo: Mittens and Sunglasses © 2018
The swimming pool at my villa in ubud.
Photo: Mittens and Sunglasses © 2018

Photo: Mittens and Sunglasses © 2018
Balinese dance.
Photo: Mittens and Sunglasses © 2018

Bali, part 4: A visit to Seminyak beach

If you google “Seminyak beach” you find pictures of beautiful beaches with golden sand, amazing sunsets, and a lot of praise. Needless to say, I was quite looking forward to my visit to the beach.

The first thing I noticed was: This beach doesn’t look as tidy as I thought it would. Was it last night’s party, I wondered. I stepped into the water, and it didn’t take long before I was “attacked” by a plastic bag that was floating around in the waves. No, the visit to the beach wasn’t at all nice. There was plastic waste all over the place. In the water, and in the sand.

I must admit that though I was well aware of the problems we have with plastic in our oceans, this was in some ways an eye opener for me. To literally feel the problem on my own skin made it just more real. I know that from now on, I will strive to use less plastic, and I hope you will too.

A beach with view outwards towards the ocean. Some people are in the distance, in the water.
Seminyak beach: Take a close look…
Photo: Mittens and Sunglasses © 2017

A beach covered with plastic rubbish.
Plastic all over!
Photo: Mittens and Sunglasses © 2017

Bali, part 2: Culture, religion and well being

Something I have learnt from travelling so much is that I honestly prefer not to stress too much, and Bali just invites you to unwind and take it easy. You have warm days, even when the rain pours down, so running around really isn’t very tempting.

I love going to cafés, restaurants, and look around. Talking to locals is also fascinating, to get their input on things. You learn so much from it! And Indonesians are so friendly and helpful. I think I might have fallen in love with this island, to be sure!

A visit to Bali and not trying out Balinese massage just doesn’t seem right. Though you can get good deals at the massage studios around the city, I picked the hotel spa. They had a promotion, and it was very convenient to go somewhere so close. The massage was relaxing and nice, and did wonders to my body. It all ended with a small cup of strong sweet ginger tea after I was done.

Religion and belief is very present in Bali. All over the place you find house altars, temples (both public and private ones), statues, and small offerings. The Balinese people are also well known for celebrating a lot of festival, something my taxi driver from the airport could confirm. “We celebrate festivals all the time!” he told me.

The main religion in Bali is a form of Hinduism, and they have a strong belief in spirits and demons as well. The taxi driver told me that like the Hindus in India they believed in different gods, however they thought it was the same god. So there was only the one god, but the god had different names depending on where you were and the situation. Balinese religion is definitively something I would love to learn more about.

When I visited the Nyaman Gallery (more about that later), I had a lovely chat with one of the Indonesian women working there. Of course I had to ask about the little offerings I saw outside every house, and if it was for protection. It was for giving thanks, she told me then. Thanking the spirits, the gods, and pretty much the universe. I thought that was such a beautiful thought.

A statue of Ganesh.
One of the many statues you can see around Seminyak.
Photo: Mittens and Sunglasses © 2017

A couple of square leaf bowls with flower petals, food, and incense.
You find offerings like this in front of all houses.
Photo: Mittens and Sunglasses © 2017

Even before I left Norway, I had decided on that I wanted to visit Nyaman Gallery, located centrally in Seminyak. When I arrived, I was greeted by one of the women working there. An exhibition of the street artists Quint was just put up. Quint is an Indonesian artist originally from Jakarta, but he now lives in Bali, and is now seen as one of the most important street artists of Indonesia.

I was given a guided tour around the gallery, with an explanation on who the different artists were, their background and art. The knowledge of my guide, as well as the diversity of the art, really made a good impression, and should you ever visit Seminyak, you really should visit this gallery.

A streetart piece of a girl, with hearts around, by Quint.
You can find one of Quint’s pieces outside the gallery.
Photo: Mittens and Sunglasses © 2017

Bali, part 1: Travel and first days in Seminyak

In July I found out the I had the opportunity to go to Bali at the end of December/beginning of January. After a bit of research, I ended up booking a trip to Seminyak, a city on the southern coast of Bali.

Getting from Oslo to Seminyak is a long travel: Three different flights, and it took me about 26 hours to get here. The whole thing started with delays from Oslo to Heathrow, and I was really worried that I wouldn’t catch my next flight to Singapore. Fortunately, it all turned out good. I traveled by Singapore Airlines from Heathrow to Bali, both very nice planes. The seats were comfy, I had vegan food all the way and all was good. The only thing I didn’t like, was the long wait between meals between London and Singapore. Several hours. Probably because of time difference. We had lunch soon after we took off, and then breakfast just a couple of hours before Singapore. I was so happy I had brought a banana and some nuts with me!

Singapore is one of the nicest airports I’ve been to (and I have been to quite a few). It’s not very large, and getting between the terminals is really easy. I left for Bali from terminal 2, where you can find the “Enchanted Garden”: A small oasis of orchids and a pond. So pretty!

From the "Enchanted Garden" at Singapore airport, terminal 2. Photo: Mittens and Sunglasses © 2017
From the “Enchanted Garden” at Singapore airport, terminal 2.
Photo: Mittens and Sunglasses © 2017

Another photo from the "Enchanted Garden". Photo: Mittens and Sunglasses © 2017
Another photo from the “Enchanted Garden”.
Photo: Mittens and Sunglasses © 2017

Arriving in Bali was a mixed experience. First I had problems with the cash machine (ATM), only to realise I had forgotten to open up for my card to be used in Asia (a security thing my bank has), and then I couldn’t find the person who was supposed to take me to my hotel. After looking around everywhere and making a call from the information point three times, I gave up and took an airport taxi to my hotel. It was slightly more expensive than what I had agreed on with the private driver, but not horribly so. Apparently the driver had been there, so why I didn’t see him, or why he didn’t hear the calls over the information, I don’t know. Important thing is that I arrived safe and sound at the hotel.

Checking in went well, and even though my plan was to sleep when I got there, I simply was’t able to. I unpacked, and while doing so, I found out that I had forgotten my USB cable (that I use for charging my phone) on the last plane. I cursed myself, and hoped I was able to get a new one. However, I was so tired, I decided to have a nap, before heading out to catch one. Fortunately, getting one was easy enough, and when that was dealt with I decided to eat at the vegan restaurant across the street from the hotel. The restaurant is called EarthXpress, and is a bit expensive compared to other restaurants here, but I can deal. I had a really yummy meal: Chia Charm Bowl. The Chia Charm Bowl consisted of chia seeds marinated in coconut milk and agave, and was topped with purple dragon fruit. It was so good, I really want to have this again soon!

Red dragon fruit in a bowl
Chia Charm Bowl.
Photo: Mittens and Sunglasses © 2017

Even though I had slept like a log (at least that’s whet it felt like), I felt exhausted the next day. I decided to take it easy, and went back to EartXpress for breakfast. I gad a Granola Fruit Mix, which was a mix of granola and fresh fruits, and topped with cashew milk.

Granola and fruit mix. Photo: Mittens and Sunglasses © 2017
Granola and fruit mix.
Photo: Mittens and Sunglasses © 2017

Since I was going to have a relaxing day, I checked out the hotel’s pools. On the top there’s a “Flowting Pool”, which was really pretty, but didn’t really work for swimming. On the ground floor you can find the main pool, so I spent a little time there, which was nice and relaxing. I love swimming, and am in love with my new swimsuit, that looks a little like a dress! I thought I had managed to put on enough sun lotion, and I didn’t spend that much time there, but come evening, I found out my back was really sun burnt! I guess I should have had a sun lotion with a higher SPF than 30, as well as longer arms… Trying to put sun lotion on your back yourself really is a pain…

The Flying Pool. Photo: Mittens and Sunglasses © 2017
The Flying Pool.
Photo: Mittens and Sunglasses © 2017

The main pool.
The main pool.
Photo: Mittens and Sunglasses © 2017

I decided to have dinner at a vegan restaurant not far from the hotel called Tasty Vegan. When I got there it seemed to be a bit hidden away, and situated inside a sort of garden. It was a really quiet spot, and it was really cheap too! I bought a dish with tofu, tempeh, and vegetables in a coconut sauce served with rice. It was called Nasi Kare, and in my opinion really nice. I paid just 50 000 DPR (less than 40 NOK / 5 USD / 4 GBP) for the dish and a bottle of water!

A pond inside the garden of Tasty Vegan. Photo: Mittens and Sunglasses © 2017
A pond inside the garden of Tasty Vegan.
Photo: Mittens and Sunglasses © 2017

Inside Tasty Vegan. Photo: Mittens and Sunglasses © 2017
Inside Tasty Vegan.
Photo: Mittens and Sunglasses © 2017

Nasi Kare. Photo: Mittens and Sunglasses © 2017
Nasi Kare.
Photo: Mittens and Sunglasses © 2017

I was not pleased to find out that I was down with a cold when I woke up this morning. I decided to have breakfast at the hotel, and had a simple platter of fresh fruits. After having breakfast, I decided on visiting a coffee place near the hotel, that I found via Google Maps. I was really pleased to check it out, it was such a nice place, and the coffee was really good too! The café is called Koop Roaster and Cafe. After a chat with one of the people working there, I found out that not only do they roast their own coffee beans every morning, but they also own their own coffee farm where they grow most of their beans! How cool is that?

Inside Koop Roaster and Cafe. Photo: Mittens and Sunglasses © 2017
Inside Koop Roaster and Cafe.
Photo: Mittens and Sunglasses © 2017

I went back to familiar places for lunch and dinner. Had a chickpea burger for lunch at EarthXpress, and a vegan steak (fitting for Christmas dinner, right?) at Tasty Vegan. Tasty Vegan is quickly becoming a favourite of mine here in Seminyak, the staff is so friendly, and the food cheap, but good.

I went back to the hotel after dinner, and decided on having an early night.