Leaving Bali: Recap and Final Thoughts
“I could retire here.”
Not something you hear many people in their 20’s say, but as we cruise around Bali on our motorbike, it’s one of the constant thoughts that keeps coming to my mind. I don’t think I’d actually want to live here when I’m older, but it’s so quiet and nice in Bali that it feels like a retirement community of people in their 30’s and 40’s, who aren’t actually retired. Our entire trip feels like a mini, mid-life retirement, making Bali the perfect place for us to have spent the last three weeks.
Bali – Three Different Ways
The scene in Ubud was our favorite in all of Bali. Sure, the movie Eat, Pray, Love has turned what used to be a relatively unknown destination into a much more touristy place, but most of what makes Ubud great is still in tact. For health-conscious eaters, Ubud is a dream. Every other restuarant seems to be organic, or vegan, or raw-only. There isn’t a McDonald’s or 7-11 anywhere nearby (there is a Starbucks, but at least the outside looks kind of like a temple). The yoga culture in Ubud is very unique and we were lucky enough to be visiting during their annual Spirit Festival which brings together thousands of yoga instructors from all over the world to share techniques and ideas.
It’s so easy to get around and explore Ubud on a motor bike. We were able to rent for less than $5 per day. Every day was spent riding around the area exploring temples, great restaurants, and beautiful rice terraces. We could have stayed in Ubud for months, and each day we could find a new temple to see and a new restaurant to eat at.
We left Ubud knowing exactly why there is such a big expat population here. It has everything an expat wants. Beautiful scenery, great food, awesome locals, a close airport, fast internet, and cheap accommodation
We were told by numerous experienced travelers to stay away from the Kuta area. It’s too touristy… it isn’t safe… it’s dirty… Just a few of the reasons we were told to steer clear. I’m not going to say that Kuta isn’t any of those things, because it definitely has its issues, but we still enjoyed our time there. Alissa and I are not really into the “clubbing” scene, but we did take our motor bike down to the main drag one night to experience the chaos of Kuta. It reminded me a lot of the party scene in Cancun, Mexico. I was reminded of why people say Kuta is dirty when a cockroach climbed up my arm while sitting at the bar at Sky Garden. Not cool! If you are headed to Bali to party, Kuta is your best option by far. If you are headed to Bali to relax on a secluded beach, head as far away from Kuta as possible.
We did spend a day on the beach in Seminyak surfing and lounging around, but the beach was pretty dirty and there is run-off of sewage from Kuta that just pours right onto the beach, causing a pretty unpleasant smell. The surf is good for beginner surfers like us, but I can’t think of any other good thing about the beaches in Kuta.
A week on the Gili Islands, specifically Gili Trawangan Island was one of the highlights of our trip so far. This island is not unknown by any means, but it still has kept a lot of it’s small beach town attitude. There are no cars or motor-powered vehicles allowed on any of the Gili Islands, and the time spent away from the sound of engines is a great way to unwind. We rented bikes for the five days we spent here and were able to get anywhere on the island within 10 minutes or less. In fact, you can bike around the entire island in about 45 minutes, although there is a patch that you have to walk your bike through the sand.
Most visitors come to the Gili’s to scuba dive the many great dive sites in the area. Alissa and I aren’t diving on this trip, but we did decide to take a snorkel trip on one of our days here. It cost a whopping $9 each for an entire day on the boat. The coral around the Gili’s looks like a graveyard thanks to the dynamite fishing problems they used to have. However, the marine life is still pretty spectacular. We saw at least five turtles, and a lot of “Nemo Fish”.
We had an amazing time in Bali, and it is definitely a place we could see ourselves living in as expats. If you’re considering moving to Bali, there are a lot of opportunities for work as well as many teaching jobs in Indonesia. Go for it!