I travel somewhere warm every year…
and this year it was Bali!
I miss Bali so much already. I flew back to the Pacific Northwest just under 2 weeks ago, and I have been freezing cold ever since.
After a month in the tropics, I was finally becoming accustomed to the 80 degree lows and generous humidity. Back here at home, I’m experiencing harsh winter weather, lots of snow, below freezing temps, and 0% humidity…and let me tell you…my body hates it!
I’m stiff all the time–clenched from cold–it makes my muscles and bones ache. Even after an hour+ of yoga in a heated room, my toes are still icicles at the end of class. My circulation is terrible when I am here in the Pacific Northwest. Even in the middle of summer, I suffer from cold hands and feet when I’m here. I figure it’s because of the huge variation in temperature we experience on any given day of the year here in Bend, Oregon. Even in the summer, temps can drop more than 40 degrees from day to night. That’s huge! In Bali, our highs were in the 90’s and our lows were in the 80’s EVERY DAY. My circulation there was awesome. I had no complaints. My feet weren’t cold for a month straight. It kind of blew my mind.
It made me wonder…maybe I’m meant to be in a warm weather climate. Not just mentally–I already knew that! But physically. I love the dryness of the high desert, but not the temperatures.
It wouldn’t be that far fetched of an idea, seeing as I was originally born in Maryland and lived there until I was 7. It was at that point that I moved to Oregon, and it’s served as my home base ever since. I think of myself as being “from” Bend/Sunriver area…but even after spending much of the last 2 decades here, my body doesn’t seem to want to adapt.
Anyway, enough whining about the cold…
Let’s chat about Bali for a bit; what I learned, what I loved, and what I avoided.
What I Learned in Bali
- If you rent a scooter to get around, ALWAYS check that the bike’s registration is current and official. This means it is laminated and has a current date. The first time we rented a scooter on the island, we got in trouble with the police because we didn’t know to check for this. I blogged about the experience here. Check it out before renting a scooter of your own!
- Balinese people are some of the friendliest I’ve ever experienced on my travels. I’ve travelled through South America, Central America, North America, and Europe, and the locals we met in Indonesia were by far the warmest and most welcoming. Also, in the areas Buddy and I spent most of our time, they seemed very unpadded by tourism, but genuinely interested in what we were doing there and how are experience was going. Even those who spoke zero English were quick to shoot us a smile and a wave.
- If you can, get off the main highway when you’re driving. The main highways in Bali that connect the major towns/ports are quite terrifying. Traffic had zero rules or road laws. Everyone does whatever they want, whenever they want. You are usually dancing (closely) with a mixture of tourist buses, scooters, and giant trucks. It’s chaotic and exhilarating. Personally, I preferred taking the roads less travelled when getting somewhere, shortening the time we had to spend driving (or surviving) on the highway. 😉
- Gluten free people: BE CAREFUL when ordering local dishes. They put soy sauce in most things, and many of their flavor packets and mixes have wheat in them. Locals won’t necessarily think of these small things when you’re designating no wheat. I didn’t speak any Indonesian, so this was a hard thing to explain and ask about. If you’d like some specific recommendations of local dishes I found safe to eat, shoot me a comment below and I will share what I know.
- Dairy free people: This seemed to not be much of an issue where I was on the island. We were staying on the west side, in a small fishermans village. The only place I found copious amounts of dairy were at the restaurants that offered more western menus geared towards tourists. Just remember to ask, but this was much easier to avoid then gluten in my experience!
What I Loved about Bali
- THE FRUIT, ohmygawd, the fruit! This goes for just about any tropical or jungle-like place that I have visited. I just can never get enough of the fruit! The mangoes, the pineapple, the fresh bananas, the melon, the papaya…mmm…I just loved it. When I’m surrounded by heat and humidity, I feel like I could live off of fruit.
- There were so many temples! Beautiful, intricate, traditional temples literally everywhere you turned. Our driver told us on the ride from the airport that every region of Bali has it’s own temple, each village has a temple, and then each family has their own. It’s such a beautiful aspect of their culture.
- It was so cheap to live. During the afternoon thunderstorm, Buddy and I took a trip to the local food stands to do our shopping. We bought several meals worth of food and snacks. This was our bounty…for only $4.85. We can barely buy a dozen eggs with that at home…?
This is what $4.85 buys you in Bali:
•A dozen local eggs
•A bunch of green beans
- Speaking of culture, one of the things I loved most was the rich traditions that Balinese people practice daily. For instance, everyday we watched the locals make little offerings. They were hand weaved baskets filled with tiny portions of things such as flower petals, rice, a cracker, incense, etc. Locals place these little offerings everywhere…at the end of their driveways, next to a tree, near the door, on their vehicles and scooters, etc… It was such a delicate tradition in which a woman would go out and bless the offering, have a prayer and light some incense throughout the ceremony. It was beautiful to see such intention behind people’s daily lives.
- The weather was truly amazing. I’ll admit, the first couple weeks were a bit of a climate shock, as we went straight from winter weather into 95 degree, full humidity days on the island. To be fair though, this was at the tail end of the dry season (the end of November), and there was a significant heat buildup to when the rains began. Our second half of the trip was perfect. It was always above 80 degrees and we had afternoon rains that would curb the afternoon heat. There were also thunderstorms–pretty much 24/7. This was my favorite part. I LOVE thunderstorms. They weren’t always on top of us, but the soft roll of the thunder and the distant lightning was a constant staple in December. Then at some point, one of the storms would roll over top and you would get to enjoy the spectacular experience of the storm itself. Check out my Instagram @lindsikaycircus to see many AcroYoga shots of Buddy and I playing in the storms. That’s when I always felt most charged up to practice. I just love the energy of thunderstorms.
- Our favorite spot to visit on the island was Ubud. We travelled there by scooter many times. It is a [very touristy] town catering to yogis, vegetarians, foodies, gluten free-ers, and vegans, among others. It is a super trendy spot that can be quite overwhelming your first time there. It is packed with tourists, BUT the food is to-die-for! Our favorite: Dayu’s Warung. Here we found a creative and delicious menu of entrees such as (GF/DF) Pumpkin Mahi Mahi Lasagna, fresh Jicama fries, and homemade cakes and fudges that were all raw, vegan, and gluten free. This place was like heaven for both Buddy–who’s a semi-vegetarian, and myself–a Celiac who can’t have dairy. Just go there.
- Probably the most touristy thing we did while in Bali was visit the Monkey Forest. Touristy, yes. But I still loved it. The place is just crawling with monkeys. You don’t even have to go inside to experience them because they hang out on the edge of the forests too, near the shops and the parking areas. The second time we visited Ubud, Buddy and I paid the entrance fee and went inside the small forest. We did AcroYoga with the monkeys, who seemed very entertained by it. I did a headstand near a group of young monkeys and one of them excitedly jumped on me and crawled up my torso while I was upside down. That’s when I realized, two AcroYogis playing in the monkey forest…we were surrounded by our own kind! Ha!
- The parades that shut down roads. Buddy and I were driving our scooter back from Ubud to Balian Beach one day, and we got stopped in a very long stand-still traffic jam. The reason? There was a ceremony and parade in the road. It seemed to be quite normal, as none of the drivers around us seemed to be put-off by the 40+ minutes we spent chilling with our vehicles as the festivities unfolded. There was A LOT of traffic. It probably backed up for miles. But it was so cool to watch. This gets back to my appreciation of the culture and tradition in Bali. Not to mention the laid back vibe of all its residents. Can you imagine this happening to a major road in the US?! There would be so much road rage, someone would probably get shot.
What I Avoided in Bali
- If you are gluten free, make sure you are careful about ordering food, even at local spots. What I learned was that many of the pre-mix spices contain gluten, and many of the local dishes are prepared with soy sauce. There are plenty of traditional curries and meat & rice dishes that you can safely enjoy, but be sure to learn how to ask. Also, my host gave me an Indonesian phrase that stated my aversion to gluten. If you would like me to share it with you, simply comment below!
- Unfortunatly, in Bali you must drink filtered water only. You may also use a product like the SteriPen to sterilize local tap water, but I’m not sure how the taste will treat you. I stuck to filtered water while I was there. We brought our HydroFlasks with and just filled them up from that. On a sidenote, HydroFlasks are a great idea as they keep your water icey cold for a long time. I did brush my teeth with tap water however. We also cooked with it.
- I know a lot of people travel to Bali to visit the southern coast. The tourist-heavy cities of Kuta, Seminyak, and Denpasar are major tourist destinations. Buddy and I avoided them like the plague. That’s just not the experience we were there for. We stuck to our quiet fisherman’s side of the island mostly, and when we wanted a tourist fix (or were willing to suffer through it), we just headed to Ubud. 😉
- The major roads and highways. When possible, Buddy and I would duck off the major roads to opt for a slightly longer drive down a much more serene and mellow drive down a country road. These often took you through rice paddies and tiny villages, but with all the time you saved avoiding the congestion, it hardly ever added much travel time to our trip. It’s also much safer. I read that at least 3 people a day die on Bali roads. It’s no surprise to me after experiencing them for myself. But I’m shocked and relieved to say that we didn’t see any bad accidents while on the roads there. We saw many near-misses and close-calls though.
Have more questions?
Leave me a comment below or shoot me an email and I will be happy to answer them! If you yourself have traveled in Bali and have some tips to share that I didn’t mention, please comment them below so that others may benefit from them! ♥