Bali and Back…to the US of A

by Brad on July 29, 2011

Bali. Bali. Ahhh, Bali. We loved you the instant we met. We missed you the moment we left. Bali.

There are a thousand vacation spots you can go to for beaches and palm trees, music and liquor. And yes, many people go to Bali for just that. If you want to spend a vacation pestered by people on the street trying to sell you junk trinkets, or massages, or lame t-shirts, or go elbow to elbow with the lower class of Australian society (unaffectionately called “bogans” in their home country), hang out in Kuta and Seminyak. These two suburbs are basically one and the same; you can’t tell where one ends and the other one starts. It’s just cheap stores, loud noise, bad air, and the most persistent street vendors we’ve ever seen…and yet for some reason this is the number one tourist spot in Bali. Beats me.

If you want to experience Bali for what Bali is, not for what Westerners have made of it, go anywhere else. If you still want a little comfort thrown in to the mix, with a deep sense of culture, tradition, and religion, go to Ubud. If we had three months to spend in Bali, 2.5 of them would be in Ubud.

Ubud couldn’t have gone any better for us. We were able to quickly find a perfect house for our stay there. We slept on the top floor with a balcony, and there was no need to ever shut the doors to the back of the property. We woke up to views of jungle and rice fields below us, a lazy fan blowing just enough air to keep things comfortable. Our $4 a day scooter got us every where we wanted to go. Organic food was everywhere, with raw and gluten-free options at almost every restaurant. The street food was incredible, most of the time. What the Balinese people eat on the streets is a full meal that feeds both of us and costs $1.50 or so, is normally pretty healthy, and is always made from scratch right in front of us. Yoga every morning, a massage almost every day. (How can you not when they’re only ten bucks for an hour and a half?)

It was so nice, especially after our Costa Rica experience, to see a country that, even though they had at one time been colonized by Europeans, still held on to its traditional beliefs and customs. Unlike Costa Rica, the citizens were not bending over backwards to be whatever the Westerners wanted to be, and it’s for that exact reason that so many Westerners go there. Take a walk out into the rice fields and you’ll find men and women doing back breaking work from sun up to sun down. Looking at the tools they’re using, it’s hard to imagine that their way of life has changed at all in the last few hundred years. And it’ll make you think twice about the value of a grain of rice.

The saddest part about our experience in Bali was that we only had three weeks there. It’s a very indulgent life, so no, it’s not a place we could live forever, but it is definitely worth more than three weeks. The rest of a three month stay would be out on the other side of the island, away from Kuta, scuba diving at some of the most incredible dive spots in the world. After Ubud, we moved over to Amed where the streets are lined with dive shops who want to take you to the local ship wrecks and amazing reefs. Both of us had a chance to scuba dive just off shore and see some amazing creatures, including lion fish, barracuda, shark, and countless numbers of dazzling reef fish. There’s no chance a visit to Bali is complete without a visit to either scuba or snorkel at these amazing spots.

From Bali to…America. Wow. We’re back in the States. The last few months of travel honestly feel like a dream. We came into LAX, the same airport we left from in February. It felt like we had never left. Good to be home, but odd feelings for sure. A few days in L.A., some fun times with San Diego Kleins, then on to Houston for a week, and now in Austin. Could this be our new home? So far we’re digging it. The local community is definitely intriguing. High-tech smart people, countless musicians and artists, organic foodies of all philosophies, and beautiful outdoor scenery. It’s definitely a place we’re happy to spend some time in and see where it will take us.

{ 4 comments }

Brandon July 29, 2011 at 10:38 pm

Wow, beautiful place! Thanks for sharing your experience. I think we’ll be checking it out next year.
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Brad July 30, 2011 at 4:13 pm

Hey Brandon, yeah, you definitely need to check it out. You guys will love it. If you have to, stop in Kuta for a night or two, but get out there as fast as you can and head up to Ubud. You can see the whole island from there on different day trips if you want. We loved Bali and cant’ wait to go back.

Jennifer Pearce July 29, 2011 at 10:42 pm

Wow!! Bali looks like a seriously cool place. So fun to see all you pictures and hear a little bit about your adventure. :) I really want to go for a visit now…

Brad July 30, 2011 at 4:13 pm

Thanks Jennifer. You for sure want to put it on your “must visit” list. If you guys head on over to Asia, it’s definitely worth a long visit.

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