Bali, probably one of the places I've heard so many times that I already lost the counts. Back in my teen years in Taiwan, it was easy to access any information about Bali; from the travel magazines and travel agency flyers to a news about another celebrity getting married in Bali, it seems that Bali has become one of the mandatory places that each and every Taiwanese dreams to visit. And that included me as well. Or maybe I was so inspired by Eat Pray Love while watching it on the flight into Japan last year.
Sun, beach, and coconut water, here I was there.
Bali is definitely a place filled with rich culture and mix of different religious. We were fortunate enough to experience one of the major local festivals in Bali, Galungan - a Balinese Hindus holiday celebrating the victory of dharma over adharma. Our private driver explained to us that this is just like Christmas; people get off work early, take the day off and spend time with the family. Everywhere we went, I could spot a tall, curved bamboo pole, called the penjor, at the entrance of every household. The private driver explained to me that a penjor symbolizes Mount Agung, the highest mountain in Bali that is considered the home of the gods. The structure that is
attached to the penjor is called sanggah cucuk; this is for the gods when they come down to Earth for Galungan. If I never asked about the penjor, I would never find out how beautiful and powerful it symbolizes.
On the side note, I really appreciate that some of drivers were willing to drive us around even it was their major holiday. So lesson learned: always check for local events before visiting.
A small tip for those who wants to visit Bali any time soon; book a private villa through an agency with friends or family, instead of staying at a private villa in one of those chain resorts. Why? Well, more flexible to customize your needs and certainly, true privacy. The pennies would be well spent. One of my favourite things to do in my private villa was to wake up early to view the sunrise from my balcony. It's one of the most relaxing things you can enjoy the moment by yourself. Just listen to the ocean waves, peacefully. No arguments, no tears. Just pure relaxation.
The calm before the storm.
One of the most memorable moments was to enjoy the sunset
view at Uluwatu Temple. The cliff ocean view was marvelous and stunning. It simply took my breath away. I was also amazed when the red hot-burn sun quickly sinking down the horizon in less than five minutes. The mother nature has her own magnificent beauty.
If you ever come to Bali, one of the locals would make sure you taste their famous Kopi Luwak, the most expensive coffee in the world (I suppose? How about the Black Ivory Coffee, aka the elephant dung coffee? Maybe we shouldn't be focusing on that now...). If you still have no idea what Luwak coffee is or what is the hype about it, let me tell you: it's coffee made from Luwak's excrement. So did I taste it? Of course, so I can tell you how it tastes. Personally, I'm not a big fan of any kinds of coffee. Yes, I drink latte and cappuccino on weekends, but I'm not that picky about my caffeine drinks. The Luwak coffee tastes nothing particularly good or bad, just like an ordinary coffee to me. But don't let me discourage you to try if you ever have a chance - people have different taste buds.
Oh, not everything was smooth like baby's soft skin. When you are a foreigner in another country, you should be prepared that some of the locals would try to scam you. When you
randomly hail a taxi on the street in Bali, always remember that to ask the driver to use the meter for the travel cost. Never, just never, take any price or bargain from the taxi driver. Trust me, because it did happen to me. I realized the driver tried to take a longer and worst traffic jam journey instead of the regular route so I stopped the driver immediately to let us out. We gave the amount shown on the meter and quickly left the car. It took us another 20 minutes to hail a honest taxi driver who was willing to use meter for the drive. The whole trip should be just less than half hour, but it took us more than one hour to get from A to B. Here's the lesson: if you don't hire a private driver in Bali, please be cautious when taking a cab on street. One thing you should do is to download the Blue Bird app on your phone so you can monitor the cost and time of your rides in Bali (that's how I knew the driver was trying to trick us).
Despite that, the overall Bali trip was beautiful.
Would I want to come back again? Yes, maybe with my loved one only.
All photos by Claire Liu