It all started with “Hello, this is Gamma from Indonesian Embassy…” and the rest is history.
I received the call 2 days before the scheduled trip. Perfect timing since I was in the most complicated time of my life juggling between my final thesis defense and too much work backlogs with barely 2 months left before 2019 ends. I was doubtful because the opportunity was too good to be true. I had to check with my friends connected to the embassy and researched on the “program”. Turned out it’s legit.
It was an ideal time to take a break from “sana all” and just roll the ball. Because the best time to take a vacation is when you don’t have time for a vacation. I just had a day packing up my stuffs and then found myself at the Manila International Airport already.
Why go to Bali?
“Lying between Java to the west and Lombok to the east, Bali is one of the 34 provinces of Indonesia which is a country located in Southeast Asia. This Indonesian island is the most popular destination in the Indonesian archipelago for its natural attractions and relaxed atmosphere.” — I just researched that location data because I honestly don’t have an idea where Indonesia is located in the globe. I have never gone outside the Philippines yet, so imagine how it feels like for me. HAHA
Beyond ancient temples and white-sand beaches, Bali has every kind of natural beauty. The island is a collection of breathtaking mountainous areas with lush greenery, scenic lakes, magnificent waterfalls, vibrant flower gardens, lush rainforests, and majestic rivers, all in stunning natural backdrops. There are also numerous “adrenaline-pumping” activities in amusement parks for everyone, and so much more.
Balinese people and their culture are unbelievably interesting, while food is a wide variety of must-try. Over 7 million tourists visit Bali for the past few years, recording a good number of returning tourists.
On our first day of tour in Bali, Indonesia, a group of Leyteños including Guillemer Family from barangay Alegria, Ormoc City, were also there to witness the famous Kencak Dance and sunset viewing at the Uluwatu Temple. Apparently, Bali is a favorite go-to for tourists especially Filipinos.
How to get there?
Take any transportation from your province to Metro Manila. There are connecting flights from other airports in Visayas Region such as Davao and Tacloban but it is still via Manila. There are 3 schedules for daily flights to Bali: 3PM for Cebu Pacific, 6PM for Air Asia, and 7PM for Philippine Airlines.
Travel duration from Manila International Airport to Ngurah Rai International Airport (Denpasar, Bali) is 4 hours and 15 minutes. But with the luxurious state of today’s international airlines providing digital entertainment to each passenger, 4 hours is just a walk in the park.
From the Ngurah Rai International Airport upon your arrival, you can ride a taxi or a bus going to your accommodation.
Where to stay?
Bali has nearly 4,000 hotels with over 50,000 rooms to choose from. Since each of the hotels offers different amenities aside from cozy accommodation, choose the one with those facilities you need most. Also consider the proximity to your itinerary.
The Ministry of Tourism billeted us at Sun Island Hotel for our 5-day stay. It has a decent pool, a luxurious restaurant, and spa services, not to mention the “surprisingly” spacious rooms. It is also close to the airport and malls. Prices of accommodations in Bali ranges from 1,600 pesos per night inclusive of Wi-Fi and breakfast.
TOP 5 THINGS TO DO
There are so much to do in Bali which makes your weeklong stay seem not enough. But since I want you to find it out yourself, I will only share 5 of my personal favorite activities you need to do while Bali-roaming.
1. Temple hopping – A trip to Bali is not complete without visiting at least one of their over 20,000 temples. Temples symbolize life and faith for Hindu and Buddhist community. The most famous temples in Bali include Tanah Lot, Ulun Danu, and Uluwatu. Entrance Fees ranges from 100 pesos to 500 pesos.
Coming from a country that only sees temples in Jackie Chan movies, I’m sure you’ll find these wide-ranging and mysterious structures interesting when you see a real one.
2. Beach and surfing – I’m not totally a fond of beaches since I’m more of a mountain person. But we can’t deny the fact that most tourists never miss the experience of Bali beaches. In fairness, their beaches are impressively clean, you can walk around in barefoot without worrying. I discovered that when I visited Kuta Beach to do surfing.
Surfing is one of the primary reasons that lead people to the island. Experience world-class waves in beautiful beaches as wave riders flocked into what they consider as playgrounds. Bali’s surfer crowd is a good mixture of experienced riders and beginners who want to learn and experience the thrill (like me. Hehe). Aside from websites, I have never tried surfing before. But Bali is a great place to start this sport, with surfboard rentals and surfing instructors widely available starting at 600 pesos an hour.
The instructors will demonstrate the steps and you will have to execute it before you go to the water and be slapped by aggressive waves, hehe. It only took me 5 tries before I executed it right which earned me a permission to start actual surfing. Let’s go!
Yudi, my instructor, then asked me to get on the board and paddle farther to where we will wait for the “right waves”. Then he would signal me to prepare, “chicken wings!”, and pushes me for a momentum along with the waves that will serve my ride. I only have few seconds to perform the drill and stand up. If I’m slow and can’t balance up right away, I will reach the shore still lying down so I better go ahead and sleep. HAHA.
It’s way too easier in demonstration than the real thing. Honestly, it was only exciting at first. Because later on, it becomes very exciting. You will gradually understand the satisfaction of this sports and will challenge yourself to accomplish its goal: To stand up and maneuver the ride towards the shore. After every attempt, you will have to go back against the waves, and try again until you experience “stoked”.
So after 3 liters of seawaters getting in my ears, I finally was able to stand up and surf Bali waves like a Rockstar (char). Thanks Bintang Beer for the courage!
3. Extreme adventures – Water rafting, speed boating, ATV quad bike riding, river tubing, and the most exciting super extreme swing. You can even dare to mountain-climb an active volcano or dangle over a rough sea and zip-line between two cliffs. Fees ranges from 150 pesos to 650 pesos.
I was left with no choice but to try the Super Extreme Swing set at 92 feet above the ground, I can’t see the ground anymore. True to its name’s redundancy for emphasis, it was truly SUPER and EXTREME. You are entitled to 15 swings, each in full blast you’ll see the gates of heaven. And the only way to describe the experience is to try it. This is another first-time experience I never regretted. I survived being thrown away and still be intact after.
4. Natural Parks – Explore nature’s best in Bali’s Natural Parks. Bali’s largest animal theme park, Bali Safari and Marine Park, is home to over 60 species roaming around. Other famous parks include Monkey Forest, Elephant Cave, and Garuda Wisnu Kencan Cultural Park. Most of Balinese cultural dances are performed in the parks too such as the Joged Bumbung, the Barong Dance, and the Kencak Fire Dance performed in an ancient cliff top temple of Uluwatu.
Since Indonesia has similar scorching heat with the Philippines, I feel refreshed going around the Monkey Forest that resembles exactly with their natural habitat. Observing the monkeys do their thing is fun, just don’t look at them in the eye or you’ll be in trouble.
We also tried dancing Joged Bumbung, an interactive Balinese dance, because during our dinners, local performers invite us to dance with them. At least I have tried other dances now aside from Budotz.
5. Seafood and sunset dining – Dining with your feet in the sand is the best way to end your day here in Bali. Enjoy sumptuous dinner served in a romantic setting in Jimbaran Bay of Badung Regency, Bali, while watching the sun gradually rest.
Food in Bali are generally appetizing and satisfying. I was eating all familiar food such as ayam (chicken) on the first day, but realized I had to try Balinese food. So, I tried turkey and duck and dragon. Joke, no dragon. I can’t forget the last meal I ate and how it was extremely delightful: Fried Tilapia with Balinese Vegetable and Sambal. All fruit juices are natural juices too.
Balinese are nice people, warm and friendly. I find most of them funny but respectful. People in this island seems to have been oriented on how to deal with tourists. It even seemed to me that the island is designed to cater tourists. You can see tourists with different nationality all over the place and Balinese offering them products and services.
Bali is an ideal choice for both comebackers and first-time international travelers. Speedboating, Super Extreme Swing, and Surfing are just few of my first-time life experiences that happened there. More interesting ventures await to be discovered in Bali. You just have to let the wanderer in you get lost (like us), find its way around, and stumble upon experiences you’ve never had before.
My fellow Philippine bloggers in our behind the scene epic group photo.
Terimah Kasih Ministry of Tourism of Indonesia, yodabest!
P.S. (Update): I wasn’t able to comply my thesis requirements on deadline, hence, won’t graduate as expected this semester. But I will never regret the decision of leaving for Bali because it was worth the delay of the graduation. Bali is the place to be! ♥
More: Here’s what you need to know before going to Bali.