On our long haul flight, I watched Eat, Pray, Love.  I read the book and thought it was rubbish.  So why did I subject myself to watching it, you may wonder.  For one reason only – the ‘love’ section was set in Bali.  I wanted to get a sense and feeling of the place before I arrived.  I was looking forward to seeing the landscape.  And I wasn’t disappointed.  This was the view from a restaurant we had lunch at.  The food was boring, but the view was spectacular.
There is so much I could write about Bali. I could write a book.  Well, in theory I could.  I don’t really have the time to write it.  So I shall do what I normally do, just put a few captions on some the pictures I took, and then just list a few interesting facts about Bali.  In other words, not the type of things you read in guidebooks or articles about Bali…
In hindsight, something I would do again if I were going back, is going in the rainy season.  You get far better value for money, and it mostly rains at night, or in short bursts.

I was a little surprised by the temples.  I guess I thought they would look like the temples I had seen in Thailand.  But of course, those were Buddhist temples whereas Bali temples were Hindu Temples!
This is the most sacred temple in Bali.  You have to wear a sarong to get in.

  • Driving in Bali is a nightmare.  Lots of congestion and no-one sticks to their lanes.  An every now and then someone comes from the front in the wrong lane!
  • It is not uncommon to see whole families on a single motorbike
  • People wear jumpers in spite of 30+C heat because it is supposedly cold when you’re on a motorbike.
  • It isn’t uncommon to see people phoning, smoking or carting goods on motorbikes.
  • There are signs that read ‘please obey traffic rules’! 
This is a traditional town called Tenganan.  No cars are allowed in the village, and it’s the only place they still do double kat weaving.  (Something that takes very long to create fabric that is very expensive)

  • Every house has an altar, which they call a ‘private temple’.
  • Bamboo poles are used for scaffolding
  • I saw a man washing his 2 cows in the river
The balinese are very proud of the cocks used in cock-fighting.  Every time they told us about it, Tim and I flinched.  These were the only ones we saw that were dyed though.

  • All prices at the hotel were quoted excluding the 21% tax. 
  • Drinking anything is expensive.  Drinking alcohol is even more expensive, and generally more expensive than food.
  • The east side of Bali is far less developed than the south or Ubud region, and less expensive as a result.
  • On the east the sand on the beach is black, as it is volcanic.  Not very pretty at all.
The pool at our hotel was shaped like an inverted pyramid – deepest at the middle.

  • We saw a turtle while snorkelling!
  • The balinese are the friendliest people I have ever me as a nation.
  • “Agung”, the name of Bali’s tallest volcanic mountain, is a common first name in Bali
  • We leaned a lot about how rice is grown, and it is quite fascinating.

Our one hotel room had its own pool and an outside bath tub set in a fish pond!

  • Most balinese houses are not one single house, but are made up of 4 separate buildings.
  • Bali’s temperature doesn’t vary much.  It is almost the same temperature all year around.
  • Schools run 2 sessions:  one in the morning and one in the afternoon to maximise the facilities!  But to make up for the shorter hours, they go six days a week
Much of our time was spent relaxing.  And our new Kindles came in very handy
  • Bali has a second new year at the beginning of March based on the lunar calendar.  They call it silent year end.  Bali comes to a standstill for 24 hours.
  • Many traditional balinese houses have roofs made from coconut fibres.
  • The men generally grow the nails on their thumbs and baby fingers.
This spectacular view of a large lilly pond, from a restaurant in Ubud.

  • Strange things that the balinese eat:  catepillar larvae, bee larvae, fruit bats, squirrel, dragonflies & grashoppers
  • Little shops along the road sell petrol in old spirits bottles for people on motorbikes
  • There are about 10-20 times as many motorbikes than cars 
  • Travel is slow going as all roads are single carriage way roads full of potholes.
  • The balinese don’t like to tan.  Pale is pretty, they think

The paddy fields are just so beautifully tended.  They look almost perfect in every way.

  • Cars don’t have heating.  Aircon only.
  • Kecup Manis, sweet soya sauce, was the one thing we brought back.  Delicious as a dipping sauce, or on rice with chillies
  • Fruit salad is always served with a wedge of lime.  And it really brings out the flavour of the fruit.
  • My favourite asian breakfast was Nasi Goreng (rice dish with an egg on top)
Flowers play a very big part in the daily sacrifices they offer their gods, so every market has a flower seller, but unlike the flower sellers we’re used to, the flowers are generally sold without stalks, and are sold by volume.

  • People have very big satelite dishes on their houses in town.
  • There is no ATM for 20 miles from where we were staying on the east coast.
  • Houses are rarely painted – just plastered.
  • Bali has lots of butterflies
The balinese have various festivals and figures of gods and demons play a big role in that.

  • The hotels we stayed at served afternoon tea, but teas were normally ginger or lemongrass infusions
  • Bali coffee is made from ground coffee beans, but not strained/filtered and is very strong.
  • Ginger bali coffee is gorgeous.
  • There are hardly any road signs.  If you didn’t know where you were going, you’d get lost.
This we came across this little lad with his grandad on one of our walks.  He was the cutest thing, but insisted on looking grumpy!

  • In spite of many houses now having running water and bathrooms, people still go and wash in canals and rivers
  • The balinese don’t have much good to say about the Dutch who colonised them.  However, they do speak fondly of Britain and wish they had been colonised by them instead.  (I am sure if they had, they would be singing a different tune!)
  • They have motorbike jet washes.  The motorbike is put in a harness, then lifted about 1.5 meters, and then sprayed until clean.
  • We saw a funeral procession and everyone wore brown.
We took such an exciting cycle trip in the mountains.  Luckily it was mostly downhill.  I only fell off once!  True.  I was trying to slow down not to crash down a very steep hill, and slowed down so much, I virtually came to a standstill, and then fell off!  I collapsed into a fit of laughter and managed to bruise myself all over, but didn’t really hurt myself.

  • When you buy something from a shop, they take the money from you, then go around the shop and tap the goods with the money for good luck – so that more people will come in and buy.
  • Ubud is a chilled place, but would be very busy in peak holiday season.
  • In fact, I don’t think I would like Bali in peak season.  Congestion was really bad in low season, I would hate to see it in peak season.
We stopped here for a drink during our cycle trip.  No-one spoke a word of English, but they were all very friendly. 

Tim and I fell in love with the Balinese food.  The flavours are fresh and intense.

  • The satay (they call it sate) they make is different to what we know.  They can be all different types of skewers with different dipping sauces.  Sometimes they use lemongrass as the stick to give it flavour.
  • I used to have baked banana for breakfast – served with cashew nuts and chocolate.  Decadent!
  • Some bananas aren’t edible and are used only in medicine
  • Nasi Goreng isn’t actually an Indonesian dish at all
  • Most Indonesians are muslim, but in Bali they are Hindu.  But not the same Hindus as in India.

In Ubud, we had such fun watching the monkeys in the Sacred Monkey Forest.  This chap had nicked a rattling toy from a local store and was having so much fun playing with it.

  • Fuel is also subsidised in Bali as it is in Malaysia
  • People drape their washing over volcanic rocks to dry.  It means that no whites are ever white.
  • We were told that Tenganan Village as 2 chiefs (pronounced “cheeps”).  Confused the daylights out of me.
Our hotel in Ubud was set in lush forest, with a beautiful affinity pool overlooking it.

Maybe one day we’ll be back.