Bali has been one of the biggest surprises of my trip so far, perhaps I had heard too many stories about the ugly tourist scene in Kuta but I was expecting to arrive at a tourist mecca that offered little in the way of exploring. What I discovered was a little island paradise covered in natural beauty with a diverse variety of culture and a welcoming attitude from the locals, the beaches fuel a thriving surfing community that contrasts perfectly with the holistic feel of the towns and villages around the forested Ubud area. Ubud was the perfect place to base myself for the 3 weeks I spent in Bali, many view it as the cultural centre of the small island and despite being a tourist hotspot it has a peaceful aura about it. Most travellers visiting the area gladly embrace the local lifestyle and it seems many are on a journey of self-discovery that involves immersing themselves in Ubuds’ yoga and spiritual scene by day and hanging out in trendy bars and cafes at night while waiting for a spiritual awakening. I was fortunate to have had the opportunity to ride the Balinese hinterland with some local friends and I felt as though I got to experience a taste of the true spirit of the island while visiting these more remote areas, perhaps I was on my own journey of self-discovery, however I was happy to find what I was looking for while riding the dirt roads, beaches and black lava sand of Bali
Not being the type to sit around and relax for too long, I soon set about exploring the multitude of temples that Bali has to offer, each one was as impressive as the next and the task took up more than a few days. As with most other places I have visited having the bike here was a huge benefit, being able to explore at my own pace made the task much more enjoyable and having the freedom to go where I wanted meant that I got to see many of the lesser known but equally impressive sights. As spectacular as the temples and traditional dancing were, I was soon getting concerned that I was having a cultural overload…. the solution? Two days at Kuta beach. I must admit I didn’t over indulge too much in the hedonistic holiday lifestyle that Kuta is known for but I did enjoy more than a few drinks and a little bit of surfing practice. Kuta actually wasn’t as bad as many had described it but after a few days I was keen to get away from the throng of people and traffic and return to Ubud for a little relaxation. I ran into a bit of luck, a friend hooked me up with 2 free nights at Puri Sebatu resort, I believe it may have been where Julia Roberts stayed in the film “Eat, Pray, Love”, I have neither read the book nor seen the movie but nonetheless this was a spectacular place to stay, the bed room had impressive views over the rice terraces and the bathroom was palatial in size, one night alone was equal to a month at my homestay in Ubud.
Life in Ubud was great but I felt as though I was slipping into the routine and comfort of everyday life here, I certainly couldn’t let that happen, it was time to continue my nomadic 2 wheel vagabond existence and move on. It took me a little while to pack my gear because I had gotten quite comfortable in my modest little room but the bike was soon ready to go and I was feeling good about getting on the road again. All I had to do was pack up my bike cover and I was on my way, I was almost done when I smelt a horrendous odour, I looked down and realised I had dragged the cover through a steaming pile of dog turd….. Great! Apparently my landlady had decided that out of sight was out of mind and rather than remove the offending item she just sprinkled sand over it, instantly turning it into a well camouflaged booby trap. After half an hour of cleaning the bike cover as best I could it was time for take 2, I was back on the road and heading for Tulamben for a few days of diving before making my way to Java.