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Just before I left Bali for the first time, back in 2012, one of the friends I met there, a talented Javanese manga artist, gave me this drawing with the following caption: “Florine, come back to Bali”. It was a sweet and touching attention that I never forgot. Here I was, totally smitten after 4 weeks of incredible discoveries, underwater and beyond, around Bali. Falling in love with Bali might happen to you, too; as a matter of fact, it is one of the things to know before you go. You’ll want to come back over and over again.
Nevertheless, at that time, I was still eager to see more of the world. I kept travelling from Turkey to Argentina, from India to Iceland. After a while, I realised I could not find everything I love all together anywhere…. Anywhere but one place. This is why, last summer, I finally booked the flight ticket that would take me back to Bali. Many trips around the world later, I now understand better what attracts me so much to the island of the Gods and why I needed so much to be back. I love Bali because…
1 – It’s a place to look for inspiration, learnings and new starts
If you follow my blog from the beginning, you know I launched it in January 2012. Yes, exactly during my first trip to Bali. I set up all the technical side of the WordPress platform during a jet-lagged all-nighter in Singapore on my way to Bali. The very first post of my diving blog was written on the terrace of my friend’s house in the middle of the palm trees and the rice fields in the north of Ubud.
I’m not the only one. Many people come to Bali hoping to resource their energy, to overcome a challenge in life, to learn new skills in paradise, or just to find a new inspiration. Without really knowing it, I think this is a mix of all of this that took me to Bali in the first place. I had the idea of World Adventure Divers’ blog years before, but I never did it. There, the words came naturally. Surrounded by the beauty and the serenity of the island, my vision was finally clear.
Whether you are interested in a meditation retreat, a cooking class or surf lessons, visitors always come back home with something new. During my first trip, I trained my underwater photography skills intensively and wrote my first article about diving in Amed. 4 years later, I came back with a blogging coverage mission for World Adventure Divers. I’m now back as a confident and experienced travel blogger, ready to take my stories of scuba diving exploration to the next level.
2 – It’s one of the best scuba diving destinations in the world
How could one of my favourite places in the world be without a decent choice of scuba diving spots? Even if it would have been just “nice tropical coral reef” kind of dives, I think I would still like Bali, but when a passionate underwater explorer like me stumbles upon 3 of the best dive sites in the world, how not totally to fall for Bali?
By diving in Nusa Lembongan, you can meet mola-molas (giant sunfish) and schools of manta rays. By diving in Tulamben, you have access from the beach to one of the most amazing WWII wrecks with incredible macro marine life. Finally, by diving in Menjangan Island, you can swim among one of the most diverse and preserved coral gardens and walls in the world.
3 – It’s easy to go off the beaten track where Bali is still Bali
If your plan while visiting Bali is to stay in Kuta / Legian / Seminyak, it is almost certain that you’ll have a very different opinion than mine. On the other hand, if you want to discover Bali, it is simple: just don’t go there. Alternatively, like me, because you like to make your own judgement, spend one afternoon there, hate it, and leave it. To be honest, I realised that Kuta had, in fact, a curious advantage: it is helping to preserve the rest of the island. How? By attracting and keeping the party-goers looking to get insanely drunk on the beach for cheap, near the airport, in a compact area. As a result, the remaining 90% of the island stays rather untouched by mass tourism.
From my first trip, I rented a car and drove everywhere in Bali. From the moment you are north of Denpasar, crazy traffic decreases, and landscapes dramatically change. Even for 4 hours in a row, I am never bored to drive across the island. The bright green rice terraces, the monkey jungles in the mountains, the black sand coastline, the sunrises and sunsets on volcanos: all of them are more beautiful than each other.
You could tell me that these landscapes can be found in many places across Asia. Yes, but it would be without counting the incredible talent of the Balinese craftsmen. Everywhere you look, the beauty of nature is enhanced by the beauty of the houses and the temples, always surrounded by a garden of orchids and frangipani. The taste and skills Balinese people put in all the architecture, decoration and traditional clothing, change everything.
4 – It feels like making friends with the entire island
On my very first night, jet-lagged, I decided to go for a walk along Sanur Beach. At some point, I passed a simple local bar, and there was a group of Balinese bikers (how cool is that?) invited for a beer with them. I think in any other place in the world, all warnings would have been red, telling me to go away. However, following my gut feelings, I accepted, and in a very approximate English conversation, I explained where I was from; they told me where they loved to drive in Bali… I enjoyed a lot this moment learning at the same time my very first words of Bahasa Indonesia. It was just hospitality in its purest form.
Being in touch with the locals, sharing everyday moments with them and learning from them does matter to me. This situation of passing by and chatting for a while often happens every time I’m in Bali. You almost end up making friends everywhere.
5 – It’s a great place to take care of yourself while enjoying tasty food
We all have been on holiday and enjoyed the food part a bit too much. However, when I go to Bali, I easily lose 2 to 3 kg every time! Is the food that terrible? No, it is the opposite. So what’s the magic?
Tasty, balanced and filling food based on rice and fresh vegetables, tempeh (Indonesian tofu), grilled chicken and fish, spicy but not too much, is my daily diet when in Bali. If you think to always ask for your coffee (ask for a “Bali Kopi”, the local Turkish coffee) or your fresh fruit juice without sugar (watermelon “semangka”, my favourite), keep it low on beer or alcohol and eat only twice per day because it’s just too hot to eat during the day, then it won’t be long for your body to feel the benefits. I can tell you; my hips love it!
For a home-made taste of Balinese food, the best is to go to “warung” (local restaurant). In my favourite address in Ubud (Ne Warung in Goutama Street), they make the best “Nasi Goreng” (Fried rice) and “Nasi Campur” (pronounced “Nasi Champoor”). I love the Nasi Campur because it is like a “tapas” dish. Around a bowl of rice, you have several small portions of different specialities such as vegetables, eggs, tempeh, and satay skewers. The composition is always a bit different in each warung, making it even more interesting to try all around the island. For an interesting sampling of Indonesian street food, you can also go to the Gianyar night market. In a non-touristy atmosphere, just smile and show what you would like to try and enjoy!
If you add all the opportunities to practice yoga, walking in the mountains or snorkelling/diving, after only 2 weeks, you already feel your energy is back at its best. The cherry on top is the access to the very reasonably priced Balinese massage (only 70,000 Rp to 150,000 Rp). Way softer than in Thailand, using the sweet fragrance of Frangipani oil most of the time, it is the perfect balance between an energetic and relaxing massage. I am so addicted that I can go every 2 days.
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