Cheeky monkeys, tranquil temples, unforgettable sunsets…Bali really is a dreamy travel destination. Our Bali Beach Blogger, Cai Paige, gives us the low down on his unforgettable week in Indonesia.
Fancy following in Cai’s footsteps? Check out our Bali Beaches trip!
Day 1: Arrival in Bali!
I got into Denpasar airport almost 20 hours after leaving London, raring to see the best that Bali had to offer. Arriving the night prior to the tour was stress free, as Real Gap had arranged for me to be collected from the airport and to stay in the same hotel that the tour starts at. When you picture 'travelling' you might imagine bunk beds in a hostel, however, this really wasn't the case. Our accommodation was right in the centre of Kuta, and it had a gorgeous pool and lovely rooms!
Day 2: Meeting the Group
At breakfast, our tour guide Beth met up with those of us that had already arrived to give us some ideas of things we could get up to. She showed us to a great Balinese Massage place where it was super cheap and an amazing way to start the day, if not slightly uncomfortable - there were definitely a few wails! (The masseuse asked if it was too hard but of course, upholding my masculinity, I didn't concede).
I spent the remainder of the day in the sweltering heat, chilling around the pool and relaxing at Kuta Beach, which is absolutely huge and goes on for as far as the eye can see. Come the evening, I had met up with the rest of the group for dinner, getting to know everyone before heading to a couple of bars with live music (cue requests for Wonderwall and Mr Brightside).
Day 3: Riding the Waves
Pulling myself out of bed after one too many Arak Attacks last night, I managed to make it down the stairs to meet the rest of the group and head to Uluwatu Temple. There are some stunning views here looking out over the Indian Ocean and some huge waves. The area is inhabited by an abundance of monkeys, which we were warned about prior to arriving. However, some people didn't listen and ended up losing their sunglasses. I even saw them with someone's phone!
Back to Kuta and it was time for some surfing! I hadn't expected to have any success at all, but the instructors were super helpful, and I ended up standing up and riding some decent waves about half the time, which I was very impressed with. The instructors also have an expansive list of 'riding' innuendoes to keep everyone entertained…!
Later on, we went to the Sky Garden which is a huge nightclub with probably upwards of 6 floors. They serve all you can eat and drink for 99,000 Rupiah (£5ish) which was crazy cheap, and we had a really good time dancing the night away with the surf instructors that we had meet earlier in the day!
Day 4: Monkey Forest
Enroute to Ubud, we stopped off at Tanah Lot temple. After stroking the lucky snakes (apparently, they can’t bite, but I was sceptical…) I made my way across the water to get blessed. This consisted of holy water and rice being put on my forehead and a flower being placed in my hair. The views here were incredible with huge waves striking the rocks jutting out of the Ocean.
Arriving at the hotel in Ubud was a welcome surprise: hammocks, a great atmosphere and great food. After sorting ourselves out, we left for the Monkey Forest. This time nothing was stolen as people had learnt their lessons! I was pleasantly surprised, if not a little startled, when one jumped on my back - picture taken, visit successful! The 'Forest' itself is also so so gorgeous with winding trees, streams and greenery.
Day 5: Coffee and Rice Paddies
Today started with a visit to a coffee plantation, learning about how the world’s most expensive coffee is made. Luwaks are a sort of weasel/cat type animal that ingest the coffee beans. Then, once they have passed them (still intact), they are sterilised and roasted. Kind of gross but the coffee tasted incredible! And also, a great gift to give to people and then tell them that they've just drank poo…!
From here we headed to our lunch spot which overlooked Mount Batur and Mount Agung. It was the perfect setting to take in the surroundings and reflect on how fortunate I am to be able to visit such amazing destinations. In the afternoon, we visited the famous rice terraces which did not disappoint - they truly are striking and a sight to behold with lavish shades of green all shimmering in the sun. It would have been rude not to have had a go on the swing and get a bird's eye view - which really completed the day (Although falling over whilst trying to push the others wasn't part of my plan…).
One thing that I had been eager to do was a sunrise trek up Mount Batur, so I was excited when this was offered as an optional extra by our group leader. So, off to bed for a 1.30am start the following morning!
Day 6: Sunrise Volcano Trek and School Visit
Sacrificing a night’s sleep, myself and 6 others from the group set out to the volcano. We stopped along the way at the coffee plantation that we had visited the previous day to grab some strong coffee to wake up. I was soon buzzing like a bee and raring for the trek!
We arrived at the base of the volcano at about 3.30am. Here we were given food for when we arrived at the top and met up with our guides. It took about 2 hours to reach the top in the pitch black and it was much more challenging than I had anticipated with steep climbs and loose rocks under foot. Being a huge tourist attraction there was an insane amount of people taking on the trek, so the sea of torch light moving up the side of the volcano looked like a pilgrimage to the top.
Feeling a great sense of achievement when reaching the summit, we prepared for sunrise. It was really cloudy and there were many disappointed faces - however the clouds began to clear just in time. Although there wasn't the best visibility, it was still a once in a lifetime view and it felt truly special.
After this we arrived back to the hotel just in time to make it for the local primary school visit. This was such a rewarding experience and gave further insights into Balinese life. The children were all so thrilled to see us which was really lovely. We got thrashed playing football with them and they showcased some of their dancing skills before we said our goodbyes.
Our final activity of the day was visiting Teganungan Waterfall. The sheer power of it was astonishing and definitely not a sight to miss whilst in Bali. At this point I was absolutely shattered and went back to the hotel to attempt to catch up on some sleep!
Day 7: Gili Trawangan
Another early start today as we made our way to Gili T. After a bumpy boat ride, we arrived at our beach side hotel. We had time to chill out around the pool while I showed off my incredible volleyball skills to the others, before heading out on our island push bike tour. With no motorised transport in Gili T this is one of the best ways to get about! We stopped at several picture spots along the way including the famous Bali swings and watched the sunset whilst drinking a cold Bintang. This was the ideal way to see the full island rather than just the strip.
After this we headed straight out to begin the Gili T pub crawl, drinking copious amounts of alcohol in the process. Our group leader Beth was amazing fun, getting up on stage singing and also just generally getting everyone involved!
Day 8: Snorkelling with Turtles
Today was the day I was really looking forward to - the snorkelling trip around the various Gili Islands. It didn't disappoint. I was able to see some incredible marine life, including 6 sea turtles! It was also cool to be able snorkel around some underwater sculptures. Bobbing around the islands with some tunes playing and the sun shining really was the ultimate way to relax! After bumping into a few jellyfish (No, no one had to pee on me!) we went to get ready for our final night out together with everyone saying their goodbyes over dinner. Sad times, but what a great bunch of people to travel around Bali with for the past week.
I myself am sticking around in Gili T for a few more days and getting my PADI open water qualification before flying home!
Overall, the trip has been really fantastic and it's a great way of making sure you get to see all the best bits with a load of other likeminded people. So, if you are considering Indonesia then definitely check out Real Gap Experience's Bali Beaches trip!
P.S. Money Matters
Whilst away I kept track of what I had spent to give you a rough idea of how much money you might need. I ate pretty much all Western food, drank a fair bit and spent money on the Mount Batur sunrise hike and also bought some gifts. Over the trip, this came to roughly the equivalent of £270 but this could definitely be done cheaper. So much is included in the trip, including all breakfasts, which all helps keep costs down!
Has Cai's trip made you want to see it for yourself? Check out the Bali Beaches trip here.