Bali Indonesia Travel Experience

By Cathy H - 5:16 AM

I just got back from a 10 day Bali trip last night. First, it is probably THE longest and draining travel experience I've ever had. I literally spent 48 hours roundtrip waiting at airports, boarding flights and trains. At one point I thought I was really going to lose my sanity! I think the fact I was doing the traveling there alone made it worse. Thankfully, I met up with my two friends in Bali for the first 3 days of the trip, and we did everything touristy together!! I'm gonna upload pictures and give place descriptions in detail in the next week because I have so many pictures to edit. Overall, Bali took me by surprise in both good and bad ways. Here are some experiences and thoughts I have about my time there:

1. The rich and poor gap: I think the most "3rd world" experience I've had is traveling to the countryside in China. I never thought that an vacation island would show me this huge gap but as the initial "freshness" and excitement wore off and I began to notice the locals there, it hit me that despite Bali getting millions of tourists yearly and making so much revenue from foreigners- many people STILL live below the poverty line. After doing a little more research and observations firsthand, these are the things that bother me the most:

a) low minimum wage for workers: our private driver that waited, and chauffered us to tourist sites for 10 HOURS  a day told us that he makes a little over $250USD a month. He hasn't had ONE day off in this August month due to it being tourist season. He doesn't eat lunch because there's usually no time for that. That was the initial thing that got me irked. There are so many poor balinese people on the streets selling services, with "transport??" being shouted at me from everywhere and beggars carrying infants. It's so obvious that these people live without basic needs and have little  opportunities social advancement. 

c) 5 star resorts to sewers: Bali's Nusa Dua region is notorious for its 5 star resorts, but some research showed me that the hotel workers are not only cheated of their deserved salary but many of these hotels are built on "stolen land" by the Suharto company that have pushed for land use too close to sacred temples and much to the dismay of the local people. As we were sipping drinks, dining in style and snapping photos of everything- I couldn't help but think of local people here that make less than $50USD a month- which is not even enough to cover our spending for ONE day. Honestly, people in first world countries really have too much first world problems. They cannot even comprehend that in places like Indonesia, only tap water can be drunk and there is open sewage and desperate vendors everywhere waiting to make any money they can get there hands on.

2. Being admired for white skin: During my second half of the vacation where I was alone, my daily walk to the beach included being gawked at by local men and basically catcalled. On on beach, two Indonesian boys asked to take pictures and selfies with me which I thought was a little weird. I talked to one of them and they said "you have white skin I like!! Indonesian women....don't like.....why don't you have boyfriend??" The whole experience made me kind of dread walking through throngs of men and getting started at. I didn't expect this but now I think of it, I didn't see any young asian girl walking around alone expect me. It pretty much made me feel uncomfortable. 

3. The artwork and temples are SO beautiful: one of the things I looked most forward to is the temple visits and visiting Ubud- Bali's most cultural and artistic place with lush green palm trees and rice terraces. There are so many sculptures and artworks that are so intricately made and painted I was in awe. The temples are just amazing and so different from anything I've seen. Every square inch was so detailed and brought out the "old ruins" vibe that I wanted so much to experience. That was one of the favorite parts of the trip!

4. The sunset is literally one of the most amazing things I've ever seen: We chased the sunset at Tanah lot and Uluwatu temple- both being high cliffs with crashing waves that made for very picturesque sceneries during early evening hours. I can't describe the view, the Indian ocean was amazing and observing this from Seminyak beach from the waters was one of the most beautiful sights I've ever seen. 

5. It is basically a sanctuary for Australians and Europeans: I heard the Aussie accent and people speaking German and French everywhere. It was surprising because flying from Europe to Bali is a pretty long flight...but Australians I expected because they are only a 6 hour flight away. The island basically caters to tourists- from shopping, and dining of all kinds (Mediterranean, Asian, Hawaiian, Japanese, Greek) to bars- I could see why it attracts so much tourists! There is the trendy, upscale side of modern vacationing as well as the cultural, authentic side of tourism. This is what initially drew me to Bali because I knew I could experience both sides at the same time. I was definitely not disappointed!

6. Beach clubs are AMAZING: I was pleasantly surprised by the beautiful beach clubs I visited and how roomy and lavish they were. My favourite is Potato Head Club where it has a large infinity pool overlooking the beautiful Seminyak beach. It reminds me of Marina Bay sand pool in Singapore that looks like the pool floats over the cityscape. Potato head had amazing drinks, desserts, and so much lounging room even with a bar built in the pool. Other clubs I went to were Ku de Ta, The Wacko and Cocoon Beach club.

7. The food is downright delicious: I honestly expected just eating at local Warungs (little Indonesian restaurants having a street food vibe) but taken aback by the amount of choices we had every night!! I had a amazing seafood dinner on Jimbaran beach, steak, Babi Guling (Suckling Pig) and Greek food 3 nights in a row. I missed greek food so much because Korea doesn't have it so I made sure to eat as much as I could! It was seriously so good and pretty cheap! Food could be as little as $3 to over $50. They all taste amazing though.

Overall, I'm so glad I made it to Bali. Even though the struggle was SO real getting there- I was prepared for it and in the end it was worth it. As I was alone for the second half of the trip, I discovered that solo travelling is quite enjoyable- just chilling by the beach, listening to my favourite music, going for a sunset walk by the Indian ocean, eating whatever I want and doing whatever I fancy. Though I was a little sketched out by the men and images of third world poverty here and there, overall I'm so grateful to have the opportunity to travel here. Many times I told myself that there was literally no other place I wanted to be, and telling myself how fortunate I am to experience such a diversity of scenery and culture. How lucky I was that there was no volcanic eruptions, getting hopelessly lost, feeling lonely, and any negative experiences. Before I went on this trip I accepted that many things would be beyond my control due to how different it was than that I was used to and being so far away from home. However, everything went so smoothly- I had a amazing time with my friends and loved taking myself around the island, exploring different restaurants and shopping. It all felt like a beautiful dream and I wouldn't trade this experience for anything else in the world! My next travel destinations are Thailand and Cambodia. As I have done my first Southeast Asian country, I have confidence for future trip planning purposes. Overall, I'm proud of myself for keeping calm despite the insane duration of traveling time, getting myself from point A to B with no hassles, and how well I handled everything in general. 

Honestly, traveling is so personal to me because it's like being transported to another world from my own- where I can see how other people live, even if its in poverty and seriously learn to not take my life for granted. There are so many people struggling out there to make ends meet, I believe that traveling does "expand your horizons" for these purposes to make me more humble about my own life situation. That I get to be a tourist here while the Balinese make less than $10USD a day but they manage to be in a good mood. But when a problem hits me, sometimes I feel like I don't want to leave the house. Travel makes me feel privileged that there are opportunities for me and for that I am grateful for life!

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  1. travelling alone , ur so brave