For part two of our Bali trip, we headed south to the more touristy area of Seminyak. It felt a little less 'Bali' than Ubud - bye insects, bye - but still had a distinctive holiday vibe. Weirdly though, for a more affluent area, we had to be a more resourceful while in the country's beachside town.
Here are a few tips on how to be resourceful while abroad... or, you know, while at home, too. Every little helps!
Actually read maps
It sounds obvious, but actually read the signs and maps around you. We're so used to relying on Citymapper, keeping our head down and following blindly, but in the absence of WiFi, we actually had to read stuff. From this, we realised there was an infinity pool on the top floor of our hotel that it appeared no one else knew about. I had the pool (and amazing view) to myself for about 4 hours. It was amazing and I felt like I had my own private villa or something. One day, eh.
We also found out there was a free buggy service that did lifts to and from the hotel, so we could get chauffeured to the beach. We were soooo tired from all that swimming and relaxing, we couldn't possibly walk anywhere ourselves...
However, at the same time, don't be afraid to just walk around aimlessly on holiday. These are the times you'll stumble across something amazing and properly immerse yourself in the country's culture. We walked aimlessly on the beach for about 45 minutes, taking in the beauty of the waves, soft sand and impending dusk skyline and ended up coming across 707 Bar, a beach bar with fake grass and bean bags. We settled in, me armed with a watermelon daiquiri (boy, England are missing a trick not having watermelon juice. I drank it by the bucket load the whole trip) and watched the sunset on the beach to the soundtrack of house music.
Don't be afraid to blag a bit
Okay, so after 707 bar, we didn't actually consider our way home. Living in London with Uber and 24-hour tubes, we never actually have to worry about how to get home safely once the sun sets. Reality hit when we had two options: dark road or dark beach? Death by murder? Death by car squishing? Death by drowning (the tide was coming in)? Death by ten billion crabs who look like tiny, see-through spiders? We took the crab and beach route, screaming and laughing hysterically at our predicament until we blagged our way into a beach club (despite rocking the hobo-chic look).
We ate, drank and admired our surroundings for a couple hours, but then again came the predicament of getting home. We had the equivalent of £2.50 between us. Yep. We went out front to the taxi rank and, thankfully, the kind taxi men took pity on the poor English tourists and let us pay on arrival to our hotel. Don't be afraid to just ask. The Balinese are very accommodating.
Another 'don't ask, don't get' situation was the day we had a driver. Our very own Ketut in Bali (though he looked nothing like the medicine man in Eat, Pray, Love) picked us up at 3.30am and drove us through the night for two hours to Northern Bali. We got to see night markets, beautiful mountains... and the inside of our eyelids for a good 45 minutes of the drive. Upon arrival at the calmest beach I've ever seen in my life, we pulled up our trousers and walked into the warm water to get into our own traditional Balinese boat. The next three hours were the most incredible of my life. We watched the sun rise, saw dolphins in their natural habitat and followed them around in our little boat. We even got to see the coolest fishy ecosystem, casually hanging out in the clear water below us, on our way back to shore.
Next, Ketut took us through an incredible forestry retreat with an amazing waterfall. It was the most peaceful and humbling experience. What should have been our final stop was Ulun Danu Beratan Temple. The two temples are sat on a lake and the grounds are huge with statues, deer, and other cool things to see. Instead of ending our trip here though, we asked him to take us to Tanah Lot (via a cute little buffet - much better than ours of sandwiches and sausage rolls, FYI). The famous temple is a must-see and we wouldn't have got to see it otherwise.
You can't be resourceful if you are fearful; it will just stop you from taking a few risks that could work in your favour. Nature, although not as highly offensive as in Ubud, was still something to be wary of in Seminyak. However, this time around, it was also very much our friend. Firstly, just putting our cameras away and seeing the dolphins and fish in their natural habitat was an experience I'll treasure forever (CRINGE, haha), but we also washed sand off our feet at the waterfall and walked bare foot in Tanah Lot. Just embrace it all! Except the sugar ants. The bastards. We were driven out of our hotel room by that bit of nature.
It's all about the bargaining in Bali. Now, don't be a dick about it, as what they're selling is their livelihood, but they know what they're doing. So many people were selling trips to Gili T island on the side of the road and, although we could have booked with our hotel, it was cheaper to book with one of the randomers on a whim. After talking to a few clearly dodgy sales people, we chatted to a seller called Danu for AGES. We bargained with him and brought the price of our trip down by a couple hundred thousand rupiah.
On the day of the trip, we did worry as the driver did not turn up at the agreed time. Bloody Danu has stolen our money, we thought!! We rang him and he suggested picking us both up and driving us to the boat, 2 hours away, on the back of his motorbike (LOLs). Thankfully, the driver turned up and all was well.
Well, until we got to the dock.
As we looked around, people had backpacks, rucksacks and clearly were *not* day-trippers. There was only one boat a day. Danu had however ensured us of quite the opposite. We had to bargain with the people at the dock to let us on a boat and get them to contact their colleagues on Gili T itself to allow us on a boat back the same day. Unfortunately, this meant we had all of about three hours on the island. After all of that, we finally boarded the boat and it was great! We sat on the fake grass on the top deck, music blasted, the sun shone and we felt like we were on a party yacht.
The island of Gili T was BEAUTIFUL once we got there. I got into the spirit and walked barefoot on the island, in its streets and along the INCREDIBLE beaches (mainly thanks to a broken flip flop). I saw baby turtles, crabs and embraced the chilled vibes of the island.
On the boat ride back, we danced a pretty intimate dance with death. There was a sliiiiight rainstorm. Now, you wouldn't have thought it, judging by the hype man on the top deck of the boat, blasting music and encouraging us to wave our hand in the air with every lurch and chuck and side to side movement of the boat, but I said A LOT of prayers and did A LOT of screaming. Once we got off, we got in a rickety camper van with the other boat members. The driver meandered along for a bit, then literally jumped out of the driver window and in popped a bearded man. Riiiiiight. He lit up a cigarette, started a phone call, and sped down the streets of Bali. God knows what hand he was using to steer. He dropped us all of randomly in what seemed like the middle of nowhere (thankfully, it was about a 20 minute walk from our hotel, but God knows how the others got home) and basically, he was carefree - or careless - AF. What a day.
Treat yo' self at the end
After being super resourceful and saving money, make sure you treat yourself. You're on holiday after all. Throughout, we had little indulgences, of course, but on the last day, we had a good ol' blowout! We headed to Potato Head Beach Club, rented a day bed and spent the day in between the pool (which is practically on the beach) and playing cards, ordered lunch, dinner and cocktails, and just took in that it was our last day in Bali. Sob.
I usually get a bit homesick during long trips, but I genuinely could have stayed on the island of Bali indefinitely. This is, for sure, one of my favourite countries, thanks to the people, lifestyle and, of course, the food.