Back to Bali, baby!

Bali, Indonesia: ‘the Island of God.’ A place with forested volcanic mountains, iconic rice paddies, beaches, and coral reefs. A haven for surfers, beach bums, temple-hoppers, zen retreaters, and honeymooners alike. An island where you can do everything―or choose to do nothing.

For us, on the weekend of March 15, we chose the latter. It had been a busy month-and-a-half of moving apartments, getting settled into new jobs, and getting used to living together. It was time for a break (but don’t cry for me, Argentina).

I arrived from Yogyajarkta (see previous post for more on this) about 15 minutes before Zé arrived in Bali from Singapore. Reunion time! After a quick airport hug, we headed to our villa in Nusa Dua, an area in southern Bali with sandy beaches and forested bluffs. Our villa, located at the Novotel Benoa Bali, was an expansive space with a pool, cabana and lounge area. We arrived in the early evening, got changed out of our airplane clothing, and headed to the hotel restaurant, where we had a mediocre but sustaining Mexican dinner (note: while the space was beyond beautiful, the food at the Novotel was just okay in our opinion).

The next morning, we woke up to sheets of rain coming down outside. This was okay with us, as we’d been planning to laze around the villa for the weekend, getting our fill of swimming, reading and eating in. The weather provided the perfect setting to do just that. Our routine over the next few hours was something like: eat, nap, swim in the rain, read, talk, repeat. We did manage to make it to a fabulous restaurant for dinner called Bumbu, thanks to a recommendation from a foodie friend in Singapore. The monsoon was still coming down around us in full swing, but luckily Bumbu has a pickup and drop-off service, which was clutch as hell that evening. We arrived and ate our hearts out: soups, Balinese-style chicken and fish fillets in banana leaves, vegetables and steamed rice, and desserts that had us over the moon. If you visit Bumbu, go with the tasting menu (it’ll give you the biggest range for your buck), but avoid the cocktails altogether (just…not their speciality).

Sunday delivered us a shining, blue sky. But fear not―we still kept things lazy. A breakfast order of coffee, eggs and fruit came to us delivered in the villa, where we ate, then swam and read all morning (I finally finished a 1,000-page book that I started in October, woo hoo!).

At 2PM, we checked out, and hopped an Uber to Uluwatu, where I’d be staying for the next few days. After ditching our belongings at the hotel (I’ll get there in a moment), we rented a motorbike and headed out for a quick lunch at Cashew Tree, a great vegetarian-based restaurant whose credit card machine was not working that day, and who I happily visited again the following day to pay in cash. We scootered around on our rented motorbike for a bit afterwards, before landing ourselves at Suarga Padang Padang, a boutique hotel perched atop an oceanside cliff, for some afternoon drinks, atmospheric tunes and an evening meal. We spent quite a long time here―with a setting as picturesque as the one at Suarga Padang Padang, it’s pretty hard to leave (see photos below). But, alas, the time did come where Zé had to get on a flight back to Singapore, so we paid our bill and headed back to my hotel where he showered, changed and headed out. It would be another four days until I saw him again―I was on my own in Bali for some solo R&R until then.

I stayed at Yoga Searcher, a small nature lodge with only eight wooden villas and nesteld on the cliff of Bali. While it wasn’t oceanfront, it was a lovely stay, with a friendly staff, great cafe, and beautiful, spacious accommodations. If you’re a yogi like me, I would absolutely recommend it.

There is not much to write explicitly about over the course of the next few days, because it was a combination of the following every day:

  • Take a morning yoga class (where my sandal became breakfast for a lurking monkey one morning)
  • Listen to lots of podcasts
  • Call friends to catch up
  • Read (I started and finished Michelle Obama’s autobiography, which was great)
  • Swam when I got too hot from reading
  • Practice my Portuguese language, using a mix of Duolingo and my new Portugeuse grammar textbook (sim, estou aprendendo português)
  • Eat delicious and fresh foods, in the hotel cafe or in town

This week was all about unwinding, enjoying some rare time off between jobs, and doing all the things I wish I could do every day during a regular workweek. A break for the brain, body and soul. A true Bali experience.

On Tuesday evening, I took a walk down to the beach in the early evening, checking out the sandy shore and a few of the shops and bars nearby. That was also the evening I discovered a beach club called Single Fin. A humble and casual beach club (unlike most other, more club-like lounges in Bali), it quickly became my favorite hangout in all of Bali. In the short while I was there, they played a few of my favorite surf rock songs, I got to witness an epic sunset, and enjoyed a super tasty cocktail, too. Win, win, win.

On Wednesday, I headed to Seminyak for a day of shopping, where I got a dress for Pedro’s wedding, and a new headband for my recently-cut, shorter hair. (I also want to note that I had a super weird experience with Go-Jek taxi, where he told me to meet him at a different pickup point than was listed on the app, and also told me the price would be different. I later came to find out this is part of the ‘taxi mafia’ in Uluwatu. Beware Ubers, Grabs and Go-Jeks in Southern Bali! And don’t worry, Mom, I didn’t get into that taxi. Safety first!).

On my way back from my day of shopping, I stopped by Uluwatu Temple for sunset (it was a big day of activities). This temple is one of six key temples believed to be Bali’s spiritual pillars, and is famous for its magnificent location, perched right on top of a super steep cliff overlooking the ocean. Talk about a majestic sunset (see photos below, although photos could never capture its true splendor).

On Thursday evening before my flight left, I took a quick walk down to Single Fin to see the sun set over the ocean, before heading out to the airport. As sad as I was to leave this magical little island, I was happy to be getting back home. Home means something different now, something much more special—it is the place where Zé and I are starting our life together, and it’s a place I always want to go.

Until next time, Bali!

Some photos from my trip to Bali:

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