I have to get out of Australia to renew my visa, so what better way to do this is a quick jaunt to Bali!
After booking a one way flight to Denpasar with Air Asia, I knew I also needed some sort of accommodation! So off I popped to Hostel World to sort me a bed for a few nights. I wasn't sure how long my visa would take, but after much deliberation I decided to have 3 nights in Kuta and one night in Ubud, and wing it from there on.
Having never visited Bali before, I spoke with many friends on where to go, what to do and where to stay. Ultimately it boiled down to money and experiences... So I opted for hostels rather than homestays or hotels. Best decision ever. I'll come back to that later.
And I decided that ideally I'd like to go on my own. First time in a new place, if you go with someone else you're likely to stay in your little "comfort nest" rather than branch out. Now I know I'm no wallflower, but being alone definitely pushes my boundaries and makes me more open to meet new people.
So off I popped to the airport...
The first night I didn't take any pictures, which I am kind of annoyed with myself! (***EDIT... Video below!) I arrived at sunset, pretty much plonked down in the hostel and felt a bit shell shocked.
My first stay was in Granny's Hostel, Kuta. What it lacks in building/cleanliness/non smelly loos it has in character/sociability/fun/charisma/customer service!
Yes its full of mozzies, yes the loos honk after a while (thats the plumbing in Bali, plus a 13 bed dorm, a double room and a downstairs 4 bed dorm all using the same loos and showers... what did you expect?!) and as a non smoker EVERYBODY smokes. And its gross. But you put up with it.
The staff are brilliant. They know your name pretty much straight away, bend over backwards for you, they're fun, caring, and will let you know the best places to go.
They organised trips (more on that later) sorted shuttles, taxis and the like, had their own "spot" on the beach, and loads of Indonesian guys popped in and out - the best times were when they grabbed the guitar and the "drum" (its not a drum but its as good as a djembe drum!) and jammed until well into the night.
I wish I'd have taken pictures and videos of my first night. It was awesome. We ended up in a reggae bar with one of the jamming guys, and of course... I was asked to sing :) It was a good night!
Besides the charismatic staff, there were the backpackers themselves. In my whole stay in Bali, I can safely say I've made some lifelong friends. Yes, you will be mentioned later on guys!
The video of my first night and the jamming guys!
I finally got around to taking pictures of the hostel in the morning!
(After I'd gone to bed, drunk, at 3am and been woken up by a lovely yet very much an EARLYBIRD Estonian Yuri at 6.30am... Thanks dude... "Mister Sunshine!")
The backyard. Didn't even notice the first time around that there's a hammock back there! I discovered that after Ubud!
The dining area, behind it is the massive sofa and tv!
Front yard prettiness!
The 13 bed dorm. Hot, full of mozzies, but also full of awesome people! I was in the bottom purple bunk!
Am I the only one that thinks the lady driving looks like Whoopi Goldberg...?
So after my night of jamming and slowly becoming famous in Kuta, the lovely Delissa and I had bonded so we decided to hop in the shuttle with the equally lovely Balto (wife of Heidi who runs Granny's) and went to the "Granny's" part of the beach.
First impressions of Kuta beach is that it's a bit of paradise.
However... The closer you look the more rubbish (trash for my Americans!) you see. Its quite sad, as this beach has the potential to be utterly amazing, its just years of tourism and no or little information on recycling and the dangers of littering have tarnished the gleam of this beautiful island.
There's actually a project going on for an advert to play every night for a year to encourage the clean up of Bali... Please have a look HERE
So I overlooked the rubbish (as I suspect many many people do...) and enjoyed my day.
My view from my chair
Staying in the shade!
Lovely little panoramic of Kuta beach
After a spell, we had a few others join us in the shade, especially Danny who had too much sun the day before (on his birthday bless him!) and around midday we felt rather peckish... so off we pop to a little side street food joint! And it was gorgeous! And cheap! A full plate of food, plus drink cost me around $4 AUD (or less than £2.50!)
On our walk back you discover tiny bits of paradise... sadly marred yet again by the sheer about of rubbish around their roots. Please click on the link above and help out!
These mini temples are everywhere. There's also little open trays of flowers, usually with incense in them all over. Offerings. Just beautiful.
When we got back to the beach we found ourselves in the presence of Bali fame! (Well, sort of.)
It seemed we'd been joined by an Indonesian Michael Jackson.
Think an Indonesian hipster channeling the spirit of MJ, then you're almost, but not quite, completely misunderstanding what happened that day!
Seeing is believing, so here's a picture and 3 videos!
Our first video... Bit far away so we get them to move closer after!