Recently Rachel Lee and I went over to Bali. Originally I had booked this trip back in November to go over in December and film a travel style video with landscape photographer and great friend of mine, David. Due to the volcano issues in December I had to move the trip to March, and by the time March rolled around, Dave was no longer able to make it on the trip. So a week prior to leaving I asked Rachel if she wanted to come with me, and she said yes, so we decided to vacation in the heat. I filmed a vlog while I was over here but didn't end up liking it too much, I got bored editing, so I assumed people would get bored watching, so I decided to do a blog post instead.
While I was over there I figured we were staying in and eating at so many places that I wanted to write about and recommend my favourites, something which a video doesn't allow me to do. So keep scrolling to find out where I stayed, where I trained (because you know I can't go two weeks without hitting up the gym), where we ate, and what we did.
What We Did
Below is a selection of a few of the things we did that I'd recommend for those who are visiting Bali for the first time.
For your super touristy experience head to Bali Swing in Ubud. This is where I got the main header image for this blog post. Be warned however, it does not look as magical in 'real life'. Four large swings mounted to giant palms hang over a staggered hill, with staff watching and giving you a few swings on whichever one you line up for. It's a cool experience, but I'd only recommend it if you're looking for a great photograph.
MRS SIPPY BEACH CLUB
Our day at Mrs Sippy was probably was one of the best days we had! I think both Rachel Lee and I can agree on this. It was so nice, after two weeks exploring and moving around, to just spend a full day in one place, soak up some sun by the pool (while watching average tourists pretending they're part of a diving competition on the Mrs Sippy board), and eating a delicious tuna steak. Located right next to Potato Head beach club, Mrs Sippy is more relaxed atmosphere, and the styling is absolutely gorgeous.
Cost: 100K IDR ($10AUD) entry + optional 600K IDR minimum spend for our day bed (which is covered by your food!)
FINN'S BEACH CLUB
We booked a Finn's day pass so that I had an excuse to use their gym, and we could spend a few hours there. I'd never been to Finn's before, but it was a pretty good place to get some healthy food and some sun. If you ignore all the pizza the menu has some good options, such as their quinoa bowl, which contained chicken, quinoa, beetroot, feta, pumpkin, pesto, and a bunch of other ingredients I love. Finn's definitely does come second to Mrs Sippy's though (we didn't visit Mrs Sippy until later)! The atmosphere at Finn's was a bit more "party" than Rach and I typically like, but when you're over in their far section on the day beds, it's not so bad!
Cost: 450K IDR ($45AUD approx) for a full day pass which gave you access to all of their facilities, including gym and spa.
Nyepi (Balinese New Year) was on while we were over there, it's celebrated with a day of silence, following the loud street processions of the evening before. The neighbourhood was quiet, there were no cars out on the road, and (as advised by our host) we were not to leave the villa. During the night of Nyepi the entire island shuts down. We had to stay quiet, and had to keep all of our lights switched off (a small mistake we made was not realising our pool light was on and having locals knocking on our gate until we clumsily, by phone torch light, figured out how to switch off the pool light). The stars that appeared on the evening of Nyepi were unlike anything I'd ever seen before (EVER). There were so many distant ones that you'd typically be unable to see due to artificial lights at night, but now they were all revealing themselves to us.
Ubud Markets were a nice little pit-stop we made on our way out to Bali Swing. We arrived at the market early in the morning, so we could still experience it a little more like the locals would, with all the fresh fruit and veg, and (smelly) meats on offer. The longer we stayed there the more the winding market transformed itself into a tourist market, offering arts, crafts and general knick knacks for sale.
BLOW DRY BAR
If anyone is bad at washing and blow drying their hair, it's me. It's so thick that it literally takes me over 1.5 hours from start to finish (and it's only at my shoulders), so sometimes I give up and go to a hairdresser to get it done instead. Blow Dry Bar in Seminyak is exactly as the name sounds, a Bar inside a hair salon. We didn't have any drinks, but we did choose to get our hair blow waved, and a 30min hair treatment (with neck massage). I got my usual, blow dried with a round brush for volume and a soft wave, and Rachel Lee walked out with the most bombshell hairstyle I've ever seen her have, featuring a side-part and classic curls.
Cost: approx 450K IDR (including hair style, and treatment)
Where We Stayed
The first villa we stayed at was a great way to unwind after leaving Australia. We still found ourselves working (constantly throughout this trip, actually), but at a more relaxed and creative pace. Villa #1 (aka Villa Albali) was a little out of the way, so organise your own transport or download the My Bluebird app (mentioned below). You can't use Uber or Go-Jek here as it's unsafe for the drivers (there's areas you can and can't use mobile-booked taxis littered throughout Bali). This Villa contained 3 bedrooms and four bathrooms, so it'd be perfect if you're heading over with a bigger group. Rachel Lee and I have to book spaces with the whole 'content creation' element of our work in mind, so they usually end up being a little bigger, and have to look good enough to shoot in.
Villa Albali has a great pool, and a lawn, and the master bedroom features floor to ceiling windows (and a balcony) that looks over both. The host was really attentive, and also organised our airport pickup for us.
Learn more: Air BnB
This chic villa was located approximately 600m from the beach, and (unlike the first place we stayed), very close to cafes and all sorts of things to do. We originally booked two nights here, but only ended up staying for 1 and had to check into our next villa a day early because of Nyepi. We didn't realise that the whole island shuts down for a day, so we opted to leave this villa on the Friday, and get to our next villa before the silent day. Villa #2 was located in Canggu and had 2 double bedrooms (each with an ensuite). It had a super stylish lounge room and kitchen (as you can see in the photos scattered throughout this page), a deep pool, and a spiral staircase which lead to daybeds up on the roof for lying around outside.
Learn more: Air BnB
Villa #3 (Villa Nido) in Canggu (although, it's listed as North Kuta, but our drivers told us it's actually Canggu) is where we stayed for a majority of this trip. If you want to constantly be around the action in places like Kuta or Seminyak, this is not the place to stay. However, if you want to be close enough to pop into those places when required, but still be in an area that's quiet, this is the area you should look for. The villa was decorated quite nicely, and we were able to relax when we were here, in fact, we didn't even do photos like we usually would! I simply snapped a few mobile pictures of this place before we left so I could include them in this post.
Learn more: Air BnB
Apps To Download
If you purchase a cheap Telkomsel sim card and top it up with credit to access text and data, you'll be on the Indonesian sim network. This was especially handy when drivers or Air BnB hosts needed to contact us. The My Telkomsel app will allow you to see how much credit you have, and top up via the app.
I didn't realise the native maps application I had installed on my phone was Apple maps, not Google. Go out of your way to download Google Maps if you don't have it already. If you load a map when you have wifi or data, it will stay loade even once you've disconnected from the internet. Handy for finding places when you're not online.
Where I Trained
Good for a sweat session, Hammerhead Fitness in Kuta doesn't have proper air conditioning, but does have all the equipment you need. There's machines and free weights, and the entry fee is similar to what you'd pay for a casual pass in Australia.
Cost: 90K IDR
The gym at Finn's Recreation Club (about a 5min drive from the beach club) is smaller than a stand-alone facility like Hammerhead, but still has decent equipment to get the job done. They also have free wifi and proper air conditioning (for those who want the extras).
Cost: Covered in your day pass
Where We Ate
I tend to book Air BnB's when I travel so that I'm able to cook a majority of my own food. I do of course still eat some meals out, so here are some highlights for you:
A great cafe in Seminyak that brings the typical Australian cafe culture to Bali. Awesome menu with heaps of healthy eats.
A neat little spot to eat if you find yourself in Canggu (particularly close to Villa #2). I had the charcoal burger because we were starving after a full day of travelling.
We stopped in at Cafe Organic for breakfast on our second last day in Bali, the menu was typical to something you'd find in Aus, and they had a whole range of refreshing (non-alcoholic) drinks to try. I went for the lemon & ginger drink.
What I Wore
During our trip the weather was a little inconsistent. Storms were forecast, which meant hot, sticky weather in the morning, and a thunder storm to break down the heat in the afternoon. Towards the end of our trip the days were sunny all the way through. Here are some garments that made it into regular rotation. Click the images to shop!