First time on Bali – is it the paradise I imagined?

sunset

Bali was always in my head as the incarnation of paradise – so even before I moved to Melbourne for my semester abroad I knew I wanted to go there while I’m in the southern hemisphere. As soon as I knew the dates for mid-semester break from uni I booked a flight and started to be very exited. But my joy about the upcoming vacation was a bit dampened… suddenly a lot of people started to run down Bali as uber-touristy party place (especially popular with Aussies) and they kept on telling me that Bali is overrated, overcrowded and artificial – generally not as nice as other places in Indonsia or Southeast-Asia…

I have to admit, that made me a bit confused – but I try to not to be biased and just go to places to make up my own opinion – and besides the flights were booked anyway.

My flight was on a Saturday night and my first impressions after I landed at Denpasar Airport were:
1. YAY – I don’t have to pay for the visa on arrival (since June 2015 Germany belongs to the countries that do not need a visa for up to 30 days stay in Indonesia/Bali)
2. WOW – What a beautiful and unusual airport – great architecture and little statues and sacrificial altars everywhere
3. WTF – why are all these people screaming and assailing me and the other passengers? Ahh, they only want to offer a transport – but in a very harsh and overwhelming way. And that was just the beginning…

I decided to stay in a hostel in nearby Kuta and together with an Australian guy who wanted to stay in the same place I found a driver to take us there. We paid 100,000 Rupiah (which is in retrospect 100% too much… on my way back to the airport from nearly the same place in Kuta I just paid 50,000). After arriving there I had itchy feet and wanted to go for a first quick stroll around the area.

Starting your Bali trip on a Saturday night in Kuta is probably not the most suitable way of getting the right feeling for the island – I landed in the crazy party street Jl. Legian – an area with hammering party music, flickering strobo lights, half-naked dancers, drunken tourists (not only Aussies…) and pushy locals who want to offer you a ride with their scooter, souvenirs, tattoos, entrance to their bars/clubs, etc… it was a bit much for the first hours in Bali.

The next day was as much as a culture shock for me as the night before – just in a different way. I was up early and went to see the beach – and on a Sunday morning at 7.30am I was most likely the only tourist out and about (ok, there were some surfers catching early waves but I didn’t see other girls at least). And I can’t pretend to be a local – with my shimmering white skin I would be detected as tourist from afar. So I got a lot of attention – and again, I wasn’t sure how to deal with it as I just arrived. It was my first time in south-east-asia in general and when people talked to me I didn’t want to be rude so I always replied something, but I also didn’t want to be pulled… I couldn’t take one picture without a comment from the local guys or walk ten meters without getting asked for my name or where I’m going. They were friendly but I got annoyed very quickly. I know they don’t mean any harm and just want to earn some money, but I just didn’t fell comfortable in that situation. Suddenly I also sensed that it was too misty, the beach looks bleak and that the streets are very shabby and dirty. I was bothered by the loud noise and smelly fumes from the motorbikes. I was upset that the ways are so chaotic and that there are no signs anywhere…. These feelings surprised me myself, because normally I like walking around in a new place on my own to absorb all the things around me, I even like ‘getting lost’ normally – but that was just a bit much for the beginning. And I didn’t have breakfast yet.

As my trip continued and I got more comfortable with the local conditions, traveled to different places and met more people I could exchange and hang out with, my perception changed. And what I saw then was truly a very versatile and beautiful Bali. With lonely beaches, stunning sunsets, creative handicrafts, fancy open-air clubs, chilled bars, delicious fruit juices and asian food, impressive landscape (riceterraces, bays, volcanos,…)and a lot of friendly people.

So is Bali the paradise I imagined? I think I can say at the end, you can have a paradise everywhere – it is what you make out of it. And overall I had a wonderful time!

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2 thoughts on “First time on Bali – is it the paradise I imagined?

  1. Ein interessanter Einblick, so hätte ich mir Bali nicht vorgestellt, zumindest nicht den lauten, dreckigen, touristischen Teil. Aber die Bilder zeigen schon, dass durchaus auch die Traumvorstellung wahr ist. Reisfelder und Sonnenuntergänge am Strand, wow, da hast du tolle Bilder geschossen!

    Like

  2. I think, it´s only in certain place in Bali. From my experience, even people in Berlin not really friendly and in Hong Kong too. Maybe you want to join me for overland trip from Flores to Lombok on December? 🙂 Beautiful pictures you have, by the way.

    Like

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