Erin has wanted to go to Bali for years, and making a stop there during our recent trip to Asia gave us the perfect opportunity. We spent a week in Bali, where we experienced two different sides of the island. We spent the first part of our trip in the busier, more touristy area of Ubud, while the second half of our time was spent in the much quieter fishing village of Amed. Both were wonderful and we’re so glad we got the chance to explore both areas!
In Ubud, we spent our first day learning about the history and culture of “old” Bali from a local guide in a traditional Balinese village that still relies on subsistence farming. We learned about the mix of religions and the traditional family living spaces. We saw beautiful hand-carved family temples and watched a farmer plow his rice field by hand. On our return to town, our guide took us to the beautiful Tirta Empul temple (where all visitors are required to wear sarongs out of respect) and devotees can wash under the sacred, healing waters.
In town we saw two evening performances — a dance performance and a music performance. The kacek dance was the performance of the monkey king story and included chanting and even fire dancing. It was pretty touristy, but it was still fun. The musical performance by the group Semara Ratih was recommended by some friends and is perhaps the best cultural performance we’ve ever attended. While Semara Ratih is primarily a gamelan group, the performance also includes beautiful dancing. The musicians were incredible. They were extremely talented and showed so much enthusiasm for their music. If you go to Ubud, definitely try to see them. It was one of the highlights of our six week Asia trip.
We also did a morning birdwalk in the nearby rice fields which was both beautiful and interesting. We added about 20 birds to our life list (currently at 679!), had lots of delicious meals, visited the monkey forest, saw hundreds of sacred offerings, and of course, did a little shopping.
In Amed, things moved much more slowly. As in, there was virtually nothing to do where we were except relax, and that was perfect. Once we got there, we sat by the pool and the ocean, read our books, played some games, did a little snorkeling, saw some small local shops, watched the fishing boats come in at sunrise, practiced sunset yoga, and took a bit of a vacation from the vacation. It was heavenly.
For us, seeing these two sides of Bali formed a perfect balance. We felt like it gave us a good overview of this Indonesian island and are so glad that we chose to visit two different areas. If you’ve been to Bali, chime in on the comments with some of your highlights! Enjoy your next island adventure, whether it’s for a week or a weekend!