January 2017, it was the month I’d decided to leave my travelling career as a yachtie (a stewardess, working on board a luxury Superyacht) behind me and start to grow roots on land. I’d been in the Industry for a strong five years and a further more ten years flitting back and forth, in and out of the UK, completely undecided on what to do with my life and where to go (itchy feet was an understatement). But I was 31 years old now and it was time to grow up, be an adult and live in the real world (what ever the hell that is supposed to mean these days). I’d saved enough money in my years of yachting to put a deposit down on a house and set roots somewhere FINALLY, a place I could actually call Home!
Totally excited and a little bit apprehensive of the lifestyle I would be giving up, I thought it only right to have one last binge backpacking trip and for this I decided on Bali. After hearing so much about this exotic country full of culture, sand and surf beaches, temples, yoga, healthy smoothies and total Zen, I knew this was the one I needed to finalise the end of my backpacking days and the start of my new grown up adult life on land.
So one extremley soggy month in February, during a very wet, WET season and my god did they mean wet season when they said it. I headed on my 24 night total chill extravaganza, final EVER backpack adventure.
I booked all accommodation before heading out so, I could spend zero time on the internet looking up hotels etc and maximum time on the beach or at the bar or a combination of both. Of course soon after getting there I realised the beach was going to be a complete right off unless I wanted to be sand blasted to death.
So I came to the conclusion that there is one sport the rain doesn’t stop you competing in and that’s eating (also a sport I believe i’m very good in). So with that being said I challenged myself to try as many of the local delicacies as I could, and I am now going to take you through my tasteful journey.
Firstly I headed down South, to the surfers paradise, Uluwatu, I hired a moped as an easy means of transport around the vast, green lushness and winding, dirt roads. I stayed in a fabulous wooden hut at Flowerbed Bungalows near Balangan Beach with an outdoor shower built on natural pebbles, it was all very tropical and exactly how i’d imagined it to be in Bali, except of course when imagining it you forget parts like hiding under your mosquito net so you don’t get eaten alive whilst trying to sleep in an open air hut.
That being said the vibe there was so chilled and time literally felt like it stopped. All there was to do was eat, drink, lay by the pool and be massaged, chill and explore. I’d say the only down side to the area was it being so spread out, I definitely could not have done without my moped (lucky they were so cheap at $5 per day) Bombing around on my red hairdryer, I ventured to some stunning sandy beaches with great surf (if your into that kind of thing), temples and of course some eateries.
There was an awesome spot up on a cliff that I found after visiting Uluwatu Temple, called Single Fin, what an incredible view and being that It was a Sunday the vibe was thumping and the place was getting loose, tourists flocked to soak up the good surf, great food and electric atmosphere.
I have to say my fish tacos were some of the best I’ve ever tasted, so fresh like the fish had literally just been caught, there was nothing pre packeted about these bad boys.
Seminyak is the heart of healthy, nutritious food restaurants, cafes, boutique shops, extravagant hotels and crazy night life. I’d say it pulls in a more up market crowd to its neighbouring town of Kuta, known for young mostly Ozzy tourists. Getting wasted by night and then hooked up to IV drips by the pool during the day (each to there own).
So many expats give up their nine to five jobs to come here and start-up their own Restaurants and cafes, in the hope of a better life style and the majority of these can be found on, no other than the famous, ‘Eat Street‘ it is bustling with vibrant, funky places to grab a fresh juice and healthy all day brunch.
One of my favourites has to be Sisterfields run by some Ozzy’s and always packed. They serve an amazing array of smoothies and juices to cater for everyone’s needs and tastes, I fell in love with beetroot and ginger juices whilst in Seminyak but in Sisterfields I highly recommend the Warrior smoothie, maybe not quite so packed with nutrition but bloody good on the tastebuds, definitely one to give a go, especially if you have a sweet tooth.
Whilst Seminyak is bursting at the seams with amazing eateries, ill just let you in on one more of my favourites GingerMoon yet another place to enjoy many different tastes with a real emphasis on sharing, order as many dishes as you dare and get stuck in. The food style is asian and an absolute must try is the ‘babi ruling’ otherwise known as suckling pig, the flavours explode in your mouth, the meat is cooked to beyond perfection.
Why not top it all off with the creme brûlée trilogy, I mean if your sharing the calories don’t count, right? Plus the green one is made with the essence of a local plant, so i’m guessing that’s as good as eating vegtables?
One thing is for sure Bali can definitely do Mexican, one night whilst trying to hide from the mass down pours I fell into a very exciting little Mexican restaurant Taco Beach Grill, where again I ordered various different types of meat, fish and vegetable tacos, I love ordering lots of different things and then all just diving in and trying all the different flavours, its such a sociable way to eat and try new flavours, I also think this makes the meal last longer (however not sure if thats just wishful thinking). Washing this down with an extremely strong margarita is mandatory.
Undoubtably one of the best experiences of my life to date was visiting Tegallalang Rice paddies, in Ubud, I truly thought it would just be another tourist trap, but luckily this didn’t put me off visiting, as the sight of it was so completely stunning and overwhelming it moved me to tears, I had to take a breather in a small cafe at the top just to sip it all in, along with my cappuccino and spring rolls. The vibrant green of the paddies was so bright it pierced your eyes and maybe this is a reason I can be thankful for visiting during rainy season, as who knows if its always quite so electric in colour.
Ubud is full of surprises, even though the town itself is quite dirty and overrun with traffic, I definitely made some of my fondest memories there. One day I took a cooking class with Paon, a family run business which has grown from strength to strength over the years, taking on more and more business every day. It was a real highlight of my trip.
The family took us to the early morning local market, to gather food for the days class, and whilst there we got to try some very unusual fruits and vegetables, which I had never even heard of before, let alone tasted and when we went back to Puspa’s home, where the cooking class took place we literally got to grips with all sorts of techniques, hand grinding, (the old-fashioned way, with a large wooden batten) wrapping and rolling with banana leaves.
It was all very educational and great fun, Puspa has a real sense of humour which is very endearing to all whom meet her. The group made a spectacular feast, and then of course the best part we got to sample it all. A truly local experience, and a great way to put back into the community.
Local produce from the Market
The finished product, cooked by yours truly, yummy
A lil slice of Home
One thing I did notice during my time in Bali is that they seem to have taken on the British 4pm Tea time, an activity that I was more than willing to participate in. Another ideal escape from the afternoon storms, a slice of cake with a pot of tea or coffee (really starting to show my age these days, usually 4pm would indicate happy hour on cocktails).
I found the perfect hidden hideaway where I could indulge whilst watching the monkeys swing for shelter, a small restaurant called Watercress not far from the monkey Forest. Freshly baked carrot cake, cheesecake, chocolate tarts, Vanilla sponges and soft crumbly homemade biscuits to dunk in your tea. What more could one ask for (I don’t know, maybe for it to stop raining!).
And finally to end my time in Bali, I wanted to write a short note on Luwark coffee, the worlds most expensive coffee, coming in at an extravagent cost of £70 per cup in some establishments in London.
Obviously being the coffee fanatic that I am I had to give it a whirl, it would have been criminal not to. I visited a small coffee plantation where they took us through the process and reason for this expensively produced coffee also known as ‘cat poop’. It is produced from coffee beans which have been digested by an Indonesian cat-like animal called the palm civet, during the digestion a unique fermentation takes place giving this coffee its rare and special flavour, I can’t say I was the biggest fan, which is probably a good thing considering the cost, it would have been a very expensive habit to take up.
Just to sum up, I’d say it was one very tasty month in Bali, rich in culture and flavours, where many new experiences were had come rain or occasional shine.