I’m home from Southeast Asia! What an adventure. I still haven’t yet absorbed everything that has happened over the last month and there’s lots to fill you in on life back in Toronto. As some of you know, I got myself into a scooter accident on the last day of my trip and had to get stitches on my foot at the hospital in Chiang Mai. It’s not serious but the three flights it took for me to get home was far from pleasant. I’m on crutches now which is a huge pain in the ass but my arms are getting a fabulous workout so I’ll stop complaining.
More news to share but first things first…om swastiastu! That’s hello in Balinese.
I spent the first two weeks of my trip in Bali and it was absolute bliss. It’s the hippie paradise most people envision — friendly locals, magical views, and a sort of tranquil I’ve never experienced anywhere else. I did some yoga, hung out on the beach, and ate yummy vegan food, all of which sounds like the hippie dippie Bali thing to do but you can’t help but get wrapped up in that mindset. It really was amazing and I can’t wait to be back.
Bali is a small island but I found each place had a personality of its own. Here’s where I went:
“When are you going to Gili?” You can’t go anywhere without being asked this by a soliciting cab driver, tour operator, or a local just making conversation. That’s because no one really stays in Padang Bai but rather stops in before heading off to the Gili Islands. Erin had done some research and had reason to believe there was cause for us to travel all the way to the other side of Bali to visit this place. And I’m totally glad she did. It’s a small and sleepy seaside town but it kept us busy for our two nights there. It was a good intro to island life coming from a 24 hour layover in Shanghai — we lazed about on the beach, ate cheap seafood, and rode scooters for the first time. We took them out to Tirtagangga Water Palace and went on a 5 hour detour along the coast after making the wrong turn home. Had we known it was going to take 5 hours, a downpour of rain, and many windy roads to get home we probably would’ve turn back the other way but it made for an interesting day.
There’s a handful of bars that contribute to the nightlife but I can’t see Padang Bai being much of a party town. We had a few cocktails at Omang Omang, which was recommended to us but spent most of our evenings drinking at the hostel with fellow backpackers and the night staff.
Where I stayed: Bamboo Paradise
We rented out the private room at this quaint hostel. It’s located right next to Bias Tugel beach, which you have to hilariously pass through a field of cows and chickens until you get there. There’s not much to say about location because in a small town like Padang Bai you can get anywhere within five minutes anyways. The communal space is great and I spent many nights swinging in the hammock with a Bintang in hand.
To truly see the real Ubud you need to leave the city centre, which is overrun with tourists looking to get their Eat, Pray, Love experience and poorly maintained sidewalks that practically beg for an ankle sprain. My highlight from Ubud was wandering along a quiet foot path through a rice paddy and meeting a farmer named Nyoman. He gave us coconuts to drink and showed us the different types of rice that he farmed. It was a nice escape from everything.
Where I stayed: Ons Hostel
This hostel looks nice in the photos but the actual view was nothing but a wall (looking back at the photo it’s clearly Photoshopped). The easiest way to get into town from the hostel was to go through the Monkey Forest which I stupidly thought nothing of but as the name suggests, it is literally a forest raided with monkeys. You’re told to walk fast, have nothing in your hands, and keep all bags zipped and closed because the monkeys will approach you if they think you have food. It was petrifying. Upside of the hostel = the pool.
Picture a hipster Australian surf town and that’s what it feels like to be in Seminyak. The place is brimming with Aussies, every café and restaurant was made to be Instagrammed, and the prices were ridiculously expensive. Seminyak is flashy but I didn’t mind. Erin was leaving after this leg of our trip and it was fun to send her off in style. The big waves at the beach didn’t make for great swimming but we rented loungers, soaked up the sun, and got sandy beachfront massages. We had breakfast at NOOK, which was probably the most beautiful café I’ve ever been to with picturesque views overlooking a rice paddy. On our last evening together, we went down to the Jimbaran area known for their abundance of candlelight seafood restaurants on the beach. It was delicious and expensive, but one of our most memorable meals all trip. We spent two days in Seminyak and I think that was enough for me and my wallet.
Where I stayed: Room and Vespa
This place felt like 5-star luxury after hosteling it for a week. The beds were so comfortable and the bathrooms were huge and luxurious. It’s tucked away on a small side street but steps from the beach and the main road where all the bars, restaurants, and shops are located. There’s zero atmosphere here but a great place for some R&R.
I’m officially moving to Canggu. Not joking. The morning after Erin left, I took an Uber from Seminyak to Canggu and within an hour of arriving I was wishing I had spent my entire time in Bali here. Canggu felt like the lovechild of Padang Bai and Seminyak — hip and chill without the crowds and high prices. I met great like-minded people, did a yin class in the most beautiful yoga studio, learned how to surf (or at least tried to), and spent the hot afternoons swinging away in a hammock. The locals are also noticeably more laid back and welcoming.
Where I stayed: Olé Olé Ollie
I came across this hostel a few months back and decided I was specifically going to Canggu just to stay here. The rooms were alright and the bathroom was always filled with mosquitos, but Ollie’s place attracted the coolest group of travellers I’ve ever met. Everyone was so friendly and chill and I had the chance to meet fellow digital nomads who were staying at Ollie’s for the coworking space across the street. My favourite part was that anyone new arriving had to ring the doorbell to enter and it was always exciting to see who it was. It felt like being on Big Brother but without the bros and HoH challenges.
More to come from my SEA trip, including my two and a half weeks in Chiang Mai.