Bali: A Paradise on Earth

Written by Rana Kamaly Photographed by Ahmed Bakr and Rana Kamaly

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“When I die, I just want this to be my heaven,” I told my husband two days after we arrived to Bali.  It is so magical; the landscapes, forests, mountains, waterfalls, wildlife and beaches are all magnificent.  The weather was superb, the people are friendly and helpful and everything is amazingly affordable.

The greenery and ocean are just breathtaking. For the very first time, I stood still with a blank mind for a few minutes watching the sunset from the top of a beautiful mountain. I was not thinking about anything, or imagining what I will be doing next or feeling anxious about anything, I was just there right now.

Bali is the hideaway for many Europeans and Americans. Many have left the hustle and bustle of their busy lives and retreated to Bali to start a new, anxiety-free life. They opened restaurants, hotels and crafts shops to settle permanently there.

Sightseeing and Activities

On this island, there are endless activities to do, ranging from elephant safaris, reviving hikes, visiting temples and attractions to adrenaline-filled trips and activities like water rafting.

Tegalalang Rice Terraces 

Home to a spectacular view that you can go to via a scooter, as it is under an hour drive from Ubud town, so you do not need a tour guide. There are plenty of options for dining with a perfect view of the rice terraces. I recommend you try to arrive there by 2 pm so you can walk around before having a meal at sunset to admire the landscape.

Tanah Lut Island Temple 

This temple is located on a small island a few meters from the shore, and is perfect around sunset where you can have lunch and explore for the day.

Bali Zoo 

The zoo is the most expensive attraction in Bali as it is self-funded. Entrance fees may cost between EGP500–700 per person. However, the animals there are diverse, taken very good care of and are placed in their natural habitat.

Rafting Down the Ayung River

A spectacular experience that is heightened by anticipation and excitement that fills you in the 2–3 hour walk down the mountain until you reach the river. You get to raft in water surrounded by tall green mountains, waterfalls, little villages with people bathing and swimming along, and, if you are lucky, it might rain while you are there and that will turn it into a once in a life time experience. This adventurous activity can sometimes result in you swimming to save your boat from the rocks, but on the contrary to what many think, it is quite a safe one.

Mount Batur

A day trip that I highly recommend. This active volcano overlooks a beautiful lake where many groups organize a hike or drive up the mountain. However, if you are in Ubud, you can rent a scooter and drive for about four hours to a huge lake that is also a perfect spot for a picnic, and take some panoramic pictures. There are a lot of nice shops on your way up and down that sell wooden carved products, candles and bamboo crafts for cheaper prices, however, try to visit them before sunset as they close around then.

Souvenirs

Bali is home to valuable, artistic souvenirs at very reasonable prices. Everywhere you go, you will be surrounded by painted portraits of nature, handmade wooden crafts, silver jewelry, silk products and many more. A lot of the shopping there leaves you with traditional, unique pieces that you can’t find anywhere else.

Accommodation

You can find accommodation ranging from EGP100 per night up to EGP30,000. A perfect room with a nice view can start from EGP800.

If you have the time, you should consider dividing your vacation between Ubud, a town in the middle of forests and rice fields, and a beach resort or island resort in order to get the full Bali experience.

Ubud is the perfect mix of Europe and Indonesia, and is in the midst of lush greenery. You are almost always surrounded by monkeys, especially the area around the forest, so take care of your belongings as I had my bag stolen by a little monkey and had to fight for it to get it back with help from the security!

We stayed six nights at the Anumana Ubud hotel, which was clean with an average price of EGP1,000 per night, including breakfast in a pool-view room. The hotel’s location is perfect as it is in the middle of Ubud, so you can go to all the attractions on foot. It is great for exploring the area and going on safaris and tours as it costs less because of the low budget needed for transport.

We then went to Suarga Padang Padang Ulawatu beach, a true definition of paradise. This eco-friendly, modern gem is the perfect place to relax and recharge with a view of the ocean from the mountaintop . The infinity pool is breathtaking and in-sync with all the beauty overlooking the ocean and surfing area. The rooms are beautifully decorated by the owner’s wif, an avid traveler who spoils her guests with special items in each room. All the china and silverware are handmade and are carefully chosen. Even the drinking glasses are artistic and special.

After that, we went back to Tagalagang (near Ubud) for two nights to stay at the Tijaprana hotel located inside the forest that is a perfect mix between nature and luxury.

Locals and Cuisine

Balinese people are very peaceful and kind. They appreciate life and respect everything around them. During our 15-day stay, we did not see one policeman since crime rates are incredibly low there.

The food experience is incomparable. They have a large variety of noodles and rice dishes; a haven for vegetarians as chicken and meat on the menu is very rare. However, varieties are endless in most cases.

Transportation and Regulations

The main mode we used for transportation was the scooter, which you can rent from almost any shop. No license is needed, but you will need to prove you know how to drive one and leave some money for insurance. A day can cost you around EGP100, depending on the power and age of the scooter. Gas prices are a bit more expensive than Egypt, but then again scooters take very few liters to go across the island and back. Just be very careful driving up and down the mountains, in narrow alleys and when it rains as it can be challenging, but it is very enjoyable as you get to experience life the way locals do and you can stop whenever and wherever you like to discover more.

If you are going to be moving around with luggage, you can use a taxi and bargain the price. They are fairly expensive in comparison to everything else, but you will not need them most of the time.

For safaris and day trips, make sure to check more than one service provider, as prices range for the same trip, noting that you can bargain on those too. You also need to read the itinerary carefully as some might exclude certain attractions and some include meals while others do not.

You do not need a visa as it is free for 30 days upon entry, but you have to check with Egyptian security about whether you need a permit or not, because that constantly changes.

Bali is the perfect destination for couples, groups, single travelers and family trips. You can plan your daily costs as you do in Egypt and you will have plenty left over.

Once you are there, you will never want to leave, and when it is time for you to go, you will be leaving a piece of your heart there.

 

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