Ever since we got back from Bali, we’ve had to take some time to process the trip. Usually when we get home from a trip we feel almost homesick. Homesick for the place that we visited, the experiences we had, and the people that we’ve met. This time, we were actually homesick for home. Something that’s an odd feeling for the both of us.
As some of you may know, we ended up cutting our trip short by a few days. The simplest way to explain why we did this was that we just weren’t enjoying ourselves anymore. In all honesty, Bali wasn’t all that it was cracked up to be. We aren’t sure if it was the time of the year that we went (the volcano was ready to blow) or if that’s how it was always like. It was extremely touristy, expensive, and in all honesty pretty boring. It sucked that a trip we were looking so forward to didn’t turn out the way we wanted it to too, but you know what? It’s okay to be disappointed and not like every place that you visit.
Leading up to our Bali trip we questioned whether we should even go or not. We randomly booked our flights in February because they were cheap and Bali was a place that we had always wanted to visit. During the summer we seriously contemplated whether we should actually go or just cancel our flight and go on a roadtrip or something else instead. We ultimately decided to stick the trip out and in October headed back to SE Asia. We should have known the trip wasn’t going to be the greatest when we were already faced with challenges at the beginning. Our flight from Vancouver to Taiwan was literally one of the worst flights we had ever been on. Not because it was rough, but because of the people we had to sit beside. It’s one of those things we don’t want to relive so we won’t get into details, but let’s just say you should never feel as uncomfortable as we did on a 12 hour flight…EVER.
To be honest, it takes a lot for us to dislike a place. We’ve stayed in some shady places, gotten into some weird situations, and had some of the worst food ever and have still fallen madly in love with a country. Bali was extremely different and we found it hard to fall in love with. If you’re thinking of going though, please don’t let our experience taint you. There are still tons of good to the country that we will cover in a different post! Here are some of the main reasons that we didn’t particularly enjoy Bali…and if you’re anything like us you probably won’t either.
1.) Unfriendly Travellers: Bali was the first place that we’ve travelled where we actually haven’t met that many people. One of our first main stops was Ubud. It’s a pretty chill area to visit but we still thought that we would make some friends to just chat with. We stayed at a hostel so that we would be able to meet people…even that didn’t help us. When we first got there we had to wait to check in so we took full advantage of the pool and the floaties. We grabbed a few beers and just hopped right in and started enjoying ourselves. Around the pool was full of travellers….that didn’t talk. Usually, if we see people hopping into a pool and having a blast we’ll go and introduce ourselves and join, but nobody even looked at us. They were all in their own worlds. You could tell that a lot were solo travellers as well which surprised us the most since they’re usually the friendliest. We ended up leaving Ubud a day early because we were going through people withdrawals. When we got to Gili T, the travellers were a lot friendlier than they were on the mainland. It’s where we met our main travel companions and even people that we ended up meeting up with during the rest of our travels. The other place that had more friendly travellers was in Canggu (at least the hostel where we stayed they were friendlier…aside from the pillow stealing incident). Honestly, for us, Bali isn’t a place to go if you want to make a bunch of friends unless you just stick to Gili T and Canggu since the most travellers in the other places were couples and/or families.
2.) Food: One of our favourite things about travelling around in Asia is the food. We love all of the weird food that you can try and most of all we LOVE street food stalls. Our excitement was through the roof when we headed to Bali knowing that we would be able to eat street treats. When we first landed, we were staying in Kuta. We were exhausted and didn’t really explore around that much the first night so we just thought we missed when the street food stalls came out. We held onto this false sense of hope for a few days until we faced the cold hard truth…Bali doesn’t have street food stalls. We were crushed when we learned about this (we LOVE snacks). We also try to avoid Western food while we’re travelling. Why eat it in Asia when you can eat it at home all the time? The past Asian countries that we’ve visited have had amazing cuisine and we would only cave for pizza every once in a while. In Bali, it really only had a few Indonesian dishes that were prevalent: Nasi Goreng and Mi Goreng. These are basically noodles or rice with vegetables and your choice of meat. They were made differently at every place that you got them and at most places tasted like western Chinese food. That being said, Ubud had some of the best food that we had all trip. Sure it was more western, but it was really tasty. We also saw commercials on the television of other dishes that were offered in other parts of Indonesia (just not Bali) that looked amazing. Bali isn’t the place the go if you’re looking for an amazing food experience (unless you want western food).
3.) Expensive: Asia is known for being dirt cheap and that’s why it draws in so many backpackers each year. We had heard that Bali was more pricey but we weren’t expecting it to be as pricey as it was. Every restaurant adds on a tax to your bill and in some cases the taxes on our meals ended up being close to $20 CAD ( four of us would be on one bill). The taxes alone were more than we would spend on a day of food in Thailand. The prices on menus wouldn’t include the tax so the bill at the end was always a shock. Beer was a bit cheaper than home and if you went into a Circle K you could get it for around $1.50-$2.00 CAD. Cocktails on the other hand were usually just as expensive if not more than at home. You could catch some good happy hours though and the best ones that we found were at Old Man’s in Canggu where everything was buy one get one free for an hour and at SkyGarden where between 5pm and 9pm you paid $11 CAD and got an all you can eat buffet and all you can drink (we managed to get cut off..whoops) for four hours. The food at SkyGarden was actually really good as well so that was by far the best deal and we did it twice. Other than that, make you sure you have a lot more budgeted than you would think that you need because there’s always hidden and surprising costs with everything.
4.) Not Many Free Activities: Since Bali was so expensive, we tried to find some things for free to do. They were few and far between. You could walk around some of the cities but even they didn’t have a lot of temples or museums and we found ourselves aimlessly walking around…a lot. We did do a few things such as checking out the rice fields (you had to pay a driver to take you around, pay entry, and different parts of the rice fields had people who wouldn’t let you past unless you paid), went to waterfalls (again you needed a driver and had to pay entry), went to Goa Gajah (again needed a driver and entry fee), went to Tanah Lot (again with the driver and the entry fee), and the best thing that we did was go to Waterbom. It’s one of the best waterparks in the world and it defintiely did not disappoint. It’s expensive though and cost us close to 50 dollars for admission plus any food or drinks you get while you’re in there since you aren’t allowed to bring anything from the outside. We tried to avoid buying anything but being in the sun all day we had to buy a few things of water and a snack. The things that we did see were cool, I just don’t think that they were worth the price we had to pay in order to see them.
5.) Too touristy: What we coined Bali as when we got home is the Mexico of Asia. Since it’s so close to Australia, the Aussies go there for week long trips and to stay in resort hotels. The culture was extremely lacking in Bali because of this. One day, we tried to ask some locals basic Balinese and asked how they said hello and thank you. The locals proceeded to answer us in English and just looked at us funny when we wanted to know what it was in Balinese. In other Asian countries, they will say hello, thank you, etc. in their own language and you start to pick it up. Here, basically everyone knew English and I don’t think we even heard a local speak in Balinese the whole time we were there. Part of the reason why we travel is to experience different cultures and have different experience but we felt like we really missed out with that on this trip.
6.) Too Safe: This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but sometimes you like to feel like you’re living on the edge a little bit. We don’t actually want to get mugged or attacked but I think we felt safer walking around in Bali than we do in Calgary most days. There are a TON of solo female travellers around Bali and we totally understand why. It’s one of the safest countries that you can visit and we didn’t feel unsafe even once during the whole trip.
In the end, we changed our flight home because we felt as if we had seen all that we were going to see and we honestly just didn’t feel like spending anymore more money. Everyone had talked Bali up so much before we left that we had huge expectations for it. Even when we lowered these, we realized that Bali wasn’t the Asian experience that we had experienced previously and the one that were expecting. This just shows that everyone has different preferences while travelling and just because you fall in love with a country doesn’t mean someone else will. Don’t get us wrong, Bali was a gorgeous place and the people were amazing…but it just wasn’t the adventure that we were hoping for.
ON TO THE NEXT ONE!! (Nicaragua, March 2018…whoopsie)