Bali was one of those places that had never been on my radar as a must see, I had thought that it was a place that was only for surfers or sunbathers, I am neither of these things. In fact there was lots to do and plenty to see in Bali. It is certainly not the cheapest place to visit which is why I skipped it in my backpacking days. It has a steady market of honeymooners and is the Spain of Australians so their economy is strong and it is reflected in their prices.
We stayed in two locations the first being Sanur meaning Snore. It is seen as the quiet dull town in the South of the island. Whilst I will admit that it was not the beer fueled surfing and diving town of Kuta it was far from dull. I welcomed the tranquility of Sanur and it served as an excellent base for exploring the island. As much as it can be temping to find a favourite place to eat when you are away from home and camp out there we were insistent on trying somewhere new to eat very day and for every meal. As free of clubs and parties as Sanur was it was not short of place to eat. Some of the larger restaurants also had live music on. Further along the coast from Party Kuta and Sanur was Nusa Dua, now if solitude is what you are looking for than this is the place for you, although the choice of food and drink was limited.
Sanur is walking distance to Denpasar, the capital of Bali. The route is all flat so achievable even in the heat of the day. You will get stared at for walking there and may, as we did get asked several times if we had lot our tour group. It is not the done thing to walk around but if you want to you can, you do have to brave the odd looks and take your life in your hands to cross the road traversing an endless stream of weaving beeping mopeds and the occasional air conditioned tour bus. On the walk we saw a number of stunning carving workshops, all the embassy residencies and stumbled upon the orchid farm. We were very happy to have stumbled upon this.
In Denpasar itself the moped traffic may wear you down and you may feel like hailing a tuk tuk just to cross the road. The two place that are certainly worth seeing in the capital the first being Bajra Sandhi a imposing black structure in the centre of a public park that tells the story of Bali on the road to independence from Dutch rule through dioramas. The second is museum Negri Propinsi, whilst the exhibits themselves are a little timeworn and not that engaging the building and gardens are well worth the visit.
During the day in Sanur was much quieter but had endless coastline to explore. The shops and markets in Sanur, Kuta and Nusa Dua are not the best, mainly beer t shirts and novelty nonsense. That being said there were a couple of gems in Sanur that had beautiful Indonesian puppets and carvings. Sanur was also perfectly situated for visiting surrounding areas such as Tannah Lot, this must be one of the most photographed temples, it is stunning in its architecture and situation. From Sanur we also visited Temple and went to see a Barong dance.
Along the coast there are a range of hotels, from the grand to the intimate. Personally the large grand hotels did not appeal to me and I did not want to get caught up in any all inclusive deals. I like to go out and explore rather than feeling I need to stay in the hotel complex to 'get my moneys worth'. Certainly on the South side of the island the sea is better for diving and surfing rather than swimming. Be cautious of quiet bays as there are a number of areas that have very dangerous undertow, be sure to check before swimming. With that in mind if you really like a holiday swim perhaps finding a hotel with a pool would be the best option, you can still do this for a reasonable price. We did pick our favourite snack and breakfast spot in Sanur, a place called Manik Organik, fantastic range of juices and smoothies.
The second place that we made our home during this trip was Ubud. This was indeed my favourite out of the two locations. The markets were a great place to shop and haggle. I also spent the day on a cooking course here, it was so much fun and a great way to bring a little of Bali home. There are various restaurants that will run courses, just ask, I took mine at Bumbu Bali, Ubud.