I’ve been meaning to write up part two of my Bali travel guide for ages, so sorry I’ve been a bit crap on that front! I think I’ve just been dreading having to revisit the best holiday of my life because it just reiterates the fact that I’m not there. It just emphasises the fact that instead of being woken up in the middle of the night by 33 degree heat or wild monkeys climbing on your bed, I’m now being woken up by human night howlers. Oh yes, somehow every weekend the people of Brighton go ape sh*t down our road. This weekend a woman decided that circa two AM was a GREAT time to become a werewolf and howl at the moon for a whole 30 mins whilst proclaiming God loved her friends and wanted them to be happy. Ahem, *correction* my guess is God is up there just trying to get his solid eight hours, just like the rest of us, and would quite like you to stfu perhaps, maybe. So yeah, that happened. On another note, I’ve also accidentally invested my whole life in Love Island but that’s a whole other 2,000 word essay. Without further ado, it’s high time we got back to the peace and quiet of Bali sunsets and hatha flow. True to my word, here’s the second serving of my guide to travelling Bali in a fortnight. Better late than never, eh!
We stayed in the breathtaking Temple Lodge, a beautiful family-run hotel nestled right in the clifftops and overlooking Bingin Beach. It’s made up of nine suites, each constructed using natural resources, driftwood, river stone and local coral. The ocean views from this place were simply unmatched – every day I liked to play a little game called, ‘let’s give Joe a heart attack’ by perching right on the edge and watching the surfers below catching the waves.
From the minute we arrived, it felt more like we were staying in someone’s home rather than a hotel. We felt instantly welcome thanks to Ame, his family and the lovely guests also staying on site. We all sat around the dinner table together, discussing our time in Bali and sharing recommendations. Despite the intimacy of the dinner setting, we were still able to enjoy our own private time too. Our room was absolutely incredible! We stayed in the Temple Suite which boasted its own private pool and outside shower area – it was grand in the most homely of ways and definitely big enough to accommodate four people. It reminded me of something out of A Little Princess when Sara used to tell vivid stories about India to the other boarding school girls – ah, it’s one of my favourite films! Every evening, the maids came round to dress our room, putting our mosquito net over our bed and lighting the candle. The bedroom was pretty much plonked in the middle of the great outdoors. You could shut the main door off from the pool but the shower area was always open which meant… monkeys. Ha, but it’s all part of the experience. There were a lot of geckos crawling all over the bed canopy and making cute kissing sounds too so, if you’re not all that good with wildlife you might be better off opting for one of the more enclosed suites. Obviously Dr Dolittle over here bladddy loved it didn’t she. Oh, did I mention they have a house dog too? That was a huge Brucie bonus for me tbh.
The food was absolutely delicious (the sushi was amazing – so much so, I didn’t even let the camera enjoy it first and that’s saying something for someone who isn’t crazy about fish) and the breakfast was included with our booking, WINNING. Every morning we could choose our coffee, a health juice and our grub. The first morning there I had a dragon fruit smoothie bowl topped with banana and homemade muesli, then I had banana pancakes. Twice. I think you can gather they were good.
The hotel has an on site spa and in-house yoga studio along with a daily schedule taking place between 8 – 9.30 AM, so if you wanted to make your stay here a bit of a yoga retreat or just a place to get some well deserved R&R, you could definitely do that. Since we had such a busy time in Ubud and were pretty active on Gili T too, we decided to take it down a notch or two while we were here. I still managed to get up and do a sweaty yoga class once, so I wasn’t totally lazy but if I’m totally honest, I was really enjoying using our time there to just take it all in. It’s such an incredible island and the scale of its beauty constantly surprises you. That yoga class though, wow. I thought I was relatively fit – I mean I hiked a volcano a few days prior to this – but omg, planking. hell. I was sweating in places I never knew existed, in positions I didn’t think I’d ever make it out of but I’m glad my spine had a great time.
It’s been at least five sentences too long since we last discussed food so let’s focus here. We ate breakfast and lunch at the hotel (usually this is a no go for me, but this place was so secluded and homely, it made me want to spend all of our time there) and had dinner out for two of the three nights. We had mahi mahi burger fresh off the beach BBQ which was amazing – again for someone who doesn’t rate fish, it was a taste sensation. Meaty, smokey, best served with lashings of BBQ sauce – the only mistake I ever made in Bali was not ordering that burger but I had a good go at eating half of Joe’s. Sit and befriend the local beach dogs (an acquired taste maybe), watch the orchid-coloured sunsets (everybody’s idea of a good time) and gather up some stamina to ascend back up the cliff top (a universal vision of hell). My quads never forgave me after that. It was probably the equivalent of a level 15 incline on the treadmill. But worth every ounce of blood, mahi mahi burger-sweat and tears.
We visited the Uluwatu temple because when in Bali, you gotta hit ’em up style. Recognise that phrase right there? Let me put you out of your misery. It’s a Blue Cantrell song – yep, I think I have a mild obsession with her. Now, as much as I’d say it was good go to the temple to say we’d done it, it’s not all that big so if you’re short on time you won’t be missing much if you can’t get round to it. I’d say the water temple in Ubud has a lot more to offer, especially if you time it right with the holy days.
That said, the main reason we did make time to go to Uluwatu temple was for the fire dance. This is one of the traditional Balinese dances and consists of a chorus of 70 men chanting and making noises I’ve only ever made when I’m 11 gins down and motorboating a McDonald’s. It’s quite hypnotic and weirdly relaxing to watch.
I also indulged in my second lot of spa treatments in the space of a week – mounting a volcano in torch light is stressful on the vertebra mmmk. And so is that hardcore yoga class that I did, the one that I definitely wasn’t hardcore enough to take part in. I don’t even have a core, that’s how unprepared I was. I’m like an IKEA bookcase – there’s just no telling which part of me is meant to go where because someone has their arse cheek sat on the missing piece and in this case, it’s THE CORE.
The spa treatments are thorough and more importantly cheap. Ridiculously cheap. So if you’re a sucker for a pair of oily hands on you then you’re in luck. Of course, I won’t be your masseuse so it won’t be as creepy as THAT just sounded.
This was our final stop and by this point we were more than ready to just eat and do sweet FA. But not sweet FA as you know it, the LC version of sweet FA i.e still travelling around a wee bit but with less speed, more haste. We stayed at Hotel Tugu, situated right on the beach front next to Old Man’s and within a 10 minute walk of all the foodie hangouts I had relentlessly typed up and screenshot before we landed in Bali. I am so much more than just a gluttonous sweaty oversharing blonde version of Hagrid by the way, I promise, I’m alluring AF really. No, the pretence is killing me, I AM a gluttonous sweaty blonde with a Hagrid shaped appetite and if I could have a three headed dog called a fluffy without getting reported I SO would.
But yes, Canggu is to foodies what bait is to fish – dangerous but irresistible. It’s impossible to walk 100 yards without a delectable waft or an organic health joint luring you in – like the spinning wheel in Sleeping Beauty, only instead of pricking your finger, you eat so much you voluntarily slip into a coma for 100 years. It happens to the best of us.
My favourite eats were, ohhh I know, sorry! For a second I thought I had to think about it but it’s this Italian place. Weird I know, you travel 17 hours on a plane to eat pizza Lareese, that’s a cardinal sin if ever I’ve heard of one. Well, yes and I would have said the same but this place lived up to the mountain of rave reviews. It’s called La Baracca and you can find it just behind the main road past Canteen (a famous breakfast haunt). Freddie, the guy that runs it, has such a lovely manner with the customers and makes you feel instantly welcome – nothing is pretentious, it’s just a case of rolling up your sleeves and polishing off the loaf of bread and oil they give you as a light refreshment while you decide what carbs you want to surrender yourself to next. Oh and don’t do what I did and wear anything you remotely care about – you will dribble oil down yourself and smell like balsamic for weeks. Other places I loved included The Slow for a quick juice pit stop and a perv at some hanging plants and art work. You know me. A bit further down the main strip of restaurants there’s a really cute restaurant called Dandelion serving authentic and ridiculously cheap Indonesian food. Gypsy is great little spot for lunch but the portions aren’t quite a Hagrid handful, and Cafe Organic is good for any vegans – though, my food was a little bland and something I could have prepared myself. The moral of the story? Never eat out and order a salad, who even am I? I must have been jet lagged.
We also had to pay The Shady Shack a visit too – naturally – and it was really good. I had the best avo on toast I’ve ever had and I’m well aware of how basic that sounds but it doesn’t make it any less true. The aesthetic is also dreammmmy with a capital D. It’s bright, leafy and as the name suggests, there’s plenty of shade for you to sit and watch the world go by. I loved it there and wish we had had time to go back to try one of their famous smoothie bowls. The one thing I would say is expect pretentious types and take them with a pinch of salt. They’ll be a lot of ‘sugar is satan’ talk going on around you, but don’t let it make you feel like you’re not worthy of a doughnut or that the vacay overhang coming between you and your table is anything but beautiful. Everything in moderation right? I guess everywhere has its very own slice of LA and as long as you remember that, you’ll love it there.
I’m 2,205 words in and that was like 22% of my dissertation so, I think I might need to wrap this Balinese bloggy burrito up before you never ever come back to me. If you stay in Canggu it’s worth taking a trip down to Seminyak for the day to do the whole beach club, swanky coffee shops ting (Revolver coffee is a must). It’s a little more geared towards tourists and Instagram than Canggu but we only went for the day so I’m sure it has plenty more to offer than cute donuteries and ‘gram worthy restaurants. Sea Circus does some lovely grub, I had the chicken quesadillas and they were finger lickin’ good. But a word on that famous coloured wall that appears everywhere – it’s very difficult to get a photo in front of it a) because the whole world and his wife want to add it to their IG hall of fame and b) because it’s on the main road down to the beach, so there’s a small chance whoever is taking the photo won’t live to show you just how trim your shins were looking that day. Be careful out there kids. Come back in the late afternoon for a late lunch, you’ll thank me for it.
Ok, if I’ve missed anything I’ll be sure to extend this into a Bali part three but I’m not sure my heartstrings or my BMI could face that tbh. I love you guys A LOT but a girl’s gotta go shower now because I’ve got that clammy sofa/pj butt thing going on when you’ve been sat down for too long. Love you bye.