Against all warning, we took a 25 minute Uber ride across Bali from the town of Sanur to Legian (Leg- e- on)
We settled on Legian which is between Kuta and Seminyak (the places we were warned not to visit). We read that Legian is better suited for adults and not as much of a crowded party scene.
That is only kind of true…
Within a mile of our hotel, we hit the traffic of cars, motorbikes and pedestrians like a wall. We started to experience all of the reasons we had been warned to avoid this area. On the other hand we couldn’t beat the high quality hotel we booked for $20.
We set off to get the lay of the land and grab a late lunch. We walked for 15 minutes through the streets and passed literally hundreds of street side stalls selling the same exact hats, shirts and trinkets as every other shop.
With every one of them yelling out to us in an attempt to get us to look through their merchandise. When not being harassed by the street hawkers, it was a massage parlor trying to entice you or a taxi driver asking “transport?”
The ability to offer a polite decline became more and more difficult with every step. After lunch we thought we could save ourselves the trouble by walking along the beach.
The beach has nice sand, clean water with fun waves and access to chairs, umbrellas and drinks. We decided to settle in a couple of chairs and order beers to accompany the sunset. The cloud cover made the sunset underwhelming but it checked off our goal of having the rare pleasure to see the sun rise and set over the ocean on the same day.
That evening we ate dinner at KOKO, a simple Indonesian cafe near our hotel, the owner practically escorted us in from the street but we were happy to oblige to his warm request.
After dinner, we braced ourselves for the forewarned chaos of drunk 18 year old Aussies and went for a night out. We stopped in the most happening bar in the vicinity, Uncle Norm’s. There was live music and a somewhat rowdy crowd, but not at all what we had imagined. It was mostly full of people aged 50+ reliving their spring break glory days. It wasn’t exactly our scene, but we did enjoy a few beers and some fascinating people watching.
We headed back to the hotel laughing about the reviews being a more mature vibe, now knowing what that really meant.
We woke up and enjoyed a great breakfast at Beny Lane. Liz and I liked it so much we returned the next two days as well. They could make a legit iced coffee that made Liz pretty happy!
With full bellies we headed towards the beach to take advantage of the incredibly comfortable lounge chairs. The touters are aggressive, they flock to you as soon as you sit down. Anything from jewelry, henna tattoos, wood carvings to surf board rentals. Even the sweet eighty year old woman starts massaging you trying to get you to secure her services for the day. After many many persistent No Thank You’s we were left at peace.
We mixed in a little swimming, resting, and surfing at the beach over the course of several hours.
We stopped for a great lunch at The Smiling Frog. The Mahi Mahi was cheap and delicious.
On the way back to our room we stopped at the pool and played around. Between the sun and the pool games we had sufficiently drained our energy so we headed in for a nap.
Seeing as it was Friday night we revived a Nate and Liz New York tradition and made our way out for date night, which always includes Mexican food and margaritas.
While the food and drinks were about as good as you would expect Mexican to be in Indonesia, it still felt special. Even though Liz and I have spent just about every second together for the last few months, it was nice to share our tradition.
We had one more failed attempt to go out and explore the bar scene. New night, new bars, new weird older people. But we did see a local dress up like Michael Jackson and perform a lip sync dance to Black or White…phenomenal people watching in Legian.
The next day it was time to check out but we decided that our hotel was too convenient, nice and cheap to leave even though we were done exploring Legian. We decided to stay put but spend our final two days exploring other areas because they were within driving distance.
The first location was Uluwatu, a place known for it’s beautiful cliff coastline and amazing pro level surfing. We hired an Uber and for about 10 dollars and he took us the 45 minutes to the Uluwatu temple. When we arrived he offered to wait but knowing we had a full day planned we decided to chance it and not pay for him to sit around all day.
Sidebar: Bali has uber, which is very cheap and metered taxis which are only about 50% more. Unfortunately, there are also lots of private drivers that intimidate cabs and uber away from picking up tourist at common tourist destinations. These guys will offer rides at rates 3 to 10 times as much as an uber. Avoid these guys at all costs.
Uluwatu temple is a stunning site to walk.
We spent about an hour touring the temple grounds, watching the waves crash against the cliffs, gasping at the blue expansive view of the Indian Ocean and keeping our belongings away from the monkeys that run the place
We began walking towards the beach, knowing it was a 4 min cab or 25 minute walk. There were no cabs that came by so we decided to see if hitch hiking would work. It did! A smiley middle aged local woman and her Singaporean partner picked us up in their a/c car and dropped us off at the beach.
We walked down a narrow alley way, carved out by small shops. Then a sign pointed us down a steep set of stairs.
The beach we landed upon was small in size but large in character. It’s a cove beach with a cave to explore and very choppy waves that come into the cove. We explored for an hour and then walked to find the next beach on our list.
After observation, we determined this joint to be a place where surfers store their stuff as they surf and then retreat to after a long day for food and drinks. We spent at least an hour there watching the experts show off their skills, enjoying cold drinks and playing cards.
Travel tip: Carry playing cards with you on day trips. It’s such a fun thing to have when you have a long commute or want to kill time. Ours are water proof which is even better! Plus, it engages other people, who might join you or starts conversation about your game.
Our last stop in Uluwatu was to watch the sunset at Single Finn Bar.
This outdoor deck has three levels of seating and fills up with a couple hundred surfers, bikini clad beach goers, locals and visitors.
We arrived an hour before sunset and got the last table. The vibe was right up our alley, popular but not too popular, good background music and a view. We ordered some fish tacos, a couple beers and watched the sunset. The clouds again were in the way… We were starting to think that might just be how it is here.
With the lack of options on uber or metered taxis at the location and time, we had to bite the bullet and pay a local driver $25 to get us back to Legian. Leaving the peace of Uluwatu behind us, we were welcomed back to dingy old Legian!
Our next day was our final day and night in Bali. We went to our favorite breakfast place again and did some work in the morning. Around noon, we took a quick 15 minute uber to Seminyak. Driving through Seminyak looked so nice, and we realized we should have been staying there.
We pulled up to the very posh Potato Head Beach club. All of the day beds were taken but we found a sofa next to the lawn to be our hub.
We ordered some fancy non- alcoholic drinks, rented towels and got our wristband for pool access.
We first played in the beach for a while, the waves were big and fun to play in. Then we made our way to the warm infinity pool.
The DJ was spinning and beautiful people occupied the entire beach club, it felt like a much more chilled out version of something you might find in Miami Beach. There were no bottles being obnoxiously popped or rowdy drinkers. Our time there was so enjoyable and the service and quality are excellent.
We stayed there all day and watched the sun go down, unfortunately the cloud coverage made for another so so sunset but extremely enjoyable regardless from the pool with mocktails in hand.
The club is quite expensive which we were prepared for. We were conscious of our spending, ordering 3 non-alcoholic drinks each and splitting some fries during the day and that was around $50 USD, not bad for a full day at a beautiful club so don’t rule this place out, even if you are on a travelers budget like us! Plus their mocktails are just as creative and delicious.
We opted to stay in Seminyak for dinner and found a Vietnamese restaurant! We hadn’t had Vietnamese since our cab ride to the Sydney Airport, so we were salivating when we arrived. We split our two favorites, a Bahn Mi and Pho Bo.
We ordered the Oreo shake to split for dessert and once again, Bali just doesn’t quite understand what a milk shake is. Our “shake” was two scoops of ice cream with a few whole Oreos in it. Nate took it into his own hands to blend.
We got back to the hotel via metered taxi and packed our stuff in anticipation of departing the next morning. We went back to our friend Kokos restaurant for breakfast this time and had a really good breakfast before catching our flight.
The relaxation in Bali is over,but the excitement continues on to more adventure in Java!
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