Bali. I hear about this magical island since I am a kid because my aunt used to tell me stories about her unforgettable road-trip there, at a time when it wasn’t the Australian backpackers headquarter yet. I was watching her old pictures of desert beaches, fishermen, palm trees, and motorbike…it looked so dreamy, and such a different world! This is why, when I left for a year in Australia when I was 20, I promised myself that a successful trip to Australia would be topped by a trip to Bali!
Immersion at the Keliki Painting School
I did say that Bali became “the place to be” for Australian surfers and party animals…but the truth is that you can escape this atmosphere during your trip to Bali, if you go deep enough in the heart of the island, away from Kuta and Uluwatu.
So we decided to leave Kuta with Lili – AKA my travel buddy in Australia – to spend a week in the tiny village of Keliki, lost in the rice fields, North of Ubud. A driver came to pick us up and we spent more than 3 hours in the car, listening to some Gamelan, the Balinese traditional music.
Keliki village has a really renowned painting school. More than a complete immersion in the Balinese day-to-day life, I think it is one the best places to explore Bali: rice fields, volcanos, waterfalls, and temples…it’s all around.
Ascend of the Mount Batur
On that night we were invited to a village ceremony, and I had the chance to wear traditional clothes. It was really impressive to see them all praying, giving alms and watching the traditional sacred dances...with a constant and heady song and incense smell. Balinese people have countless religious events in their calendar, so this is not so rare to be able to participate to one of them during a trip to Bali. But it is rarer to be the only foreigners to participate!
We had to leave for the Mount Batur on the same night, so we only slept 3 hours and started the ascend around 4.00am. I don’t know if it’s because of the dark, or because we were tired, or just because of the steep ascend…but we clearly struggled! But the view from the top was so amazing that we instantly forgot about the pain! It was cold and we were surrounded by clouds…but at the last minute, the sun appeared to give us a great sunrise show!
I think I actually found the descent even more beautiful than the view on top of the volcano, as you are walking on the ridges between the craters and the valley.
Diving on the Tulamben Liberty Shipwreck
I have always loved to read National Geographic magazine, without thinking one second that one day, I would find myself into some of these adventure spots! As Lili and I were both divers, it was obvious that we would go for a dive during our trip to Bali, and it was obvious that it would be on one of the most accessible shipwrecks in the world, located on the North Shore, in Amed.
Most of the shipwrecks are located in very deep or dangerous spots…which actually explains why these boats ended up there. But Tulamben diving site is directly accessible from Amed beach, with a 30 meters maximum depth and an amazing visibility…it is like diving in a tropical fish tank!
So we put on our wetsuits and followed our guide to the black sand beach. As we sunk deeper into the water, the shipwreck appeared, covered by coral and home to so many fishes. We needed 2 different dives to explore the inside and outside of the shipwreck.
I had the chance to go on amazing dives during my travels…but this one remains the most beautiful for me, so it doesn’t matter if you are a beginner or a diving expert, just go there.