As touristy as its become, Bali definitely still retains its tropical charm and sacred reverence between the thunder of motorbikes and taxis hawking their services. Around every corner sits another shrine decorated with daily crafted bamboo leaf offerings of incense, fruits, and snacks. The Hindu statues guarding the temple shrines are elaborate and have a unique Balinese take on the posing of the various gods.
I’m staying at the Island Hostel in Legian: affordable at about $11USD, small, acceptably clean (the showers are kinda gnarly), with a relaxing infinity pool and rooftop villa to help convey the idea of paradise. It’s perfect for my first experience of the island, although I’m only here for one day before I move to another location on the island.
South Bali is mostly just for relaxing at the beach. It’s crammed with a combination of huge resorts and quaint homestays alongside hawkers catering cheap goods to tourists and the constant badgering of taxi drivers asking you if you want a ride. There’s a ton of sunburned drunk Australians yelling “Aussie Aussie Aussie” on motorbikes everywhere and all the locals are constantly trying to make a buck off you. Kuta has also got some ruckus nightclubs operating along Legian St, but I was much more comfortable in the classier cocktail bars set up on the sands of Seminyak beach, drinking a Bintang as the night surf rolled in. I’m glad I got to experience South Bali, but instead of learning about local culture, I mostly just learned how not to get scammed. The influx of tourists has made Bali more expensive. While housing and food might still be cheap, the SIM card I got with 4G cost more than two times the cost of my accomodation.
I spent the day exploring Legian beach (very relaxing) all the way down in the art markets of Kuta. After getting lost a bit, I stumbled upon a Hindu ceremony with singing and effigy burning (the original Burning Man?). After quick dip in the pool back at the hostel and a shower, I went exploring Seminyak’s classier vibe, and found plenty of grand resorts and nice restaurants to check out. After splurging a bit on dinner at Kuali for authentic Indonesian food, i strolled along the beach where a number of bars set up comfy beanbag chairs, tables, and live music out on the surf.