By Lany Sumardika
When I was asked to write an article about my recent trip to Bali, I was more excited about writing it than I thought I would be. I think this is because I had such a good time on my holiday, that I’ll take any excuse to relive the memories. Although I did quite a lot, I decided to only discuss a couple of my favourite holiday adventures.
Something I highly recommend doing whilst in Bali is quad biking. At first I wasn’t really excited by the idea, but it definitely became one of the highlights of my trip. We asked our driver where the best place to ride quad bikes is and so he took us to Badung Adventure Tours, about an hour’s drive from Kuta. We had a choice of either a single bike ($60-$70) or a tandem bike ($90-$100) but we all chose single bikes, purely because we’re not a bunch of sissies.
The ride consisted of three parts. First was a short circuit in muddy water so you get the feel of the bike and how to use the brakes and acceleration properly. Then you hit the streets. Yes, the actual streets of Bali (if you’ve ever been to Bali before, you can understand how scary this concept might be). However, because we weren’t in a busy area, the traffic wasn’t that bad at all. We were told to just stay to the left and keep speed, and we’d be all good.
We followed the roads for a little while and then got directed along a path that winds through some beautiful rice fields. The scenery was gorgeous. I had to keep reminding myself not to get too distracted otherwise I’d probably lose control of my bike. This ride lasted for about 30-40 minutes and then we were taken back to home base.
After a short toilet and refreshment break, it was time for some real action. We took a different path through more rice fields to a steep (and I mean, I’m-not-sure-I-can-do-this, steep) hill that led into a river. As soon as you break that fear barrier and hit the water, a rush comes over you and you can just sense how much fun this is going to be.
The river current was quite strong and was going against us, so often it was hard to keep control of the bike, but the instructors were always around to help if we needed them. The scenery again was magnificent. We were driving through bright green rainforests, which kind of made me feel bad for driving through on this fuel-injected machine, but let’s not get into that.
We rode for about 45 minutes before stopping at a little pit stop. There was a little hut where we sat and rested while the instructors gave us some water to keep hydrated. We took some photos, chatted with the instructors and just took it all in. Once everyone was good to go, we headed back the way we came, which was actually a lot quicker than the first time, as the current actually helped to push us along. We got back to home base where they had prepared lunch for us, and gave us a free T shirt with Badung Adventure Tours on it which was a great keepsake.
The next leg of our holiday was going to the Gili Islands. The Gilis are a group of three small islands located in between Bali and its neighbouring island, Lombok. The islands are called Gili Trawangan, known as the ‘party’ island, Gili Meno, which is primarily for honeymooners, and Gili Air, which has more of a family-friendly atmosphere.
Gili Trawangan (or just Gili T for short) is the largest of the islands and is famous for having some of the wildest parties in the world. But there is a lot more to it than just non-stop raving as the island itself is filled with fascinating culture and loads of adventure. The easiest way to get there from Bali is by speedboat. They leave daily from various destinations and can cost between $50-$120 for a return ticket, depending on where you book the trip and what time of year it is.
I have been to Gili T twice now and stayed in the same hotel both times. The Beach House Resort has many rooms, including villas that have their own private pool. Complimentary breakfast was awesome, but there are restaurants and bars that have amazing food and cocktails all the way along the main street, so there was no shortage of choice!
The island is actually so small that there is no need for motor vehicles; everywhere is reachable by bike or horse and carriage. Even the locals get around like this. One morning, we decided to go for a bike ride. Bikes are available for hire all down the main street and only cost about $5 a day. It was 6am, and I can honestly say, that is the best time to go. The streets are quiet, the air is cool, and the beach is the image of perfection. It only took us about 40 minutes to ride all the way around the island, passing some gorgeous sights along the way.
One of the main activities we wanted to do whilst we were in Gili T was scuba diving. We asked the hotel staff which diving school was the best and we were recommended Blue Marlin Dive, which was only about 300 metres from our hotel. We were able to do it on the day which was great, and we basically got to start straight away, filling in a bit of paperwork and learning the basic skills. It was about $65 per person. We had to spend an hour or so in the pool, learning how to use our equipment and before we knew it, we were on the boat to our dive site.
Being a first timer, I was a little nervous about the whole idea of being 12 metres underwater. But as soon as I got in the water, I forgot about all my worries because I was so entranced by the beauty of the underwater world. There were all kinds of fish, large and small, pretty and… pretty ugly. However, I was most amazed by the turtles. We saw a couple throughout our dive, and it was incredible how close we could get to them and they were just so chilled out about it. We weren’t allowed to touch anything, but just watching them swim around, it really was like a scene from Finding Nemo.
The dive lasted for about 45 minutes, and I was so impressed by it that I decided to do an Open Water course, which qualifies me to be able to dive anywhere in the world without having to do in-pool training beforehand. This cost around $400 which sounds like a lot but if it gets put to good use, it’s worth it in the long run. The course takes about three days to complete, because you have to do some theory work and an exam (yawn) first, as well as three more dives, two of which are at 18 metres deep.
Aside from all the serious stuff though, my dive instructor was the biggest party animal. He invited us all out for dinner and drinks one night, which also happened to be the night that Blue Marlin Dive hosted their weekly party. Needless to say, we all felt and looked great at 9am the next morning for more dive training…
Like all holidays though, they must come to an end. Usually this happens before you know it and you’re wishing you could travel back in time and do it all again! I definitely have nostalgia when I think about this holiday, but there’s no doubting I’ll be doing it again pretty soon!