After an 11 hour stop over in Qatar on the way out, which we had spent exploring the deserted Souks and trying to understand how anyone could live in a country that was 45 degrees + at 6 in the morning, we landed in Denpasar, eager to see what Bali had to offer.
By Jake Baggaley | @everydayadventureuk
I’d had mixed expectations, while my wife Faye was nothing but excited. I was slightly sceptical because of its reputation as a party island, picturing so many tourists crammed into such a small space. I was worried it would feel overcrowded and un-authentic...Luckily, as soon as we made the decision to ditch the guidebook and stay away from anywhere it recommended, we realised the whole of this tiny little Indonesian island was packed full of incredible places, just a little bit off the beaten track and waiting to be explored!
After spending a few days in the built-up south of the island, mostly spent eating way too much amazing veggie and vegan food alongside Australian expats and health conscious western tourists, we swapped our bike for an old Suzuki 4x4 (with an engine around the same size as the bike...) and swapped the trendy streets of Canggu for the rice paddies, jungles and mountains of Northern Bali. Driving in Indonesia is an adventure in itself, mopeds pull out from junctions and fill every inch of empty space between cars without warning, and the only concept of right of way is the bigger you are the more likely other vehicles are to get out of your way, so I was enjoying the slight upgrade in this hierarchy, from Bike to Small 4x4. The congested roads of the south soon turned into undulating jungle roads surrounded by rice paddies and forest, and the vegan cafes and avocado on toast turned into spit-roasted pigs and Nasi goreng.
We spent a few days just North of Ubud, exploring jungle temples and rice paddies, as well as stopping into the infamous Monkey forest, before heading even further north into the volcanic landscape and waterfall hotspot of Munduk, where we made the most of the seemingly endless number of trails leading into the jungles full of impressive scenery. Between us we had a Marsden 32L rucksack and a Smith 15L, the ideal combination, we took the Smith with us for shorter trips and the Marsden was perfect for longer days exploring, when we needed plenty of food, water and protection from the rain and insects of the misty northern mountains. The separate section in the base alternated between a place to store my camera gear and a place to keep my muddy running trainers away from the rest of our stuff.
Bali exceeded both of our expectations. This beautiful and photogenic island is absolutely crammed full of incredible places, fascinating culture and architecture. We left after our relatively short trip feeling like there was so much more we wished we could have seen and eager to return to Indonesia soon, to explore the rest of its islands.