I literally, only had 3 days to experience the island of Bali. Bali is actually not a country despite its popularity popping up all over social media. It’s an island apart of the country Indonesia in southeast Asia. To put it in perspective…Bali is to Shanghai, China as Jamaica is to Atlanta, U.S.A. Usually, in the past I was a bit of a solo traveler but look at God! My personal photographer (My dear partner who agreed to bear with my shenanigans and help me capture this incredible journey) agreed to travel with me. The conversation really went as followed:
Me: We should go somewhere for Christmas, we have an extra day off…
Kierra: Yea, you’re right, maybe Malaysia or something?
Me: Hmm sure, or we could do Bali!
Kierra: *side eyes
Me: Wonderful, let me see your passport…
Tickets were booked that week. (As soon as I saw the best deal of course.)
Our flight left Shanghai around 2 a.m local time and from there it was about 5 to 6 hours to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. From there, our flight to Bali was about 2 hours and we landed around 1 pm on a beautiful day. I actually waited until getting to the airport to exchange my money as a friend of mines said that the exchange rate wasn’t that terrible once you arrived there.
Also, prior to the trip I was just having a conversation with my hairstylist and she recommended her driver for us. Dana, our driver, met us at the airport and drove us to our villa in Seminyak. I wanted to stay somewhere on the island with not too much of a party vibe (such as Kuta) and not too much of an “eat, pray, love” vibe (such as Ubud) and Seminyak seemed to be a good medium.
Our driver Dana, get this, only charged us 10 USD to bring us to our villa and a whopping (please catch the sarcasm) 50 USD for a full day of transport.
*I’ll leave his contact information at the bottom. Tell him Shinnell from China sent you!
We checked in at our villa, which was in a great location. Perhaps a 6 minute walk to the main road full of restaurants, massage parlors, shopping, bars and crowds of people. Off that main road there’s also a pretty decent shopping mall (WITH AN ALDO’S) and a shopping plaza with a pharmacy…maybe two, I honestly can’t remember. From that area the beach was only a 5 minute walk.
Our first day went pretty fast though, as time seems to always do on vacation instead of when you’re at work, so we settled in, ate and explored. That’s when I saw her…
…And I kept seeing renditions of “her”. Paintings of beautiful black women with natural hairstyles and round features, skin like honey and brown sugar. To see beauty not native to an area yet so widely appreciated really speaks volumes of the Balinese people.
Coming from an Asian country where so many people blatantly preach of their hopes and desires of wanting “fairer skin” or openly claiming the “white is right mantra”…gets old. A post on colorism and beauty standards in China will be coming soon because self hate “be real” out here. I don’t know abut ya’ll but there’s nothing I love to admire more than sun kissed skin…ditch the umbrella.
Hey Dana! Dana arrived at our villa on time and waited an extra 15 minutes patiently while I scrambled to put a face on (my makeup). I still ended up applying my lashes in the car. I had all my make up layed out in the front, under the gear stick…just cruising.
I was determined for us to do as much as possible as we took the little over an hour drive to Ubud. First stop we came to was Tegenungan Waterfall. The water was murky only because it was the rainy season. The mist coming off of the waterfall however kept giving my curls life again, and again and AGAIN! Weather was great and I was feeling myself.
Next stop was called Elephant Cave. A holy grail for Hinduism and Buddhism. The rain had caught us at this point so we were trekking with our umbrellas. Once you arrive, there are vendors literally EVERYWHERE. I usually don’t go shopping or buy much when I’m traveling but on this trip I did buy a few pieces.
Now just know, once you arrive to Elephant Cave (and really any other temple on the island) you must have your legs covered and if you don’t you can either A. Rent a wrap or B. Just buy one that you can keep forever (men and women) which is what I opted for.
If you go to Elephant Cave ( yes there is a cave there lol) you will see many men walking around varying in age that will offer to give you a tour for a donation. At first I said no thank you but after giving it another 5 seconds of thought I changed my mind and glad I did.
Our guide was one of few who actually lived on the grounds and maintains it. He took us everywhere and told us literally everything he could about the place. He even described the different kinds of offerings. (All over Bali, 3 times a day you’ll find well decorated offerings of plants and fruits scattered on streets, by shops and buildings).
Monkeys, Elephants, temples, the Bali swing, Tegagalalang rice terrace…and we maybe could have made it if it wasn’t for the meddling rain (but it was the rainy season so no complaints) . So if you’ve seen the glamorous photo of me on my Instagram gliding above steep rice fields you will know 1. I
hate don’t fancy heights and 2. I have maybe one photo of me NOT screaming. Without further adieu, as promised….
I should be mortified sharing this but…I’m not….even after Dana said he heard me screaming all the way from the parking lot and possibly the entire rice paddy terrace too. If you don’t want to take the leap however, there are plenty other opportunities for amazing views and photos. And if you’re into Wiz Khalifa and you can freestyle you’ll find a friend here.
We drove through the dark after an extremely long day but well worth every bead of sweat, I swear. We thanked Dana, picked up some curry and called it a night.
Our last full day in Bali and I wanted to go to one of the beach clubs early and grab a cabana however we woke up to a light drizzle and fatigue and decided to sleep in.
I know a lot of people who are against sleeping in on vacation. You’ve traveled so far and spent so much money, but your body and mind needed whatever trip you’ve found yourself on. So treat yourself.
We had breakfast brought to our room and once the drizzle cleared at about noon (ish) we headed to the beach. I had just bought an amazing dress the day before for only 7USD (If you don’t know, I’m super frugal and bargains excite me). The weather was perfect the whole 13 minute walk to the beach and I was feeling full of island glam, so…
And can I say, the food was amazing? The food was so satisfying. As a blogger, one of the things I struggle with is taking pictures of my food BEFORE I start to eat. Not only am I frugal but I love food. The plate of noodles with the fried egg cost me the equivalence of $3.45 USD. Southeast Asian cuisine is now one of my favs…still nothing on Jamaican food but perhaps i’m biased.
After we had lunch we took a nice walk, you know just a stroll about the town and passed so much beautiful architecture. We were right across the street from the Legion in Seminyak when I stopped for some pictures. While up 4 steps posing for the gram, I heard a small dog’s bark but not of the cute variety. It was more so of an attack. Time slowed down as I hurled myself off the fourth step, ran past Kierra, her camera still in hand, dodged out into the street, got honked at and sprinted 20 feet before I looked back. Someone would’ve definitely thought I stole something if I was dressed any other way. I never actually saw the dog but was only laughed at and told it was indeed…small…amongst other things I’ve come across on my travels.
My last morning in Bali I braved the chilly waters of my villa’s pool for my first cliche and quintessential photo op! Breakfast was brought in around 9am on a large floating tray. I threw on my bathing suit and eyeliner (courtesy of the night before) and dipped my toes timidly into the crisp morning waters.
End Result = perfection, picture wise, my food was definitely cold but still tasty enough to eat.
After breakfast there was an hour long massage waiting for me before I had to head to the airport. The young ladies were so pleasant and hip. They got super excited after I told them my Balinese name. Im not sure how to spell it so I won’t type it here but just know its beautiful and regal!
That was my Christmas and brief trip to Bali. In hindsight I wish I took more videos but I’m learning! A trip to Bali again is already in the works for Chinese New Year. What I love about living in Asia is that there are so many culturally diverse places I can go to. Many places a lot of people only dream of visiting when they live on one side of the earth or in a different hemisphere. I don’t have a plan to see 30 countries by 30 or all the countries in the world. If I love a place, I’ll be back time and money permitting. The real excitement comes from exploring somewhere new most of the time but there’s just something homey about returning to a place you’ve already been.
If you have any questions about Bali that I didn’t hit on in my post send me a personal message! I’d love an opportunity to add my input where needed. Better yet, if you’ve ever been to Bali and can recommend some cool things to check out or do next time I would really appreciate that also.
*My driver Dana