Braving reef breaks, riding waves, watching beautiful sunsets, all-night partying, staring at the beauty around you (AKA people-surfing), communing with nature, immersing in culture and arts, lounging by the beach, gorging in mouthwatering food, zipping through the streets in a motorcycle.. anything and everything that floats your boat, name it! Bali has all this in store for all kinds of people looking for their own brand of fun.
I stayed in the island in September 2013 and though I had doubts regarding the length of our stay (7 days felt too long), my thoughts on the plane going home was "When can I go back?"
I now understand why people who come over for a couple of days end up staying for months.

Let's start with the first thing that comes to mind... Eat.Pray.Love. by Elizabeth Gilbert. Don't come to Bali looking for your own Javier Bardem. If you don't get out of Kuta, all you will ever find are drunk good-looking people perfect for flings. If you're lucky you might find people who are genuine and inspiring like the group of locals we met at Kuta Beach.

Now that you have thrown out your cheesy (or sleazy!) purpose, look around and experience Bali.

What to See.Hear.Explore. in Bali 

At the top of the list is visiting the temples and seeing for yourself samples of world-renowned Balinese architecture. Although the contemporary Balinese style is seen anywhere in the island, spending a couple of days to explore the houses and temples outside of Kuta is a must.

It will be impossible to visit each one as there are thousands (and you can get temple-sick too), so here's a short list of temples worth seeing.


Tourists flock to Ulun Danu Bratan for the cool climate (think Baguio) and the striking location of the temple. The complex is located by the Lake Bratan, surrounded by the mountains of Bedugul. A pagoda sits on a small island, separated from the rest of the complex. Boats on the other side of the temple are available for rent for those who want to sail.

Pura Ulun Danu Bratan

Pura Taman Ayun is a picturesque complex with rows of pagodas separated from the temple gardens by a moat and a concrete wall.

Pura Taman Ayun 

Do not miss the chance to watch the sunset at Pura Luhur Uluwatu. The temple is situated on a cliff side with a pagoda looking over the sea. A Kecak Fire Dance performance (a must-watch!) is held every night in time for sunset. Remember to take care of your belongings while going around the temple since monkeys are common in this area. They might surprise you on the way.

Pura Luhur Uluwatu

My personal favorite is Pura Gunung Kawi. After a 15-min trek through rice paddies and streams, a huge stone cliff with larger-than-life carvings await. Since the site is located in the midst of rice fields, you can hear the birds calling, the sound of the river flowing, and the sound of wind chimes in chorus.

Pura Gunung Kawi

Other temples that you can visit are: Goa Gajah which features a gaping mouth as a cave entrance and Tirta Empul where the Balinese bathe in the sacred spring with intentions for good health and fortune.


The best way to visit the temples is to hire a taxi. The rates are usually from 400-450K rupiahs for 10 hours (haggling included). Note that the trip would usually go beyond 10 hours (the sites are 1-2 hours away from Kuta) so do make it a point to tip the driver generously. Our driver also divided the temples into 2 areas so we spent 2 whole afternoons for the visits.

Most temples also have entrance fees (usual rate at 30K IDR). Ladies on their period are not allowed to enter the temples as this goes against religious beliefs. Sarongs are also provided at the temple entrances and part of the fun is choosing a colorful cover-up.

After a tiring day of visiting temples, it is mandatory to get a bottle of Bintang while you sit back and wiggle your tired feet on the sand!

Coming up next on See.Hear.Explore. Bali: Life on the Beach!

I keep telling people that I enjoyed my stay in Bali and I keep getting questions in return. Why? What's in Bali? If there's one reason why you should visit Bali, the answer is in that photo. 
We could always argue that we have a better sunset by the beach in Boracay, with the finest, white sand, but Bali makes up for it with its endearing, laid back and never-pretentious vibe. 

No permanent structure can be found on the wide stretch of sand, but vendors are allowed to pitch umbrellas, bring plastic chairs, and sell ice-cold Bintang from their ice boxes. The beach is separated from the streets and the restaurants by a tall, white wall, effectively isolating the beach from the rest of the traffic. 
One of the entrances leading to the beach, built in Balinese-architecture style
Most restaurants have roofdecks facing the beach for people who want to see the sunset but do not want to get sand on their feet. Who does that anyway? The best place to catch the sunset is by the beach, sitting on the sand, with a Bintang in hand.
On the first afternoon that we spent on Kuta Beach, we luckily found a bunch of spirited Indonesians. The owner, together with his crew, lives in a hostel just like everyone else you meet on the road.  The guy is from Jakarta but he moved recently to Bali after realizing that all life is not about money and possessions. He made the move after it dawned on him that he feels most at peace in Bali. My heart was glad when I heard him say that. This type of people, I call them the enlightened ones, never fail to awe me. Few people have realized this, and even fewer have done something about it. So we bought a couple of beers, waited for the sunset, and sat there until it was late. The night ended with candles and guitars and singing. My heart was soaring with unexplained calm and contentment.
The next day, we went back to the same spot on the beach and found a huge gathering of people seated in a circle, taking turns in singing. They organized a cocktail afternoon, where everyone chips in cash and someone runs to get drinks from the grocery store. Add a little bit of mixing here and there and then there's cocktails for every one! So from 7 people the previous night, the group ballooned to almost 30 people of different ages and races, sitting on the beach with candles on the sand, singing whatever song that comes to mind. 
I could go on forever about about my sunset experience in Bali, but my point here is that there are pockets of time when you feel sudden, arresting happiness and one of mine happened in Bali, by the beach, while watching the sunset and while singing random songs with people I barely know. I'm not saying that it will be the same experience for every one, nor am I saying that it won't. For some reason, the universe conspired, all became clear, and it happened to me. Bali has made me happier in a personal, beyond words kind of way. 
Because of that, I shall find my way back.