Touring around Bali on a scooter

SONY DSCBali. It really is a paradise… well, that’s what I’d heard from people whenever I spoke with them about it. As usual the truth is a little more complicated. The main tourist area of Kuta is actually a horrible mess of globalisation and unbridled capitalism. It’s swarming with thousands and thousands of package holiday visitors who fly in to the nearby airport on a daily basis. You can watch the planes land one after another as you sit on the beach drinking your Heineken or Carlsberg.  The people arriving are the sort of holidaymakers that want their ‘get away’ destination to resemble their home as closely as possible, except maybe a bit cheaper and more reliably sunny. Understandably, the less affluent locals have been quick to notice and so everywhere you look there’ are western chains, shops with western clothes, restaurants with western food, and so on. Think Costa del Sol and it’s ‘English’ pubs, but even more awful.

Luckily you can rent scooters cheaply everywhere so you can escape. The real beauty of Bali emerges as soon as once you have driven a half hour away from tourist ground zero. That’s the way to visit Bali. Fill up a small rucksack with some swimming togs and other essentials, ditch your huge bag at a hotel for a week or two and explore the island on a scooter. And that’s what we did. Bali doesn’t have the huge cultural and archaeological sights that we had seen elsewhere in Asia, so we spent most of our time driving around on scenic roads up in the mountains stopping every now and then to chat to locals and sample Balinese food. Of course we had plenty of beach days thrown in for good measure as the beaches here are really great, not to mention surfing and diving, but there are going to be no crazy stories, cockroaches, or the like,  in this post. Just some (hopefully) nice pictures to give you a feel of our time spent in Bali.

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Babi guleng: Roast pig with all the trimmings. There’s no waste here, so pig brain sausage anyone? (It’s actually quite nice in case you’re curious)

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The view from my breakfast table each morning before going diving. It’s a tough life alright.

The supermoon rising

The supermoon rising behind a communications tower. This is an unedited photo – the moon really was that yellow!

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Watching surfing while having a few beers on a cliffside cafe in Balian Beach was a real treat

Most of the surfers are a joy to watch:

But there is the odd painful looking wipeout as well:

We found this praying mantis in our bathroom beside the sink one evening

We found this praying mantis in our bathroom beside the sink one evening

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The black sandy beaches are home to all industrious crabs who work constantly to clear out their nests

The black sandy beaches are home to industrious little crabs who work constantly to clear out their nests, pushing little balls of sand out to make intricate geometric patterns above.

Epic 15m high statue at the entrance to Bali's botanical gardens.

An epic 15m high statue at the entrance to Bali’s botanical gardens.

Waves crashing against a coastal temple

Some ‘small’ waves crashing against a coastal temple

Ganesh, the Hindu God of Fortune.

A moss covered statue of Ganesh, the Hindu God of Fortune, with an lit incense offering.

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Red hot chillies drying outside a local restaurant

Red hot chillies drying in the sun outside a local restaurant in Lovina

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A sister and brother on their way to the temple in Ubud

A penjor: These hand made bamboo decorations tower over the entrance to every home in Bali. They are put up at Galangan time to signify the dominance of good over evil.

Penjor: These hand made bamboo decorations tower over the entrance to every home in Bali. They are put up at Galangan time to signify the dominance of good over evil.

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This cute little guy was slaking his thirst by licking the drops of condensation off the bottom of my Coke bottle.

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Kids playing on the beach at sunset on the Gilli Islands

Watch out for the Nazis, they're everywhere. (Actually it's an ancient Hindu symbol for success)

Watch out for the Nazis, they’re everywhere. (Actually it’s an ancient Hindu symbol for success)

The entrance to a Balinese temple

The entrance to a Balinese temple

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There are expert stone masons on every corner in the villages outside of Ubud

There are expert stone masons on every corner in the villages outside of Ubud…

... and they've obviously been carving stone for quite a while!

… and they’ve obviously been carving stone for quite a while!

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A panoramic view of the rice paddy up in the mountains in the center of the island

Click on the image to see a panoramic view of the rice paddy up in the mountains in the center of the island.

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