Bali - Part 1
I can't believe we've been back home for a few weeks now. No matter the fact that I'm born and bred in the UK, after almost two weeks in Bali, the return to the autumnal cold of London, was something I just wasn't prepared for. All I can do is look back on our trip - here's what we got up to in the first week...
We booked our entire stay at one Airbnb, based in Canggu (pronounced Chang-oo) in Kuta. We arrived after midnight after a (for me) sleepless, long flight, so I was really looking forward to a good night's rest and waking up to the sun. However, the first two days were full of dark grey clouds, and at night the rains came, but as we were dealing with some serious jet lag, we were't fussed about exploring too much, and welcomed the excuse to stay in bed. On the first morning we wandered down the road (literally the road; there aren't really any pavements in many parts of Bali) and got used to the mix of mopeds and dogs. Literally everyone - man, woman and child - gets around via motorbike or moped. We even saw a woman breastfeeding while navigating her way through the traffic; other times we'd see a family of four of five all balanced on a tiny bike. I mention the dogs because, well, there were a lot of them. They're not exactly wild; many of them are there to protect their owners' homes or stores, and they will definitely let you know if you're encroaching on their turf. If you've done any kind of research re travelling in Bali, you will no doubt know that you should under no circumstances pet any dogs - any animals actually, as you could run the risk of getting bitten and catching rabies, which isn't really what you want, right? The top tip that I learned from the BF? Don't make eye contact, just keep walking and ignore them. He's a postie, so he should know.
So, after running the gauntlet of dogs and motorbikes, we decided to visit Avocado cafe, which had been on the BF's must-visit list. It's a chilled-out spot, packed (seemingly) with Australian travellers ordering their very specific meals and asking lots of questions about whether there's any dairy in their chosen dish... We picked a few things, and for me, the stand-out was the Acai smoothie bowl (which is in my top 5 Bali Smoothie Bowls). We also ordered the sweet potato pancakes with applesauce (for me, the texture was that of cardboard and, being the awful sugar-fiend that I am, the lack of anything remotely resembling sweetness in the applesauce didn't really inspire me) and a bean burger, which I have to say, was actually awful. We've tried many a bean burger and make our own at home, but this tasted, and looked like it had been steamed. Imagine mashed up beans, with zero seasoning, shaped into a burger and just placed onto a bun. I'm not saying that the burger needed to be fried, but it looked so unappetising, I had to donate all of it to the BF.
By now, I was kind of in a mood; jet lag plus unsatisfying food was making me upset. We walked a little further down the road and stumbled upon what was to become a regular local. In The Raw is a vibrant, chilled little spot, and the juice selection is one of the best I've ever seen. As I was feeling deprived of feel-good calories, I ordered a potent cacao smoothie with coconut water (I'm trying to find out the specific ingredients and the name right now) and it definitely hit the spot. Over the next two weeks we would return many, many times, for smoothie bowls and more. This place is a definite MUST.
The next day we decided to do some sort of exploring, so of course being spoilt Brits, we booked an Uber. He arrived quickly and we were about to head out onto the main road when a small gang of guys on bikes pulled over so that our driver couldn't move out. They questioned him and then knocked on the BF's window. He wound it down and they asked him who the guy was; he said that he was our Uber driver and they just went crazy. The poor man was punched in the head and they tried to drag him out of the car. They just kept shouting 'no Uber'. The driver told us to get out of the car but we stayed around to just make sure that he got out of the incident alive. They left him alone, and two minutes later had the audacity to come up to us and offer their taxi service... Looking back, it seems like a rookie mistake, as we soon started noticing the massive signs with a big red X placed across the Uber logo. We soon learned that in most places Uber is drop-off only, and were told that the 'local mafia' run the cab companies. How much of this is true, I can't say, but I do know that it would have been great if we'd known this ahead of our trip.
Feeling decidedly not in the mood to grab another cab, instead we walked down the road and got breakfast at Bro Resto. I can't lie, the name initially put me off, but I was relieved to find out that the cafe offered great service, good food and a really chilled atmosphere. We got the veggie breakfast and had our first potato puff - something that we soon discovered just about every single eatery in Bali offered.
For the following few days we took to the pool and kept heading back to In The Raw for our juice fix; I was trying to build up my tan and the BF wanted to catch up on some reading. Once we'd acclimatised to the heat (the kind of heat where if you're stupid enough to put on makeup it will slide off within two minutes of being outside) we decided to visit Seminyak for the day. It was around a 20 minute drive (a local cab this time, organised by the amazing lady who basically ran the Airbnb we were staying at) and cost us 150k IDR (around £8.90). The difference between Canggu and Seminyak was immediately visible; it's just so much busier; but less with local people, way more tourists. The amount of fake gold tattoos made me feel instantly smug that I never bought any. It was clearly selfie town too. Girls fixing up their hair and makeup constantly while their Insta husbands snapped away became a regular occurrence, but once we stopped people-watching, we of course needed some food. We'd heard a lot about Cafe Organic and had done plenty of drooling over their Instagram. We had a short wait but once inside we decided to order a few things and share. Sharing was never, ever my thing when I first met the BF, but over time I've realised that I although I am essentially a greedy person, by sharing, I actually get to taste more. We ordered a Lemon Tree juice, containing coconut water, brown sugar, lemon and infused mint and a coconut mylk coffee. Loved the juice but the coffee was just way too coconut-ty for both of us. Food-wise we went for the Corn Fritters, which came with poached eggs, the Veggie Whopper and sweet potato fries, the Back to Basics scrambled eggs on toast with cheddar cheese and the Bondi Bowl, a blueberry and mango smoothie bowl. The food looked great and was definitely filling; you could tell that everything was homemade. The only negative thing I could say is that some of the flavour combinations were kind of off - for some reason they added what we think was cloves, or allspice to their homemade ketchup. When we headed back in the second week we were so looking forward to the Bagel and Beans but the cloves appeared again, this time in the beans, which just killed the meal completely for us. Since being back, I've read a few Trip Advisor reviews saying similar things. This place is so worth a visit purely because of the work they put in, but be prepared.
Meanwhile, back at our Airbnb, the air-conditioning - or lack thereof, was kind of becoming an issue. I'm aware that I'm someone that gets hot super quick, but every time we put the AC on it was like you had to stand in front of it to get the merest hint of a breeze. The BF can pretty much cope with anything, but by our fourth night the heat was leading to some stressful sleep, so we were grateful that the following day would see us heading to Ubud, an hour away. In hindsight, I feel like this first week was all about us just getting used to the climate, but the AC situation definitely made us slightly agitated., especially on top of the super long flight. We told the Airbnb host on the day that we headed to Ubud, as we knew this would give him a few days to get the issue fixed. I started to feel guilty that the BF wasn't enjoying this trip, especially as I had organised the whole thing as a late birthday present, so Ubud was seeming like make or break for our time in Bali...