When we decide to go travelling we all say the same, that we only want the most authentic experiences, you know ‘do it properly’ and all that. No hotels, no hot water, nothing that could be considered luxury, but to get a real feel for a place and definitely to not go anywhere anyone else has but then the shock of a day without wifi reminds you you’re a bit of a fraud. We are all guilty of it.
We want to travel and I mean to really travel, to forget about the 9-5 and the generic stresses and unimportant problems that consume our daily lives and have our own adventure, like in a film. But when push comes to shove we are sadly more consumed by technology and commercial crap than we realise and so all our visions of becoming the modern day Swiss Family Robinson and landing on uninhabited islands on a local fishing boat suddenly becomes booking a day trip island hopping with a boat load of other ‘travellers’ who want to know what consists of their all inclusive lunch and what time they get dropped back to the hotel.
And don’t get me wrong, I’m not pretending to be any better, trust me I’m no outdoors warrior, (Jonny makes me) And thank god he does, because of him I’ve relaxed a little when it comes to travelling, I don’t need to book our accommodation weeks in advance, he’s showed me that it’s okay to save yourself triple and avoid the tourist boat office and instead catch a local boat, I mean who needed to get there in a rush anyway… Or that just because it’s not on Booking.com does not mean we won’t find a homestay at a third of the price that will give us an experience no power shower can’t compete with. I’m waffling on but what I mean to say is we all want that real experience, but nerves and fear of the unknown hold us back. And it is daunting, going somewhere that isn’t completely designed for tourists, but who wants a hot version of home anyway? Isn’t that why we left? So here is somewhere that I think might be the perfect place in Bali to ease you in gently, lets talk about Balian…
I think we can all agree that Bali has been well and truly ‘travelled’, I mean there are parts that wouldn’t be out of place somewhere like Koh Phangan. But all is not lost, not if we take a little trip over to the west side. You see not many people do, ‘nothing there’ which is exactly why we went. When you’re sick of all the tourist crap this is the place to head, not an Indomart or beach seller in sight, I promise. Balian is around an hour and a half drive from Kuta and it’s a tiny village that you could walk around by foot easily. Pretty much the only area you need to care about is at the end of the road by the beach. If you’re stood at the beach and you look around and you can’t see it, well then it’s not important.
Like most places Balian was discovered because of the surf. One of the main reasons people visit are the beach breaks, famous amongst surfers yet not full of the usual crowds fighting for a wave, which makes a nice change for once. Cards on the table Balian is small, it’s remote, and if you are looking for a bustling nightlife or infact any real evidence of tourism then I suggest you stop reading now. But what it can offer you is an escape, some peace and quiet and without sounding too cliché you can get more of an understanding of how Bali used to be.
This is where you come when you have no intention of doing anything, the only plan you make is to roll out of bed and stumble over to the cliff in front of your homestay and watch the sunrise. We stayed at D’Daun homestay for 150,000 a night, it’s basic, it’s clean, Wayan’s a sweetheart but it’s the view that seals the deal here. Make sure you grab a space at one of the tables out front overlooking the ocean order the Nasi Campur (buffet selection of dishes that day) and sit back and enjoy. There are a few ‘proper restaurants’ nearby but the one night we went to one and it was the most disappointing meal we had, serves us right. The thing is you don’t need a proper restaurant here, it’s not what this trip is about, all you need to focus on is the Warungs.
If you’re like me and the only thing you can surf safely is the internet then go for a yoga class, Pondok Pitaya Resort right on the beach offers daily classes for an hour and a half for 125,000IDR and I came away achey as hell but stretched with in an inch of my life, worth every penny. This would be my only criticism of Balian, so it’s billed as a surf and yoga mecca, yet we found only one place that offered yoga classes? Strange. O well not exactly an issue to lose sleep over.
And anyway aside from the obvious activities there is plenty of ground to cover on foot, you can walk for miles along the virtually deserted beaches, or up the river mouth inland, you will hardly see anyone but if you’re lucky you’ll make a new friend. Burt, as we named him, followed us from the road all afternoon as we walked along the beach for hours and then explored upstream. Can we keep him? Please?
It’s coming to the end of our Indonesia trip, we are on countdown until we land back in Melbourne and have to face the shock of the arctic weather and this has to have been one of my favourite parts. It was a much needed experience in the midst of everything, it’s very easy to forget the reason you came away and get swept along with all the easy options and the usual go to places, so going out of your way to visit somewhere off the beaten track that promises you nothing other than what it is is everything you could need and more.