Hello everyone, how is everything going?!
So, after my last post of Kertajati International Airport, I had a bit of a hard time to decide what kind of post I needed to write on. Obviously, it's supposed to be something about Bali. But then I couldn't figure out which one I should write first.
At first, I was about to write a review of the first hotel we stayed in Bali. However, since the last piece that I wrote was also a review of the airport, I decided that the hotel review could wait. Instead, I want to share with you some of the first impressions I've got in Bali on my first time visiting the land of gods.
To be fair, now that I've been there, I'm hesitant to go back there again since I kinda feel like it's not really the most favorite place I've got in the world. But why? Does it have anything to do with the first impression that I've got? Well, let's check this out!
Bali and Why People Have It on Their Bucket List
In case you didn't know yet, I'm the kind of person who would shamelessly protest whenever a person mentioned Bali among the list of neighboring countries like Malaysia, Thailand, etc in their planned itinerary. That's one of the reasons why I previously created a post on Indonesia beyond Bali.
However, I'm not trying to act ignorant and forget the reasons why people want to go to Bali for a start. So, I've done a few research about why so many people have Bali on their bucket list.
First of all, Bali is probably the only province in Indonesia whose main income is through tourism. And it's not without any reason, because for sure Bali could be considered exotic for so many people out there. They have the rich cultures, the warmth of the locals, and those completed by the fact that they have natural beauty from beaches, waterfalls, to even active volcanos like the recent erupted Mount Agung.
Bali offers so many activities for both domestic and international visitors, from beach-hopping to yoga retreats in Bali… There are endless things you can do around the island!
And the publicity that Bali has got, it also triggers both domestic and international travelers to stop by the island. So yes, I would still recommend you to visit the land of gods at least once before you die. But how did I find the island?
My First Visit to Bali, the Land of Gods
As an Indonesian myself, I never really had Bali on my bucket list. Bali was on the list of popular places that I am not really interested to visit. If money wasn't the restriction for me to travel around Indonesia, I've actually always wanted to go to Bunaken in Sulawesi.
And to be honest with you, peer pressure is the main reason why I ended up going to Bali. I often had a chat with some of my friends and they were always surprised whenever I told them I had never been to Bali. Then I decided to maybe go there to see it myself. This time, I even planned out a family vacation to Bali so that I wouldn't be alone to see it the first time.
That way, I could decide whether Bali is actually overrated or it's just in my head.
My First Impressions of Bali
Thanks to the beautiful pics I've seen on Instagram, I expected so many things about the island. I came with the hope that I could prove what people say about how Bali is the paradise of the world. Obviously, it was my first mistake since high expectations usually would lead you to some kind of disappointment. 😛
So, what are my first impressions of the island?!
1. As an Indonesian myself, I have to admit that Bali is heaven for drinkers and party-goers.
Before I receive any protest about what I write about Bali in this article or anyone calls me travel snobs or whatever, please mind that the difference between me and probably other fellow bloggers is that I write this from an Indonesian point of view. Not foreigners.
Anyway, in case you didn't know… The majority of people in Indonesia are leaning into conservatism in a way there was this religious trend called ‘hijrah‘. As the country with the biggest Muslim population in the world, you can name a few places in Indonesia where you can get alcohol easily. Bali is one of them.
I mean, sure… Alcohol tax in Indonesia these days is up to 7%, which is quite high compared to several years ago. But if you're a drinker and you know how difficult it is to find alcohol around West Java, you will not take things for granted in Bali. I mean, you could find alcohol from beer to Vodka in the nearest Circle K!
And not just that, because if you consider yourself a party-goer, you can find anything from night club to beach club on the island. And everything is just one gojek ride away! 😛
2. But contrary to popular belief, everything else is actually quite pricey.
Look, I get it. The reason why Bali is popular is because of the international exposure this island has gotten ever since as long as I could remember. And one of the claims that I've heard is that the place is quite cheap.
If there's anything that I find quite affordable, that would be the accommodation. The night rate and facilities offered around Bali are amazing!
However, when it comes to popular tourist spots and everything else, things around Bali are actually quite expensive. That, if I see it from the local Indonesian's eyes.
For example, the entrance fee to some popular destinations like Garuda Wisnu Kencana Cultural Park or Uluwatu Temples… The ticket fee is the same for both local and international visitors. It isn't much maybe if you earn foreign currencies that are stronger than IDR. However, I feel a bit sorry for the local Balinese that might find it quite expensive to visit their local tourist spots.
Imagine, the entry fee to GWK Cultural Park is IDR 150,000 (around $10.5 USD) while the minimum wage in Bali is around IDR 2,200,000 (around $157 USD) per month. I might be a bit overthinking, but isn't it just a bit ironic?
3. I'm not sure whether Bali is ideal for a family vacation. But it sure is a great place to have a holiday together with your friends!
You see, I traveled to Bali for the first time with my mom… And I know, a lot of people out there would also recommend Bali as a family-friendly travel destination. To be fair, there are also plenty of places that are good to visit with your family as well.
However, most family-friendly spots are either boring or overcrowded. There, I said it.
I've visited some of the recommended family-friendly destinations around Bali, and I almost got disappointed in all those. I might be a little bias, but then again… I'm just here to rant about what I feel. It's my blog. 😛
4. It's a perfect place to beach-hopping and beyond… But the location from one beach to another isn't as close as you might think it is.
Whatever you do, wherever you go around Bali… You will need a vehicle to get around.
There is no public transportation in Bali except for taxi, Grab, or Gojek. The best bet is to rent a scooter or a car for you to get around. I mean, you can always walk if you travel solo. But walking really isn't an option if you travel with people who would nag about having to walk under the heat as I did on my first trip to Bali.
Plus, Bali could look so small on the map. But once you get there, you'll realize that it's more convenient to wander around with a vehicle. Scooter is the most ideal to use around Bali, since nowadays there are also a lot of traffic jams on the island.
5. YOLO. It's always better to experience things once and get disappointed than never even know how it could have been since you've never been there.
As one of the wise men said that you always regret the things that you never did. And that's exactly why I still see my last trip on the bright side despite all the disappointments I've got from visiting Bali for the first time.
I mean, sure Bali is not as perfect as I saw it on Instagram. It is definitely not as heavenly as the media framed the island. But hey… At least now I've been there. So if I didn't like my first visit, maybe I don't have to go back there for the second time if it was THAT disappointing.
But nope, just because I didn't find Bali as impressive as some people thought it was, I would still recommend you visit Bali at least once in your life. You might like it, or you might feel disappointed as I did. But you can always decide it later after you visit the place, no?
Will It Be My Last Trip to Bali Too?
Never say never. I mean, Bali is clearly not my favorite place in the world.
However, I wouldn't mind going back to see more of Bali. Maybe next time I'll travel solo, or with a partner for all I care (I mean I might eventually have a partner to travel right? Hopefully LOL)…
Maybe next visit to Bali I'll enjoy it more since I don't have to deal with my mom complaining about seeing butts and boobs around the beach. I mean, I couldn't blame her either… She's a typical Asian mom for a start. Even worse cause she's Indonesian so she always has a lot of things to complain about.
Nope, just because Bali has disappointed me on the first try… I will still give it a chance. Maybe next time. Maybe one day.
So how about you? What's your first impression of Bali on your first visit on the island? Drop me a comment below, and cheerio! 😉