- Hike Mount Batur
I sporadically ended up in Indonesia with little to no planning (I booked my flight 12 hours prior to arriving). I had heard from locals and backpackers alike that something I would be crazy to miss out on was a sunrise hike of Mount Batur. I am not the most athletic person, but I do have a high endurance and am always up for a challenging hike that leads to an incredible view. The tour guide picked me up from my hostel at 1am; I slept the entire way there and we arrived around 3:30-4am. I had a lovely lady from Indonesia guide me all the way up the mountain in the pitch black early morning (and we were given flashlights).
At first (like most hikes), I felt like I was thriving. It didn’t seem too hard despite the usual effects of hiking (heavy breathing and an obvious incline going up). We reached about 80% of the way there, where people were given the option to stop and watch the sunrise from that point. Our tour guide warned us that the rest of the hike was extremely difficult, and very slippery, but I had made it that far- I wanted to make it to the top.
I continued to climb, and now the inclination of the hike was really starting to set in. You have to remember when you’re hiking, not only are you getting an incredible workout, but you’re losing oxygen the higher you go up.
As I struggled up the slippery dirt for the final leg of the climb, I saw the sun start peaking from the clouds. I was also greeted by some monkeys along the way! Once I arrived to the top, the views could best be described by cotton candy topped with orange and pink swirls.
I did it!
The climb back down, like usual, was a little more strenuous than the hike up. Hikes up are difficult but at least there’s a prize at the end (those views!). I slipped at least six or seven times on the way down. My tour guide said, “You are very bad!” and held my hand.
This is still the highlight of any trip I’ve ever taken. I felt like I could float on those clouds. It was moderately difficult, and I was low on fuel by the end of it all, but it was 100% worth the pain.
- Wake up to a sunrise in Kuta.
I stayed on Kuta Beach in a hostel for $6/night. I later learned Kuta Beach is a bit of a tourist trap, but for how little I was paying, I had minimal room to complain. I am a sucker for water, so despite being in the Times Square of Bali, I was grateful to be steps away from a beautiful beach, and jetlagged at that. I would wake up every morning at 5am, brush my teeth and throw some clothes on, and head outside to catch the sunrise. The ocean and sunrise in Indonesia were truly unlike anything I’ve ever seen before. Perhaps the colors look different because of where it’s positioned globally, but every morning I was looking forward to sacrificing some extra sleep to catch a glimpse of the beauty.
- Take in a Sunset in Uluwatu (after watching a show).
Not only are the sunrises in Indonesia uniquely stunning, but the sunsets are not a sight to miss as well. I heard Uluwatu is one of the best spots to catch both a Kecak dance show and a sunset on the Indian Ocean. I watched the water swallow the orange and pink rays of the setting sun, and as soon as the sky darkened, I was treated to a Kecak show. The show is primarily in chant form, and apparently used to only be done by men, but the first Kecak female group was formed in 2006 (the show I saw was a mix of both men and women).
- Chill with monkeys at the Monkey Sanctuary in Ubud (they are psycho little thieves and I love them).
My very first stop in Indonesia was to the Ubud Monkey Sanctuary. I love animals more than anything in the world and was curious to hang out with some monkeys for the day (and give them some bananas, duh!). I arrived and was immediately greeted by a hungry little fella, so I purchased some bananas and he was not hesitant to pretty much rip them out of my hands. I was given warning instructions to never look monkeys directly in the eyes, as they take it as a threat, and to pretty much stay away from baby monkeys because the mothers are extremely protective.A girl who was also solo traveling was holding an iPad on selfie-mode while a monkey jumped on her shoulders. She had a lot of earrings in, and sunglasses on her head. What started off as a cuddly cute interaction turned into the monkey ripping her earrings and stealing her sunglasses! She did not think it was funny, but I sadly did (no one was hurt; I just think monkeys are hilarious and do not give a flying f***).
I was greeted by tons of monkeys, watched them eat all of the bananas, watched them jump onto peoples’ shoulders, and one even played with the beads on my sandals.
I left with a new profound love for these funny little creatures that has stayed with me to this day.
- Drink Kopi Luwak (poop coffee).
Indonesia is known for its rich chocolate and coffee, so I accordingly stopped at a coffee and chocolate plantation. I was able to sample different coffees, and see the process of how they roast the beans and the different flavors they add in. There were these cute little animals called luwaks hanging out onsite. At one point, a nice woman working at the plantation presented about 8 different bowls with different dried fruits and beans in each one. I was able to sniff them and even taste if I pleased. I picked one up and sniffed, and asked, “What’s this one?” to which she replied “That’s poo.” Apparently, those little animals eat berries and different fruits they feed them, and the Indonesians take their poo, dry it, roast it, and use that to make what is called “Kopi Luwak.” It is an intense dense strong coffee. I would be foolish not to try it at that point! So yes, I drank poop coffee.I did not end up buying a bag to take home, but I did leave with a bag of coconut coffee and a bar of Balinese dark chocolate.
- Get a massage, manicure, pedicure, and have those fish eat your dead skin…for six dollars.
I’m not the most high maintenance person; I do like my fair share of cool fashion and jewelry, but when it comes to actually pampering myself, well, I can’t even tell you the last time I got a manicure. Southeast Asia in general is known for its cheap prices; not only on food and drink but on beauty products (I came back from this particular trip with about 50 pairs of fake eyelashes, speaking of being low maintenance). I decided to treat myself and get a massage. I saw a salon with tanks of Garra Rufa fish out front (toothless small white fish that eat dead skin), and since that is an opportunity that has never presented itself, I decided to go for it. I put my feet in the tank and the fish went after my feet immediately. It was an enticing experience, and for those wondering, NO it did not hurt. In fact, it tickled!After I got my feet eaten by the little fishies, I decided to get a 30-minute massage, a manicure, and a pedicure. For about an hour and a half of the pampered treatment, I paid SIX DOLLARS. That alone is enough of a reason to book the trip to Indonesia!*I will note that the nail polish chipped in about a day, but for six dollars, it’s hard to complain!
- Hire a stranger to drive you around the entire island for fifty bucks (a fourteen hour excursion).
A good friend of mine had gone to Cambodia a few months before I went to Indonesia, and she gave me the idea to hire a driver for the day to knock out plenty of sites in a short period of time. I took a cab over to the Monkey Sanctuary in Ubud and after that was wandering the shop and cafe-lined streets. There were cabs (or vans) also lined with the streets hungry for a customer. I asked one guy how much he would charge for the day, and he said 800,000 rupiah. I told him it was too much and negotiated down to 700,000 (about 50 USD) and agreed to jump in. He asked me what I wanted to see and I started with some temples. He drove me to Batuan Temple, Tegenungan Waterfall, the coffee plantation I mentioned above, a silver mining factory, and the show / sunset at Uluwatu. He taught me a lot about Indonesian culture, and definitely tried to hit on me once or twice, but overall, the experience was humbling and harmless and I would highly recommend anyone traveling for a short period of time to do something similar.
- Get wet at Tegenungan Waterfall.
Anything nature-related is always high up on my list of must-sees. This waterfall did not disappoint, but be careful not to slip on the rocks!
- Eat a Black Sticky Rice Frosty at Wendy’s because why not?
I’m always curious as to what different menu items are being served at our beloved chain restaurants (McDonalds’s “Black burger” in Japan made of squid ink buns, mozzarella dippers in UK, Pork burger in Thailand, etc.). So when I passed a sign that said “Black Sticky Rice Frosty” at a Wendy’s in Kuta, my first thought was “gross,” but I decided to try it anyway. I should’ve listened to my thoughts, because I was not a huge fan, but always down to try something new!
- Humble yourself at Batuan Temple
When you arrive at Batuan Temple, you are given a sarong to wear before entering in. The temple is filled with different statues each representing a different God in Hinduism. The temple is small but a prompt way to introduce yourself to Hindu culture. Hinduism is only practiced by 1.7% of Indonesia’s population, but 83.5% of Bali’s.