Bali – the people, the place, the food

IMG_3123This week I thought I would share a small in-sight into my recent trip to Bali. If considering going to Bali this may be useful or if looking for somewhere exotic to visit  in the future, this may be of some help. One of the reasons I love to travel is I love to see how others live. I wouldn’t say I am nosey. In fact I am far from it, there could be a riot going on outside my front door and I wouldn’t bat an eyelid. What I am much more interested in, is how people I don’t know live. How they go about their daily lives and how different it might be to how I live mine. So when in Bali my two priorities were; discover the people and of course the food.

So let’s talk about the Balinese people. As Irish people we have this perception of being a friendly nation. Well I suppose it is easy to be friendly after copious amounts of alcohol. The Balinese people are on a different level. Their friendliness is so genuine, in how they greet you, how they treat you and how they help you. It was the first thing I noticed when I arrived. And bar one lunatic of a driver we encountered, they were all in my opinion the friendliest people I have had the pleasure to encounter.

Balinese people seem to live life at a different pace to us Irish. We are constantly in a rush, with things to do and lists to get through. I am 100% guilty of the above, especially list making! The Balinese are the complete opposite, chilled out in every way. Even the busy restaurants and bars, where you would think would be high pressure. Not these people. It is just not how they operate. And I can honestly say the service was phenomenal. We never once got food late, or an incorrect order. So something is working for them. The day spas were the same, (they are everywhere and super cheap) at one of my massages, customers came in to complain about a hair treatment. Instead of getting hot and bothered as we might tend to; they just kept smiling and rectified the problem, with no stress. There were endless examples of this more relaxed approach to living. One thing I will say, driving on the roads does not follow this approach. Pure and utter manic on the roads, that is a whole different level of crazy. Seemingly those who cause traffic accidents in Bali are the tourists who try to follow the rules of the road!!

The rice fields where the farmers work in the blazing sun all day, getting eaten alive from insects. Makes for a great pic though!

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Now lets talk about the place. It’s obvious, this island is pure beauty. There truly is natural beauty around every corner. From the beaches, to the clear blue waters to the mountains and volcanoes, the monkey forests and white sandy islands, to the amazing sunsets. If you love water, it really is a surfer’s paradise, with a huge amount of water sport activities. While the islands natural beauty is spectacular; there are some issues. Lots of areas of the island are polluted, this is due to a lack of recycling and no maintained rubbish collection facility. Therefore you will spot lots of small fires in people’s yards as they try to get rid of their rubbish. Which is affecting the air supply on the island. Often you will spot native people wearing paper masks to reduce exposure to pollutants. More money and education and policy is needed to rectify a lot of these issues. However all countries have issues and this does not override the positives that this island has to offer.

Mama cleaning her baba

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Tip: The island is quite big almost as big as Ireland which I did not realise. We stayed in central Bali, Kuta for one week and Seminyak the next. However if I was planning the trip again I think I would spend a few days up north in Ubud (this is where Julia Roberts from Eat Pay Love stayed!).Then head south to Uluwatu for a few days and finish off in Seminyak. Instead we were in the car a lot on day trips, which was fine but I feel time would have been better spent had we relocated to different areas of the island.

Some pics of the island…

Day 1 first stop Kuta Beach

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That evening sunset at roof top pool in our 5 star Pullman hotel Legian

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The next morning second pool at Pullman hotel. Yes I am in the shade. No risk of sun burn for me!

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Day Trip to Lembongan Island, clear water, white sand, snorkelling, swimming, riding around on scooters, pure heaven.

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Week two was a 3 star hotel Uma Karan in Seminyak. Higher end shopping and restaurant capital of Bali.

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Last but most importantly the food. What can I say? I would move here permanently just for the food. Now you can find the same food here as all over the world. There are all the same fast food giant chains, they are lots of Italians and steakhouses and pub grub as much in Bali as in any city. But if you search beyond the norm, there are some amazing little gems to be found. My favourite places to eat were the cool and quirky cafes. All of these are recognising the health food revolution that is happening at the moment and are responding. Superfood salads, to acai bowls, to energising juices, to some of the best coffee I have ever tasted. Ireland could really take notice of what these places are serving and up their game. Stop serving the usual lasagne and chips and take some responsibility for your customer’s health. At home cafes need to open their eyes to the world of amazing healthy food that is available and offer more healthy tasty dishes. So if you are like me and trying to maintain some level of clean eating, with the obvious treat here and there, it really is easy while in Bali.

Some pics of the food…

Breakfast at Revolver in Seminyak. Thanks to my best friends sister Therese who lives in Bali and gave us great recommendations.

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Protein Smoothie bowl in surfers paradise, Single Finns beach club, Uluwatu

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Acai berry bowl in Sisterfields cafe Seminyak my absolute favourite café in Bali

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Lunch in Sisterfields, was courgette and falafel salad, this was a stunning lunch

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Coucous salad really fresh light and tasty.

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Back in Sisterfields again. This may not look it but this dish was my favourite of the two weeks. It was a pumpkin salad, with nuts seeds and a whipped feta.

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Pita pockets stuffed with falafel and a side of fried courgette. This lunch was at the famous beach club Potato Head in Seminyak. Pool party all day long!

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Dinner with the local beer. Restaurant called Fat Chow in Kuta. €13 for one starter, two main dishes and two beers!

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Dessert & Treats (no clean eating here)

Delicious pancakes

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Date Pudding with Piccolo coffee (baby latte)

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Frozen yogurt topped with all kinds of loveliness. Mine was mainly Nutella!

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Date & Banana Smoothie from Sisterfields

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Coffee back at Revolver, the best coffee I have ever had. Proper Barista style as it should be.

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Followed by more great coffee!

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So to sum up

Reasons to visit the Island. The people. Thanks to our great driver Din Lottoh. He was so lovely and I learned so much from him. I really felt I got a proper insight into how the Balinese people live. The food/coffee. The natural beauty. Inexpensive. Spa treatments every day is a must! The weather. Loads to do and see and explore. No public transport, but that means you hire a private driver for the day for small money, from €10 – 20. Reasons not to visit. The weather (I am very pale). The poverty (it’s here like everywhere, the people work hard, but the money is very small and so life has to be simple. While I was off enjoying my gourmet meals, my driver was off having white rice, I found that very difficult.). The traffic and all its craziness. The bartering, if you want cheap goods, you need to get good at it!

So that’s it, a sneak peek into my short time in Bali. If this is somewhere you have wanted to go, I say do it. Flights are cheaper than you might expect and once there it is very inexpensive. This has always been on my bucket list, so I am so grateful to have had this opportunity and I get to tick something of my list!!

The Wholesome Nut x

(incase it seemed as if I travelled alone, as there are no people in my pics, I actually travelled with this old chap)

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