Living in Bali for three months, you’d think I’d have found the time to check everything on my ‘must do’ list off.
The beauty of Bali though, is that it seems like there’s always something going on- always something new to discover. Whether it’s a new cafe or a new-to-me warung, a new sound healing class, or a new tourism experience- there’s seemingly endless things to do on this island in the Indonesian archipelago.
During my time in Bali, I worked- a lot. Most weeks, I set aside a few full days for working, plus teaching in the evenings and on weekends. Both to help sustain my day-to-day needs, and plan to take off a few weeks later in the year while travelling Sri Lanka and India.
I may have gotten a lot done, but my days weren’t what you’d called ‘packed’. By contrast to the life I had in London and New York, my time in Bali was downright relaxing.
Which, is the point.
I didn’t go to Bali just to work- I went to experience the culture, to meet and connect with people, and to try and discover new things. My time in Bali was incredible- morning meditation at waterfalls, afternoon breaks for sound healing, work done from a bamboo clad co-working spot, lazy mornings sipping great brew, sunsets beachside, and plenty of time to connect with the lovely souls I met in Ubud and Canggu.
And while, I set aside a few full-on explore days, plus freed up mornings and afternoons when needed, I still left with a few things I wished I’d found the time for. All the more reason to return though.
After three months of living, working in and exploring Bali, what were the four things I always meant to find time for, but somehow never did?
Four Things I Wish I Did While Living in Bali
Hike Mount Batur at Sunrise
Hiking in the pitch black, middle of the night to the top of a volcano to watch the sunrise? Sounds like a perfect, beautiful start to the day.
For decades, locals have been hiking up Mount Batur to watch the day begin with stunning views of nearby volcanoes, Mount Agung and Mount Agang.
With sunrise treks up Mount Batur, one of the four sacred mountains in Bali, being a popular tourist activity, you’ll have no shortage of tour options if you decide to make the trek.
While always on my ‘list of things to do’, I never actually found the time to reserve a trek, but have heard great things about Mount Batur Sunrise Trekking.
Mount Batur photo credits: Girl Eat World
Visit a Coffee Plantation:
Indonesia is known for being a region with excellent coffee production. And, while I drank my fair share of coffee sourced from Munduk, as well as neighboring Lombak and Flores, and went to a coffee making class at one of the hotels I splurged on a night at, I didn’t make it to an actual coffee tasting.
I’ve visited coffee plantations in other countries, and I think that’s why I always de-prioritized visiting one in Bali- it was something I’d kind of already experienced.
That said, when I return to Bali, visiting a coffee plantation, ideally one like Bali Pulina with soaring rice field views, will be high on my list.
Visiting a coffee plantation is, of course, a great way to see how coffee is made from ripening the coffee cherries to drying them, roasting and grinding. And, when you visit, you’ll be able to different varieties of coffee, which is the most appealing part for me.
Many day tours in Munduk and Ubud offer the option at stopping at one of these plantations, but I’m always a bit put off by those because they tend to be quite touristy stops.
Whether you make it to a coffee plantation or not, make sure you try Luwak coffee while in Bali.
Even if you don’t know what a Luwak is, chances are you’ve heard about this type of coffee. Otherwise known as coffee beans found in the excrement of a small animal, enter the Asian palm civet.
In a nutshell, the civets eat the coffee beans, poop them out, at which point the beans are collected for processing. There’s something about how the coffee bean is chemically altered in the civet’s intestines that creates a flavour so many coffee connoisseurs love.
When you decide to try, make sure you do so ethically. With how popular this kind of coffee has become in Bali, places have started capturing and mistreating luwaks. Plantations like the ones at Munduk Moding let the luwaks roam free, coming and going as they please, and harvest their beans whenever they’re around. It means there may not be constant supply to meet demand, but the animals aren’t mistreated.
Learn How to Make a Holy Offering
While in Bali, you’ll notice that daily morning offerings are placed everywhere- at the foot of temples, on statues, at the entrance of a home or shop, on the beach, and beyond.
Called canang sari, these offerings are hand-sized, origami-like, carefully constructed open boxes, made of palm or banana leaves.
Commonly, they’re filled with bright fresh flowers, which are selected for its color and significance. Occasionally, money, a small bit of food or a burning incense stick is placed on top of the offering.
In almost all Hindu home and temples, new offerings are set out daily- often, three times a day. Offerings are a sacred form of gratitude for what is, and a wish for peace and abundance in the world.
They’re representative of the Balinese people’s devotion to their Hindu gods. When your visiting Bali, you should never touch or step on an offering.
I loved watching offerings being brought, they’re more than just a gesture to the gods- they represent how the Balinese live their lives.
Balinese are kind, and smile often.
They’re generous and warm.
They take time and care in all they do.
They don’t rush.
They work hard.
They do even the most mundane tasks with pride, dedication and authentic connection to themselves, and others.
Taking an offering making class was something that again, I was always interested in doing, but never found the time for. Perhaps because I stayed in local homes and saw close-up how offerings were made and put out regularly, I didn’t find it of utmost importance to attend an actual class.
But, it is a practice I’d love to learn more about, and if you’re only in Bali for a few short days, you’ll have no problem finding a demonstration you can attend, as part of a tour or stand-alone experience.
See a Balinese Healer
With wellness travel becoming more popular, many hotels in Bali (and beyond) are incorporating healing elements into their spa and wellness programs. Some even go so far as bringing on Balinese healers and priests for shamanic energy work.
While in Bali, I didn’t make it to see a healer, but I did take my fair share of healing workshops and classes, all of which were taught my wordclass masters. If you’re skeptical on the time or money commitment to seeing a healer, I’d recommend starting with a class or workshop at YogaBarn or RadiantlyAlive in Ubud.
Both offer chakra meditation, yin yoga, and other forms of energy work.
Part of the reason I never saw an actual healer in Bali is because a real and good healer can be difficult to find. Many that advertise themselves are only doing so for the tourism benefit. And, it’s my belief, as well as that of others, that a real healer won’t prominently advertise themselves, because the Balinese believe that to be a true healer, you must possess a healer’s soul that’s been divined by the universe.
That said, I have heard rave things about Mandapa, which offers carefully selected Balinese healers, who specialise in everything from traditional chakra cleansing to more detailed forms of healing.
A good hotel should also be able to recommend a reputable healer, and if all else fails, ask around at places like YogaBarn or Sayuri Healing Food, where the wellness community hangs.
Have you ever visited Bali? What were your favorite activities or experiences?