Wind rips at my hair and whips it back and forth. We shoot through the streets, past rice fields, workers with straw hats, stray dogs and children playing in the street, as the sun bruns down mercilessly. We climb up higher and higher, until we’re sweaty and thrust is drying out our mouths. At last we have arrived. Standing on top of the hill, looking down at the jungle – the real Bali lies before us.
We woke up in Sideman, a little town in the south-east of the island. Our Air Bnb host Jack was so helpful and welcoming and made us a typical Balinese breakfast, consisting of different coloured pancakes and fruit. We ate on the terrace of our room, with a view of the mountains and a close temple and spent a considerable amount of time cuddling Jack’s adorable little cat.
After breakfast Jack and his friend took us on a scooter tour around Sideman, promising to show us the REAL Bali. We drove past rice terraces, stopped at ancient temples, looked at chilli and peanut plantations, climbed hill tops for stunning views and crossed wobbly bridges in the middle of the jungle. We also visited a local weaving mill, where we witnessed the long process of weaving colorful sarongs and detailed scarves.
For lunch we stopped at a traditional Warung (small restaurant) and ate a delicious veggie curry. Indonesian curries aren’t as heavy as for example Thai curries are, which I really liked. From our spot out on the terrace we had a beautiful view over the rice fields and palm trees.
We then headed back to our Air Bnb, where we packed up our bags. Our host Jack drove us from Sideman to Padangbai, a little harbour town in the east of Bali. On the way we stopped at a magnificent temple, which we could only enter after covering our shoulders and chest and putting on our sarongs. I was once more incredibly impressed with the detailed architecture of the Balinese temples.
After arriving in Padang Bai we purchased our tickets for the fast boat the next morning, said goodbye to Jack and checked into our hotel. We had found it on Air Bnb and only really chose it because of it’s close proximity to the harbour and because it promised fast internet and air-conditioning. It turned out the internet only worked on the balcony or in the lobby, and the air conditioning didn’t do much to cool down the stuffy room, but since we were only staying one night we didn’t care all that much. Mel and I went out for dinner at Topi Inn at the end of the beach, a cute little restaurant offering a lot of traditional Indonesian food. I got the Nasi Goreng and veganised a Pina Colada (swap cream for coconut cream). Back at the hotel we had our friend Ida join us after dropping off her boyfriend Alex at the airport, so we spent the rest of the night catching up.