Indonesia – Bali and the Gili Islands

After 3 years of teaching English in South Korea. Pete and I made 2 executive decisions. First, we would save enough money to have a wedding in Bali. Second, we would save enough money to travel for at least 5 months. This could only be possible by sacrificing our holiday breaks and staying home to watch a lot of TV, not buying unnecessary items, and not spending money on our appearances. We cracked down, set dates, made budgets, and wrote many to-do lists. After a year of planning, we finally turned our vision into reality.


We left South Korea on March 8th and headed straight to Bali. The first couple of days we planted ourselves in Seminyak strictly for pre-wedding admin. This entailed dropping items off at our wedding villa, picking up last-minute items for guests, and making further wedding arrangements. Once we finished we headed directly down to Uluwatu to ‘Maya Rustic’. We couldn’t recommend this place enough! We were greeted by the local dogs and puppies before entering our adorable little room. They even put some fresh frangipani on the bedding, which I really appreciated (the small details). It was clean, basic and for 16USD a night you can’t complain.

The bedroom
The bathroom
Our patio outside the bedroom door
The rustic entrance

With just a 15-minute walk from Maya Rustic, you can find yourself at the top of Nyang Nyang beach. From there you can take a steep, slippery dirt path down or you can take the 500 steps. We chose the dirt path down and the stairs back up. To be honest, the beach is far more beautiful from the top. Once we got to the bottom, there was a fair amount of trash lining the beach. Not the most desirable. But after touring around Indonesia you start to realize how unavoidable the trash is. It is just everywhere. A hard pill to swallow. We can only hope that there is an effort in the near future to clean up this beautiful country.

The next day we rented a motorbike from our homestay for 5 USD/day. We traveled over to Bingin Beach. From what we could tell there were 2 parking entrances. The one we took led us down a walking path of probably 300 stairs to a few beach restaurants. The beach itself was pretty rocky and more desirable for surfers rather than sunbathers. However, we noticed the beaches up the way from us (Padang Padang, Green Bowl) looked like they had a lot nicer sand beaches. Definitely worth checking out on our next trip!

The Gili Islands

When we finished up our time in Uluwatu we headed to Padang Bai as it is the major port for ferries to the Gili Islands. We spent the afternoon going stand to stand haggling for the best price. We finally found the one! Now, if you are headed to the Gili Islands, write this down ‘Wan Gobel Express’. We negotiated IDR300,000 (21USD) per person, which included round-trip ferry transport to/from Gili Trawangan and an air-con van transfer back to Kuta! KILLER deal! When we arrived the next morning at the port for our ferry they had KFC burgers for us, water bottles, and a DJ on board the ferry. They also gave us cold towels before arriving at our destination. Again, it’s the small things that count.

We spent the majority of our time on Gili Trawangan because we got the best accommodation deal at the Daily Gili hostel. Unlike other places on the islands, they use fresh water for showers, they have air-con in the rooms, they provide breakfast, there were no reports of bedbugs and it was super cheap! Gili T is busy, there is a lot of trash on the streets and we really disagree with their treatment of horses used as transport. Especially when we saw they were taking them out to drink the ocean water rather than fresh water. They were dehydrated and foaming from the mouth… but let’s not get sidetracked. Whatever rumors you hear about Gili T, they’re probably true. But the ocean is stunning with crystal clear waters which makes snorkeling a dream! We also did a day trip over to Gili Meno which was super relaxed! We headed out to turtle point, but unfortunately, we had no luck that day spotting turtles.

We spent the majority of our time on the Gilis sunbathing, snorkeling, and eating. We just kicked back and relaxed before our friends and family arrived in Bali.

Back on Bali

Now, the wedding week! We won’t go into too many details here but let’s just say it was incredible! Here are the highlights:
We stayed at the most incredible villa – Villa Uma Asri in Mengwi, which is 20 minutes from Canggu and 45 minutes from Ubud.

We went white water rafting down the Ayung River for IDR 325,000/person (23 USD) which included lunch and transport to and from our villa. We booked through Bali White Water Rafting.

We relaxed by the scenic pool, spent the day at Ubud Monkey Forest, cruised around on motorbikes, and did a day tour of Nusa Penida. The Nusa Penida tour included snorkeling with Manta Rays! We had the luckiest of days and swam with 5-6 gentle giants! But of course, we did not manage to get a single picture. We also saw the magical view of Kelingking Beach. For a full-day tour including transport to and from our villa, ferry tickets, lunch, and snorkeling boats we paid IDR 750,000 (54 USD) per person. We booked our Nuda Penida tour through Penida Aqua Blue.

On our final day with family and friends, we went to La Brisa in Canggu. We could not recommend this beach club enough!! Amazing food, incredible view, and a pool to swim around in. My personal recommendation is the tuna tartar… mmm so good. After lunch, we took one last dip in the warm ocean before parting ways.

If you want to escape Kuta’s craziness, Canggu is a great place to stay. It offers excellent shopping, cafes, and restaurants.

The next day, Pete and I departed for North Sumatra to continue our backpacking adventure.

Continue on with us to Medan & Lake Toba

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