“Don’t move!” The guide’s request was crystal clear. With my eyes half closed, I just noticed that the group was standing still. I had slept for an hour and was quite ready to lie down on the floor immediately and close my eyes if there was not a highly toxic cobra that had settled in the middle of our path to clear the rest of the sun with its belly from the smooth rock. Suck.
“What a luxury place Ms. Kobra. I’m jealous.’
It was quiet, no one moved…
While the Balinese mountain guide gently removed the reptile with a long hook, the first words of a French young lady sounded:
“Est-ce un serpent? Est-ce toxique?”(Is this a snake? Is it toxic?) It was now the fourth time that the young woman sped the guide in her native language. But he registered only strange-sounding sounds for him and stared haphazardly into her empty balloon-shaped eyes. I mingled with my bad French: “Madame, nous sommes – Bali, le garcon ne la comprend pas, parce que nous sommes – BALI!!! And yes, this snake can kill u” (Madaeme, we are here in Bali, the man doesn’t understand them because we’re on BALI!!). She looked at me in disbelief. From that moment on, there wasn’t much to hear about her. Luckily!
The volcanic expedition started at 1 a.m. We were supposed to arrive at the top of an active volcano at 6 a.m., but the trip was interrupted after an hour due to the threat of thunderstorms. I was so happy, although we were rewarded with an ice-cold Bin Tan beer and an extraordinary view, but I was so wheeled and confused that even the thick, Balinese coffee, which otherwise leads me to peak performance, had nothing to do with my comatose being could have changed.
Every two days, thick thunderstorm clouds rose, bringing flash floods with warm water for a few minutes, providing a mediocre refreshment. A welcome change, otherwise you will be quickly grilled by the Balinese sun. The mixture of both is probably Mother Nature’s recipe to help Bali to a dense and rich green.
It’s fantastic. Although I already knew similar flora and fauna landscapes from Thailand,but he hand of the man who builds rice terraces and coffee plantations, which leave natural, highly precise lines and shapes in the flowering and botanical landscape of this beautiful island, intervenes here. I’ve never seen anything like this before.
Life in Bali tends to take place in the south. Around the capital Denpasar are small towns and villages, some more, the others less touristy and form a dense and tangled network of small streets, shops temples and rice fields. Wild, but beautiful. The north, east and west are rather less touristy and inhabited and enjoy rich rainforests and rocky volcanic landscapes.
The spiritual town, surrounded by greenery, boasts breathtaking temples, dense forests, waterfalls and beautiful rice terraces. Yes, the West has now arrived, so it can happen that you can also find a Starbucks cafe in the middle of such a temple.
Many cafés and warungs (Balinese restaurants or bistros), as well as souvenir shops and bars adorn the narrow main streets in the centre.
The contrast between rich and poor is gigantic here. Begging mothers with young children hold up their hands to pick up one or the other rupiah. Right next to it, the digital nomad sits in a café with his Apple MacBook and can taste his Balinese coffee. An initially morally reprehensible image turns into a positive way in this way, since tourism is really flourishing here and the Western digital nomad is making a strong contribution to the money remaining here. More even… It strikes you quite quickly that the Balinese youngster is willing to learn and is inspired by Western zeal and often speaks fluent English as early as 14 or 15. I am impressed. Interactive globalization at a high level. Give and take.
Thailand was ticked off and was graded with a “one”.
“Can I have the menu please?” Where else you should start a culinary journey better than in the mostly traditional city of Bali. Of course, I went into a warung that was full of positive internet reviews for its Balinese cuisine.
Organic Cesar Salad with natural chicken
Organic Beef Burger with natural beef
Yes, I also like organic and untreated foods and I firmly believe that there can’t be enough of it, but is that all that characterizes Balinese cuisine?
They should not exaggerate. A hint in the map would have sufficed. The local car repair shops also do not boast about “natural” rubber tire and “wooden” brake pads.
“Sorry sir, do you have a menu for special baliniesian food?”
“No sir, that is our only menu, but with baliniesian ingredients and all organic.”
“But where is the balinesian food?”
“Ehhhhhhh, everything is fresh in our restaurant, sir.”
Hmm. Has Western influence supplanted local cuisine? There was no street food, nor did I see a restaurant that looked invitingly Balinese to me. After a really long search, I decided on the lesser evil and ordered a Nasi Goreng in a halfway smart war. It wasn’t bad, but when is the fireworks coming?
Unfortunately, the situation did not really change positively. Sure, you can already find Balinese food and it’s not bad either, but after the local spice palette, which is really gigantic, I would have expected more. I quickly understood that in a highly spiritual place like Ubud not only body and mind are purified, but that organic food (superfood) should help to transform the inner garbage heath into a flowering rose garden and the acai, chia and co the bulldozer for the liver and intestines. From me. Healthy attitude but my palate was less interested.
A last walk through a small side street in Ubud, which, like all other alleys, would have earned a place in every art museum in the world, because the entrances to the house are developed like small temples, should turn the tide when a little boy approached me and pressed a banana leaf into my hand.
“Open!” I opened the leaf and a gentle smell of braised beef with a distinctive touch of roasted peanut and fig conquered my nose in flight. “Is that for me?” The boy nodded and I tried something. Wow, apart from being consistently soft as butter, the aroma was hard to put into words!!!! That was good!!!!
He took my hand and took me to a backyard where his mother ran a small 8-seat warung. She laughed at me and asked, “U like it?”
I replied: “I love it” She brought me a big portion and I asked her “Is it natural and organic?” She laughed and replied: “I dont know but its tasty”
I laughed and said,”I like u”…
…. One, two, three, four, five, six, seven. I counted the seconds and looked up from the rocky bottom of the Indian Ocean. Fourth wave. But now fast. I pushed myself off the ground with all my strength, dived to the surface and gasped for air. I grabbed my surfboard, lay on it and paddled off.
The first set had totally surprised me and I really had no chance to paddle the wave sensibly. Too quickly, the hilly water structure turned into a raging wave. “Hurry up Daniel,” Rico, the local surf instructor, shouted at me. I knew how to use a surfboard, but I didn’t expect such a force of the local water masses. Which is why the idea with the instructor was not stupid. Still, it was simply impossible to follow the wiry, Balinese Kelly Slater. He slid through the waves like a hot knife through butter. Incredibly.
Probably once the most visited destinations of Bali, famous for unique surf spots, home to countless “digital nomads” and center for wild party nights.
What at first felt like a chaotic circus event turned into a place of incredible experiences, great people, a unique community and an unforgettable experience.
After my first visit to the café, I not only discovered that Balinese coffee is world class, but also that here every second non-native feels his online business from this place controls. Extra facilities for working and networking such as the dojo and other co-working spaces support these projects with great BBQ or breakfast events for networking and forging ideas. When I joined in with my notebook, I quickly felt an infectious euphoria and it was fun to work here and talk to others. It’s magical.
Canggu is quickly explained. There is the famous Batu Balong Beach, Echo Beach and Berawa Beach. Each part of the beach has its own street with cafés, restaurants, warungs and shopping. Leaving Canggu in the hinterland, you will quickly come across rice fields and nature.
Yes, it’s dirty. There is rubbish everywhere. Cattle graze on a mixture of plastic and grass scraps. On the black sandy beach, the tide-washed plastic waste of the sea accumulates and it is really not easy to find public garbage bins to dispose of its waste.
Nevertheless, this place has something special and you often hear about people who stay here longer than they wanted. That should also apply to me.
To do: Surfing, surfing, surfing, relaxing or working or both. Visit temples or waterfalls and just enjoy life.
Bars and Nightlife
La Brisa. Probably the most famous bar on Echo Beach. A huge, hip beach bar to see and be seen. Incredibly beautiful ambience with indoor pool and lots of seating. Ideal to watch the sunset. Good drinks and food is also quite passable. However, it is very expensive for local conditions.
Old Man’s: Announced beach bar with loud beats and lots of party. This is where the untamed youth and older meet to kick-start the party evening.
Sandbar: From 12 o’clock the party continues on the beach. Loud chart music and strong drinks for those who haven’t had enough yet.
Island Bar: Electro music and lute beats to celebrate. Located directly opposite Old Man’s.
The slow: Cosy bar with good cocktails and reasonably delicious wines (which is rather difficult in Bali). Beautiful gallery with Balinese art.
Ok. Unfortunately, I have to tell you that the Balinese cuisine couldn’t pick me up in the long run, even though I really tried a lot. So I rejected my own principle of not trying foreign restautants and was really positively surprised.
Warung Dandelion: Balinese cuisine at a really high level. Open restaurant with garden where rabbits and other pets roam freely. Delicious, balanced cuisine.
Ji: Beautiful Japanese resaurant with roof terrace and breathtaking sea views. Delicious sushi combinations and good wine selection.
Ramen Hamatora: Good ramen restaurant with homemade noodles. Here, only Shoyu ramen is served, in a powerful broth of chicken and pork.
Pizzaria Fabbrica: “Yes, Daniel I know you want authentic food but please visit this pizzeria. I seldom ate better pizza at home.” Said, done- right. This pizza is the hammer!!
Varuna Warung: A classic warung. Similar to a buffet, the dishes are served here. You put together a plate and it’s heated. It probably comes closest to Balinese street food and was really really delicious.
Billy Ho: When I get into the kitchen, throw myself on my knees in front of the boss and beg for an internship, something very special has happened. My gratitude goes to Tim Bartholomew and his team. You have taken my culinary tour to a new level. Even if the state has made a dent in my case regarding internships (in fact, only Indonesian citizens are allowed to do an internship here), I am convinced of 100 of them to come back very soon. Japanese fusion cuisine with an aroma game that you could howl with joy. If you come to Canggu, you have to!!!!!! Without exception.
“Guys, please close the balcony door when you leave. Otherwise the monkeys come down and grab your valuables.”
If your biggest problem is a monkey using your freshly washed socks, then you’ve reached your goal!!
If you are looking for a balanced mix of nature, sport and lifestyle, you should come to Bukit. Known for the famous Uluwatu Beach, which really has a fabulous wave, you can take your surfing skills to the next level. Incredible beach bungalows built on white sand make the heart beat faster. If you wake up at night by whipping the wave that is clapping against the concrete wall just 2 m under your bed, then this is an evil for which you are only too happy to pay. Here you are for yourself. Cheaper instant coffee and badly made pancakes put a smile on your face, because nothing in the world, but nothing at all, is able to take away this feeling. I am excited!!
Uluwatu beach: Probably the most famous wave of Bali. Here you can hardly speak of a beach, because you actually only reach the wave via the rocks. The view from the higher coffees is phenomenal.
Padang Padang: Very quiet beach with a perfect wave for beginners. Careful! There are a lot of monkeys here, which are not always quite so pleasant.
Bingin: That’s where I lived. It was really very nice. You have to walk down a few steps to get to your bungalow, but what awaits you is hard to put into words. Incredibly beautiful beach with two super surf spots.
Balangan: Wow. Even if you try with all your might to make the beach more modern and hipper, this only partially succeeds. Luckily!! Old-established warungs with friendly hosts give this magnificent beach a nostalgic charm. The water has a turquoise stitch and the waves are really, really good.
Food: In fact, I tried less here. Small warungs throw fresh fish, shrimp and corn cobs on the grill in the evening. There are also a few dips and a cold bin tan. It suits the atmosphere. More would definitely be too much here!
I could certainly have explored more, but what I saw just knocked me over. Even if it is a bit dirty here and there, Bali has an incredibly beautiful nature and very hospitable inhabitants. Although I have tried many regional dishes, the Balinese cuisine has not yet been able to pick me up, but the international cuisine of this island has more than convinced me. Will I be back?? Yes, yes and again yes. Not for nothing do many holidaymakers lose their heart to this island and quickly two weeks become two years.
This post is also available in: German