I am once again sad to be leaving such a beautiful place, but flying out of Singapore does have its perks. Singapore airport is by far my favourite place to fly out of. It’s always filled with lush flowering orchids, and when they are done flowering they are replaces with a fresh batch that’s in bloom straight away. There is also a koi carp one, with an island and a bridge and a butterfly room.
I love Singapore after the rain. It’s has the most magnificent thunderstorms, and when they finish the entire city is left with that amazing fresh and light feeling. On my last trip to Singapore, I kicked the morning off with some healthy dragon fruit breakfast and went up the Pinnacle building co catch the best views of the thunderstorm rolling in over the city. And when the rain was done I headed to Sentosa island to take in the views over the harbour and spend some time on the beach while it was still cloudy, because I melt like a snowflake in the sun.
While on my mini-break in Singapore, I stopped by the orchid garden. Orchids are some of my favourite flowers and I never miss a chance to dive into an orchid garden or even an orchid patch. This garden visit was a gorgeous, cool and refreshing in the Singapore heat.
On my way back to London, fresh form another Asian adventure, I had a quick stop-over in Singapore again. It never lets me down in terms of weather (sorry, London, you need to try harder). And I love stopping by, checking with my friends who live locally, sipping a teh tarik and never miss a chance to have something matcha-flavoured at quirky and super friendly Shots Cafe.
When I’m in Singapore I always take a stroll down Ann Siang Hill and Club Street and head in the diction of the vibrant little street called Haji Lane. Covered in brightly coloured street art, the street is home to quirky-cool concept shops and cafes, painted every colour of the rainbow. It’s an instant mood boost and if you are alone in the city, making friends no hard task in this super friendly neighbourhood.
On the road again in Bali, I spent a few days visiting the temples, mountains, rice paddies, bamboo forests, jungles and dipping my toe in some Balinese cultural highlights as well as the the water at Tirta Empul.
1 – 4: Pura Pusering Jagat is a small temple hidden away in the heart of a small village in Gianyar and completely untouched by tourism. I visited here on my drive back home. This was a real eye-opener, and I got to watch and experience some of Bali’s local customs.
5 – 7: I then moved on to the Monkey Forest, its temple – Pura Dalem Agung Padangtegal – and the magnificent landscape of vertical cliff drops.
8: This was again in the Monkey Forest, at the very bottom of a valley carved out by a stream. The valley was so deep, that it’s almost pitch black all the way down by the water.
9: Watching an evening performance of the traditional Balinese Kecak dance, in a little theatre tucked away among the green Ubud rice fields.
10 – 12: I visited the holy springs at Tirta Empul, the stunning water temple, full of fountains, pools of clear ice cold water, koi carp, offerings and floating petals.
13 – 14: Another magnificent gem is Pura Luhur Batukaru. Set in he mountains in the heart of Bali, it has incredible views over the island’s jungle landscape and it’s a beautiful place to watch the mist roll in and blanket the temple on a wet day.
15 – 21: This part of my journey took me through central Bali and its temples: The temple and water gardens of Pura Taman Ayun, Pura Desa-Puseh in Batuan (featured in the photos) and Pura Batur Sari.
22 – 26: This part of my Bali journey has been an absolute dream, full of green and amazing nature in the shape of Ubud’s rice paddies.
There are many incredible and breathtaking dive sites on this planet. And although I have not dived them all, I have dived a fair few and I am pretty certain this particular spot might just be the best dive site in the world. I’m talking about diving the Lombok strait. Of course, it depends on what you are diving for: wrecks, reefs, walls, caves, biodiversity, rare and seasonal marine life. But here is the good part: this place has them all.
The area I dove in these two shoots not only has all of the above, but also sits in the Bali coral triangle, and lies on the Wallace line. This means 15% of the world’s coral reefs in one place, and what’s even more staggering is this is the most biodiverse area in the world. The Wallace line is the divide between the completely distinct Eurasian and Oceanian flora and fauna (that’s plants and animals to you and me). The underwater rift between Asia and Oceania here is so deep that it didn’t allow plants and animals to cross over and mix.
Apart from being the biggest biodiversity jackpot, the visibility is the best I have ever come across, having dived the Mediterranean, the Caribbean and the Maldives.
And it’s a great place for all diver levels, form beginners to very experienced divers. Go between June and September – the dry season, which means clear sunny skies and good visibility.
I wrote and deposited this a day or so ago, I posted this same content but it has been miraculously wiped off the face of this planet. So I am now writing up this part of my Bali adventure all over again.
The next part of Bali journey took me to Karangasem. It’s an area that has everything you could be looking for, and all of it is only few minutes away from your poolside. Karangasem is a quiet, relaxing, but surprisingly well connected part of Bali. Padang Bai is its major port and a way to get around other parts of Bali and neighbouring islands both big and small. Karangasem is full of rice paddies hiding in valleys between hills and mountains. The beaches here are made of magnificent black sand, created from the volcanic that cooled and set over centuries. It sparkles like diamonds in the surf. But among all the black sand, this one beach, Pasir Putih, is a magnificent white stretch of sand and a local gem. It’s popular with both the tourists and the locals, but it never gets busy. The fishing villages along the shore line are full of friendly locals and their magnificent catch of the day gems.
Karangasem was the best place for me to relax and catch my breath after a busy trip around Kuta, Legian, Seminyak, Petitenget and Nusa Dua. I walked the coast into the nearest fishing village and chartered a fishing boat to take me island hopping around the Lombok Strait for the day (more about this in my next post, so keep an eye out).
In my quest to experience as much of Bali as possible, after exploring Kuta and Seminyak, I headed to the much quieter beaches and sea weed farms of Nusa Dua. Known for its white sand beaches, peaceful resorts and gated housing communities, Nusa Dua is a great place to come if you are in a mood to relax, escape the crows and get a really good massage right on the beach. The beach I chose put at the top of my Nusa Dua itinerary was Geger beach, for its golden sand, azzure water and the little known but stunning and ornate temple perched on a cliff above the beach. Pura Geger (pura is the Balinese word for temple) is a real hidden gem, carved out of black volcanic rock. You are pretty much guaranteed to be the only visitor and the priest overseeing the temple speaks only Balinese so if have any burning questions, break out your phrasebook and most expressive hand gestures. I stopped by the temple on my way home, after a day at Geger beach just as the sun was setting. So visit in the evening, stay a while and watch the sun paint the sky and the sea shades of pink, red and orange.
As my Bali adventure continued, I based myself in a tranquil Seminyak hotel, filled with incense, aromatic oils and the scent of frangipani flowers. This place was close enough to get around all the sights, shops and connections along Kuta beach, but far enough away to not be disturbed by the noise and chaos of Kuta. It was the perfect place to stay for a few nights as I started to get my head around Bali, its culture and lifestyle.
My first port of call was exploring the local area and reading up on Balinese traditions and customs. I walked around the neighbourhood, completely in awe of how ornate and decorative people’s gates, gardens and shrines were. I visited a few of the local temples around Seminyak, wrapped up in the mandatory sarong. These are worth a visit, because while every other cultural traveller is hitting the clubs, surf spots or the big tourist sites like Tanah Lot and Pura Luhur Uluwatu, the less famous local gems remain empty and totally tourist-free. Not only did I get to explore Pura Petitenget in total peace and solitude, and without being hassled by the local sellers (which happens a lot at the more famous sites), I got areal feel of the place and got to watch some of the ceremonies and rituals that went on as regular people came to worship there.
So, my top tip is to skip the top 10 temples on every Bali travel list and go for the lesser known ones. The architecture is still just as magnificent, but you will most likely get to enjoy it in private. If you are stuck for ideas, search for “pura” (Balinese word for temple) and your local area in Google maps. You will get a bunch of results popping up. Go, explore, and if it turns out to be your thing, try visiting some of the further-away sites. And to wrap up your time in Kuta, Seminyak and Legian, take a walk at sunset down Kuta beach. The sky, sea and sand light up in shades of red and pink.
Taking a trip to Bali was one of the most memorable things I’ve ever done. The nature is so green, beautiful and amazing. One of the most memorable places in Bali was the butterfly park and nature reserve. The butterflies there have a life span of a few weeks and are born and die in the park. This means they never learn to be scared of predators or humans and when you come to is it, they fly up and perch on your dress and in your hair.
My other reason for going was the orchids. They are some of my favourite flowers and I can never get enough of orchids wherever I go. With so many colours and varieties to see, it’s a truly unforgettable place.