Discovering My Favorite (and Least Favorite) City in Bali

Bali Travel, Travel

I spent the last day of my Bali-holiday in the picturesque city of Uluwatu, not according to my intended plan, but by aversion of the city that I was originally staying in—Kuta. Here’s the story of how I discovered my favorite, and least favorite, city in Bali

Main Entrance @ Kuta Beach

My (Least Favorite) City in Bali: Kuta

I traveled to Kuta with a few Canadian hostel-mates that I met up in Canggu. It just so happened that we all had to be at the airport at the same hour for our departing flights, so we thought to finish off our trip in Kuta (which is literally right near the airport) and split the taxi ride heading there.

*Travel Tip: due to the non-existence of public transportation in Bali, taxis are pretty much the way to get around—but they can get expensive. I highly recommend reaching out to the people you meet along your travels and sharing rides. Saves you a little money and you get a conversation-partner for the ride!

I also heard Kuta was a good place to learn how to surf because of the small waves and absence of coral reef (compared to Canggu), and wanted to give this surfing thing a try.

We booked a modern, quiet hostel nestled in a part of town near the beach. When we got there, we received a warm welcome from the staff, got situated in our rooms, then headed out in search of food, beaches, and surfing.

After enjoying a delicious noodle curry at Vegan Bali, we headed down to Kuta Beach.

When we got to the beach, it was covered with tourists—probably the busiest beach I’d seen in Bali thus far. The waves were tiny. The weather was overcast. The locals hassled us to buy things while we were trying to sit on the beach and relax (I even had a lady hit me on the leg with her bag of bracelets when I refused to buy one—I was in shock).

This experience came as an unpleasant surprise, especially after all the bliss and joy I had been experiencing on my Bali trip up until this point.

Travel isn’t always perfect times and perfect plans and perfect beaches and perfect weather—sometimes you come across a place that simply does not match your vibes—and for me, this was Kuta.

I knew I didn’t want to spend my LAST day in Bali in this place…so the next morning, I got out.

The Sea-Side Cliffs @ Uluwatu Temple

My Favorite City in Bali: Uluwatu

I ordered a motorbike taxi through GoJek first thing in the morning, backpack full of things to get me through whatever crossed my path that day. The Uluwatu Temple was my intended destination, and the taxi ride was about 40 minutes.

I LOVE traveling on motorbike taxis, and I fully enjoyed the wind in my helmet-hair as we zoomed through the little towns and windy roads to Uluwatu.

Starting my morning off at this temple was the perfect realignment to my Bali experience.

The Uluwatu temple is built on a cliff that meets the ocean; an ocean boasting the most crystal-teal water I’ve ever seen. Young Balinese boys practiced traditional music pieces that echoed through the air. The paths that wound through the space were surrounded by tropical foliage and were utterly silent; peaceful.

I spent several hours exploring the temple, reveling in the time with myself and the charming scenery, feeling true gratitude for being in such an unforgettable place.

After I trailed the cliff-side left and right, I began heading down the road in search of the nearest beach. As I was walking, a Balinese woman pulled over, asked me where I was going, and offered me a ride to the closest beach, free of charge.

I was humbled by her generosity.

I arrived at Suluban Beach, walked past some huts and chairs where a few tourists were lounging out, and found a quiet area to lay down my tapestry and enjoy the white-sand, teal-water beach.

Finding Food in Uluwatu

Once I had soaked up enough sun, my hunger led me back up to the road to find something healthy for my first meal of the day.

For the second time, a local on a motorbike asked me where I was going, and after some conversation about the kind of food I was looking for, offered to take me to a nearby café, free of charge.

I was humbled by his generosity.

I enjoyed a refreshing smoothie bowl at Suka Espresso Café then headed out in search of the next beach.

I spent the rest of the day adventuring through Uluwatu, following signs that led me down steep stairs to the white-sand beaches where I walked along the coast, stopping and taking a dip in the water every so often.

I hiked my way up the cliff-side back into town to find lunch at The Cashew Tree Collective. Ended up meeting a couple dining there and chatted for some time while I munched on my Tempeh Burger, Sweet Potato Fries, and two vegan desserts. They recommended I check out a beach for sunset, so it was off to the ocean again.

I walked along several beaches before I finally settled down on Pantai Cemongkak to catch my last sunset in Bali. This beach was almost deserted, a handful of people scattered around, the ideal place to relax and take in the scenery.

What started out as a not-so-great trip in Kuta, ended off with the perfect closure watching the pink-hued sky over the teal, calm water at my discovered beach in my favorite city in Bali: Uluwatu. At this moment, I was truly in a state of bliss and gratitude for my time spent in Bali, reminiscing on the past eight days with a smile on my face and in my heart.

But then I had to get back to Kuta…

Pantai Cemongkak Beach, Uluwatu, Bali

Finding Good in the Bad

Long story short: I was trying to make my way back into town in the now-dark jungle roads of Uluwatu…with no Wi-Fi. I walked along for some time when an Australian man and his Indonesian wife pulled over on their motorbike to ask if I was okay. 

Once I told them I was trying to get back into town, they offered to take me. I piled on the back of the bike with this man and his pregnant wife (which I found out a few minutes into the ride), and we talked the whole way back into town (which was suuuuper far, what would have been a few hours walk).

I was humbled by their generosity.

The couple dropped me off at a local’s store, a friend of theirs named Al. They told Al my situation and asked him to take care of me. 

Al led me to a group of Balinese boys hanging outside drinking beers and talking the night away. These guys went out of their way to download the GoJek app on their phones and order me a ride back into Kuta. 

While I waited for my ride they offered me drinks, food, and we shared conversation about our different cultures.

I was humbled by their generosity.

Suluban Beach, Uluwatu, Bali

Reflecting on My Experience

The ride back to Kuta was long, but I enjoyed every minute zooming up and down the lit-up cities. I was so elated from the moments of generousity, grace—and luck—that I had received on this day.

Moments like this are what make travel so incredible. The days where you don’t make any plans, go with the flow, and adapt to the situation at hand end up being the most rewarding—and always provide you with a great story to tell.

Kuta wasn’t my favorite city in Bali, and I didn’t do much in Uluwatu, but the entire experience ended up being one of the most memorable moments I had in Bali. Couldn’t have asked for a better way to wrap up my trip, showered with generosity and grace. 

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  1. Chris Malcomson says:

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    • dukesierra8 says:

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