The Island of the Gods

It’s the post y’all have been waiting for.

When you hear ‘Indonesia’, what do you think? When I first was applying to YES Abroad, I saw Indonesia on the list and knew that it was a Southeastern Asian country, but I didn’t know a whole lot about it. As I was preparing to leave, I quickly discovered that many people I knew didn’t know much at all about this wonderful country.

Now, when you hear ‘Bali’, what do you think? I’m willing to wager that many more of my readers and people in general know about Bali. I’m terribly ashamed to say it, but before I came to Indonesia, I had no idea that Bali was a part of Indonesia.

Almost all of the exchange students went to Bali before me. Many went multiple times. My host mom decided it would be a good end-of-the-year trip, so that’s when I was slotted to go.

My host sister and I went to Bali on June 8. It was an interesting time to go, because it was two days shy of Sabrina’s departure from Indonesia. We had to say goodbye to her earlier than everyone else and did so right before we went to Bali.

Dil and Sab (Sab's goodbye)

My host sister and Sabrina.

Goodbye hug. (Sab's goodbye)

Cute goodbye hugging photos.

bye (Sab's goodbye)

It was a sad goodbye for me. Sabrina has been one of my best friends this year. She is my city buddy.

But goodbyes have to happen and it did. :/

A few hours later, though,


I was in Bali.

Now, I’m going to be honest. I have sort of dreaded going to Bali. More specifically, I have dreaded the ridiculous amount of bules there. Java doesn’t have a very high population of bules, so they don’t really have much of an impact on anything.

Bali is a different story.

The airport was teeming with bules. It was a sort of culture shock for me, as I’ve been surrounded by mostly Indonesians for 10 months.

We were picked up by my host mom’s work comrade’s husband Om Nyoman. We immediately started sightseeing.

And this was the first sight we saw:


Helloooooooooo Bali!

The next place we went to was the Pura Besakih. Although I didn’t know it at the time, this is the largest, holiest, and most important temple on Bali.

Gettin my statue on

Upon arriving at the temple, our Bali natives decided to go eat. We were to wait for them, as we were fasting (more on that in another post about Ramadan). Instead of waiting for them, we walked onto the premises. Immediately a man came to be our “guide.” We later found out that this man was not any sort of official guide, which should’ve been warning enough.

His daughter came up to us and pressured us to buy her postcards despite our consistent refusals.

Oh tourist traps. It has been a long time since I’ve been to a spot touristy enough to be caught by one.


The temple was beautiful, though.



I don’t know very much about Hinduism. We were told, however, that there were inner courts within the temple, and we were not to enter the second and especially not the third court. They are only for sembahyang, or prayers.


After being told this, we went to an adjoining part of the temple and entered the inner court that non-Hindus were deigned admittance to. I was too distracted with pictures to listen to what our “guide” was saying, so I just followed around.


Our guide sat us behind one of the structures in the temple and sat us down. He then brought us each a sesajen:

Canang sari.

After which he proceeded to show us how to pray the Hindu way.

It was very strange to me, but interesting. And pleasant.

At least it was until the “guide” pulled a 100,000rp (little more than $7.50) bill out his pocket.

He put a flower in the middle and twisted it.

“We do this to help pay for the temple. Please, do it also.” He placed it in his sesajen and we reluctantly did the same. Then he told us to do it with another 100,000rp. At this point, I was somewhat angry and refused, and my sister did it as to not offend him.

Why am I going into such detail about this? Because apparently this is a very common sort of scamming, and I don’t want any of you to be susceptible to it.

So watch out, future Bali-goers. Do not give your “guide” more than 50,000rp, or don’t have a guide at all. Don’t give money to the temple after your “prayer” because it’s just going to go straight into a scammer’s pocket.

Am I obsessed with merus?

The temple was gorgeous, though, and very intricate.

eyes of a crazy

We ended up meeting with the guys we originally came with, and they were angry at our being scammed. However, our guide had already gone after another 100,000rp.

Our comrades were Hindu, and we got to watch them pray, as well as other Hindus.

the woman is putting rice on them


After Besakih, we went to Danu Batur, a lake at the foot of Gunung Batur.

danau batur

We had just barely gotten down to the surface of the lake when it was dark. We didn’t do much there besides eat fresh fish.

Instead of staying in a hotel for the first few days, we stayed in Om Nyoman’s in-law’s house. It was a traditional Bali house, meaning that each room was separated. The kitchen was its own building, as well as the bathroom and our room. It was also in the desa, or the village, as opposed to where all the bules were staying.

Top notch.

The next morning, we went to a familial pura (temple). Each Balinese house has one for sembahyang, although I think this one was bigger and more extravagant than others.


one per ancestor

Each shrine is for an ancestor.


Our guide inside this familial temple grounds

In front of the familial temple

After, we went to Sangeh Monkey Forest.


Sangeh Monkey Forest

which one is the monkey?

peas and carrots

Nadila’s Bali pose.

The monkeys in Bali are mischievous and quite the little thieves. At Sangeh, however, they were not like this.

Instead, they were willing to be bribed.

There are official guides for the monkey forest, and they aren’t deceptive like the “guides” at Besakih. If you want a photo with a monkey sitting on you, the guide will get out some peanuts and the monkeys come right over.


They are a little overeager, however. I was just standing there when one decided that it was my turn and climbed onto me.

Excuse you, random monkey. Did I ask to be climbed?

He didn’t learn any lesson besides this:

When you climb onto random humans, You Will Be Fed Peanuts.

However, I don’t believe that this is a lesson that we as humans should apply to our daily lives. I’m not sure how that would turn out.


Later, I did invite a monkey to sit on my lap for peanuts. This only repeated the monkey’s valuable life motto.


When you climb onto random humans, You Will Be Fed Peanuts.

"Please sir, may I have some more?"

The baby monkeys were really cute.

Looking up.

It fascinated me to watch monkeys and see how incredibly similar humans and monkeys are.

Later, we went to Taman Ayun.

Taman Ayun

Going to worship

Hindus going to pray.

Taman Ayun

The temple from the back.

Despite the sheer amount of bules in Bali, I did get a photo request here. It definitely surprised me.

Later that evening, we made it to the famous Tanah Lot before the sun set.

Tanah Lot

Despite it getting dark, it was really crowded.

Tanah Lot

And it seemed that everyone was a foreigner.

We didn’t approach the temple itself since it was closing time and there was still a line. I got close enough.

The next day, we stopped along the road and took a sibling photo.

with ma girl

You know we’re #goals.

Our destination was Pura Ulun Danu Bratan. I remember seeing this temple on a YES Abroad Story, so it was cool seeing it in real life.



The temple was on Lake Bratan. After seeing it, we went on a motor boat around the lake.

the lake

On bratan lake

Next, we went to the iconic Jatiluwih.


silly me

It was very beautiful, but I think comparable to many other places I’ve seen in Indonesia (Toraja, Lembang, etc).

Later that evening my host mom met us in Bali. She had been working and was unable to come before. We left the traditional village we were staying at for good and went to a hotel in Legian.

Legian is the bule part of Bali, and the precise place I wanted to avoid. My host sister really wanted to stay there, however, so we only did half of our trip there.

The next day we started off with oleh-oleh, or souvenir, shopping. Then we happened upon the beginnings of a traditional art parade on our way to our next destination.

with a parade float

We waited for an hour and a half for the parade to start. We even got excellent spots, but were then kicked out because our spots were reserved for the press.

Well then, press.

Before I came to Indonesia, I started learning some words on the program Memrise. The first words I learned were mancung and pesekMancung means the large, pointy nose that bules have. Pesek means the small nose that Indonesians have.

When learning these two words, my first thought was: What the heck? Why am I learning nose shapes?

Well, upon arriving in Indonesia, I found out. The Indonesians around me said, “Hidungnya bule mancung, ya?” Meaning: Bule noses are very mancung, yeah?

Well, let’s not overgeneralize.

It’s very important to Indonesians, whereas I had never given a spare thought to my nose.

Anyway, apparently bule noses are mancung, but I saw some far more mancung noses at the parade:

That's what I call mancung

My nose does not. Even. Compare.


Some of the dancers.

We didn’t actually watch the parade, however. We were kicked out of each spot we situated ourselves in, and by the time we gave up trying to watch the parade it hadn’t even begun.

We went to Uluwatu after the parade-that-never-was. Uluwatu is apparently a very famous surfing destination, but I didn’t see any surfers, nor did I do any surfing.


The view was breathtaking, but I vastly preferred looking down at the water below. It was a beautiful blue.

That color tho

After Uluwatu, we went to GWK. GWK is still under construction, but very worth going to. It is a tourist destination made out of an abandoned limestone mine which sounds lame…until you see it.


Like check. Out. That. Limestone.

GWK is in the process of building a giant statue of Garuda Wisnu. This statue will be one of the tallest and largest in the world. This is what it should ultimately look like:

Denah Gwk Bali

Right now they have the head of Garuda, the head and torso of the god Vishnu, and a pair of hands (I am not sure whose).

And although they only have pieces right now, those pieces are huge.


Garuda’s head.

With this god


The statues were beautiful, and I can’t wait to see the finished product someday.

Although they should’ve been, the statues weren’t my favorite part of GWK. They definitely should’ve been.

So what was?

segwayyy (GWK)


It was my first time riding a Segway (and I’ve never ridden a hoverboard) and it was absolutely exhilarating.

We finished the day off with Kecaka traditional dance. Since it was already night and they were moving around, I couldn’t get very good pictures. This one will have to suffice:

blurry dancing

I really enjoyed it. I’ve already seen plenty of traditional dances in Indonesia, and what really intrigued me about the Balinese dance were the dancers’ eyes. Not only do the dancers dance, but their eyes dance as well.

Our last day was spent souvenir shopping, scouring the streets for nativities (didn’t find any, unfortunately), and a late-night foot massage.

So yeah, Bali, you were all right.

Ima leave y’all with a photo we took with the dancers at GWK.

With the dancers.



3 thoughts on “The Island of the Gods

  1. Shelly Reed says:

    I love this post!! So many great pictures, so many beautiful sites, and I love the dry Ruth wit that comes through in the comments.


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