When I first came to Bali in November I didn’t like it here at all. Yes, people were nice and I kinda liked the vibe. I also saw a few very beautiful places, that made me less disappointed. Actually one day seeing the beautiful coastline of Southern Bali I started to think, that maybe Bali isn’t that bad after all. I could just avoid Kuta, Denpasar and Ubud and everything would be fine. However, I left the island thinking that it’s single most overrated place where I have ever been to.
I saw it like a very unique place, which has been destroyed by mass tourism.
Not that it just didn’t live up to the hype, it simply felt bad being there.
My First Impressions of Bali
My first impressions of Bali were like this.
Traffic. Intense, slow and chaotic traffic. Never-ending traffic. Much worse than what I had seen anywhere else in Asia.
And crowds of tourists. Everywhere.
I knew the area of Kuta, where I was staying, is overpopulated and that at all times there are a lot of tourists. What I didn’t expect, though, was that in order to get away from all that madness you may need to drive a scooter for an hour or two. Driving for an hour to leave a town on a rather small island, what?
And then I went to Ubud, a town you have probably heard quite a lot about.
It’s one of the most popular tourist destinations and many of Bali’s hotels, resorts and guest houses are in Ubud or not far away from it. If you’ve been seeing all the same things about Ubud as I, you probably think that it’s a very laid back and chilled out town amidst rice fields. But you know what? In Ubud things weren’t that much better.
To get into the town I had to get through a few kilometer long traffic jam. And here again it was very crowded. With mostly foreigners all around me. And packed with shops, cafes and bars catering for Westerners mainly.
Really? And this is the place where you come to see Balinese culture?
Luckily I had agreed to meet with friends staying in Ubud at that time. And so I could see how this town looks just a few blocks away from the main roads. Which is quite a different sight.
But then… I had to drive back to my hotel in Kuta and experience all that madness again.
Which made me leave Bali a few days later not willing ever to return here.
But I Had to Return…
As we had already made some travel plans for Bali.
And I’m happy that it happened the way it did. Because now after almost 2 months of living in Bali, mostly in Ubud or near Ubud, I really, really like the place. Because of its uniqueness, people and culture. And I’m really eager to return again and again. I love Bali now.
Because this is the view (photo above) you can have from the second floor.
Yes, Bali is overpopulated. But when you get used to the place and look a bit away from the main roads, you find a lot of coziness here on this island.
Because this is where you can be living if you are OK to be 5-minute drive away from town center.
And even in that house, with this rice field another 2-minute drive away from your place, you can have a decent internet connection.
Because when you don’t live in the town center, traffic doesn’t seem that bad anymore.
Because Bali is a very culturally rich place. For all these 2 months whenever we went out we have felt like there is some celebration going on somewhere. Again. Every day. Men singing here. Women marching there. A kilometer-long procession around the block.
And architecture here makes you feel like you are living in a fairy tale not in a real place.
And rituals and daily offerings. And people in traditional clothes. Loving it.
Did I say something about people in Bali? These are some of the kindest people you’ll ever meet. Always ready for one photo, by the way. Even when driving or doing a hard manual work.
Do you need another reason to visit Bali? Let it be its beautiful nature!
And that beautiful coastline of Southern Bali I mentioned in the very beginning.
Have you been to Bali? Did you like it there?
Author: Kaspars Misins
Kaspars is a long term traveler and a travel blogger from Latvia. He loves going on long walks, reading non fiction books and spending time outdoors. Together with his girlfriend Una they have been traveling – volunteering – working abroad since 2013. On We Are From Latvia they share their experience and things learned along the way.