We loved our visit on the tiny little island of Nusa Lembongan but, as usual, we’re always excited to get to our next destination. The anticipation of what’s around the corner is always keeping us going. Our next stop was a small fishing town on the east side of Bali called Amed.
Talking with the locals of Bali in both Seminyak and Nusa Lembongan – they raved out Amed. Bragging about the peacefulness and beauty of the small town. Some tourists but not nearly as many as our two prior places. We were very excited to check it out. But first? We had to get there.
We took a fast boat to the port of Padang Bai and we were immediately greeted by eager taxi and private car drivers. One man approached us and said he could take us there for 250,000 rupiah with no further elaboration (approximately $19/USD.) This was a hell of a deal considering it was about an hour and a half drive from Padang Bai. We had also seen online that a taxi ride from this port would be somewhere between 250,000-350,000 so we thought we were scoring a deal. We immediately agreed and after eating a bit of lunch – we began our journey to Amed.
It’s not very far from Padang Bai to Amed (about 28 miles) but traffic is very bad and very slow on the island – so it took about an hour and a half. Luckily – this side of the island is absolutely gorgeous. Compared to the southwestern Seminyak/Kuta side, which is very flat, this side is very mountainous, green and scenic. It helped the time pass with no problem.
Our driver was super friendly and interested in knowing why we were going to Amed, where we’d been previously and all about our future plans. We just couldn’t believe what a great deal with such a great driver we had scored! But of course, if it’s too good to be true – it just is. The moment he turned up Train’s “Soul Sister” on the radio I should have known there was something about this guy I didn’t trust.
When we finally arrived at our guesthouse in Amed we started to hand him the 250,000 rupiah and he immediately changed his tune. It was now 500,000. He apparently meant that the 250,000 rupiah quote earlier meant per person. Okay – I get it. Try and get a customer by telling them the price but not telling them the entire details of said price. We’re learning quickly to ask very pertinent questions – such as confirming prices per person or total. Ugh. Our $19 went to about $40 – damn it.
Amed is a very quaint town. It’s basically a long strip of road that consists of tiny shops, warungs (small places to eat) and guesthouses. Not much going on. We were expecting that and looking forward to it. But it really was mellow. Maybe a little too mellow. Our guesthouse was in a part of town that was a bit removed – it took about a 15 minute walk to get to the heart of the village. But luckily – it was crazy beautiful. Our budget room (only $18/night) overlooked the sea facing eastward and the mountains to the west seemed fake they were so perfect.
We honestly didn’t do much in Amed – frankly, because there really just wasn’t much to do. The WiFi in our room sucked so we often walked to the nearest coffee shop so I could work a bit. Other than that – we just hung out in our room. We ended up reaching out to our host a few times because of ant and shower pressure issues – his name was Wayan (like most, if not all, eldest boys in a family.)
During our last night in Amed (which we actually cut one night short form the original plan due to boredom) we decided to eat dinner down at the warung of our guesthouse. Wayan happened to be there with his family! They were drinking the local liquor called arak and getting set up to play some music. We were invited in. We, of course, jumped on this opportunity.
Liquor is heavily taxed in Indonesia so the locals have resorted to basically making their own moonshine from rice called arak. They sell it at the local stores in re-used water bottles with the labels removed. Sketchy, I know – but when in Rome! We sat down with Wayan and were poured a couple shots. His uncle couldn’t speak English and his friends only knew some broken phrases. But after a few sips – we were all friends. At this point we started watching them break out in tune. Guitars, a wooden flute and wooden xylophone type of deal all got brought into play. At first we watched – but soon – we were invited in on the fun. I was soon handed a tambourine and our night of drinking with our new friends – playing music had begun. It was a blast.
The next day – with our heads pounding a bit – we had to pick up and move to the town of Ubud which is located on the western, but inland, side of the island. It was a long 3 hour drive in the shuttle due to traffic and additional stops with the extra passengers but we made it.
Ubud is very well known as a go-to town to visit in Bali. It’s very touristy but still small. Yoga and art lovers would be in heaven in this little town. We would be celebrating our anniversary here (9 years of marriage!), which we knew in advance, so we splurged a bit and booked a private villa (still only $50ish/night.) Although, since we arrived one day earlier than expected, due to boredom in Amed, we had one night at a little guesthouse in downtown Ubud. This guesthouse/hotel had some amazing Balinese style doors – which by the way – I’m now fully obsessed with.
Ubud was great. It had so much going on but still felt very different than anywhere else we had ever been. The streets were lined with clothing, jewelry shops and spas. Plus warung after warung. But also – due to the popularity – you could find great eclectic restaurants. We found a nearby Mexican restaurant called Taco Casa and we were sold. We were craving Mexican food. It’s funny because in Mexico, we craved Asian food – and now that we’re in Asia, we craved Mexican food. Oh, the grass is always greener, right?! Regardless – we had a great burrito and savored the sour cream with every bite!
Having our own private villa with it’s own pool meant that we wouldn’t be doing much. And…we kind of didn’t. Our host was so amazing and she even offered to make meals for us (we didn’t take advantage) so basically we could stay put if we wanted. We were situated in some gorgeous rice paddies away from the main road and really loved being removed from the hustle and bustle.
But given that this was our last city to visit in Bali, we got out and explored a bit. First on the list was what Ubud is very well known for – the Monkey Sanctuary Forest. Just minutes off the main road there is a dense, green, beautiful forest that consists of 6 “tribes” full of about 700 monkeys. The park is a wonderful relief from the heat since it’s covered in thick tall trees and small rivers. And of course – all of the monkeys. You could even buy bananas to feed them so that they could crawl on you – but…we weren’t about that – so we opted out. They don’t have claws or anything but I was just not into the thought of being pooped on or bitten. I’ll leave that to someone else. We watched other people partake which was just as fun.
The wonderful thing about the Monkey Forest, aside from the relief of the heat, is that there’s beautiful temples throughout the park. Even a small gorge that you can walk through while monkeys pass all around. It felt like we were so far removed from the town that was just a few minutes walk away.
Our stay in Ubud, as like everywhere else, felt short lived. We loved Bali. The people were extremely friendly, the food was fantastic and we loved the art and architecture. I’m actually fully convinced at this point that I will have a Balinese door in my future house. Everything was so unique and something we knew that we’d only be able to find on this small, but famous, island in Indonesia.
We now have mad love for Bali and were so glad to be able to spend our 9 year anniversary as such a special place. Much like every other person that we know who has visited this glorious and special island. We loved every minute and look forward to spreading nothing but positivity about our visit of such a wonderful place.