I felt like I found the Bali I was looking for here…
Not too many hassles, no pretentiousness, no over pricing, great beaches.
I arrived on Monday morning and decided within minutes I would settle here for two nights. I had a beautiful lunch with interesting conversations at Zen Inn where I was staying, before taking a hike to the beach.
I thought I had got the directions wrong when I Looked at the steep rocky footpath that apparently led me to Bias Tugal ( White sand beach ). I persevered in the heat in my $3 flipflops and made it to the top breathless from the hike and my breath taken away by the view. A small palm fringed cove at the bottom of the cliff awaited us, with gentle surf and not many people, and out on the horizon a few boats making their way to Lombok or back.
I spent a few lazy hours there enjoying the surf and the tranquility. One lady asked me if I would like a massage, to which I politely responded no, and she left me a alone. An Ice cold Bintang made it all the better too…
Wandering around Padangbai i discovered a charming little village based on fishing, boats to Lombok and diving. It’s a pretty laid back place where ceremonies take precedence and life rolls on. I was disappointed to see where all the obsessive sweeping and countless offerings end up, and you really wouldn’t want to sit on the main beach here…
The Blue Lagoon beach which the Lonely planet recommends was not one of my favourite places. Whilst the snorkelling is very good, you are subject to hassles on a very small beach, or very desperate women wanting to sell you their sarongs and bracelets, and after paying twice what I think I should have for a broken snorkel set I was then sarcastically told I was “very nice English” when I didn’t want to engage in conversation or even look at the sarongs being thrust under my nose. Honestly, yes I KNOW everyone is just trying to make a dollar, but their tactics need to be changed, they have little understanding of how to make a sale in my opinion and thanks to that experience, I didn’t spend very long at that beach. I did a few snorkel sessions, admired the view and then hiked back to my preferreed beach of Bias Tugal. A lady approached me – the same as the previous day, and said she recognised me from the day before, would I like a massage today? I said I wanted to have a swim first and would think about it when I had rested. She waited a considerable amount of time before approaching me again, and I did say yes simply because the politeness and simpleness of her enquiry made me want to give her my business.
We chatted a little before and after and she told me I was a Strong woman for travelling to Bali alone. This was worth more than the massage itself, as the past few days I had started to question whether I was enjoying myself at all – dealing with a poorly tummy, a bad back and a constant feeling that everyone wanted to extract money from me rather than help to enjoy being here. So thank you to the nice massage lady on the beach – such a simple thing to say and such a lasting effect it had.
More of Padangbai
Continually moving, I spent one night in Amed, and moved onto Candidasa, further south.
Perhaps another day would’ve been nice, but I didn’t even have money to spend! I had forgotten to withdraw cash from Ubud before the trip, and the only ATM in Amed was not within walking distance, meaning I would have had to pay someone to drive me there.
So I took a lift to Candidasa, which took much less time that the reverse had done the previous day. The journey itself is quite spectacular. The rice fields around Culik are said (by locals) to be some of the best in Bali to look at, and since they are all stacked up and down the sides of a steep valley whose views are breathtaking, I would be inclined to agree.
On arrival in Candidasa I checked into Ari Homestay which has rave reviews on Tripadvisor. It was more expensive than I had been paying in Amed and Ubud, but comfortable, clean and worth the personal touch. Garry, a Sydney born man and his wife Tyo run the very successful guesthouse and hotdog bar downstairs. The downside is that you are right on a very busy, quite noisy road. This doesn’t affect the rooms as such, in fact I had the pleasure of hearing the sea from my room at night, but when you are having lunch there are trucks and motos whizzing past you. They proudly sell NO Indonesian food – instead burgers and hotdogs from local ingredients with some Aussie stuff thrown in. Chicken salt for your chips and Vegemite for your breakkie. Normally, and I remarked this to Garry, I would steer clear of such places, as I really enjoy local fare when I travel, BUT i was so thankful to have something that wasn’t nasi or mie goreng and my poorly stomach really needed a break.
I have to say I didn’t rate Candidasa too highly myself. I really wanted to just lie undisturbed on a beach, which was nearly impossible. The pictures I had seen online were much like this one…
Candidasa doesn’t really have a beach, it was washed away. But a clever camera angle – I know because I took the same photo, makes it look like you are going to be sitting on paradise’s beach, but not is the case. This particular beach was only a few feet wide, and not the kind of place you would want to sit and spend a day. I tried my hardest to look for a beach, and eventually, I must have walked over an hour, I found a small stretch of sand. I had to fight off board fishermen desperate to take me out snorkelling and then parked myself in front of a hotel for a few hours. It was sad, as all I wanted was to sit and relax, but a few metres away behind a breakwater were about 5 men who were bent on selling me a snorkelling trip on their boat, so I couldn’t sit anywhere near them on the beach.
The next day I did battle with drivers drying to find a reasonable price for the short drive to Padangbai, down the coast. I had talked at length to Garry at Ari Homestay about locals hassling tourists, or ripping them off, and he couldn’t get them to understand they were pushing tourism away in their desperation to make a sale, a ride or whatever it was they were offering!
Candidasa was enjoyable for a night, but I felt that the unless you were in a beach front resort on Jl Pantai Indah, you can’t really enjoy what little beach there is, as there is no apparent way of getting to it ( just a very small path leading you directly to hungry fishermen!), unless you sneak through one of the hotels, which I did on my way back.