Bali Without The Bogans

Bali Without The Bogans

“Ling, I’ve been told to call you a Bogan”, my friend Ara said to me at Denpasar airport, eagerly waiting for my reaction. “What!?” I yelled, as the others around us began to giggle. After the laughter passed, Ara turned back to me and sheepishly asked, “What’s a Bogan?”

What is a ‘bogan’?

For our international readers, a ‘bogan’ is used to describe someone considered loud, unsophisticated and of bad taste (similar to a hillbilly, redneck or a chav). They are typical to Australian culture, often depicted in white singlets, mullets and ‘pluggas’ (aka thongs or flip flops); southern cross tattoos are optional. They also happen to frequent Bali.

Bingin Beach, Uluwatu - no bogans here

To Australians, Bali is known as Bogan territory. If you’ve been to Bali, you would have seen them, Bingtang singlets, cornrow hairstyles, alcoholic beverages and boisterous voices in tow. This was one of the main reasons I had been hesitant to visit Bali. Don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing particularly wrong with bogans, but they are normally not my crowd. But I’m here to tell you that there is so much more to Bali than just the bogans. I’m talking about awesome beaches, historic temples, dreamy sunsets, friendly locals and cheap, tasty food.

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Bali without the bogans
Penglipuran Village, Bali

My friends were surprised to hear how much I loved Bali. Especially since I was, to be frank, a travel snob and had previously voiced my disdain for Bali and all the bogans that would frequent there. But here I am, unequivocally apologetic and eating my words, as it turns out Bali is amazing and I love it there!

The coasts of Bali are spectacular

 

Where to go

If you are like us, and want to avoid the ‘bogans’, our first general advice is to stay away from Kuta. Even Seminyak is looking more commercial and overrun with Bintang singlet, and Southern Cross tattoos these days. If that’s your crowd, by all means, enjoy! However, if you prefer the quieter, less touristy areas, then we say head north or south.

Rainbow sunsets of Uluwatu, Bali

 

For Breathtaking Beaches: Uluwatu

Uluwatu is approximately 1 hour south of Seminyak. There is a very cool surfer-hippie vibe here and Bingin Beach is really laid back. It’s where the ‘beautiful people’ go. The beaches are pristine, offering a decent swell for the surfers and the warungs (small family-run cafés/restaurants) offer delicious food-with-views, including smoothie bowls and nasi gorengs, for reasonable prices.

Bingin Beach, Uluwatu, Bali
Smoothie Bowls in Bali
Bingin Beach is a must visit in Bali

Think Bali has the best beaches in Indonesia? Check out our post on Raja Ampat to see true paradise.

For Temples & Tradition: Penglipuran Traditional Village

Imagine paths lined with bamboo archways, Balinese temples and traditional houses, barely touched by time. Penglipuran village is a highland village, located approximately 2 hours north-east of Seminyak (although this time can vary substantially on traffic). The locals are friendly and will often invite you into their home to look around, but be warned that they will try to sell you souvenirs at the same time.

Bamboo Archway of Penglipuran Village
Penglipuran Village, Bali
What to see in Bali
Local's store in Penglipuran Village
What to do in Bali, Indonesia

If traipsing out to Penglipuran Village is a little far from where you are staying, worry not, as you will find opportunities to see Balinese culture and tradition all over the island. In fact, there are over 6,000 temples spread out all over Bali. The popular ones are Uluwatu Temple, Tanah Lot and Besakih Temple. The Kecak and Fire Dance can be seen at Uluwatu Temple most evenings. With hypnotic chanting, elaborate costumes, enchanting flames and a plot that rivals the Bold and the Beautiful, this ritual is interesting and unlike anything I had seen before.

Kecak Fire Dance, Uluwatu Temple
Balinese tradition and culture

If you do go attend the performance though, please, please don’t be one of those people who leave while the performance is still going. We saw so many groups of people awkwardly try to manoeuvre their way through the crowds whilst the performance was underway, bringing more attention to themselves than the performers. If you are going to watch, stay until the end. It’s just rude (and dare I say, ‘bogan-like’?) to leave beforehand.

Love sunsets in Bali

Love destinations with a mix of culture, adventure and beauty? Check out our 25 Things to do in Yogyakarta post for inspiration!

 

For Luscious Surroundings: Ubud

Ubud is increasingly getting popular for tourists, thanks to Julia Roberts in Eat, Pray, Love. Luscious rice field terraces, Hindu temples and craft stores are definitely part of its appeal. The air is also a lot cleaner and cooler up there, making it the perfect setting for yoga and a nature retreat.

Ubud, Bali
Bamboo in Penglipuran
Bali without the bogans

Where to stay

A visit to Bali, no matter where you decide to visit, is incomplete without a stay in your very own private villa. You will truly feel like royalty when you have someone come and deliver your meals to you, away from the hustle and bustle outside the private villa walls. A villa with a pool is an absolute must (swimmers optional)!

Private pool villas, Bali

We stayed at the Kamaya Villas in Sanur and The G Villas in Uluwatu and loved both of them. There is no shortage of villa options throughout Bali, so pick one that suits your wants and budget.

Kamaya Villas, Sanur, Bali
The G Villas, Uluwatu, Bali

If a villa stretches the budget, our tip is to stay somewhere within walking distances to where you want to visit, as traffic jams are all too common here and you will find yourself sitting in traffic for far longer than it may take to walk! During my Trip of Wonders with the Ministry of Tourism, I stayed in the Golden Tulip Devins Seminyak and could walk to the stores, clubs and restaurants nearby. If you do stay here, check out the rooms with Jacuzzis!

Golden Tulip Devins Seminyak, Bali

If your typical hotel isn’t your thing (us neither) and you do want to escape the crowds, you can’t go wrong with the bungalows lining Bingin Beach. We absolutely loved our stay at The Inn Possible. Located at the end of Bingin Beach, the bungalow has stunning views of the beach, where you can enjoy your breakfast from the balcony. Be warned! The only way to get to Bingin Beach and the bungalows is down a massive flight of uneven stairs, so be prepared to test your fitness and pack light!

Smoothie bowls with a view at The Inn Possible
Bingin Beach, Uluwatu, Bali

What to do

Island Mermaids

For something a little different, you can live out your mermaid fantasies and do a half-day tour with Island Mermaids.

Ever dreamed of being a mermaid? You can! Read about Island Mermaids mermaid school in Bali here!

 

Go-Jek scooter to other beaches

You can hire your own scooter quite cheaply in Bali for 80,000 rupiah (approximately $10), but if you aren’t confident in riding, I’d warn against it. So many tourists end up in accidents, and don’t get me started on the lack of concern for helmets! If, like me, you aren’t great at riding a scooter, you can always hire a GoJek. They are essentially like Uber (which is illegal in Bali), but on scooters. You can even order food, massages and other goodies by GoJek, and it’s a cheap and easy way to get around.

TIP: Bali is not easy to get around! Between the lack of public transport and traffic jams, hiring a personal driver is one of the better options. If you decide to take a taxi, make sure you go for a Blue Bird taxi and make sure it’s metered or you agree to a price before setting off! Taxi drivers are renowned for ripping off tourists and saying, “the meter’s broken”, to then charge whatever they want.

Cave beach near Suluban, Bali

 

Day clubs

If you want to really treat yourself, purchase a ticket to one of the many day clubs in Bali. The Karma Kandara Beach Club is our favourite, located on a spectacular private beach in the south of Uluwatu. For Rp500,000, you get entrance and use of the facilities and Rp300,000 food and drink credit (so it really only costs Rp200,000 = AU$20). They also offer beachfront massages, spa treatments and water activities, but the exclusive beach is the main attraction.

Karma Kandara Beach Club, Bali
What to do in Bali
Private beach clubs, Bali

If you have a late flight departing Bali, the VIP Boarding Lounge Experience from Sundara in Jimbaran Bay is an absolute must! Show your boarding pass/e-ticket to the concierge and purchase Rp750,000+ (AU$75) of Food and Beverage credit  and you will get full use of the pool, loungers and facilities for the day. For the coveted day beds, it’s first in, best dressed, so get in early to nab yourself the best seat in the house. The food is half decent too, and what better day to finish up a trip to Bali, than to relax by the pool, with a tropical cocktail. With the airport only 15 minutes away (subject to traffic), you can laze the day away, right through to the night.

Relax at Sundara, Bali
Where to drink in Bali
Sundara Bali

 

Night clubs

Don’t say I didn’t warn you, but you are bound to find bogans here (like anywhere, really). But… the night clubs in Bali are pretty amazing. On our last night in Bali, we visited La Favela and I was blown away. The décor was unlike any club I had seen and it was a maze of mirrors, plants, ponds and vintage items. Drinks aren’t cheap, but the free entrance, music and atmosphere make up for it. The other club that looks amazing is Mirror. We only saw it by day, but it’s also popular with the techno crowd at night.

La Favela, Seminyak, Bali
Mirror, Seminyak, Bali
Beaches in Bali

 

Massages!

You can’t come to Bali and not indulge in a massage! You can either take the cheap route and get one off the street (average prices between Rp6,000 to Rp120,000), or spend the extra and really get pampered. Having experienced both the cheap and more expensive (but still far cheaper than what we pay at home) massages, I would advise to cough up the extra as the saying is true: You get what you pay for. The upper end massages are normally in opulent settings, with tea and wet towels provided, and the lower end may end up leaving you with burn marks or in more pain than when you started (but what can you expect from a $6 massage?). The best massage I had in Bali was at Prana Spa in Seminyak. With exotic trimmings, you could be forgiven for thinking you were in an Arabic palace when you are there, and the treatments are heavenly.

Prana Spa Seminyak, Bali
Photo spots in Bali

Having had such wonderful times in Bali on both occasions I visited and posting the ‘Insta-worthy’ photos from my trips, my friends (who also had avoided Bali up until now) have since decided they need to give Bali a go as well…

Insta-worthy Bali

 

If you want to avoid the ‘bogan crowd’ and see the absolutely beautiful surroundings Bali has to offer, basically avoid Kuta and the more touristy areas of Seminyak. Having stayed in Seminyak, Sanur and Uluwatu, our pick is definitely Uluwatu. It’s a bit further away from the hustle and bustle, but if you are seeking a relaxing and tropical getaway, this is the place to be.

Sunsets in Bali

What do you think? Have you been to Bali before? We’d love to know what you thought of your time there! Comment below.

A huge thanks to the Indonesian Ministry of Tourism for inviting me on their #TripofWonders and showing me some of Bali’s beautiful features.

This post contains some affiliate links. Booking via these links won’t cost you any extra, but will help me get closer to my dream career, so thank you in advance!

Mermaid school in Bali: So you want to be a Mermaid?

Mermaid school in Bali: So you want to be a Mermaid?

Ever since I was a young girl, I’ve dreamt of being a mermaid. In fact, after seeing The Little Mermaid, I was convinced that being a mermaid was my life’s destiny. I’d spend hours in the pool, practicing my mermaid swimming technique, until my skin turned wrinkly and the sun would set.

Flash forward 20+ years and that dream still lives strong. So when I found out that there is a Mermaid School in Bali, I jumped (or should I say swam) at the chance to live out my dream!

 

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So you want to be a mermaid?
Mermaid school, Bali
We took a boat ride to different waters for swimming

Mermaid school in Bali will take you to some beautiful locations around Bali

Island Mermaids

Island Mermaids was created by fellow mermaid, Chelsea, who swapped her life in Jersey for the island life in Bali. And we don’t blame her, as there are some truly gorgeous beaches, fit for a mermaid there. Initially starting out ‘mermaiding’ (that can be a verb, right?) as a fun pastime with friends, Chelsea saw a wonderful opportunity to spread the joy of being a mermaid with others. She started to design and create mermaid tails for herself, before expanding the business into selling the mermaid tails and products worldwide. She even supports the Balinese community by using small local businesses to manufacture her products.

I was definitely in my element as a mermaid

One of the amazing tails you could wear at Mermaid School!

Why be a Mermaid?

Mermaiding has become a massive thing recently, with many more people dreaming of ‘under the sea’. Mermaid schools are beginning to pop up all over the world and you can even order your own mermaid tails and accessories online. On the back of this worldwide interest, Island Mermaids was created to offer half-day tours where people can venture out into the lovely shores of Bali and Gili Trawangan and swim like a mermaid! You will be picked up from your hotel in Bali and, with Chelsea’s inside knowledge of all of the best spots, get taken on a boat ride to amazing ‘Instaworthy‘ locations. She even offers photo shoot packages, including styling and a professional photographer.

Chelsea from Mermaid School Bali will make you look amazing in the beautiful tails

Becoming a mermaid

Despite how beautiful and glamorous some mermaid photos can be, there is nothing glamorous or graceful about the process of becoming a mermaid. First of all, you need to put the tail on around your feet and slowly wriggle and squeeze your legs, hips and bum into the tail. It was at this point I really regretted eating all of the yummy mi goreng and gelato on the trip so far! Thankfully, the tails are made out of super stretchy material and are forgiving. Once the tail is on, Chelsea helps you secure your feet into the monofin, before stretching the bottom of the tail over it. Then, voilà, I was a mermaid!

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Mermaid lesson 101

Chelsea provides expert instruction on heaps of cool underwater tricks like twirls, flips and gliding underwater, mostly utilising your core. Chelsea demonstrates how to swim, dive and do the tricks underwater while you watch (snorkel masks were provided to see better) and then dutifully watches my own attempts. Depending on your confidence and ability, Chelsea offers varied guidance and assistance until you feel like you are free to swim on your own. In my case, not too much was needed, so we had more time to swim and take underwater footage.

 

 

Island Mermaids, Bali

There’s something special about exploring the ocean as a mermaid

Being a mermaid

So what was it like being a mermaid? Well, for me it was quite easy. I mean, I had been preparing for this moment my whole life, so I took to it like a fish to water (pun intended). Chelsea was quite surprised, even exclaiming after my first attempt, “wow, you are a natural”. I think it helped that I’m all about that bass and had plenty to work with. If I was to pick any song that could be the perfect analogy of swimming like a mermaid, it’s the chorus from Ice Cube’s “You Can Do It”. Legit.

You can do it put your back into it...

You can do it put your back into it…

I have to admit, at first it was a bit odd not being able to kick your legs individually, but for me it was easy to get used to. Despite making you feel slightly heavier, wearing the monofin really helped with swimming, and it was surprising how much more speed and strength is gained from wearing one. The only trouble I had was holding my breath long enough to do all the tricks and swim the distances I would have liked in one breath. Something to work on for next time!

Mermaid swimming is a skill
Live out the mermaid dream

Mermaid Modelling

After a good deal of swimming, we headed over to the shore to take some photos. Chelsea loves mermaid styling and was eager to help set up poses and suggest spots. Again, this was a fun experience and way to finish up my day of being a mermaid. Chelsea brings a range of her handmade tails for you to pick from. My favourite had to be the one I wore on land. If you love them as much as I do, you can also purchase tails and accessories from her store (something I’m still convincing Guy I need to do!).

My mermaid dreams became a reality

I was totally in my element as a mermaid

The verdict?

Swimming like a mermaid is a lot of fun but hard work! If there were a gym class for this, I would hand over all my money. I absolutely had a ball and felt muscles working out that I never knew I had! Sadly, the water clarity wasn’t the best on the day we did it, but it didn’t stop me from having a ball. I would definitely love to do it again at Gili Trawangan, as Chelsea said the water clarity and beaches are far better there.

If you are headed to Bali and want to live your dream of becoming a mermaid, head to Island Mermaids to get in touch with Chelsea and get prices on the different packages. The packages include transport, use of the various mermaid tails and half a day of being a mermaid. The other thing I loved about this day is that each booking is private; you are not placed in a group with strangers (although, I’m sure that could be arranged), and we could do whatever we liked during the day. That being said, it’s best to book in advance so you don’t miss out. If you aren’t so keen on swimming, but want to look the part, you can do the photo shoot package or purchase her tails online. I must warn you though, mermaiding is addictive!

Mermaid for life

Are you a fellow mermaid? Would you go to Mermaid school in Bali? Comment below to let us know.

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