To round out our time in Bali, we left Uluwatu to spend our last few days in the tourist mecca of Seminyak. Where Ubud manages to retain some it’s Balinese charm, Seminyak has been fully converted to cater to Western tourist sensibilities.
That’s not to say there’s nothing of value in Seminyak – indeed, one of the best meals I had in Asia was at La Lucciola, a beautiful restaurant right on the sand at sunset. And our stay at Tony’s Villas was gorgeous – it felt like honeymoon quality (even if I was sharing the room with my sister). Everyone has a different traveling style, and some people genuinely love having dozens of options for food, shopping, and five-star accommodation. If that is you, Seminyak is your place.
After we had the obligatory drinks at Potato Head our first afternoon and wandered around the retail outlets looking for bargains, we were ready to explore further afield. So we opted to hire a driver, a popular option for people visiting Bali and a great opportunity to support the local economy, provided you don’t go through a Western-owned service.
The next morning, Nyoman was right on time. We were not. After 15 minutes of scrambling, we managed to get out to the lobby ready for a day of exploring the temples and beaches north of Seminyak.
Our first stop, at Nyoman’s suggestion, was the Taman Ayun temple in Badung province. This was the temple I had been expecting to see in Uluwatu. It was stunning, peaceful, and lush. The beautiful pagodas made for good photos, and we took our time wandering through the vast gardens.
Then we were off to the second Monkey Forest of our time in Bali. This one was a lot smaller and emptier, but we finally got over our fear of letting the monkeys touch us and got some great photos.
After, we went to the wildly overcrowded Tana Lot temple. Professional photos of the diminutive temple on a small island in the sea make it look much more mystical than it is in sweltering midday heat, surrounded by Chinese and Korean tourists. This one is best left for sunrise, I think.
Our last stop for the day was the sleepy surf town of Echo Beach, in Canggu. This was what I had been looking for: a less-trafficked, distinctly chilled out place to relax in the sun with some beers. So we did exactly that at Old Man’s Bar, whiling away the afternoon and pretending not to check out the surfers that were coming and going between sets.
When we left for the airport the next morning, it was pouring rain. Watching the Balinese wrap themselves in plastic from head to foot and hop on their motorbikes for the morning commute made for an entertaining journey. We were lucky that for the majority of our trip, we wouldn’t have known it was the rainy season in Indonesia. And we were headed to Thailand, where the rains wouldn’t come for a couple more months, and the beaches and islands beckoned.