We woke up in Bali after a very short sleep, and the weather was nice, despite the storms and heavy rain that occurred while we were sleeping. In the morning, I planned for us to eat breakfast, go to the pool, relax, and get a massage before we started our day.
We ate by the pool overlooking the beach and the cliffs, and it was fun being around other couples at our resort. The spa was all booked for that day, though, so we couldn’t book a massage until the next morning. We ended up using most of our morning to swim in the infinity pool and enjoy ourselves.
Dark clouds were looming over our heads and in the distance, so I checked multiple weather reports, and all promised 80% chance of rain throughout the week that we were there. I was really worried that our plans would all be canceled, but we decided to just go out and not worry about whether or not it would rain.
I booked a driver a few weeks before we left through a company that got good reviews, and he picked us up at noon to take us to the beach. We found a place to exchange our money, and then he suggested a Balinese restaurant for lunch. I will admit that I was nervous about having a driver because I had so many things planned and I wasn’t sure whether or not we would be able to get to everything on our list.
I had also already looked up places to eat on the way to all of our destinations, but our driver mostly suggested places for our meals, and although it was annoying at times not to be able to go where I had researched, all of them ended up being delicious and not too expensive, so I probably shouldn’t have panicked as much as I did in the moment.
However, our driver was pretty reserved and didn’t seem super keen on talking to us about Bali and the culture (although he did teach us a lot over the course of the four days). We felt pretty awkward being in the car with him for the first day or so, because we wanted to have private conversations, but he spoke English, so we ended up speaking in Korean most of the time we were in the car. At one point, he suggested that we visit a coffee plantation to try some Balinese coffee and tea. Thankfully, the tour and the samples were free because neither of us really drink coffee (though we did like most of the flavors of tea they gave us).
The first thing I wanted to do was see the beach, and I had found two or three that people online rated highly and weren’t crowded. But when we first got in the car and told our driver we wanted to go to the beach, he suggested one that I knew was probably crowded, and he had never heard of the two that I wanted to go to. He had to call someone to find out how to get to them both, but he took us and let us walk down the cliffsides to the shore by ourselves.
The first beach we went to, Pantai Tegalwangi, was really beautiful and there were hardly any people there. Just a Chinese couple and a professional photographer taking their pre-wedding photos. I dug my feet into the sand and splashed in the waves, and we took pictures and videos of the beautiful scenery. We got hot after a while and decided to get back in the car and head to one other beach.
Next was Green Bowl beach, which is known for its view of the ocean from a bat cave. However, there are 322 steps to get from the cliff to the shore, and as hard as they were on us going down, we knew it would be even worse to climb up. We made it to the bottom, though, and headed straight for the cave.
We saw some monkeys hanging out on the rocks, but there were no bats in the cave (which made me sad because I love bats). And there was also a lot of trash inside the cave, probably left by travelers and others who visited the small shrine inside. There was also a lady bothering people, asking them to buy stuff from her. We actually saw her intimidate one girl, who was sitting alone trying to relax, into getting up and leaving after the girl refused her to no avail. It wasn’t as nice as the first beach, and we were ready to go soon after we arrived. Walking back up the steps was a lot of work, and Junkyu was exhausted once we got back up to the top.
We got back in the car, turned on the A/C and drove to the main event of the day: The fire dance at the famous Uluwatu Temple. The temple is on the top of a huge cliffside overlooking the ocean, and the cliff forms a U-shape so that you can stand at one end and see the temple, or stand at the temple and also get an amazing view. Our driver took us all the way up to the place where we could take pictures and buy our tickets for the sunset fire dance, and he warned us to be wary of monkeys that sometimes hide just over the cliff to steal people’s cameras.
I am deathly afraid of heights, but I have an obsession with cliffs, especially if they overlook the ocean. I’ve climbed up Mt. Diamondhead in Hawaii, and I’ve been to The Cliffs of Moher in Ireland, and those are two of my favorite memories. I knew I would love Uluwatu, and it was breathtaking. There were so many people, though, and we had to get to the dance area to snag good seats, so we didn’t linger too long around the edge.
The Kecak dance at Uluwatu is performed every day at sunset and I honestly wasn’t expecting to love it as much as I did. The costumes and makeup were so elaborate, and all of the music and the rhythms were done a capella by a group of over 50 men. It was originally a traditional ritual that was eventually adapted for tourists of Bali into a drama with a storyline by a German painter in the 1930s. When we bought our tickets, we were given the English and Korean translations and explanation of the story and the characters and symbols. It is mainly a love story between a couple who are separated by evil forces and have to fight them off to be together. It was really fun and moving to watch.
Once the dance was over, we met our driver in the parking lot and he took us to a hotel that I had researched that has a French restaurant and a very romantic atmosphere. The restaurant, called Jumana, also overlooks the cliffs and the ocean, and the best time to go is probably sunset, but since the dance was also at sunset, we didn’t have that option. It was dark when we arrived, but still nice and romantic, and there were candles everywhere.
We were worried that we might not get a table because I read that it’s usually booked, but there weren’t that many other people there, so they let us sit outside on the balcony. Again, there were other couples out on romantic dinner dates, and it was fun being one of them. We had a 5-course dinner with a lot of fancy food, and it was all delicious. But the minute that we were done eating and asked for our bill, it started to rain.
The staff let us wait in the lobby for our bill and our ride (a golf cart) back to the main entrance, but it took them over 30 minutes to send us a ride. When the golf cart finally got to us, we were pleasantly surprised to see that they had taken that extra time to put a cover over the cart so that we wouldn’t get wet on the ride back. Our driver was still waiting for us, and by the time we got back to our hotel, we were beat. We slept a lot better than we did our first night, and that’s how our first full day in Bali went.