Bali, Indonesia is known for it’s impressive temples, incredible landscapes, postcard-perfect beaches and intoxicating culture, but that’s not all, this island also offers so many unique experiences to discover. Here are just three of Asia Expert, Alex’s favorite unusual experiences while in Bali.
hot air balloon ride
In Ubud, there is one resort that sets itself apart from the rest by offering a hot air balloon ride and that is the Chedi Club. Set upon vivid green rice terraces 10 minutes away from the main hub of Ubud, the Chedi Club is a serene escape for guests looking to be close to the action but want to feel like they are miles away.
A hot air balloon ride was never something I would have expected to do when I was in Bali, but I was incredibly delighted when I walked up and saw the brightly colored balloon warming up, waiting for us to hop on. I was a bit nervous for the ride as I had never been on a hot air balloon before but felt eased when I found out it would be tethered. The hotel manager explained to me that Bali has strict licensing restrictions (some are based in their Hindu beliefs). The balloon must be tethered because they do not allow the balloon to fly higher than the tips of the temples. I found this experience to be a great introduction to hot air balloons. It got to test out something I have always wanted to try while allowing me to fully enjoy the surrounding beauty without my nerves getting in the way.
Not many people know that in central Bali, you will find lush forests dripping with what seems like thousands of species of trees. If your schedule allows it, I highly recommend taking the approximately 1-hour drive northeast of Ubud to the Mount Batur area. You will start your day with breakfast overlooking the lush green mountains framing the sparkling Lake Batur – a beautiful sight as the morning sun reflects off the water. Then you will be taken town to the entrance of the forest and handed a walking stick. During your mild one-hour trek through the forest, you will come across tons of remarkable tree species including the Banyan Tree with its many dripping roots.
At the end of your trek will lead you to Lake Batur – the same lake you looked down upon during your breakfast. You’ll then easily paddle your way across the lake to be picked up and taken back to your hotel or maybe even the more commonly known, Monkey Forest.
astrology & hindu priest blessing
Perhaps the thing that makes Bali so charming and fascinating compared to the rest of the islands in Indonesia is that the majority of the population abides by the Hindu religion. Every native Balinese person I came across exuded politeness and always took a moment to make sure I was comfortable. Most practicing Balinese men and women start their day with a prayer either in their home temple or local village temple and can be identified by the remnants of flower petals tucked behind their ears. Each village temple has a priest who can be seen for blessings or can be asked for the best date for a prosperous marriage. What I didn’t realize, is that they can also conduct an astrological sign reading. I have been a sucker for astrology my whole life. It fascinates me to think that the day you were born could dictate your path in life. However, I also take it with a grain of salt. So, when I found out I would be meeting with a Hindu priest to have my sign read and to receive a blessing, I was both excited and skeptical.
When we arrived, all he took from me was my name and date of birth. The first thing he said to me upon seeing my birthdate was, “why aren’t you in the arts”. I studied theater in college and also worked in theater for a few years out of college, but I am also a Leo which is a sign notoriously known for craving the spotlight, so whether his instincts were specific to me or my sign in general is a tossup. However, after about 5 minutes of silence from him and watching him jot some notes down, he went into more details about my personality, family, and love life. Some were general yet accurate personality traits and others were much more specific like the reason my most serious relationship ended and uncovering that I suffer from chronic back pain which very few people know about. My time with him ended with a traditional Hindu blessing that consisted of me using coconut water and flower petals to cleanse myself while he repeated Hindu blessings in Indonesian that I unfortunately didn’t get a translation of. Whether you believe in another religion or are skeptical about astrology, this is a one of a kind experience to better understand the traditions, beliefs, and actions of the local Balinese.