A ‘Backpacking’ Trip to Bali and the Three Longest Hours of My Life

I’m never much of a morning person but book me a morning trip and I’ll save my phone its duty for a timemy body will operate its own alarm to wake me even at the earliest, inconvenient time.

My very early trip to Bali this year with some colleagues started with me waking up fifteen minutes past one in the morning. At this point, the familiarity of morning preparations with a quiet trip to the airport that followed had blanketed me with a great sense of comfort, thus I was more than eager to kick off the day, lacking sleep and all.

What made this trip different to begin with: we were not allowed to bring big luggage bagsthe minibus we rented was not big enough to accommodate the whole group’sso my choice fell on a medium-sized backpack and a tote bag. Our flight took off at about 5, and arrive we did at Denpasar no later than 2 hours after that.

There is always something beautiful found in an early morning flight, like Jakarta from its point of view: breathtaking and stunning.

Our Bali short getaway started with a piece of bad news: rafting was canceled due to predicted high tide. There was no help for it. We steered the bus to someplace else in Ubud as an alternative, and the first that came to mind was Alas Harum, a big coffee plantation with a jungle setting.

Alas Harum, it turned out, was beyond beautiful. Every spot was Instagram-worthy and so I could definitely see the appeal this place offered to the tourists. We trekked through the jungle, albeit not deep into it enough, and were deeply satisfied with all the pictures we managed to snap.

But the rain had the most awful timing ever that day. As we were circling a heart-shaped red board in the middle of the trekking route, the sky surprised us with its rain. We went to take shelter at the nearest cafe available, but as the falling water was becoming more and more like sprinkles and the other were busy ordering coconut drinks, I took some time to wander around the area and captured some spots that to me screamed the vibes of Bali.

While Alas Harum was beautiful, our next stop was more of an entertainment. What had started as a random choice that we thought would quickly bore us in the first hour turned out to be quite an excellent pick. Located in Padangtegal Ubud not too far from Alas Harum, Monkey Forest was a sanctuary for more than a thousand monkeys.

It was important to remember that we should keep our belongings as close as possible to us. Monkeys were naturally mischievous creatures, and we surely didn't want to risk losing anything valuable in this forest. Some general rules were also applied, like how we shouldn't look the monkeys in the eye or scream as it might frighten them.

It was fun trying to guess what the monkeys were doing though: some were busy gossiping; some looked like they didn't care about anything but their coconuts; some were cradling their babies; some sat in pairs, looking a lot like they were trying to look for ticks in furs; and some were busy taking selfies.

This monkey's selfie was definitely not taken by me.

It was after that that everything seemed to go downhill for me. After deciding to treat ourselves to a scoop of coconut ice cream in Tukies Coconut Shop, which, by the way, tasted unique and delicious, we went back to our minibus to go to a seafood dinner reservation in Jimbaran. What should be a 1.5-hour trip took about 3 hours to undergo. The traffic was hellish awful. And those were the longest 3 hours of my life.

I admit, it was all my fault. I hadn’t eaten dinner on time the night before, and the effect of having dinner super late started to kick in on our way to Jimbaran. I felt nauseous. A part of me sensed that I would be throwing up in no time, though I managed to hold it until the first toilet-stop somehow. In the minimarket that I owed an apology to, I finally vomited, all the ice cream inside of me was gone in an instant.

What I did in those few hours was more like a blur, but I couldn’t for the life of me forget the pain and the push to puke. It was ironic to remember that throwing up didn’t make the sickness go away. I spent another hour on the bus, trying to convince myself with positive thoughts that I would feel better in a few more minutes... just a few more minutes.

Minutes turned into hours. And hours turned into real torture. It was not until we arrived at Jimbaran and I threw up once more that I started feeling slightly okay. At that point, my stomach was as empty as a recently purchased jug from an antique store, and I didn't feel the desire to eat. I managed to force myself a few bites though, feeling quite positive that I couldn’t follow through tomorrow’s itinerary, but as long as I got better, I didn’t care.

The experience was super awful, but I learned an important mundane lesson that we should follow obediently: never eat late, no matter how much work you have going on.


It’s very relieving to find out that my paranoia didn’t actually happen. I woke up the next morning feeling so much betterthank God. My stomach didn’t feel as painful anymore. Off to Kintamani we then went. The trip took about 2.5 hours more or less, and we decided to rent four jeeps to visit Mount Batur’s Black Lava. Each contained a local driver and three person top.

The jeep trip, as new of an experience as it was to all of us, was awesome. Feeling better than I had been the day before, the hard shakes coming from the wheels against the craggy rocks didn’t bother me at all. I was able to sit and relax in the back seat, savoring the beauty of Mount Batur in silence with the wind ruffling my hair almost persistently.

It was the view that was certainly worth all the tangled hair we had to deal with afterward. If on our way there, we were greeted by the local residents’ houses, fields so green that I couldn’t stop admiring, and a faraway shadow of Mount Batur; in the Black Lava area, we made a temporary halt to enjoy its nature. Some people could be seen toying with their motorbikes and ATVs there, looking courageous all the while doing some cool maneuvers.

Traveler tips: Use tons of sunscreen to avoid sunburn! The weather there might be average cold, but the sun still works its power over all of us.

Our way back up from Black Lava was quiet but comforting somehow. The only sound heard in my jeep was nothing but the buzzing wind. I was deeply lost in my own thought, musing that maybe in the ideal world, I was never a corporate worker. I would be a music producer instead, making songs regularly in the comfort of my small studio, doing the stress-free job I loved for a living. Perhaps, I would spend my free time being a professional photographer too.

Isn’t it weird to think that out of all the options out there, we end up where we are right now? Isn’t it bizarre to reflect on the way every choice we made has shaped us into the person we are today? I mean, working in an office had brought me a free trip to Bali. I took it as a newly polished branch in the path that I was taking.

After the jeep ride, I think it’s safe to say that we were all tired and satisfied, though mostly hungry. Our next stop was the famous Bebek Joni Restaurant, and most of us ordered the same thing: crispy duck. It tasted delicious, especially when we were all really hungry from hours of trekking and traffic.

Full and happy, we then once again went to Jimbaran to spend our free, leisurely Saturday. A new beach club in town, Locca Sea House, was our pick for the evening. I was never a big fan of a crowded area with loud music, but overall, I could say it was nice staying there for a few hours.

I could also say the same for the night walk we all did around Kuta afterwards. It was a short stroll-around, a random decision taken to satisfy our needs for the night air.

I liked how it reminded me of something similar I had done in Kuta seven years ago. Strolling around the same area with some old friends, the back then eighteen-year-old me had tasted the best seafood of my life and brought home some snacks. Luckily enough, some restaurants and shops were still the same as they used to be. It made reminiscing about the old time so much easier.

As I was passing them, I thought about how fast time flew by, about how it felt like it had only been yesterday that I went to Bali with my high school friends. It had been a while since I last saw most of them in one room, and when I thought about how friendships lasted but meetings came and went, I also mumbled to myself, "It's life." It is just how it is.

Just like how it usually is, the last day of the trip came as fast as the start of it. As we closed the Bali chapter this year, we did nothing too fancy that started with us shopping for souvenirs, though my favorite was certainly our strolling around Melasti Beach.

Melasti Beach was beautiful in the way the sky was blue and the clouds were white: naturally obvious. The sand was so soft that when my friends were burying my legs in it, all I could feel was its warmth and comfort. The seawater looked very clear, inviting us to swim. It's too bad that we should go to the airport soon and queueing in front of the loaded bathrooms was not listed on our agenda that day.

What was listed as our next stop before the airport, however, was lunching at Babi Guling Karya Rebo. Most of us ordered Nasi Campur, and let me tell you this: it was worth all the raving praises I had heard a lot from my friends. All in all, I would claim it as a small success to officially close our Bali chapter.


Now that the trip is over, Bali feels unreal, more like a beautiful lucid dream. I wonder what my next Bali trip would look like, what my future blog post would mostly be written about, and with whom would I spend the few days on the beaches. I honestly don't know. Life is unpredictableit might throw in some hints here and there, but the clues might not actually be for what they seem to point at.

Let us see and wait then. Bali, till we meet again someday.