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Bali, the Island of Wonders - Part I

Updated: May 19

(Introductory Part of a Multi-Part Blog Series)


Have you ever felt like you've had enough of everything, felt tired, and just wanted to grab a backpack and set off to a distant, magical place?

Well, I have... and whenever I felt like that, my first thought was always Bali.

Back in high school, we thought we had so many challenges in our lives, then came university when we realized that back then we didn't have any real difficulties... (and now I know that university challenges can also pale in comparison to the challenges of real life).

I'd be lying if I said my university years were a breeze. Studying Chinese at ELTE, and later adding Corvinus to the mix: there were quite a few days when all I wanted was to pack my backpack, leave everything behind, and go see the world.

And at times like these, I could only think of one place, Bali. I often browsed through volunteer opportunities on the island (I simply longed for something different after the gray weekdays), but it never materialized. I won't say that "Eat, Pray, Love" didn't have a big impact on me, though. In the book, Liz, the protagonist, breaks away from her previous life to visit Italy, India, and Bali.

Bali had been the first item on my bucket list for years. Being a sunset addict, and somehow Bali always symbolized freedom to me, I really wanted to go there. However, from Hungary, it's far away, and getting there isn't cheap, so my dream seemed very distant.

Then came September 2018, when I traveled to Shanghai for 5 months to study the Chinese language. I debated a lot about how to handle my university studies back home, whether to return immediately after the Chinese exams to have my exam period at Corvinus, but then I realized there was no need to rush home. Instead, I put my studies on hold for the whole year and bought my return ticket home after the Chinese exams, leaving myself with two free weeks for planned travels.

I won't exaggerate... when I arrived in Shanghai, during the first week I was already looking at flights to Bali, and I was amazed that you could already get there for just a few tens of thousands of forints. I knew I had to go because I was closest to it now. If not now, who knows when I'll get the chance.

Of course, not everything went smoothly... there were questions about how I could manage with my visa if I left China for a few weeks, whether I could return since my flight was from Shanghai to Hungary, so I had to get back to the city anyway. Since I was only going for a semester, I didn't need to apply for a residence permit, those who went for a year did, and they were given it, and with that, they could leave the country and come back anytime. So I started asking around, especially among the Hungarians living in Shanghai, if they knew anything about this, if I could get such a paper to leave the country and come back. They said the university usually issues such a paper. I inquired, but they told me they could only issue it if I were to travel before January 11th (during the school year), after that, no, because the school year was over... so the whole plan seemed doomed then, I almost gave up the whole idea.

However, in the meantime, I became friends with a Polish girl, Ania, and we agreed to travel together during those two weeks. One Friday evening in December, I brought up Bali to Ania. At first, she thought about it, but the next day she wrote that oh my god, she looked it up and how beautiful a place it is, we must go there. At this point, I had to temper her enthusiasm a bit because I didn't know how I could manage to leave China and still return from Shanghai. All I knew was that I really, really wanted this to work out. I had heard about the transit visa for a few days in China before and I expected that this could solve the issue. I sent an email to the consulate and they replied that according to the information from the airport, it wouldn't be a problem that I had stayed in China for a longer period before, I could still use the transit visa, I just needed to have a valid passport and a flight ticket to the next country... so at the end of December, we could start organizing our BALI adventure.

When I told Ania about this, we were both thrilled that one of our big dreams could come true.

We started looking at flights, planning our itinerary. I reached out to several people who had been there for recommendations, and I knew that in Bali, you can get around either by scooter or with a driver, so we needed to find someone who would be our driver. I searched in the travel monkey Facebook group, and one of my acquaintances also recommended Putu. I messaged him, and he promptly replied with several program options. He listed programs for each day along with the prices. Putu was our driver during the two weeks we spent there, but I wouldn't just call him a driver because after the first day, we could already call him our friend. He helped us a lot, and we owe him many experiences and memories.

(Unfortunately, due to the virus, they are in a very difficult situation since they solely relied on tourism for their livelihood, and they have been without work for over a year now. He is a father of 4 children... it's terrible to see how they are going through such difficult days, even though I try to help them.

If life returns to normal and there is an opportunity to travel, I highly recommend him: Putu's Facebook page  Instagram: @cawiwa_bali_tour - he has had many Hungarian guests, and he really loves Hungarians and Hungary.)

We flew to Bali via Kuala Lumpur, where we stayed for two nights to get a taste of Malaysian life, then upon arriving in Bali, our first destination was the city of Canggu. We tried to plan out our itinerary in advance, deciding which city to visit on which day. We read that it's worth booking accommodations in multiple places, so I booked all of our accommodations on the Booking website. Our plan (you can find the accommodations listed next to the city names): Canggu, Ubud, Amed, Gili Air, Uluwatu... we were on the island from January 14th to 28th. Along the way, we made some changes to how many days we spent in each place, and we removed Amed from the itinerary based on Putu's recommendation: 2 days in Canggu, 5 days in Ubud, 5 days on Gili Air, 3 days in Uluwatu. Our most expensive accommodation was on Gili Air, which cost approximately 25,000 HUF for 5 nights, and almost all of our accommodations included breakfast (which was always delicious)

But what happened when the boat didn't return from Gili Air to Bali, or when a monkey stole my flip-flops?

One thing's for sure, this trip of ours can definitely be called one big adventure...

All will be revealed in the upcoming parts of my BALI series... stay tuned! :)

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