Although I had the most amazing time in this country , there are 4 things you need to know before going to Bali.
1. Sun set ceremony at Uluwatu temple
If you plan to visit the Uluwatu temple, make sure you go there an hour before sunset. Not only the views will be superb but there is also a dance ceremony happening. I have seen photos and it looks amazing, I wish I knew this before going to Bali. We went in the afternoon and it was already great so I can imagine the sun set and dance ceremony will be fantastic.
Also, be aware that in this temple there are monkeys who are quite aggressive. They steal glasses, phones and earring – anything that shines basically so keep it away. They are so quick, you will not even have time to do anything.
2. Lempuyang Temple – Heaven gate
This was my only disappointment during our trip in Bali. It is probably the photo you would have seen the most on Instagram . This beautiful heaven gate, an infinity view in the background and some water in front of it to give this amazing reflection effect.
So we went to the Lempuyang temple to see that heaven gate. I obviously expected to see a gate with water in front of it, as per the photos I saw online. Well big surprised, the gate exists and looks stunning however, there is no water. So how come people have pictures of the gate with water in front of it? Well, there is someone there who will take the photo with your phone and add a piece of glass in front of your camera to add the water effect on the photo. Crazy right? And to get that photo with the “fake water”, people queue an hour! I refused to queue for a fake photo. I could not believe it and I was a bit annoyed to be honest. Not because I could not get a photo but because I find it so anti-traditional and anti-authentic to add things like these. Bali is such a beautiful place with amazing temples, gates and architecture. There is no need to do this and this just drives people to destroy the originality and charm of the country. That’s my personal opinion anyway but I just can’t get my head around it.
So if you are planning to see that gate, which I still think is worth seeing even without the water, just be aware of this. I wish I knew this before going to Bali as it would have changed our itinerary slightly.
3. Taxi rates
In Bali, you negotiate everything and this mainly applies to taxis who will always try to make you pay at last twice or three times more. The way to calculate is to pay 100K per hour. Because we were moving places quite often, we had a taxi for at least four hours so they could take us to one destination with our luggage in the car and stop to some places to visit on the way. That’s very practical and if you are in group, it works out cheaper.
4. The Kawa Ijen hike
This may have been the highlight of the holiday but it has also been my biggest fear! When we looked for the things to do in Bali, we found the Kawa Ijen with its unique blue fire as one of the best thing to experience. We knew we would have to hike all night to go up to the volcano and see the sun set. What we did not know was that the hike is very intense in different ways.
The first part of the hike is to go up the volcano in the dark for around 1h30, walking up a 60 degrees path, not even joking it is very steep! Then once you are up the volcano, you need walk down the crater. This was the worst part for me as it is so narrow, just rocks you need to walk down, it can be quite slippery too. I must admit, I have frightened myself a couple of times when I was looking down and saw the endless cliff. There are no barriers, not protection so god knows what would happen if someone falls. As soon as you start going down the crater, you will start to see and smell the noxious sulfur fumes hence you need to put a mask on.
On your way down, you will see so many miners going up and down carrying 70 kg of sulfur on their shoulders. It was very heart breaking to see them doing such a physical and dangerous job.
Once you have reached the bottom of the crater, you will see the EXCEPTIONAL/AMAZING/BREATH TAKING blue fire. It is hard to explain the feeling; all your senses are working at that point – the sight of this amazing colour shining through the dark, the smell of sulfur, the noise people make around you, the noise your breathing makes because of that mask. It is such a particular atmosphere you have to live it to understand.
It was so extraordinary, I kind of forgot I almost died to walk down this crater – exaggeration ? just a little 🙂
Once you have seen the blue fire, you will go back up but before you do make sure you look at the acid lake which is nearby and also the miners are selling some miniatures made of sulphur. We rushed to go back up and did not realise this was like an additional income for them so if you do want to help this is a nice way to do it.
Once you are back up, you will walk to the other side of the volcano and wait to see the sunrise and admire the view of the acid lake. We have not been very lucky as it was cloudy and foggy so we could not see the lake … very disappointing.
On your way back, you will see so many miners sorting out the sulfur they collected down the crater. We brought some food for them following the advice of our guide and I am glad we did this. Those brave men carry 70kg of sulfur up and down, they breath chemicals all night, do that physical hike that I have done once and still can’t get over it, for just 5 euros per night. It is heart breaking; I kept thinking this could be my dad or grand-dad. Therefore, make sure you also take some food with you to give it out, they will be very pleased and it does not cost much.
One last thing about that hike, make sure you take a big jacket as it is very cold and also good walking shoes which do not slip. My friend had her Adidas Stan smith on and she really regretted it the whole time. It was like she was wearing roller skate, she even fell once and almost ended up down the cliff. Sorry Alicia, I do not want other people to experience the same thing!
So these were the things I wish I knew before going to Bali. I hope this will help you planning your trip.
Don’t forget to check the my 11 top things to do in Bali.
Any questions, feel free to ask 🙂
Chiccie Chérie x