This is an ongoing series reflecting on my first trip overseas to Bali in 2008. You can read the entire series here!
“It seemed like a good idea at the time” – the infamous words of many a traveller. After drinking our way through the Bounty’s cocktail list the night before, we were not in a good way when Ben (our Balinese guide) came to pick us up at 8am the next day. Even the ubiquitous Asian buffet breakfast complete with stir fried noodles and fried rice had not improved matters. Nevertheless, into the the car we staggered and tried to perk up to explore more of Bali, as today was our “Big Day Out” trip that Ash’s travel agent mate had organised for us.
We started to feel a little better as we left the outskirts of Kuta and we started to pass the beautiful Balinese scenery, filled with incredibly green rice paddies, studded with traditional style villas and temples. During the 2 hour journey, Ben spoke to us about the Balinese culture, explaining sights that we were passing and answering all of our questions.
Finally we arrived at the Ayung River for the first activity of the day – white water rafting. This was my first time rafting, so combined with my hangover I was a little apprehensive. Ayung River is generally class 2-3 rapids, so was suited to a beginner like me though! We suited up with lifejackets and helmets and started down some steep stairs through the jungle to the riverbank. There we were given a briefing on commands that our guides would call out.
With that all covered off, we set off down the river in our trusty (I hoped!) raft. We looked up in awe at the sheer cliffs either side of the narrow waterway topped with lush jungle as we floated along, the morning sunlight filtering through the canopy and warming our shoulders. Every now and then the vertical cliffs were decorated with beautifully intricate carvings depicting traditional Balinese mythology.
We stopped to swim at calm pools along the way to cool off from the now steamy weather, and to shower under small but incredibly powerful waterfalls. The rapids were reasonably easy for a beginner like me, although apparently there hadn’t been a lot of rain lately which certainly helped to calm things down.
The rafting was a great start to our first full day in Bali and a perfect way to cure a hangover from the excesses of Bali’s nightlife – we were ready to take on the world! After an Indonesian lunch, including pandan pancakes for dessert (my first experience with the quirks of Asian desserts – I actually quite enjoyed these!), we got back into the car with Ben and headed off to our next destination.
Stay tuned for part 2 of our Bali Big Day Out!