Firstly, I need to apologise that this post is so late. I have done a truly ridiculous amount of exploring in 2017 and as a result, I now have a significant backlog of adventures waiting to be blogged about!
Back in May I found myself faced with yet another birthday.
I must admit, I wasn’t keen about turning 24. So many of my friends are now getting married, buying houses and even having kids – meanwhile I am just over here going on adventures! Don’t get me wrong, I love my travelling life, but as each year passes I do find that the number of people I know who don’t have their shit together (like me) is dwindling further and further.
So, to take my mind off of the inevitability of ageing, I figured that the best way to turn 24 would be to do so in beautiful Bali.
Well, in addition to the fact that it is an undeniably beautiful slice of Indonesia, it is also just a 2.5 hour flight from my home in Darwin – meaning that even with just the weekend off of work, I could still have an awesome mini getaway.
There are many different regions in Bali – each of them having a very distinct vibe.
One of my favourite regions in Bali is Ubud. I love it because it isn’t as hectic as some of the other areas (Kuta, Seminyak, Canggu – I am looking at you) but it is still busy enough that there is always something to do, a cool place to eat or a new place to see.
The wonderful people at Jungle Retreat by Kupu Kupu Barong offered to host me for my birthday weekend, and they really did play a big part in making it a special experience.
After landing and travelling from Denpasar airport to Ubud with my rather wonderful Balinese friend/driver Made, I was swiftly checked into one of the Jungle Retreat grande deluxe suites – and it certainly didn’t disappoint!
With high ceilings, warm lighting, bouncy beds and an absolutely stunning bathroom – these suites have a very Javanese feel about them.
Prices start at just $135 AUD per night, which is incredibly reasonable when considering that these suites are designed to house three adults!
This price also provides you with daily breakfast and access to a rooftop pool which affords pretty unbelievable views of the surrounding jungle.
After an amazing nights sleep, no time was wasted before jumping out of bed and getting on the move.
After a totally over indulgent breakfast (fried banana fritters anyone?) I made my way out of the jungle hideaway of the hotel and into Ubud city centre. I was feeling in the mood for a massage, and after only a short walk, came across a tiny sign pointing to a massage place on a tiny side alley.
For just $8 AUD I scored myself an amazing 60 minute Balinese massage – and it was exactly what I was looking for! The rooms may not have been fancy, but the massage itself was awesome, and I wandered back out into the hustle and bustle of Ubud feeling completely relaxed and rejuvenated.
However, I have never really been a lover of hustle and bustle (Tokyo being a notable exception) so it wasn’t too long before a saw a small sign pointing to some rice fields and I was off exploring.
These definitely aren’t those huge (and hugely photogenic) rice fields that you’ve seen pictures of on Instagram, but they also weren’t packed with other travellers – which for me, made them much more enjoyable.
The day was rather overcast and gloomy, but I often prefer this type of weather – especially for taking photographs! The clouds in the sky create shadows in the image and give a kinda otherworldliness to the frame.
That day was spent exploring beautifully green rice paddies, drinking fresh fruit juice and indulging in delicious Indonesian food.
Later that day it was time to head back to the hotel. They told me that they were treating me to a special dinner, and oh how special it was!
They call this ‘bird nest dining’ – and it isn’t hard to see why!
The hotel has two incredible ‘bird nests’ built into the side of a hill which provide truly unbelievable views of the rice paddies and river below. This is a private dining experience, and it was such a wonderful way to eat the last meal of my 23rd year!
Not only were the views absolutely spectacular, but the meal itself was incredible. I had some sort of fish (it’s been almost 5 months, I have no idea exactly what type of fish it was) that was so tender and soft that it just about melted in my mouth!
I am not a huge meat eater, but when I eat fish or meat I am a little bit fussy – if it is too chewy or overcooked I just cannot stomach it – so to get such a succulent meal was pretty wonderful.
The calm and serene setting gave me time to reflect a little on the year that had been; and overall, my 23rd year of life was a pretty awesome one.
I visited 16 countries across four continents, made countless new friends, really began blogging properly and caught a heckuva lot of Darwin babies!
It was one of the busiest years of my life, and I could not have imagined a better way to send it off.
On the first day of my 24th year, I could have gone out exploring, but lets face it – I am always exploring!
Instead, I treated myself to a full day relaxation experience at a local spa and let myself get truly pampered.
That evening, I had time for one last meal at Bridges Bali before jumping back on a plane, and it was nothing short of wonderful.
I welcomed a brand new year of my life in an incredible place and when it is time to turn 25 (oh the horror!) I hope to do the same again.
As always, thanks for reading and happy solo travelling xx
Getting to Ubud: From Denpasar airport, Ubud is a comfortable 1-2 hour drive (traffic dependent)
Jungle Retreat Ubud: Suites start at just $135 AUD/night, click here for more info
Camera: Images captured with an Olympus OM-D E-M1 in conjunction with M.Zuiko 12-40mm f2/8 lens
Remember: Exploring is amazing, but it is okay to relax and unwind from time to time
35 thoughts on “A Beautiful Birthday in Bali”
wow – not bad!! 😀
Not even a little bit! 🙂
It looks great there. Beautiful!
It was pretty darn special 🙂 thanks for reading!
I too had that dread of birthdays every year Ellen. I had mine on Monday, I’m older than you, and I still haven’t got my shit together…so you’re up on me. But I’m glad you had a happy birthday…in, err, May…and I hope you’ve accomplished a lot since. How you have time to catch a heckuva lot of Darwin babies with all your adventuring I still do not know but keep it up. You are winning at life.
Happy birthday! Which number birthday was it?
And thank you for the birthday wishes, even though my posting is rather belated :/
With every birthday I weep a little more. Even though I don’t like to admit it I’m forty-one now…going on twenty-five. I’m in denial. Still. Stay young forever Ellen.
Wow this is unbelievably beautiful. Sorry you dread your bday but you are def an inspiration (believe it or not). An amazing place to celebrate your other year on earth,
Thank you so much Melrose. I love to hear the ‘I’ word 🙂 – hopefully I can continue to inspire you in the future! <3
The room looks incredible, and the nature is breath taking! 😀
Yes it is! Such a beautiful slice of paradise 🙂
Beautiful post, and even late, happy birthday wishes! Marcus
Thank you very very much 🙂
Happy belated birthday you old person, HAHA. Your not old your just getting warmed up. I did not start traveling outside the states until in my 50’s and you have me beat already.
What a wonderful way to spend your birthday, in a wonderful place, with a wonderful meal, relaxing amid a wonderful scene. From the photos that is a steal ($) for a resort like that. And it can be a weekend trip for you, excellent. It would be a long trip for me here in the states.
Keep wandering, I enjoy following your adventures. Although they are adding to my bucket list that is already very LONG.
Hahaha I know, but the years already feel like they are flying by too quickly!
As for your bucket list, I make no apologies for increasing the size of it – I am rather glad to hear it actually!
Happy birthday Ellen! Your doing exactly what you want with life, your friends will envy you in due time. Your freedom and travels.
Happy Birthday to you. Looks like the perfect birthday retreat. X
What a beautiful way to spend a birthday. The best advice I can give anyone at any age is not to compare yourself to others at your life stage. I’m 34, still enjoy travelling and now looking at going back to university. Some of my friends are coupled up with children but I also have friends that are now divorced or coming out of long term relationships. As long as your life style makes you happy, that’s all that matters. Life is not a race to achieve societal milestones. Happy adventuring.
Ubud, always one of my favorite places. And I think you have your act together just fine. You will never regret your travels. There is plenty of time for the other stuff! –Curt
Belated birthday wishes, Ellen…that is a serene and beautiful way to celebrate your big day. I think you have got to live life on your terms and even though it might seem like others have got their shit together, maybe it is okay not to know what lies ahead. Live a little everyday for the rest of your life doing what you love. xx
What a great way to spend your birthday, and in such a beautiful place too 🙂
Who cares what your friends are doing…follow your heart for as long as you can is what I say. 🙂
You are beautiful, Ellen, so why not enjoy a beautiful birthday. I would probably choose Ubud, if given one place to visit in Bali. The resort prices do seem reasonable.
I am in love with Bali!
Happy belated birthday 😁 x
Well. Only 24 – you have so much more time to explore the world!
I must find a way to convince a place I want to visit that I am in desperate need of somewhere to chill. Bali is on the list simply because my youngest daughter, 26, wants to go diving and found that Vietnam does not have good dive spots. At 60 (yes, I am still harping on about that) I deserve quiet versus stress.
We are doing a short stint together and already need a break from each other – 3rd day.
I might have to break my piggy bank for a stay such as yours but it is tempting.
Bali is always the right choice for a getaway, even for us Indonesians! This December, I’m going to turn 25 and I just feel the same – too reluctant about ageing. But, hey, at least you had fun for the day! If you’ll come back again to Indonesia, be sure to visit Lombok, Nusa Tenggara, or Papua 🙂
Love! I celebrated by birthday in Bali this year too! Solo trip and even my budget trip looked luxurious!
stunning photos! Bali is so beautiful – definitely keeping a note of that hotel it looks so cosy! just followed and can’t wait to read more 🙂
BTW, just because someone gets married and has kids, doesn’t mean the traveling has to stop. It changes, but it doesn’t have to stop. Many people get married and have kids and use it as an excuse of life essentially ending. That’s the wrong outlook as far as I’m concerned. A few years ago, we packed up all of our stuff, put it in storage for a year, and spent a year in Finland. We had 12 suitcases for the 6 of us and did just fine. Our kids were 5,7,9, and 11 at the time. And during the course of that year, we went to 10 European countries. It was the best year ever!
My father-in-law never celebrated birthdays. He felt focusing on numbers was wrong: we are always too old or too young for this or that. He was correct but for one thing, I believe that we are not celebrating the number but are celebrating the person — belated happy birthday.
Also, I once saw an interview with a billionaire [yes with a B]. He listed all the things he had tried and failed at before settling into something at 37. Even then, what he did for the next years only led to a later even more successful change. His words to all those who were uncertain about where they were going was to embrace the search. Enjoy the exploration. You surely are doing that.
Happy birthday. This was posted around the same time as my own birthday (even though I passed 24 a while ago) so it hit a bit of a chord with me. Things just keep going up from here.
Dude girl, I think you have your shit pretty much together AND you’re younger than me! I turn 30 next month, which is nothing short of surreal. So, congrats! I’m usually more of a city explorer person and less of a relaxing tropical vacation person – but I think your blog and this post in particular may have changed my mind!
I love Bali. Loved Ubud and the rice paddies. Was there about three years ago! Happy Birthday!!!
Happy Birthday for this year! I also turned 24 this year and a lot of my friends are also getting married, buying houses etc. which also makes me envious of them, but I think you’re actually doing a great job with your life with all the travel you’re doing!