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