It’s been a week since I arrived on the island at 1001 temples with my friend Valentine who came to Bali to study at Udayana University. First advice I would give, do not panic when you see a horde of taxi drivers follow you when you arrive at Denpasar Airport… For the transport, I recommend the application Gojek, the “Balinese Uber”, which offers very affordable prices. Another point, I was also happy to go from my French 5° to the 30° of Bali, but still pay attention to the heat sometimes stifling and hydrate you without ever drinking tap water…

I spent my first days in Jimbaran, a small town in South Bali, famous for its seafood market and quiet bay. Near Jimbaran is the Garuda Wisnu Kencana Cultural Park, a 60-hectare cultural park dedicated to the Hindu God Vishnu and his mount, the mythical bird Garuda. To admire these gigantic statues, it is necessary to have good shoes and a lot of energy because walking under the heat is challenging.

One thing that struck me was the extreme kindness of the Balinese. Everyone greets you in the street and helps you with generosity. Wherever we went, we were welcomed like queens. It was even a little bit disturbing at first. The meetings are not what is missing in Bali where there is a friendly and relaxed spirit. In just a few days, I have already met a lot of beautiful people, of all ages, and I look forward to the continuation.

How to talk about Bali without talking about food … Traveling to Bali is an opportunity to discover exotic culinary specialties. You can afford delicious meals for less than 3 euros, and for food lovers like me, this is great news. I also discovered the famous warungs, small local restaurants that serve traditional food at very attractive prices. Do not be fooled by the appearance of a warung because you enjoy it as much as in a luxurious restaurant. The motorbike is the best way to get around the island, so I rent one despite my apprehension of the Balinese driving and traffic. Count less than 50 euros a month for renting. I dreaded my first time on this engine but we get used to it quickly.

After discovering the south of the island, we headed for Canggu, on the west coast, one of the most popular areas of Bali, bordered by miles of beaches. There are much more tourists and expats than in Jimbaran, many trendy restaurants, healthy cafes, beach clubs and luxurious villas. It is the meeting place for surfers, skaters, fans of yoga and vegan food. I thank Melda for finding me a place to stay near the ocean in such a lively, relaxing, and cultural spot.

A desire to escape and explore, so I went to Nusa Penida, a small island located southeast of Bali, less touristic than the Gili Islands. I was amazed at the heavenly landscapes, especially Kelingking Beach, a beautiful beach whose cliffs overlooking it form a dinosaur head if you have a little imagination… one of the most spectacular places in Nusa Penida. This exploration ended with our swim in the waters of Crystal Bay.

What struck me during my first days is the importance of culture and religion for locals. The Balinese have developed the island with tourism while preserving their ancestral and authentic culture. Ceremonies and religious holidays are very common. Religion occupies a fundamental place in the daily life of the Balinese. Every morning offerings are held to celebrate the gods or ancestors, and you will come across hundreds of small baskets of palm leaves on the sidewalks filled with rice, flowers and fruits.

What I particularly admire is their way of seeing and thanking their lives, their gratitude, their optimism and their faith. They are always grateful to the gods and for what they have without complaining, and I think that’s the secret of life. After only a week, I am already conquered. It is impossible not to love the Balinese smile. I look forward to discover temples, ceremonies, mountain landscapes, rice fields, lush vegetation, wildlife, culture, secret beaches and much more. I thank Bali Je T’aime for giving me this opportunity.

Sydney Jouffret