[Island of the Gods] Paradise Bali vs Backpackers Bali

Over the past week, I've had the honor to attend a lifetime long friend's wedding in the Island of the Gods - Bali! I had no idea what to expect when I agreed to go. All I had in mind was that I was to be there for her on her special day. After everyone left when the wedding ended, I took a couple of days to explore the island by myself. Never did I imagine that I would experience such different Bali's: 


There was the Paradise Bali. 

The one with the beautiful and elegant wedding, with its opaque blue infinity pools, elegant contemporary simpleness, with dimly lit candle lights and soft dreamy music. The one with smooth black sand beaches and its perfect waves, laying under the equatorial sun with a glass of cocktail on a colorful beanbag chair. The one designed and constructed to live up to the paradise behind-the-desk people dream of having their vacation of a lifetime.


Then there was the Backpacker Bali. 

The one with unpaved streets, roosters running wild, with its scattered temples of intrinsic stone carvings, its prayers and sacred offerings and traditional dancing. And I don't mean just its distinctive Hindu culture, there were also the Muslim villages and everything else "Indonesian". The one with its mountainous landscapes, godly volcanoes and reflective lakes, its lush jungles and its fisherman coasts.

Just for fun, I wanted to compare the pictures of my two very different journeys throughout this dynamic island set so uniquely in the middle of the Indonesian archipelago. It's just so interesting to see how different it gets once you leave the Paradise Bali in the south and head towards the Backpackers Bali everywhere else! 



The most obvious being ...

From a beautiful and comfortable hotel room

To a tent (that was thankfully set under a roof) 



From the mirror-like black sand beaches

To panoramic mountain peaks



From infinite views of the vast oceans

To a brilliant sunrise on top of the mountains



From swimming in infinity pools all to yourself

To basking in holy pools with everyone else



From a glorious banquet for a handful of guests

To a simple Soto Ayam alone on a streetside stall



From a champagne dinner

To hot tea with the sunrise



From a couple's graceful first dance

To a body-twisting traditional dance 



From these delicate lattice cabanas

To these roadside shelters 



From exquisitely designed hallways

To the noisy unpaved streets and alleys



From chill beach evenings with live acoustic performances

To a candid music gig just cuz we found a guitar


From surfer-packed beaches with its perfect rolling waves

To serene mountain lakes set within a volcanic crater


From wearing this

To wearing this



And from dressed for one occasion



To dressed for another (the yellow scarf meaning respect for the gods)



I feel so lucky to have had these experiences that stemmed from the opportunity to be part of such a beautiful wedding. Then the unexpected solo journey to discover the rest of Bali left me fascinated by everything else Balinese.

It seems that many people hardly leave Kuta, or southern Bali. I know many people do make it to Ubud, and I loved it already when I made the 2 hour trip north there. There is just so much more to Bali than meets the eye. Now I want to know so much more about their history, their everyday life, their worships and prayers, their mountains and oceans (okay maybe not so much the food ...). 

Now I know why everyone comes here. And I'm also craving to come back for more.

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