Bali. That small Indonesian island that infatuates us all. Divine temples and paradisaic beaches. Just a glance at this destination makes us long for that little piece of heaven on earth. For Ina Hoffrogge the dream came true in 2016. For 6 months she got to call Bali her home. Today, she takes us on a journey beyond the touristic hotspots to see the true side of this destination that enriched her life forever…
A phone call in early 2016 turns Ina Hoffrogge’s life around. Hundreds of applicants and one sought-after job in Bali. The offer stands, Ina takes the opportunity and drops her life in Milan. Globetrotter at heart, she had just started a job as a language assistant in one of the local Milanese schools. It is a frenzy to get everything organized and she can’t believe what is about to happen. The adventure begins. Bali will shortly be her new home. After months of travelling she let’s us in on her secret spots and favourite experiences…
Living the Good Life – An Insider’s Account of Bali
Though it is technically not an insider spot, there is no way of leaving out Ubud when it comes to Bali’s hotspots. Ina’s voice is buzzing with excitement when she tells me about all the beauty around this little city. Famous for its stunning rice terraces and the mystical temples, there are many people making their way to Ubud, but one look at the surroundings and you will forget about everything else.
Palm trees frame the roads, little waterholes all around. Even the way to Ubud will leave you in awe. Not only will you pass countless rice fields, Ubud is also home to the most expensive coffee in the world; the Kopi Luwak. On a little visit to the coffee plantages, the farmers will tell you all about the secret and what the Asian palm civet has to do with it ;)
While the rice terraces are not completely natural, laid out a bit more even for better looks, the waterfalls around the area are completely untouched. Once you leave the main paths this little green oasis gets much quieter, and the noise of the tourists settles down.
‘I love to explore by myself and I’m never scared to take little detours. While I wandered around, I found so many secret spots. I had to walk trough the jungle for a bit and it is really important to watch out for animals and pits in the ground. The insects in Bali can be quite scary and there are carnivorous plants everywhere! It’s really funny, it’s so different, but it was more than worth it. There I was right by a beautiful waterfall in the middle of the jungle. There was no one else around. Just a friend and I. The beauty of nature left me speechless.’
The city centre of Ubud is best explored in the early mornings. In this case, early means around 5 in the morning ;) The local markets open as early as the sun rises. Fresh fruits, handmade jewellery, and delicious dishes. As the tourists will usually sleep in, this is the time to bargain the local prices. In the evenings, the city comes alive with local music and the sound of exotic instruments. There aren’t many bars around, but each and every one of them has great atmosphere and you always feel welcome. ‘For one night, I even ended up couch surfing in one of the bars. It is one of my favourite experiences. The people are more than kind. Only downturn to Ubud? There is no beach ;)’
Lakey Peak Sumbawa
If you’re not an experienced surfer, I am sure this destination doesn’t ring a bell. Admittedly, it is not in Bali either :P The coastal town of Lakey Peak belongs to one of the islands close by. ‘I think it is important to look around and not limit yourself to Bali and only Bali. The islands around Indonesia are all so small and so stunning, it doesn’t take too long to reach them and I’m glad I travelled around. Lakey Peak was one of the most authentic spots I got to visit.’
A scooter and a little patience are all that took Ina to the island of Sumbawa. She and her friend made it a little road trip so they got to soak up even more of nature. Some of the roads got muddy at times, but there is always a way to get to the next destination be it by boat or by foot. After 3 whole days and many breaks in between, Ina arrived in Lakey Peak. ‘Tourists are very seldom in this part of the islands. ‘Some of the locals stopped and asked me to take photos with them. This happened to me about 30 times a day. Compared to Bali, I must say that I felt more welcome at times. In Bali, I had days where I felt like I wasn’t so welcome. There are so many travellers around that you almost feel like you’re taking the locals’ jobs away. In Sumbawa I felt more integrated in the life of the locals which meant a lot to me. All the photo-taking was awkward at times, but it makes you feel very special.’
The food in Sumbawe is about as authentic as it gets. Many of the locals have their own stalls and restaurants called ‘warung‘. Indonesia is very cheap compared to European countries, but lunch in Lakey Peak can be cheap as €1. Some of the locals actually live in their restaurants and little shops. Opening times are never set in stone… ‘I was in awe, how little belongings the locals in these islands have, but it is inspiring to experience their happiness. Material things don’t matter as much over here.’
The beach in Lakey Peak is very special for experienced surfers. The greatest waves crashing against the shores all day long. ‘Surfing is one of my favourite hobbies. There are dangerous spots and reef breaks around Lakey Peak, but if you are experienced enough it is the dream come true. The food, the locals, and the nature. It all adds up to a magical connection with your surroundings.’
‘There is no place like home, even in Bali.’
After a good amount of travelling and living on the Indonesian islands, Ina’s favourite spot remains her adopted hometown of Canggu. Though it is not one of the local villages, Ina was infatuated by this surf and yoga destination. Home to many emigrants that decided to stay long term, it is probably one of the more crowded cities around Bali, but it doesn’t lack in charm. ‘I got to meet people from around the globe, who decided to expatriate themselves in search of a more chilled life in Bali. Sometimes it feels like you just leave all the baggage behind. You look at the beautiful temples and you try slack line yoga in the early mornings. This destination can’t help but inspire.’
As time flies, Ina can’t believe that her time is up. Overall, she experienced the good and the bad. Inspiring temples as well as malicious attacks on visitors. The fame of Bali puts a strain on the island no question, but the connection to nature overweighs.
‘There were several days, where I just wanted to leave. I got into a bad scooter accident one day, but even more than before I try to see the good in everything. I was a very spiritual person before, but my time in Bali made me appreciate my life much more. I can only encourage people to just go for it. Whether it was good or bad, it was an experience. Looking back on these last couple of months and all the things I have learned about myself, I can only feel blessed.’