I yearned for some fresh air and a new adventure before 2017 ended. It seemed farfetched at first but after leaving my previous job due to redundancy, November provided me with the opportunity to embark on a solo getaway before finding a new job.
The idea of visiting Bali immediately came to mind. It has been a destination that I’ve badly wanted to travel to. I wished to visit the Indonesian island earlier in the year but annual leave restrictions prevented me from doing so. Upon checking flight tickets, it was very pricey for the November dates I chose. Welp!
I considered doing a twin city centre trip instead, which could reduce the flight ticket fare. Upon checking the airlines that fly to Bali and checking out stopover points, Hong Kong came up. Having never travelled to Hong Kong before and knowing how popular it is, I decided go there also and the flight fare was surprisingly reasonable.
Despite the weather in Bali being quite unfavourable, it was the beginning of low season meaning the island would be less busy during my visit. The climate in Hong Kong would be ideal, so it was a good balance for me.
Funnily enough I bagged a new job before I travelled. Amazing timing right? With a peace of mind and early November coming forth, I readied myself for a long direct flight to Hong Kong.
I landed in Hong Kong after a lengthy 11-hour flight with Cathay Pacific. I was pleasantly surprised by the decent seating space, good food and entertainment provided by the airline, as it is my first time flying with them. Unfortunately, a crude passenger sat next to me making my flight journey quite unpleasant.
I stayed 4 nights in Hotel Ease based in the Tsuen Wan area. It’s a relatively new hotel, which is pretty far from the main centre but not too far from the airport. I was able to get around Hong Kong very easily using the very efficient MTR transport and using Uber when needed.
With all the walking, sightseeing and shopping I did, I can understand why Hong Kong is a dynamic and popular place to visit and live in. It reminded me a lot of Tokyo due to its dense population, wide array of shopping options and attractions. The place maintains a good balance between the old sites and the newly developed spots.
I squeezed in a day trip to Macau, which like Hong Kong is a Special Administrative Region of China. As a former Portuguese territory, Macau is rich with culture with its historic sites and has a wealth of huge casino hotel developments. Hence why it is dubbed as the Las Vegas of Asia. Wandering within the Venetian, Galaxy Macau and Wynn Palace, they all ooze extravagance and colourful appeal within their vast casino environments and shopping complexes. Macau is certainly a good day and night out away from Hong Kong.
I certainly got the shopping bug when walking up and down the main streets around Mongkok, Yau Ma Tei and Tsim Sha Tsui. Temple Street Night Market and Ladies Market certainly enabled me to strengthen my haggling skills and barter low prices for some foreign goods to take back home. I was even more pleased that I was able to find green tea Kit Kats that I’ve adored ever since I tried them when I was Japan in 2015.
Regarding the sites I visited, I loved going up the cable car on Lantau Island to Ngong Ping Village to visit the great Tian Tan Buddha and its surroundings. Nan Lian Garden was such a peaceful and well-kept spot to walk around amidst the hustle bustle in the background. Hong Kong Park is like a photographer’s dream with its mini landmarks, the large aviary, the artificial lake and Olympic Square. Despite the long wait, going up to Victoria Peak via the Peak Tram was a great experience, especially watching the skyscrapers down below light up as the skies darkened.
I was very grateful that the good weather held up during my stay. As 4 days flew past, I waved goodbye to Hong Kong and I prepared myself for 10 days in Bali.
With less than 5 hours duration, I landed on the popular Indonesian island in the afternoon. I felt joyful knowing that I finally made it to the destination I’ve wanted to visit in a very long time. Due to visiting Bali during the rainy season, I made sure that I planned my way around the sites I wanted to visit in good time to avoid being stuck in utter downpours.
I ended up staying in Seminyak, Ubud, Kuta, Gili Trawagan and Jimbaran during my Bali visit, allowing me to check out the monuments, religious sites and hotspots and have some decent relaxation time also. Upon reflection, it felt like 10 days wasn’t even enough to really take in the beauty and culture of the island. I wished I had more time to visit other sites and meet more people who were also vacationing and live in Bali. I came across people from different backgrounds as explored my way around the places I stayed in.
The town of Ubud didn’t disappoint me. Rich with arts and crafts, great Hindu culture, tasty food and a wealth of gorgeous attractions, I felt quite at home and comfortable roaming about on my own. Sens Hotel & Spa and Villa Santun were the two accommodation options I stayed in whilst in Ubud and were nothing short of lovely.
I enjoyed visiting the recommended spas and getting amazing traditional massages, strolling along Campuhan Ridge Walk, swinging to great heights at Zen Hideaway, getting close to Tegenungan Waterfall and the monkeys in Sacred Monkey Forest. I also did a great day tour with Be Balinese to visit other sites around North and East Bali.
I was glad to visit the Gili Islands during my trip. The weather held up very well during my time away from mainland Bali. I found the tropical heat quite unbearable but I welcomed it. Gili Trawagan certainly has a party and uplifting atmosphere with so many clubs and restaurants lining the beachfront. As a whole, I did find Gili T not that pleasant as the beaches are quite dirty. Upon cycling around the island, it’s pretty untidy and uncared for. I preferred Gili Air as it was much quieter and had cleaner low tide beaches.
The areas of Kuta and Seminyak were livelier during the evening and definitely cater to a younger crowd with so many shops, market stalls, bars and club nights. Jimbaran was calmer and pleasant to go around as I ended my trip in the area.
Bali has a serious hustle and bustle environment. It’s still a developing region so seeing run down areas didn’t surprise me. Despite the heavy rain, I made the most of my time and came across some great places. Upon seeing some of Bali in the flesh, it’s no doubt in my mind that I will return to this wonderful island.
Two weeks was a long time to be abroad on my own, so I was happy to go back home from Bali. It has definitely been my hardest trip to plan and probably the most expensive too (yikes). But I have no regrets as I thoroughly enjoyed my time wandering around Hong Kong and Bali and visiting their cherished sites.