Bali. The place I was most eager to travel to upon returning to Asia. So much so, that it was on my 18 for 2018 list. Last month, I was finally able to make it happen and was joined by my longtime friend and university roommate, Allison. (As if a trip to Bali could get any better?!)
Our first stop was Bingin- a surf “town” (I say town very lightly) nestled at the base of a giant cliff formation, only accessible by climbing down a maze of steps built into the stone. Quaint, peaceful, and so quiet compared to the hustle and bustle of Singapore.
Trying to find our accommodation was not an easy task, and would not be recommended for the faint of heart. After all, the hotel name was “The Inn Possible”. That should have been our first clue that it would be semi impossible to get there. On Google maps, it looks fairly easy, however if you look closely, you realise the route ends before the actual destination. That is where the cliff scaling commences. OK, maybe I’m being a bit dramatic- but close enough. Ten minutes of trekking down steep, rocky, and winding “stairs” to make it to the beach, followed by a couple hundred metre jaunt across the sand, and then back up about 40 steps to finally reach the hotel. No wonder it’s not on Google maps!
The hotel was very helpful and detailed with their directions, and they do offer a pickup from the main road. I, however, was stubborn and wanted to attempt to find it on my own. Success! In their confirmation e-mail, they also disclose, “Please be prepared for a little workout,” and boy, they weren’t lying!
Once we got to the hotel, the view made all that trekking more than worth it. Would we still think this a few days later when we would have to trek back up with our backpacks?
Probably not. Yes. All that blood, sweat, and tears, oh so worth it. Ok maybe not blood and tears, but definitely sweat.
It’s quite humbling staying in a place where Mother Earth quite literally determines where, when, and how you get places, depending on the tide. Little did we realize that the sand we had initially walked on to get to our hotel, would be completely covered in water the next morning when trying to get back up the main road. With every rush of the tide, the waves would stretch almost completely up to the buildings; forcing us to strategically manoeuvre ourselves (well, a local woman manoeuvring us who saw us struggling) through the various pathways built into the rock.
As treacherous and as inaccessible these steps sound, they are filled with constant surprises, and are exactly what makes Bingin so unique. Many of the restaurants and cafes, hidden from the fierce tide below, are tucked away in these Narnia-like passages. The photo on the left below, is the entrance to Kelly’s Warung. If you follow the signs, you are greeted by the coziest, most relaxed, open-air cafe and brunch spot- with an ocean front view to top it all off. Who would have thought, based on that simple little sign? It’s these hidden gems that made Bali and Bingin so breathtaking.
From Bingin Beach, the options to explore the surrounding areas are endless. (If you’re wanting to leave the beach and trek up those stairs, that is.) One of the days we set off to explore the Uluwatu Hindu Temple. Hoping to simply wander around and enjoy the scenery, we were greeted by…..monkeys. Both of us are terrified of monkeys (if you’ve read this post, you know why) and had planned on staying as far away from them as possible during this trip.
The Monkey Encounter We Did Not Ask For
We had no idea there would be monkeys at this temple, and despite taking all the precautions and heeding the warnings of taking our sunglasses off, the damn monkeys still got us. While we were walking, the monkey snatched the phone right out of Allie’s hand. Miraculously, a man who worked at the temple was able to retrieve it by giving it some food. (It’s almost like they’ve learned if they steal they will get rewarded with food, those sneaky b*******!) Yes, this has only fuelled my dislike and fear of monkeys.
Despite the monkey encounter, we had an amazing couple of days in Bingin and was the perfect way to start our trip. I had no idea what to expect of Bingin, since I hadn’t heard much about it and it was never high on my list of places to go in Bali. (If you haven’t heard of it, it probably means it’s less touristy and more untouched!) However, it blew whatever expectations I had out of the water, and would highly recommend adding it to your list if you are ever in Bali!
Other highlights in Bingin/Uluwatu region include:
- Eat: The Temple Lodge- a scenic hotel/restaurant overlooking the cliffs
- See: Nyang Nyang Beach – a 20 minute trek down a gravel rode to access it, but well worth it
- Drink: Single Fin – Drinks, DJ’s, food and sunset views. What more could you want?
How to know if Bingin is right for you?
- You enjoy less touristy destinations and want to get “off the beaten path”
- The option of being able to both explore and relax appeals to you
- You are easily mobile and don’t mind climbing steps (props to all those surfers who go up and down these steps with a surfboard!)
- Pro-tip: They really aren’t lying when they say there is no ATM at Bingin Beach. Do you really want to climb up all those steps to the main road and then get a taxi to one? DO YOU?? Don’t say I didn’t warn you.
If you made it all the way to the end of this post- yay! Thank you for reading and following along this journey. Bingin, maybe I’ll be back one day- only if you promise not to steal my friend’s phone.