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Unexpected Surprises in Bali

Tips for a perfect work abroad getaway.

Since moving to Southeast Asia, I’ve had many opportunities to travel with friends and even family. However, I’ve also known that I wanted to do a short solo trip at some point during my time here.

When I found out in July that I’d have a week of downtime at work in late August, I immediately snatched a cheap flight and booked myself a three-day trip to Indonesia’s famous island province. The timing couldn’t have been better—classes ended mid-August and grades were due early September. Bali would be my chance to relax and unwind before settling down to tackle all my grading.

I had a great time in Bali. Not everything went exactly as I envisioned, but that’s the beauty of going solo. As long as you never compromise your personal safety, you’re free to do whatever you want and change your plans on a whim without having to consider other people’s feelings.

Some unexpected surprises I encountered during my adventure:

Bali is a lot bigger than I imagined. I stayed in Seminyak. Aside from the neighbouring area, I was only able to explore select parts of Bali’s southernmost tip—namely, Pandawa Beach, Uluwatu and Nusa Dua Beach. It’s good that I embarked on this trip with relatively minimal expectations. There’s a lot to see and do, and I would have left disappointed if I’d planned to cover the entire island.

Getting from place to place cost A LOT. Although there is public transport in Bali, I didn’t see a single bus during my stay and was advised to just arrange my own transport. Most tourists get around via taxi and motorbike and I was no different. Riding on the back of a motorbike (some people even rent their own) was an incredibly fun way to get to the beach, but at SGD $8-10 per ride the costs inevitably added up.

I wasn’t actually alone for all three days. I shared a hotel room with two Polish girls who were touring Indonesia and ended up visiting Pandawa Beach, Uluwatu and Kuta with them. Befriending fellow travellers is something you always hope for but can’t ever count on, so I was pretty fortunate. I ultimately spent about half my time in Bali on my own, and the other half with new friends. It turned out to be a perfect mix.

The giant ball of fire in the sky gave me more than a light tan. When I woke up the second morning with tomato red shoulders, I was forced to purchase a tube of aloe and avoid direct sunlight for the rest of the day. Although I wanted to spend all my beach time alternating between floating in the water and sprawling out on the sand, I learned a valuable lesson. Don’t just apply sunscreen. Reapply, and reapply, and reapply.

If you’re prepared and educated on how to travel safely, a solo journey can be an enriching personal experience. And for those who love sun and water, Bali is a great destination for it. Given that you budget for transportation, wear lots of sunscreen and keep your day-to-day plans flexible, you can expect to have a fantastic time on this beautiful tropical island.

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Published in Work Abroad Blogs
Tiffany Wang

Tiffany is an International Fellow at Ngee Ann Polytechnic in Singapore, where she teaches in the School of Film & Media Studies. A Californian at heart, Tiffany previously lived in Greece and has visited 22 countries around the world. She spends her free time rock climbing, drinking coconuts and relaxing by bodies of water. 

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