Bali: beyond the bogans

Lake Batur in Bali IndonesiaIf you don’t go in search of an adventure, chances are you won’t find one. The same can be said for Bali in Indonesia – a fantastic destination that’s reputation for adventure travel has suffered thanks to the ugly face of tourism that a very tiny part of this tropical island attracts. Yobs or bogans, whatever you call them, we all know the types. They make us cringe when we see their culturally insensitive actions and inappropriate, bordering on stupid, behaviour – but Intrepid’s Dom Morgan explains why you shouldn’t let an ignorant few influence your impressions of Bali…

“It’s not a place I ever thought would be worth going. Why go to Bali when in other parts of Asia you can scale the Great Wall, explore the temples of Angkor or indulge in ramen in Kyoto? So what got me over the line? I’ll be honest – cheap airfares and really making the most of a couple of days of annual leave. Like most skeptics, I didn’t have great expectations – I was just excited at the prospect of waking up on Monday morning and going for a swim rather than switching on a computer and sitting dormant for 8 hours. That and an airfare sale, was enough to get me on that plane.

So my skepticism and I made it to Bali. Fortunately, besides a few Australian accents cutting through the air occasionally, the first and last time we saw the bogan-Australian was in their natural environment, Kuta. Beyond this, it was a Bali I had never known to exist – outside the tourist strip lay an absolute plethora of things to see and do, heartwarmingly friendly locals and food that you wish your mum could cook. It was South-East Asia at its finest: rice paddies, cats-that-poop-out-the-world’s-most-expensive-coffee, temples, monkeys, beaches, sand and sun. That being said, there’s also the quirks you’ll find along the way – most notably, durian – the fruit, as our tour guide described perfectly as ‘smells like hell, tastes like heaven’.

As a destination, what surprised me most about Bali was the ease. Opportunities for adventure travel are endless, but with the added bonus of being able to do things so easily and affordably. Most notable was a trip to Gili Islands, where a fastboat whizzed us to this tropical paradise where snorkelling, diving and amazing wildlife was instantly within our reach (for a fraction of what it would cost anywhere else). We’re talking an island that’s surrounded by stunning fish, loads of reef and where there aren’t any cars – just horse and carts that mosey up and down the road acting as taxis. Should you find yourself on the journey out to Gili, my only suggestion would be to travel inside the boat – unless you enjoy being smacked in the face by waves.

So next time you’re planning your next escape and the ‘B’ word gets dropped, give your brain a good slap. Bali’s attracted the bogans for a reason – you just need to venture beyond.”

Ever been to Bali and enjoyed a whole different experience when you explored beyond the main tourist strip?

* photo by Anna Schmidli – Intrepid Photography Competition

About the author

Sue Elliot - Like many of us, Sue contracted a serious travel bug at an early age. She's visited over 90 countries in search of a cure, but her wanderlust just seems to get worse. Thankfully at Intrepid Travel she's amongst people who understand the affliction and since 1998 Sue has enjoyed being our blog and newsletter editor. Here you'll read about Sue's travel experiences, find helpful travel advice and she loves sharing great tales from Intrepid travellers.

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