First time in Bali and learning how to ride a Motorbike.

Growing up I have always wanted to know what it felt like to sit on a motorcycle, let alone actually ride it myself, and I eventually got the opportunity to learn how to ride one in Bali, in 2017 when I went on holidays with my family. Bali is an island located in Indonesia, South East Asia. It is famous for its tropical weather, great beaches and waves (famous amongst surfers), volcanic mountains and natural scenery. We stayed for 3 weeks at a hotel called The Haven in Seminyak, a beach resort area, packed with tourists from around the world. We were joined by 2 of my cousins from Australia who were not new to Bali since they visit every year due to it being so close to Australia, but this was later on at the hotel.

Since you get your holiday visa on arrival, we had to line up in a long queue which took us a whole 30 minutes before making it to the baggage claim area. After getting our bags we made our way outside which was packed with taxi drivers and private drivers that surrounded us like paparazzies offering to take us to our hotel, each offering a cheaper price than the previous one. It almost felt as if we were harassed.

Tip – Make sure to contact your hotel to book a driver in advance, saves a lot of time and hassle! If you’re feeling spontaneous then travel in a blue bird taxi (They’re an actual taxi company and you can always negotiate prices with them since they don’t always stick to the meter.)

Despite Bali being relatively safe, we made sure we had our guards up since it was our first time visiting. Luckily our driver sent by the hotel was there waiting for us. We asked if he could wait while we exchanged currency, but he told us not to bother since the exchanging fees at airports were very high.

Tip – You can always find a currency exchange shop with low rates and no commission fees in the streets of central Kuta (Close to the airport).

Despite the traffic being insane compared to what I’m used to here in Europe, the traffic laws didn’t seem to make up for it. After exchanging our pounds to the local currency Rupiah in Kuta, we made our way to the hotel which was supposed to take us around 10 minutes, although it took us longer due to the traffic. Completely different from anywhere I’ve been to in the western world, Bali felt like paradise with the scorching heat hitting my face and the first thing I noticed was the amount of motorbikes on the road. It seemed like the roads were covered in the them, with all sorts of shapes and sizes but one thing that caught my eye the most was the amount of people not wearing a helmet in central Kuta and Seminyak and the police just didn’t seem to care.

Tip – Despite seeing people not wearing helmets, it is advised that you wear it due to the crazy traffic and some corrupt police officers look for an easy target to bribe (YES CORRUPT POLICE OFFICERS). This brings me to the time where they stopped me and asked for 200,00IDR but I’ll get to that later.

After settling in at our hotel, one of my cousins from Australia, Jacinta planted the idea in my head that we should rent motorbikes to get around quicker. She told me about how you were able to rent a motorbike for less than 10,000IDR a day which is equivalent to less than 10$. This didn’t happen because the rest of my cousins and I were too scared to ride a motorbike on my first day there (I certainly didn’t want to die abroad) and since we arrived around midday, we had plenty of time to explore and get around on our first day. After getting ready to go out, we decided to look for a nice restaurant to have lunch since we were starving, and we came across a Cantonese restaurant in Kuta called seafood house. It had live fish, crabs, lobsters and other marine animals swimming in tanks and the chefs would fish it out before cooking it according to how we’d like it (Definitely not your ideal restaurant if you find that cruel). This was a new experience for me and although I was first sceptical about it all, the waiters were very nice and friendly, they explained how everything was done and how we were able to choose how we’d like our ‘fresh, live fish’ cooked.

After lunch we walked towards Kuta beach which wasn’t far and since it was right across Beachwalk shopping centre, we got a little shopping done. Despite the beach not being very clean with people offering to sell (harassing us to buy) souvenirs and fake sticker tattoos and forcing to show their clothing stores at the back of dodgy alley ways, it was very refreshing with a long coast line. Since the waves were quite high, it was a popular spot for surfers and not so much for regular bathers. Padang beach and Nusa Penida were much suitable for bathers with breath-taking natural scenery.

After spending most of our day exploring, we decided to head back to our hotel to get ready for our first night. We decided to head to a live music/salsa restaurant in Seminyak, down the road from our hotel where I ordered the best Nasi goreng I have ever tried (Nasi goreng’s literal translation to English is fried rice). I was served with fried eggs, shrimp and chicken and I hope I come across it again someday. After having dinner and a few drinks, we met a Brazilian tourist who stayed at the same hotel as us and so we all got blue bird taxis to a beach party in Canggu called sandbar where we partied till 4am. The vibes were insane and if you think your dance moves are great, try dancing on sand!

Despite not sleeping till 5 am, I woke up in the morning determined to learn how to ride a motorbike. I decided to ask my cousin to teach me and so we were off. Now if you’re an adventurer and somewhat of an adrenaline junkie, there is no chance that you would let this opportunity slip through your fingers. We found the nearest motorbike rental (despite looking nothing like a rental place), and we decided to start off with an easy one. At the time I only had my provisional licence, but they didn’t even seem to care if I had one, all I had to do was leave an I.D as insurance so I just gave them my student card (Never leave your passport). We rented 2 motorbikes for 1 week with the option of extending.

So off we went, my very first time on a motorbike and despite only being a passenger, I was over the moon, taking pictures and making videos of everything as embarrassing as that may sound. We stopped at a quiet ally way that was wide and long enough to ride in the first thing my cousin told me to do was hop on. She didn’t even bother sitting behind me knowing what the consequences might be. All I had to do was gas it a bit and off I went, very slowly. My other cousins and I practiced a few times before finding a quiet road to try ride on. Although it wasn’t a big motorbike, it was a big deal for me as I learned it in a completely different country with different rules or almost without any rules. I kept practicing for the next 2 days before being confident to ride on busier roads during off-peak hours. It might sound insane, but I stuck to the side of the road, doing 25mph and annoying drivers behind me. It wasn’t till near the end of my trip where I finally found the courage to speed up a little and swerve in between cars and motorbikes.

Probably one of my proudest moments. I got faced my fears, gained new experiences and came back home with stories that I’ll be proud to tell. My main highlights of the whole trip were holding a python around my neck (It was heavy), learning how to ride a motorbike which I also took turns riding from Semimyak to Uluwatu, going to the WaterBom, going to open air bars like single fin bar (amazing views), and last but not least, going to a monkey forest full of monkeys in Ubud.

Joel Silva is a final year BSc in Communication Management & Public Relations student at Ulster University. He can be found on Twitter – @joelsilva2112 and Instagram – @_joelsilva21.

 

Bali, Indonesia.

As a CMPR student I am constantly being encouraged to create a blog. With so many people asking me about my recent trip to Bali I thought this may be more convenient for those asking and helpful for me. I really hope you enjoy this and I don’t come across as a complete DOSE.
•DUBAI
Firstly, I feel it’s necessary that I discuss my stop In Dubai.
We stayed in Dubai for 3 nights/ fours days at the Wyndham Dubai Marina. The location of our accommodation was very convenient and there are numerous other places to stay in this region. Staying here meant we were very close to the famous pier 7 and the Dubai marina.
Most connection flights to the south east Asian  including Bali, Thailand and the Philippines stop in Dubai. I decided to stay in Dubai for an extra few days as I have never visited there and was curious to get a feel for their luxury/ wealth.

However the main reason was because the flight to Bali alone is 17 hours.

I chose to stop in Dubai on my way to Bali and not on my way back because my biggest fear was being to exhausted with the travelling and time difference that I wouldn’t enjoy Bali. Dubai is 4 hours ahead of Ireland and Bali is 7. I wanted to wean myself in as I knew my sleeping pattern wouldn’t be use to the drastic change.
So many celebrities take regular trips to Dubai and they are constantly posting their luxurious photographs on Instagram. They made certain places like the five palm Jeremiah look out of this world. I was eager to visit here and after making the time for a famous candy brunch I can confirm it is simply amazing! At all these events you can drink or eat till you drop as it is unlimited. Other famous beach clubs this is available at is Zero gravity, Nikki beach club and Barasti beach.

IMPORTANT- There are ladies day deals and offers in Dubai that are exclusive to women. For example my tickets were far cheaper than Gary’s wiBH14th more perks.
There is one thing I would encourage those to do if planning on visiting Dubai, this is the desert safari. This was phenomenal and there is so much do. As Dubai is so hot we couldn’t go to the desert until it cooled down. We left at 3pm and spent the whole evening here. Gary and myself took a dune buggy and quads out before ending the evening riding camels. This was the most expensive thing by far because we wanted to do everything on the list they gave but the most memorable. UNREAL IS AN UNDERSTATEMENT.
Now to discuss all things Bali!
Bali is without a doubt the most picturesque place in the world. The pictures on Instagram do not do it justice.

•SEMINYAK
My first stop in Bali was Seminyak. It made sense to stay here as it wasn’t far from the airport or the small islands I planned on visiting.
We stayed here for three days at the Harris Hotel. Seminyak is the more lively compared to other areas in Bali with plenty of bars and beach clubs including Finns, Potato Head and Miss Sippy . Happy hour is very popular here and all drink is at a reduced price. Seminyak is known for its beautiful beaches including double six beach and La Pancha. This place is full of colourful bean bags you should watch the sunset here as it is truly breath-taking.

WARNING- This place is quite dirty compared to other places in Bali and the islands. Do not let this put you off stopping here as it was my favourite spot.
The food in Seminyak was my favourite compared to other stops as there is so much variety Catering to everyone needs, especially the fussy eaters like myself who wouldn’t dream of touching Balinese food. Seminyak was the one place I didn’t live off carbohydrates. The rest of the stops my diet consisted of only chips and bread.

Here are a few of my favourite restaurants in Seminyak.BH15

Kynd Community -popular Bali bowls
Bali bowls and smoothies
Dusty cafe
Strawberry field                                                             Setting cielo- Italian
Ku de ta
Hard Rock Cafe
From Seminyak at Sanur harbour there was easy access to all the small islands around Bali via boat. There were fast boats and slow boats. I recommend taking fast boats and paying that bit extra. Look around and find the best deals. Try to negotiate with the men at the harbour and you are guaranteed to get cheaper and better deals. For example I noticed when walking down the harbour the prices of the boats dropped. All the boats are safe but I did feel at times and on certain boats very unsafe and uncomfortable. This may however be because of the speed of the boat and my travel sickness.
THE NUSA ISLANDS
•Nusa Lembongan and Nusa Ceningan
The first island that we stopped at was Nusa Lembongan . This was the closest island to inland Bali at just 30 minutes on boat. It was one of the smallest so we stayed here for two days and one night before heading over the yellow bridge which connected the island to Nusa Ceningan.
IMPORTANT- You can do a day trip to the Ceningan island as it is very small.

All Moped heads are easy to renBH8t and cost as little as £2 a day to run. Luckily our accommodation as with most of the places we stayed rented the moped heads out. This made visiting all the tourist places easy to get to.
Nusa Ceningan was a five minute drive via moped head from Lembongan across the yellow bridge. It had numerous swings in the ocean and small shack-like quirky bars. These bars were full of bean bags/ hang chairs and were decorated and beautifully painted according to their themes.

 

Having visited most of the bars and restaurants the ones that stood out to me in Nusa lembongan and Nusa Ceningan were-

Lemon grass bar and grill
Sea breeze
Sand Ceningan
I sat in these places for hours spending, drinking and eating everything from the menu.

IMPORTANT- There is no tax on food or drink on the islands off Bali so everything was so cheap.BH19


Places I recommend visiting whilst staying in
•Nusa Lembongan-
Jungut Batu beach
dream beach
devils tear
•Nusa Ceningan-
Blue lagoon beach
secret beach
The waters are crystal blue!

• Nusa Penida
From the yellow bridge we made our third stop which was Nusa Penida.
This was the biggest island but it was my least favourite. I felt that everything on the island was so far away from each other. I would recommend a scooter as it is the easiest way around the Island. Unfortunately when it got dark there was barely any lights and the roads were very bad. This made it hard to get back to our accommodation. Two days on this island was enough for me. In my opinion it was over populated with tourists and everywhere scenic we visited we had to pay. I found it unfair because on the other islands this wasn’t the case. However I don’t want to discourage anyone from going here as this island is full of amazing sightseeing places and famous spots.

This island was full of amazing beaches and waterfalls. Some of the famous and beautiful spots we visited include-

Angel billabong
broken beach
Kelingking beach
THE GILI ISLANDS

My fourth stop was Gili Trawangan and we stayed here for three days. We originally had planned to stay only two but added an extra day as we just loved it. From this island I was able to easily access the other Gili islands on day trips which are Gili Meno and Gili Air. These islands are beautiful they are filled with Sandy beaches, palm trees and coral reefs. There is no public transport like cars or buses, the nearest thing to this would be a horse and cart. I absolutely loved the island because of this. We rented bikes from our accommodation but everything was within walking distance.
The sunset at Gili T is amazing and the island is famously known for this. Everyday we made our way to the beach or a near by bar to grab a good seat to watch.
Gili Trawangan is more lively in comparison to the other Gili islands with plenty of bars and restaurants along the beach front. There wasn’t loads to do but instead we took this time to relax. I have no recommendations only to go snorkelling. The boat took us around all of the islands when we done the snorkelling. It made numerous stops including the famous turtle point and here we were able to swim with turtles. We also made a stop at Gili Meno to view the beautiful under water statues.

BH1
Places to visit-

Tir na nog- Irish bar
hello Capitano
Pink coco ( pink bicycle )
IMPORTANT- The accommodation on all the islands was very cheap around £30-50 a night including breakfast. These small huts or shacks had outdoor bathrooms beautifully decorated and were nothing like any place I’d stayed before. I didn’t book accommodation until arrival on the islands. I was very uneasy about this but everything went smoothly. This worked out better for me as I was then able to decide when I wanted to move on.
•CANGUU
After visiting these near by islands we got a fast boat back to Bali which took around 2 hours. Here we travelled to Canguu this is small place and we stayed here for just one night. This place is not far from Seminyak but without the loudness. I found a beautiful villa with our own private pool so we travelled for that reason.

places to visit-

Batu Bolong Beach
Love Anchor
•UBUD
Our final stop was Ubud. We got a taxi here before renting another moped head for our stay. I felt this place was a lot more congested with traffic than the other stops. Riding the scooter here was a lot harder for this reason.
Here we stayed in the beautiful Udaya famously known on Instagram by celebrities and bloggers for its popular petal baths and floating breakfast.I was stupidly unaware before I booked this trip that a lot of hotels and resorts do this. I would encourage those travelling to Bali to look around for cheaper alternatives as lots of places specialise in these. Nonetheless the Udaya was something else and I would highly recommend.

Places to visit in Ubud include-
Tegalalang rice terrace
The sacred monkey sanctuary
Tegenungan water fall
Mason elephant park and lounge

Bridget Hughes is a final year Bsc in Communication Management and Public Relations student at Ulster University. She can be found at: Instagram – https://www.instagram.com/bridgethughes1/, LinkedIn – https://www.linkedin.com/in/bridget-hughes-382474195, and Twitter – @bridgethughes14

 

Travelling 101

After finishing off a fantastic placement year at Smarts Communicate, I decided that I needed a big summer blowout before dedicating my life and soul to the Ulster University library for all that final year would entail.

MR1

My best friend Jess and I booked to travel to Thailand and then Bali on a bit of a whim late on a weeknight. After getting over the initial panic of almost booking to travel for a year and a month instead of just a month, we soon forgot about the trip and got on with our jobs until the trip slowly crept up on us. It is safe to say that we were absolutely petrified, and did question if we could ever make our way across South East Asia and back successfully.

When it comes to travelling I have never claimed to be a professional and would say I’m actually quite the opposite due to my occasional forgetfulness. Team that with Jess’s lack of direction and we were proving quite the team. However, against the odds Jess and I managed to:

Catch 8 flights,

Make 9 boat trips,

Visit 6 different islands.

All without losing anything more significant than the contents of my stomach due to some questionable driving on occasion.

MR1

I have briefly surmised what the experience has taught me:

Just appreciate it

Take time to take it in. When travelling from place to place I never wanted to sleep because I was constantly trying to take in my surroundings while listening to new music Friday on Spotify and battling my tiredness. These moments allowed for reflection and appreciation. You will learn a lot about yourself while travelling and I learned exactly how fortunate I was. However, on the contrary, I did also learn that I need to buy the travel socks that old people wear to help their poor circulation, as my feet, knees and ankles now double in size on long-haul flights, who knew?

It’s kind of all about the people you meet

I think that when it comes to travelling, it really is what you make it, so always make an attempt to spend time getting to know the people you meet along the way. Everyone has their own interesting story and outlook so make time to listen to it. We met some really great people and between Jess and I, we have tried to keep in contact with most of them, promising to meet up again in the future.

Plan… but don’t plan too much

The best thing to do is to make a rough list of the things that you really want to do, the once in a lifetime kind of things and aim to complete them. No need to try and jam pack 5 activities into one day because you won’t give yourself time to enjoy them and will stifle the fun. Furthermore, there will always be an alternative route, it may not be the comfiest or the fastest or indeed come with the luxury of air conditioning, but my point is don’t stress if things don’t go according to plan. Sometimes the beauty is in taking a few extra hours and travelling the scenic route.

You don’t need to spend much to have fun

Everyone assumes that they can’t afford to travel, and granted, it is pretty expensive by the end but cheap really can be cheerful sometimes. Some of the nicest meals I had cost little more than a quid and the most hilarious nights were spent in some of the most tragic hostels fully furnished with insect infestations of course. It was cool to stay in nice resorts as they are pretty inexpensive but don’t get too hung up on that. Save your money to spend it on experiences while your there.

Lastly and in my opinion, most importantly:

Pick your travel buddy wisely!MR2I never really anticipated how vital this element would be but my trip really would not have been the same without Jess and nowhere near as fun. We worked well together as we had a good understanding of each other and respected each other’s views, opinions and space. We were able to pick each other up, laugh with each other and at each other, never letting anything get too serious.

My advice for anyone considering jetting off to explore pastures further afield is to book it, pack a bag and go! Don’t hesitate and allow for any self-doubt.

MR3

And a bonus tip: If you are ever in Bali, you need to check out La Favela, trust me!

Megan Rea is a final year BSc in Communication, Advertising and Marketing student at Ulster University. She can be found on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/megan-rea-a52437111/

Malaysia, Bali and Itchy Travel Feet!

Malaysia, Bali and Itchy Travel Feet!

Have you ever just felt stuck in a bubble of reality? Caught up on the little things: someone eating too loud, the bad weather…whatever it is.

We spend so much of our energy focusing on things we have very little control over, instead of focusing and what we want and working for it.

Not to get into the boring detail of it, but I was having a bad day, it felt like things just weren’t going my way and my mind was focused on everything negative going on around me BUT I am not complaining. This made me make the best decision of my life!

That night I was sitting on the edge of my bed, scrolling through Facebook (as you do) feeling sorry for myself, when an ad for an 18 day trip to Bali popped up at the side, I do normally ignore these but I was intrigued. I clicked in and straight away I knew this was it. Call me impulsive, but I didn’t think twice, I got my bank card out and put the deposit down (lucky it was just after pay day!) All jokes aside, I didn’t look back.

Call it fate or call it good advertising, I don’t care!

I had been debating for months whether to go travelling in the summer when uni finished or to save up and go when I graduated. Considering I couldn’t convince ONE friend to come with me, I was a bit apprehensive of booking alone but I did just that. A few months later, after talking about it so much I had managed to convince one of my friends to book on with me and that’s where our adventure began!

The trip included 18 days travelling around Bali everything planned to a T! We didn’t have to worry about doing research as The Bali Adventure had done all the dirty work for us. All we had to do was show up on the 2nd of August. With the itchy travel feet I had, I also managed to persuade my friend to book a week in Malaysia before Bali as well. Bonus!

After months of saving and excitement, we packed our bags and went.

After an extremely long and tiring flight we arrived in Kuala Lumpur. With Indonesia having the largest Muslim population in the world, this was a huge culture shock. We clearly stood out from the crowd!

We spent our time in Malaysia exploring the beautiful Kuala Lumpur (KL) visiting the famous Petronas Twin Tours, Suria KLCC Shopping Complex and my favourite of all and the best area for bargain hunters…China Town. TIP: If you want to buy something in China Town, get ready to haggle – It is offensive if you don’t! Hate to admit it but…we decided to eat in an Irish Restaurant almost every day we were there, not so cultured…

A week on, exploring of KL done, now time to catch the flight to Bali. I cannot even describe how excited I was! The flight was only 2 hours but felt like FOREVER!

This is where the real adventure began!
We started off in South Kuta, where we stayed in The Hidden Valley hotel, our first destination. We got checked in and Day 1 was spent exploring the area, chilling by the pool and meeting our new friends that we were spending the next 18 days with! The next day we started with a welcome breakfast and we got the choice of a group yoga session or chilling by the pool…with a few too many drinks the night before I choose chilling by the pool! In the afternoon we had a group surf lesson in one of the most famous surf destinations of Bali, I think I managed to stand up on the board a total of 2 or 3 times…I’m not going to be a pro any time soon! That afternoon we headed to the Uluwatu Temple to watch the sunset alongside a traditional Balinese Kecak Fire Dance, I have never seen anything like it in my life, if you ever go, you have to see!

The next few days we spent visiting the spiritural Batuan temple, followed by an afternoon at the absolutely stunning Tegenungan Waterfall and an evening tour of Bali Zoo…WOW! We caught a rare glimpse of the animal kingdom and how they live when darkness falls (I even caught an Orangutang trying to pick pocket me!)

We explored the monkey forest sanctuary (the monkeys are cute but very scary!) the Tegalalang Rice Terrace and took in the beautiful sites around us. We started travelling across to the West of the Island to Bratan Lake, stopping of at the picturesque Ulundanu Bratan Temple and the Gitgit waterfall for a dip on our way to Lovina where we spent the next few days. A 5am start and we got to see the dolphins at sunrise on a traditional outrigger boat and for all you coffee lovers, we got to taste the world’s most expensive coffee produced from the Luwak animal. Another early start and we began to trek an active volcano, Mount Batur…a once in a lifetime experience!

Lastly, we spent a few days on my favourite island…Gili Trawangan, also known as Gili T…all I can say is look at it for yourself.

If you haven’t been to Bali…you are missing out! With The Bali Adventure we were able to travel in luxury, with a backpacker’s budget and made some amazing friends for life, some even planning to come over to Ireland for St Patricks day!

If Bali isn’t on your bucket list, stick it on!

To see a full itinerary, click here

Christine Murtagh is a final year BSc student in Communication, Advertising and Marketing at Ulster University. Find her on Twitter @Cmurtagh95, and Linkedin: https://www.linkedin.com/in/christine-murtagh-413409b9/