It may come as a bit of a surprise to admit that I didn't particularly have a burning desire to visit Bali. For me, it was a distant place that I thought would be nice to see one day but didn't actually think that would happen any time soon.
However, due to a combination of work-related and personal reasons, I decided to book a trip to Bali using airline points that took me from New York to Bali to Japan to Hong Kong and back to New York. Gotta love those airline points.
I ended up spending almost five days in Bali, which I quickly realized upon arrival was not nearly enough time, so I knew I would have to make the most of my limited visit and save a few things for next time (and yes, there will definitely be a next time).
If I had to summarize my impressions of Bali in a few words, it would be: tropical, lush, spiritual, relaxed, traditional, diverse and hot. I experienced some of the most beautiful sunsets I've ever seen in my life in Bali and saw everything from the beach to the mountains to the jungle. I also learned about the many gods and core tenets of Balinese Hinduism and witnessed several rituals and ceremonies, including parts of a Balinese funeral.
Overall, I found the island to be an interesting mix of tradition and tourist-driven modern trappings, like health-conscious eateries and zen yoga spaces. And though the traffic is horrendous (seriously, it's bad and I'm told only getting worse every year), I found myself wanting to see as much of Bali as I could. Which means I'll have to find a way back soon to do some more sightseeing since five days only showed me a fraction of the island.
During my time there, I stayed in Seminyak and Ubud and visited Uluwatu, Padang Padang Beach and Mount Batur. Here are 30 of my favorite photos from my limited time exploring just a few places in beautiful Bali:
Have you ever been to Bali? What did you love most?