Having a semester system definitely has its pros and cons. For me, one of the best things is semester break. Just when classes seem like they are never going to end and all the assignments are starting to get overwhelming, that week long break allows you to de-stress and regain your energies. In Australia, there are a couple popular destinations like the East Coast, the Outback, New Zealand, Thailand, and Bali. Wanting to get away from the last few weeks of cold weather, Bali was the top choice.
Bali exceeded my expectations in every possible way. The views, people, and the food were nothing short of amazing. Bali is filled with breathtaking temples and such a rich culture. With a dominant population following Hinduism, I got to experience rituals and traditions that I had never interacted with before.
For the first half f the trip, we stayed in a hostel called Puri Gardens in Ubud, which is located Central Bali. Ubud is the perfect place to get away from the city and highly touristy areas. In addition, Ubud serves as the perfect starting point for any trip through Bali. During out time in Ubud, we visited Pura Besakih (the mother temple), Tirta Empul (Holy Water Temple), Goa Gajah (Elephant Cave), the Tegallalang Rice Terrace, among other things.
When visiting Pura Besakih we were lucky enough to witness a ritual that happens once every month on a full moon. Moreover, going to Tirta Empul and performing the purification ceremony was one of the highlights of the trip. During the ritual, you wash yourself with water from 15 different fountains as you move through three different pools. The water is believed to have curative powers that cleanse your mind, soul, and spirit. Whatever your beliefs are, this is a truly amazing experience.
Furthemore, a definite most if in Bali is hiking Mt. Baturr to watch the sunrise. For this trip, we arranged for a driver to pick us up from our hostel at 1:30am. Once at the base of hike, we guided by locals to the top of the mountain to watch the sunrise and eat breakfast the was prepared from the steam of the volcano. Without a doubt, it was the prettiest sunrise I have ever seen. Although it was a tough hike up the mountain, I would do it again in a heartbeat. Watching the sun rise over the mountains amongst friends was a priceless experience.
Ubud was only a short part of our trip in Bali, but it was definitely my favorite. From watching my friend get mugged by a monkey, to learning to negotiate with street vendors, or eating $4 dollar meals, Bali was incredible.