I'd seen the pictures of the beaches, the sunsets and not forgetting, that oh- so instagramable swing. So after completing the gruelling up-hill struggle that is commonly known as third year, I decided to book the trip of a lifetime: Singapore, Bali and The Gili Islands. Having meticulously saved for the trip for over a year, I was keen to get the very most out of my experience and really approach my time in Southeast Asia with an open mind. Fast forward an action packed two and a half weeks later and I can easily say that the trip has been the best 17 days of my life. Returning to Newcastle Airport in my staple elephant adorned ‘traveller pants’, I had experienced things beyond my wildest imagination and truly made friends for life.
My journey begins in the not so exotic location of St Marys Place, Newcastle at STA Travel. Located just opposite Newcastle University Campus, STA has over 35 years of experience in enabling students and young adults to travel around the world. Organising as little or as much as you need, the company has the resources to tailor your whole trip from the comfort of their office. My friend and I decided to organise the first leg of our trip, Singapore, independently and book our organised tour directly through STA. Our advisor, Dom, could not be more helpful throughout the planning process- having recently travelled to Indonesia himself, his advice was enormously valuable in helping us decide which tour to select. The tour company we ultimately decided on was Tru Travels. Aimed at young people, their tours aim to exhibit the very best of South East Asia without the dreaded school trip vibe. The tour we selected was their ’10 Day Bali Experience Tour’ and proved to be incredible value for money. Costing £450 for 10 days, it included 9 nights accommodation, trips to attractions and full time support throughout our stay in Indonesia.
We began our trip with three nights in Singapore. From the Avatar- like Gardens by the Bay to the city’s iconic Marina Bay Sands hotel, the city certainly doesn’t do things by halves. Our hotel was located in the city’s Novena district, an area that we found to be ideal for accessing all the major tourist attractions by metro. The highlights of our stay in Singapore has to include The Gardens by the Bay and the Marina Bay Sands light show. Both free of charge, these attractions are a must see for anyone who wants to see the very best of Singapore on a budget. Further must haves include The Art Science Museum and the downtown districts of China Town and Little India. Rich in colour and heritage, they really exhibit the cultural diversity of Singapore and provide an interesting contrast to the city’s sleek skyline.
Offering the perfect combination of culture, a thriving restaurant scene and beach parties that last well into the early hours, it’s easy to see how year after year travellers are seduced by the Balinese lifestyle
Following Singapore, we moved on to Bali and spent our first three nights in the beach district of Canggu. A true surfer’s paradise, the district is renowned for providing some of the best waves in the world. Described as the younger, cooler cousin of the more well . Offering the perfect combination of culture, a thriving restaurant scene and beach parties that last well into the early hours, it’s easy to see how year after year travellers are seduced by the Balinese lifestyle. Canggu also offers the perfect location to visit some of Bali’s most beautiful temples. For those interested in architecture, a visit to Tanah Lot Temple is a must. Dating back to the 15th century, the temple is constructed on a rock formation in the middle of the sea and offers tourists the chance to get blessed by a Hindu priest upon visiting.
The view of the sunrise is unbelievably breath-taking and well worth the dull ache of your hamstring muscles.
The tour next moved on to Ubud. Less commercialised than the village of Canggu, here you can get a real sense of the authentic Balinese culture. Whilst in Ubud we participated in a traditional cooking class, visited the rice terraces and took a trip to the famed Monkey Forest. During our stay we also decided to take part in an organised hike up the nearby active volcano Mount Batur. A one for the early birds, the hike begins at 2 AM and involves a steep uphill climb of 1717m. Once you reach the top however, the view of the sunrise is unbelievably breath-taking and well worth the dull ache of your hamstring muscles.
The final leg of our tour ended in Gili, Trawangan. Affectionately known by travllers as Gili T, the island is home to crystal blue waters, spectacular sunsets and a famous party scene. Motorised vehicles are banned on this island (only horses and bikes are allowed) so be prepared take a step back in time and embrace a more relaxed way of life. The laid back daytime vibe is, of course, juxtaposed with the island’s night-time activities; offering beach bars and night clubs in the abundance, the island is perfect for those who want to dance the night away. When in Gili T, snorkelling is a must- if you’re lucky enough, you may even spot some turtles! Saying farewell to our tour group that had quickly become family, we ventured back to days in the Balinese sunshine. Bidding island life goodbye, we reluctantly embarked on our 31 hour journey back to the grey skies of Newcastle, leaving behind a little bit of our hearts in Indonesia.