Bali is a tropical paradise. It’s also rugged, remote, raw and one of the most unconventional places I’ve ever travel too. My friend Ronald was living there most of last year. I found a window of free time and a cheap ticket. The journey to Bali is ambitious, even a seasoned traveler, with a stopover in the Philippines and another overnight flight into Depensar. Going to a place so wildly remote I had many apprehensions about what I was going to eat, how I was going to get around and if I would be safe. All were quickly ratified.

My accommodations were one of my favorite parts of Bali. The Alrinda Villa nearish to the airport is a quiet and mix of traditional resort vibes with Balinese touches. This was a comfortable stay for recovering from the long journey. Other great stays in Ubud were at Sri Bungalows and the impressive eco-friendly yoga resort Prashanti Bali. My stay at the Kus Garden Villa in Canggu was also wonderful. Do be warned 3 out of 4 had geckos on the ceilings, I woke nightly to foot steps and the mating calls they make. I learned they are harmless and actually lucky! All properties had beautiful swimming pools  and served some of the most impressive breakfast spreads I had ever seen including fresh juices, large bowls of fruit and made to order local noodles. I enjoyed balconies and private patios. One of my stays had two toilets and two showers or as I like to call it: options. I booked the majority of them a day or two in advance for $45-65usd using Beforehand I had booked one Airbnb reservation that looked less than a mile outside of town, when it was actually mapped it was a 20 minute drive. With all the amazing options for accommodations, Airbnb is something to skip in Bali.

Ronald and I had a few great days exploring via his motorbike. Our first big day we hung around Uluwatu checking out the cliffs along Bingin Beach, an abandoned plane and took a couple of wrong turns to the perfect sunset along the rocky coast. An amazing little spot for coffee was at Drifter Surf and a great patio dinner spot at yumyum cafe. We also day tripped out of Ubud to the see the gates at Pura Penataran Agung Lempuyang, the Lotus Lagoon in Candi Dasa and the Tegallalang Rice Terraces. Noteworthy dinner spots in Ubud were the Earth Cafe + Market and Soma, which had the best housemade kombucha. A close kombucha second was Café de Artistes. I did a day trip with a private driver to the Handari Golf Resort Gates and the Abandoned ‘Ghost Palace’ Hotel.

I spent the final three days in Bali in Canggu resting, walking and exploring on my own. Early morning walks in new places are one of my favorite things and Canggu was safe and fun to wander. Some of the best food was on my block. Highlights were my daily nasi goreng breakfast with tempeh at the Sunny Cafe, any smoothie at Peloton Superstore Cafe and raw pizza at the Living Food Lab. A full rundown of what I ate and how I avoided Bali Belly or any other kind of food poisoning.

I’ll be real. A few downsides included getting bit by a dog, suffering a lot from the humidity, being stuck without transportation, feeling lonely in my days alone and actually missing my flight home [a first ever for me]. I would never, ever fly Philippines Airlines. They left me high and dry with no options after the horrific accident and complete misfortune of missing my 1:20am flight. Your best bet is Eva Air, particularly with a stopover in the darling Taipei Airport. Even with my misfortunes, Bali was a wonder to see. The locals are some of the kindest people, quick to help and speak great english. Prices are cheap and positivity is abundant. I didn’t get crazy sunburnt and I saw some of the most enchanting places the tropics have to offer.

If you get a chance, go. Here is a peek of what I saw: