Hi dear nomads. I’m going to talk about one of my best-est experiences ever: my journey in Bali. Indeed, I had the very amazing opportunity to travel to Bali, Indonesia, this year, in May. I was dreaming to travel to Bali, one of the best rated places for digital nomads, for so long, that when this opportunity finally happened, I was so happy I had to hit myself to believe it was true. After 2 years of non-travelling, due to the Covid-19, I finally could have travelled, and to one of the best places on this Earth ever. Like the last time in Kenya, I was there for a journalism mission with the UNDRR. I could have spent two weeks there. It was a wonderful experience that I’m going to talk you about, as a digital nomad, as a traveler, as a journalist.
How did I get to Bali?
If you are a reader/follower of mine, you already know that I am a journalist, a blogger, and also an entrepreneur. Thanks to that, I had the opportunity to cover the Global Platform Disaster Risk Reduction (GPDRR) event, from May 23rd to 28th, in Bali, Indonesia, with the UNDRR, in collaboration with the Diraj. This was my first reporting travel after my training in 2020 in Kenya, with the UNDRR also, and also my first trip in Asia. I should say that I never thought about travelling in Asia before, especially when I was still a US fanatic, but since 2021, I developed some form of love for that continent, and mostly since I did researches about the digital nomadism and realized that most of the top-rated destinations were in Asia. I was dreaming about travelling to Bali, since, and it finally happened.
Actually, the Diraj responsibles called the Malagasy journalists members of the associations in April, to talk about the possibility of reporting on the field about the GPDRR. I didn’t really had high hopes about it, because they also said that the budget was very limited, and that only 5 to 6 African journalists could be financially covered to go there.
Although, with all the best of luck I could have got – and after showing a strong motivation to go there, I received an email on mid-April which told me that I was nominated for the GPDRR report in Bali. I couldn’t believe it. I even thought it was a mistake or some kind of a bad joke, so I called the representant of the Diraj to ask him. He confirmed me, very amused, that I was nominated for real and that the departure was planned for May 21st. That date was kind of symbolic for me because firstly, it is my sister’s birthday, and secondly, last year, in 2021, I got sick on May 21st, because of an appendicitis. I had a surgery on May 28th, date of the end of the trip in Asia. So it was kind of a sign for me – yes, I believe in these weird things, lol! I’m a weird person!
Whatever, that was how I could have travelled to Asia for the first time, and alone, as usual. xD
My first trip in Asia
After a trip in the US in 2016 (lien article US), and a trip in Kenya in 2020(lien article Kenya), this was my first trip to the Asian continent, and also the farthest and the most difficult one. In fact, due to the Covid-19, the travel procedures have become really heavy and difficult. I never had to gather so much documents in my life. I even was about giving up because it took a lot of time, a lot of energy and a lot of money, but I told to myself that what I was going to live there was worth the effort. And I was not wrong.
Bali was a paradise on Earth. But to arrive there, I had to travel for 48 hours, and transit three times. Normally, it doesn’t take that long with so many stops, but because of the Covid-19, some airlines were cut off from Madagascar to other countries, and vice-versa.
The advantage was that I saw a lot of airports and lands. “Mahita tany”’(1), as they say in my country. And I really did.
The “tany”(2) and airport I wanted to see the most was Dubai. I was so excited to transit there, and OMG it was soooooooooooo great – and so stressful ! xD
Indeed, my flight departed from Ivato airport at 4pm, on May 21st. Then I had to transit to Mauritius for one hour, then to Dubai for 6 hours, to Jakarta for 10 hours, and finally to arrive to Bali in the morning at 6 am on May 23rd.
On a very hot and sunny Monday, with my winter clothes because I departed from the Madagascar winter to arrive to the Bali summer. I was really afraid to die, due to my physical conditions (asthma) which couldn’t bear so much sudden changes of temperatures. But thanks God, I arrived safely in Bali, and headed to Nusa Dua thanks to a very gentle taximan, who even brought me to a Simcard shop on the way, so that I could use the local phone service. I used Telkomsel, and I highly recommend their services. Cheap and very good internet quality. I didn’t have to do calls, so I cannot tell. But the Internet was really good.
During my stay in Bali, I lived at the Amaris hotel, a hotel in Nusa Dua, not far from the venues where the GPDRR took place: in the BNDCC and the BICC. I already booked my hotel from Madagascar, with a journalist colleague from Malawi, so I just had to show on the D-Day.
One of the things that marked me, in a positive way, in Bali, was the professionalism and the welcoming atmosphere in which people were receiving foreigners. It was so amazing, you fell so well-treated, so considered, people care so much about you. You feel like a little God (lien customer is God).
Even with the taximan, I really felt respected. A feeling that’s not common because unfortunately, in Madagascar, public and private services in general are really bad. People don’t respect consumers, unless they are a “vazaha”(3).
Once arrived, I took a bath – I was hoping for a very hot bath but the hot water in my hotel was… not hot at all – and had to sleep for 2 hours before going to work, already! Actually, the conference started at 8 am and I was already late. But with all the jetlags, the change of all the habits (sleeping hours, eating hours, weather, etc), I couldn’t do it without sleeping and taking a rest first. That’s one of the worst side effects of travelling, and this time, I was really tired and even felt a little bit sick.
However, I could have managed to work and to be fine until the end of my trip, and even once back home.
My first week in Bali
My first week in Bali was 90% dedicated to work. I didn’t really have the time to visit places or to have fun, and that’s why I decided to extend my stay for 5 more days once the conference will take an end. Although, that first week was amazing.
I could have met a lot of people, from Bali, from Indonesia, from the Asiatic continent and from other continents also, mostly Africa because I was with the African journalists pool.
Also, I could have seen how much Bali was perfect for me, for 7 main reasons:
- The weather was really hot, like very hot, reaching 30°C. I already said in one of my stories that I was a very frigid human, so it was the perfect temperature for me. That was one of the reasons I could have recover fast after the 48 hours of travel. Because if it was cold, I could have died of fatigue and stress.
- The security is so great. I was never afraid to be attacked, raped, kidnapped. I was not afraid of walking in the streets at night anymore, or to get kidnapped if I was alone in a cab. The shops close at only 10-11 pm, like when I was in the US. I could do my nocturn walk like when I was there and take some fresh air. I really need that every day, it’s like my therapy, and I’m really sad I cannot do it in my country because of so much insecurity.
- People speak English. For my part, what was unexpected in Indonesia was that people were not that good at English. Actually, they were not good at languages at all, except their own native one. But if we go to the official places: touristic places, institutions, hotels, restaurants, so people can speak English or at least, understand common words. So it was really great and relieving to know that you were not the only one struggling with a language which was not yours, but that you were both willing to interact. I remember, there was that nice food shop where I used to take dinner, just next to my hotel. It was owned by a couple, whose the children where there until late at night, helping them to do some stuff also. The husband couldn’t speak English at all, but the woman could understand some words. They were lovely, always smiling, asking me how did I like my “Nasi Goreng” to be served if I wanted to eat there or to take it away… They were so nice I was about crying when I told them goodbye.
- People are really nice. I had the opportunity to talk and interact with Balinese people, a lot. Not only in the conference but in the daily life, with taximen, sellers, shop owners, translators, touristic guides, drivers… They were all really polite, gentle, simple and sincere. They thought I was from Bali or from some Indonesia’s parts, because of my face. They didn’t really know where Madagascar was, and how does a Malagasy person look like – and there’s no Malagasy typical face because Malagasy people are very different. They ignore that Malagasy people ancestors are coming from Indonesia, and that the culture, the language, the traditions, are quite similar. But they really love talking, discovering new things, and I love that too. It was so strange how I felt home in a place where I literally knew no one.
- The place is really calm and there’s no traffic-jam. I can do a lot of stuff in a day, and even still have the time to take some rest. While in Madagascar, I’m staying up late until midnight and have to wake up very early in the morning because if I’m planning to go out, I have to consider the traffic-jam which could last from one to 3 hours.
- The place is cheap to live. With 700 to 1000 dollars per month or even less, you can totally live, if you don’t spend too much money in cabs, clothes and touristic sites. Foods, buses and daily needs are incredibly cheap. Cheaper than in Madagascar.
- The timezone is perfect for me. As it is located in the East, Asia is perfect for me because I’m a daily sleeper and a night worker. So I can sleep until noon, then work to deliver all my work for the morning in the afternoon to my Western clients, and do my work of the afternoon in the evening. I can also work earlier and have some free moments to sleep – I really love sleeping – or to go out, even just for a walk.
About the job I did there, it was the first time I covered an international event like this one, out of my countries, and with the UN. I was really excited, it was a very big challenge for me and I was even a little bit afraid to not be able to fill the needs of the UN and the Diraj. But I could have finally produced one article per day, and even more, and I could have helped other journalists and also some delegates from here, included the delegates from the BNGRC and the civil society.
It was one of the best professional experience I’ve ever got. I could have practiced what I learnt in Kenya in 2020, all I’ve learnt in the university, strengthened my experiences from the US, the journalism field in my country and in my company, and could have broadened my networks.
My second week in Bali
My second week in Bali was dedicated to holidays. First “real” holidays abroad, first “real” holidays abroad alone, 5 days all dedicated to myself and to selfcare and selflove. OMG are you kidding me? This was going to be epic! I decided to enjoy every second of it to the fullest.
I started the Saturday by going to the mall to buy some “voandalana”(4) for my family and friends. I already was at the mall the last week, with my very gentle taximan called Sen, and he already showed me all the places where I could have got great stuff at a very good price. So I was at Krisna, at a famous coffee plantation where I tasted the famous Luwak coffee, which is done with the feces of an Asian civet cat; at a jewelry shop where I could have bought a ring where it is written “Peace”, all in silver – one of the best rings in silver I’ve ever had until now, the quality is just so good, I rarely saw such a silver shining so bright; and I also visited a shop of painting boards.
On Sunday, I worked on the morning, as a digital nomad this time, doing some webwritings, translations, community management, and also tried to follow up the job done by my team in Madagascar.
In the afternoon, I decided to go to the beach by foot, to do some walks, to enjoy the city and also to let my thoughts run away.
Unfortunately, I was quite disappointed by the beach. It was beautiful, for sure, but I can say that Madagascar beaches are just so much more beautiful.
You can check my pictures at Nosy Be and Fort-Dauphin (lien galerie)
At 4pm, I called a cab and decided to go to the Uluwatu temple. This was a very beautiful temple, with beautiful structures and statues which I was a little bit afraid of. xD
In the evening, there was a ceremony in the temple yard, with some locals.
On Monday, in the morning, I went to the Bali Swing. The places of my dreams. I wanted to see this kind of place since I was a kid, as I saw it very often in movies: a place full of swings where I could swing all day and take beautiful pictures of myself. I finally found it in a place I never thought I would.
Of course – and unfortunately – I couldn’t stay there for a day, and it was quite expensive, but I could have enjoyed the sensation for some minutes that look to eternities, on each swing. I could have died right after the visit, I wouldn’t have even care.
On Tuesday, I went to the Bali Zoo. One of the things I love the most when I’m in a new place is visiting zoo, as far as I can do that. In the US I couldn’t do it, but in Kenya I had the opportunities to see some animals. The one that marked me the most there was the giraffe.
In Bali, I had the very great opportunity to do an elephant safari. I’ve always wanted to see elephants and I finally could have seen some. It was one of the best days of my life. I paid a lot but it was really worth it.
I also could have seen a tiger and a lion. I’m a big fanatic of felines. I’ve always wanted to see some too. Unfortunately, they were in a big glass cage and we cannot touch them, but we can see them close enough.
That was all for Tuesday, as the zoo was really far from town.
On Wednesday, I did my Covid-19 PCR test at a local hospital, a little bit far from town because not all the hospitals can give a certificate agreed by the airline company, and then I went to do my hair in a local hair saloon.
I think that if there was a big disappointment during my stay, it was the hair saloon. It was a very nice place, really fancy, with very expensive prices and taking care of all the “vazaha” people around, European, America, Canadian, but OMG the way they took care of my hair!
I asked for hair washing and a brushing, and literally just washed and made them dry. No brushing styles, no combing, nothing… It was so disappointing, I really missed my hairdresser in Madagascar.
Once home, I even had to do it again with my Babyliss, and thanks God I brought one. Not the best one but it could rescue in case of a hair emergency!
Finally, the last day and not the least, as my departure was only planned for 6pm, I took my PCR results at the hospital early in the morning – negative of course – and visited the Tanah Lot temple, before leaving. This was just one of the best temples I’ve ever seen. There was one in the ocean, it was really beautiful. I took a lot of picture at the place.
Finally, I left Bali airport at 6pm and arrived in Jakarta in 7pm. Then, again, I had to redo the whole itinerary. But this time, my last transit was in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, and not Mauritius. I was really excited to see another new place but got hopeless fast once there, although I had to stay there one night before leaving for Madagascar.
In fact, the treatment in the airport is very very bad. People are racist, unpolite, unprofessional… I had to wait 4 hours in the airport before they took me to the hotel, with a very ugly car on very ugly roads… I wanted to cry. Where is my beautiful Bali? XD
I stayed in the Pacific hotel. Not the best hotel I have ever seen. But not too bad, also.
I wanted to do some shopping outside at 5pm, and a member of the staff of the hotel told me that I should be careful with my phone because there were a lot of pickpockets.
Well… Welcome in Africa?
However, I won’t ruin this beautiful article with my misadventure in Addis. I prefer remembering the best holidays I had in Bali, as a digital nomad, a journalist and a traveler.
- Trip preparation
I already said that among all my trips, going to Asia was the most difficult. It was mostly due to the Covid-19, because the travel procedures have become heavy and difficult. Indeed, I had one month to prepare my trip, this was the longest duration I had for a departure, and I was about not leaving, one day before, because my ticket plane was still not delivered.
Here were the papers they required from me at that time, to travel from Madagascar to Bali:
- Valid passport (my passport was expired on 2021, so I had to renew it. It took me one week to renew it at the National police at Anosy, and I had to pay 190 000Ariary.)
- Visa application form filled
- Note verbale issued by the Ministry/Department of Foreign Affairs of sending country, or Letter from sending organization
- 2 identical passport-style photos
- Official GP2022 invitation letter
- Approved accreditation/registration from the GP2022 secretariat
- Proof of return flight ticket to home country or other planned destination
- Certificate of a complete dose of Covid-19 vaccination in English and in the original language (the Indonesian government accepts Covid-19 vaccines within WHO Emergency Use Listings (EUL)
- Signed statement letter of compliance of Covid-19 Protocol
- Plane tickets
- Negative PCR test done 72 hours before departure
- Letter of Sponsorship GP2022 Coverage by the Media Company addressed to the Indonesian Missions (purpose of journalist visit, places to be visited/covered, dates/schedule of coverage)
- Media company profile
- Curriculum Vitae
- List of equipment (s) (description, weight, value, country of origin)
- Travel insurance document covering COVID-19 care
- The application PeduliLindungi App for COVID-19 tracking in Indonesia and entry into the Global Platform venues installed on the smartphone.
Then, to be able to leave Bali to get back to Madagascar, I had to have these following documents:
- Valid passport (my passport was expired on 2021, so I had to renew it. It took me one week to renew it at the National police at Anosy, and I had to pay 190 000Ariary.)
- Plane tickets
- Negative PCR test done 48 hours before departure
Also, I had to get a Visa to enter the Ethiopian territory, because my transit lasted more than 12 hours, so I had to exit the airport and to sleep in a hotel. On the website, they said that the visa could be delivered on arrival for transits, but once there, they said there was no visa on arrival. I had to argue with them to finally pay something like 50$ to get a visa and to get a voucher for my hotel.
And finally, to enter the Malagasy territory once back in my country, I had to pay 20$ for the PCR test.
I’m just sick of this manipulation with this pandemic, I swear !
- Some places to visit in Bali
There are quite nice places to visit in Bali, apart from what I mentioned in the articles. Here are some places you could visit for a drink, an afterwork, and also to see animals and monuments.
- Besakih Temple
- Goa Gajah
- Tegallalang Rice Terrace.
There are also a lot of activities to do in Bali:
- Diving and snorkeling
- Spa massage
- Cooking workshops.
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