denpasar: bali in the raw

I finally had to peel myself away from Ubud. It was so easy to stay there, and then keep staying there some more. There were so many nooks and crannies to discover and let’s face it, it was relaxing. However, I finally pulled it together and convinced myself that there has to be more to Bali than the highly cultured, yet highly tailored Ubud. And so we parted. Next stop: Denpasar.

Denpasar is interestingly the capital of Bali. Therefore, it seems like there is going to be a lot to do there. I say “interestingly” because Ubud seems to be where its at–I guess because you could make your entire trip to Bali just stationing yourself in Ubud as there is so much to see and do (and spend money on). I wasn’t sure what to expect, but after a long-winded, unnecessarily stressful hired-driver ride from Ubud to Denpasar, I had high hopes making sure the journey was going to be worth it.

So what was noted to do in such a place? Well for one, Denpasar is the best place to get public transport to the rest of the island so supposedly that is then number one reason for people visiting this place. That being said, I was expecting it to be extremely touristy. I had prepared myself for the National Museum to be a circus and the local market to be a huge hustle-show. Boy,was I wrong.  I actually don’t think I could have been more wrong. I don’t think I laid my eyes on a Westerner the entire time. I was confused at first, because everything that was suggested was just so empty and nothing was sparkly in the same sense that Ubud offered.  I quickly was reminded that I was not in Kansas anymore–still very much in South East Asia.

Walking around in the blazing heat, trying to find the stupid museum was not the best way to start off the trip. My hotel (a 3-star that I highly DO NOT recommend) was not exactly conveniently located, but I didn’t really see many hotels anyways. The entire time I was walking around I couldn’t stop thinking, “where the heck was everybody?” Denpasar is not a hustling, bustling city (at least with people, there is still plenty of traffic). It also is not the glitzy capital city I had in mind either. In fact, my first impression was that it was quite bland. I decided to try to give it some more time.

I finally find the museum. Let’s just say don’t break an arm and a neck to get here, especially if you have already been to other cultural museums elsewhere in Bali. I am pretty sure that I now have an above-level professional understanding of Balian textile types. The museum does have potential, but it is oddly scattered in different buildings and you just feel awkward the entire time. I give it props for having all artifacts labeled and such. One tip, politely excuse yourself from the guys hanging around at the ticket office who start showing you around the museum, as they are 100% just going to pump you for cash.

denpasar museum

I finished the museum in nothing more than 30 minutes. Now what? I was pretty frustrated at myself for booking two nights here. Still, I kept trucking. I wandered around looking for a place to just chill and gather my thoughts. Despite my discomfort, I started to unravel this place and see it for the enigma that it really is. The more I wandered and poked around, the more I realized that this was real Bali. This was real Indonesia. These were Balian people in the raw. The local people weren’t doing anything that foreigners thought they should be doing because there were not any tourists. They were just minding their own darn business. My next stop was the local market, and although it was definitely one of those places that I felt like I had celeb status, I was just as fascinated about them as they were about me.

After this mini-adventure, I was starving and it was time for some grub. As every café recommended by the LP turned out to be an epic failure, Vietnam had molded me into a professional street food consumer. Let me be the first to tell you that a white street-fooder is strange sight for locals.  I cam across a lovely park. During the afternoon, it was full of kids flying kites, but by the time the evening rolled around, it was jam-packed with families, food vendors, balloon men, boys of all ages getting their futbol on. It was THE place to be.

four-headed statue watching over traffic in the roundabout



this happened

these ladies heavily adoring a white person buying their food while i heavily adore their smiles and specialties (the chicken satay and sticky rice was unreal)


After a significant chill period and food binge in the park, I was actually quite satisfied with how the day went. It was certainly not as expected, but I was able to see how real modern, day-to-day people live in Bali. I was sitting right there with them doing what everyone else was doing for fun, eating what everyone else typically eats. It was much more of a cultural experience than I can even explain in words and ended up being one of my favorite days of the whole trip. One for the books. And so my journey continues…




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