Arka travelled to Bali in August this year, and booked his adventures with us. We checked in with him after his trip and heard all about his fun trip, and just had to ask him to answer some questions about his trip for our blog. But Arka did one better – he wrote a travelogue (his first ever!) just for us! We’re so thrilled with this! But enough of us – let’s hear from the adventurer himself.
Let’s begin with something about myself….
It’s Arka Sarkar this side and this is my first attempt at telling my travel story. I hail from West Bengal and just turned 29 last month. I completed my Graduation in West Bengal and then my MBA in Marketing from SIBM, Bangalore, after which I’ve been working as the Senior Manager – Sales & Marketing for an automobile manufacturer in the North-East. One of the reasons for being here was primarily my enthusiasm about traveling, especially to the mountains.
The travel bug bit me quite hard during my graduation. It was in the first year when I had my first trekking experience to the Panchachuli Mountains in Uttarakhand. However, in recent years, I’ve been following the footsteps of a friend, which in turn led me to travel solo initially to Goa in 2018. After that, it was Thailand this February and then Bali in August.
So why an international destination and why travel solo to Bali?
Before I tell you what led me to Bali, I would like to tell you a short story about how I became an adrenaline junkie. During my last trip to Thailand, the snorkelling had been great at the Maya Bay, Samah Bay, Pi-Leh Lagoon and Shark Point, where not just the vividly flamboyant sea-life amazed me but I also made a few friends, who hail from Northern Italy. They literally became my swimming mentors, since I’m not much of one to be honest.
However, at Phuket during the Bungee Jump from 50 meters above the ground, my heart skipped a beat or two. As I went down for the first time, the ropes bound at my ankles felt like they were coming off and swinging like a ping-pong ball hopelessly and helplessly, made me realise that I could never trade this adrenaline rush for anything else. Thus, I promised to myself that I would travel solo to at least two international destinations each year henceforth.
The experience of travelling solo so far…
Traveling alone to somewhere unknown might seem a bit challenging, since no one can ever be too prepared. However, a bit of research on my part has certainly gone a long way.
As surprising as it might sound to our western brethren, hailing from countries like India, we do not get to take-off from work for more than a week or so at a time. Thus, I have this motto for myself, ‘Why settle for one, when you can accommodate more?’ I always plan ahead extensively, as I don’t just travel for just sight-seeing or adventure sports or simply to try new cuisines but to accommodate all of them in my tight schedule and yes, leaving room for improvisations too. Learning the local lingo is important but what’s more so is learning of what-not-to-dos when in a foreign country, with a bit of research about their culture and traditions.
Traveling solo has certainly given me more independence to tweak to my schedule and pace and also making a few new friends never made me miss anyone’s company.
Updating the medical kit and getting an international travel insurance beforehand comes in handy as the drug dispensing laws and general insurance coverage is different in foreign countries.
What I did in Bali doesn’t need to stay in Bali! So here it is….
DAY 1: Jet-lagged, I checked-in to the Capsule Hotel (read hostel) in Seminyak and headed for the stunning Tanah Lot temple, where the cold breeze carrying the impatient waters kept smearing my sunblock. By late evening, I headed for one of the popular beach clubs, Ku De Ta on the Seminyak beach for a few beers.
DAY 2: As unconventional as it gets, the day began with Luwak coffee, derived from the undigested coffee beans from luwak (a civet). It was little on caffeine but bitter in taste. At the Padang Padang Beach next, charming the emerald waters of the Indian Ocean from behind the sparsely scattered clouds was the sun. The prickly gravel under the feet soothed more than I can convey.
Being rich in its traditions, Indonesia houses monuments of worship, as old as the indigenous beauty of the islands formed of mountains & volcanoes amidst the vast ocean, a glimpse of which can be spotted at the Uluwatu Temple. Being a Hindu temple, it requires wearing a Sarong to cover the legs. The sunset on the horizon and the Kekak dance are both hypnotic but being a little cautious of the monkeys trying to snatch all things shiny, is strongly recommended! The day ended with a never-ending feast at the Jimbaran Bay.
DAY 3: Not being much of a swimmer, I was nervous of my first (discover) scuba dive but my trainer Gracia from the Neptune Scuba knew how to calm the nerves. She was patient throughout the dives at the Padang Bai & the Blue Lagoon. Thanks to Tanvi from The Great Next team for assisting me on booking this!
The sunny weather after the early-morning showers made it perfect for a clean dive. At 12 meters beneath the sea level, the lush corals, schools of fish, snake eel, peacock shrimp, lobsters and a bit of shipwreck among a hundred other things were enough to astound me. Listening to myself breathing through the mask & the sound of the bubbles escaping into the great wide blue, there were times when I just wanted to shout, “Hey look, it’s Nemo!” It is silly but the dive made me wonder endlessly.
DAY 4: A ferry ride next day from the Sanur Harbor took me with my newfound friends Calvin, Farzana, Faye & Merryll to snorkel in the brazen waters of the Manta Point and then to visit the iconic Angel’s Billabong, Broken Beach and the Kelingking Beach on the Nusa Penida Island. It is equipped with the ideal backdrop for a photoshoot!
After returning, we treated ourselves with a lavish meal of shrimp spaghetti & steaks at the Rumours restaurant.
DAY 5: The next morning, Calvin & I rode together, firstly to a notorious Bali-swing, where the swing is towed to a great height when the hook abruptly undoes, which is terribly daunting.
On our further quest for adventure, we arrived at the Sukawati Hidden Canyons. It took us more than 2 hours to hike through the 3km-long stretch of the river. It is one of the least-explored & most underrated locations in Bali!
The last stop for the day was Goa Gajah, which is a wonder in itself. Established during the 11th Century, it has the imagery of both Hinduism & Buddhism. The handsome solitude engulfing it exhales a calming aura.
Unable to detain the hunger any further, we stopped at the Bebek Tepi Sawah restaurant that serves Bebek Betutu, which is a unique Balinese slow-cooked and smoked duck. The succulent meat falls off the bones at a faint nudge from the fork and is generally served with vegetables, steamed rice and two choices of Sambal.
After lunch, we finally ended up at our beloved Puri Garden Hostel, which is one of the best party hostels in Bali.
DAY 6: On the last day, being picked up at 2AM with little to no sleep, the physically taxing hike of 3 hours on the trail uphill Mt. Batur seemed quite uncertain. Luckily, with the full moon & cloudless skies and the brilliant group that I had joined in, it was no less than breath-taking experience. Reaching the top of 5600 ft. at about 5:40 AM, a restless wait with a mug of ginger tea kept on driving us until the sunrise. The altering hues moulded by the Sun as it climbed the sky from under the blanket of clouds created the most awe-inspiring panorama.
After the physically taxing hike, another activity seemed quite impossible. Nonetheless, the White Water Rafting on the Ayung River was ticked off the bucket list. Mason Adventures organizes the white water rafting for over most likely the longest distance through the river for a duration of 2 hours and oh boy, thrilling it was! Thanks to Tanvi again for booking it!
DAY 7: The next morning, with a hearty course of syrup-drenched pancakes for breakfast and a promise of return to this land of adventure and ecstasy; I checked-out of Puri Garden and began the journey back home.
My adventure gear list ….
Mostly, I use equipment hired from agencies, since I’ve just begun doing this solo. For scuba diving & snorkelling, the equipment were included in the package. However, for the hike, I got my gear from Decathlon. I got myself a fleece, a pair of gloves and a rain jacket by Quenchua, which were immensely useful during the hike and they were affordable too. I’m planning to buy myself a GoPro sports camera soon, since I’ve been doing a bit of adventure sports lately and also a good 100 litre ruck-sack for long tours.
My adventure travel bucket list….
So far, I have successfully completed snorkelling, scuba diving, canyon hiking, trekking, parasailing, white-water rafting and bungee jumping. The next on my list that I’m planning to do by 2020 are Kayaking, Para-gliding and Sky-diving.
If you have a question about holiday packages in Bali, Nepal, Thailand, and of course, all over India, feel free to get in touch. You can chat with us on our website or message us on Facebook or Instagram. Remember, when you’re planning your next adventure outing, there are no stupid questions. We’re India’s most talkative adventure advisors, and we’re here to answer all your questions, big and small.
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