If you could go anywhere in the world, whenever you wanted, where would you go and why? That’s a question that drove one of our loyal readers and viewers to redefine his career and his life. Jacob Laukaitis abandoned the idea of offices, the 9-to-5 grind, and saving travel for vacation. He’s one of a growing number of laptop entrepreneurs, and a founder of ChameleonJohn.com, a popular discount site. One thing you’ll never find him doing is staying put.
So where did he go when he ditched the office for good? Pretty much everywhere. But there’s one place he keeps going back to. Bali. This Septmeber, Jacob spent his time trekking to the highest peak on the island, motorbiking more than 1,000 kilometers, and exploring an abandoned, supposedly-haunted, hotel. And that’s why we interviewed him. We wanted to know why, when he has the chance to travel anywhere he wants, he keeps heading back to Bali.
Keep reading to find out why Jacob loves this island nation, and what you don’t want to miss when you’re there. But before you dive into his thoughts on Bali, watch the video of his trip – trust us. It’s worth it.
TTH: What are you eating at 3150M above sea level in the video? Something local?
JL: The one and only – peanut butter!
TTH: Speaking of food, what’s the best dish you found in Bali?
JL: I’m a vegetarian, so I can’t eat quite a few dishes from any Asian cuisine. Even though Bali is an island in Indonesia, there you can find anything from Indian to French to Japanese cuisines. Since most of that ayam nasi goreng (literally translates to chicken fried rice) is not available to me, I would eat anything I’d fancy that day.
TTH: What’s the deal with the airplane in the middle of a quarry (is that what that is?)?
JL: Nobody really knows for sure. Some say that the initial idea was to open a restaurant or a bar in it, but there are no confirmed facts about this. Currently the whole place is isolated and guarded, so I had to learn some magic bribery tricks to get in!
Seriously. We want to know why there’s a plane in that quarry…
TTH: Why did you head to Bali the first time? What brought you back? Anything you don’t want to miss if you head back again?
JL: It was two years ago, I was traveling around South East Asia with a simple goal of visiting as many countries and learn as many wonderful things about the world as I possibly can. I knew Bali was nice, but it turned out to be one of my favorite places on Earth. The nature, the people, the sights, the temples, the activities – I fell in love with all of it. The only thing I wish I could do is stay here longer.
TTH: Tell us a bit about the Ghost Hotel. How did you hear about it, what was it, and why is it abandoned? Any tips for those of us who’d love to head out on a similar adventure?
JL: It was completely accidental, I was simply driving past it on a motorbike when I saw it. I tried to talk to quite a few locals about why the hotel was abandoned, also tried to Google it many times, but there basically isn’t any information about it.
I guess I would just recommend to keep your eyes and your mind open and see where the road takes you.
Stunning view. See why Jacob’s been to Bali three times?
TTH: If I had 3 days to spend in Bali, what should I definitely not miss seeing? Why?
JL: Well, quite a few places, actually. I’d say to me the highlight of my trip was probably the 6 hour hike to 3150 meters’ Mt. Agung. It was challenging and long, but it was one of the most fun things I’ve ever done, not to speak about the feeling when you reach the top. If you’re looking for something less extreme, definitely give a visit to one of the beautiful ancient temples, such as Uluwatu temple. It’s simply stunning.
That’s one way to get around in style…
TTH: As a solo traveler you had a certain perspective. Would you recommend Bali for families, young couples, or backpackers?
JL: I would recommend it for literally anyone! A lot of people say cities like Kuta and Denpasar are over-crowded, which is definitely true. However, if you’re not a fan of that, you move to a place like Canggu (a surf town) or Ubud (yogi place). If you want to go clubbing, you go to Seminyak. If you want to dive, you go to the Gili Islands (an hour away). I feel like there’s stuff to do for everyone.
TTH: For those not familiar, how was communication with the locals? If you only know English, would you have any issues?
JL: In Bali you would hardly have issues because the island has been a touristy place for a very long time. However, I can already have a basic conversation in Bahasa Indonesia (the official Indonesian language), so I had no problems whatsoever.
TTH: What’s the vibe of Bali? Young? Hip? Laid back?
JL: It’s funny how it changes depending on the area in Bali. Canggu (a surf town) will have a very laid back, youth, surfer-like vibe with people running around without T-Shirts with long hair, having fun; Seminyak (the posh/fancy area) will have a pretty hip and fancy vibe with people driving expensive cars and spending a lot on drinks; a place like Ubud in the middle of the islands will feature many foreigners wearing Indonesian traditional clothing, eating vegan and doing yoga 5 times a day. Overall it’s a mix of everything one can imagine!
TTH: What possessed you to do this trip on your own? Did you have to leave anyone or anything back home?
JL: Everything I ever possessed during my trips fitted into a small backpack!
Not really, my business partners at ChameleonJohn.com and I work together remotely all the time, and my friends understand and support my way of life, and we constantly keep in touch.
TTH: Where to next and why?
JL: After Bali I spent a couple of weeks in Japan, and just arrived to India to finally visit the Mumbai slums. What an experience!
As you can see, Jacob’s still on the go. If you’re interested in following his adventures, you can catch him on Twitter @JacobLaukaitis or check out his personal website, JacobLaukaitis.com. All the images and the video in this post are his, and we’ve gotta say thanks for that. They’ve got us staring at our suitcases again…
How many of you are traveling actively? Have any stories from your trips you’d love to share with us, or a video of your recent adventures? We’re looking for some amazing people and exciting trips to inspire our travels, and if you’re lucky, your story could wind up on our blog like Jacob’s. Leave a comment below to tell us about your trips and how we can reach you.
I'm a fan of honest words, clarity, and impact. A writer, editor, and translator, I spend my days guzzling coffee like a champ, living the expat dream, and being mom to world's sweetest preschooler. I’m co-owner and copywriting head at Rusmexus Writers, a history buff, and have a background in international relations.