Bali in Review

Flying from Perth to Bali
This has been kicking around for some time now. I wrote it in Melbourne, a few weeks after going to Bali, though the numbers should be correct based on the records we kept.

Keep in mind that this information is about Bali during their low season. Not only was it low because of the season, but also because there has been an ash cloud from a volcano screwing up both the inbound and outbound flights. This had left a lot of people stranded for over an additional week, and delayed whoever was planning on going. I went this time because it fit my timeline, I figured it would be cheaper, and insurance would help carry the burden of my extended vacation if it came to that. My experience may be different than the norm because prices and bartering leverage will be different due to the scarcity of visitors. Chances are that a lot of the companies, cabbies, and tour guides were thirstier than usual for customers at this time.
Rice Paddies
The country itself was warm, and beautiful. There was some garbage occasionally in places you’d wish it wasn’t, tarnishing the natural beauty of the environment. I would advise against drinking anything but bottled water. It’s also probably best to not take any chances with questionably cheap food.

Indonesia may have been considered a third world country in the past, but has moved past that role. It is one of the largest democracies in the world, and has a rapidly growing economy (according to this article published in 2013).

Monkey Family
The Beaches are very nice, though I didn’t actually visit many, just passing views. They have lots of water-based activities, as you might expect, a variety of food, and cultural activities. If you like studying history or religion, the palaces and temples may hold some appeal to you, though nothing/no one explicitly explained much about any of the histories to us, nor did we seek it out.

Fertility Statues, I think
The method we chose of getting around was hiring a cab for the day, every day. The cost depends largely on how far you drive, and not the time. The driver will wait for you while you go about doing whatever it is you want to do, and will watch over your stuff. I’m paranoid when it comes to leaving my things around, and this wasn’t at all a problem. Depending on your cabbie, they will also act like a tour guide for your daily excursions, typically basing themselves in one city. They will still be willing to help translate and help you in any way you need. We had a great guide named Putu Nick, and he brought us to a number of breathtaking views, and amazing restaurants. Just tell them your price range, what you’re looking for, and they’ll either bring you somewhere that fits the description, or tell you that it’s not possible.

A lush pool with what look likes a natural vent
An alternative would be to rent scooters on your own and travel around, but I found the traffic to be extremely hectic, some of the roads rather treacherous, and it would require a lot more research on your end. If you’re up for random adventure and the rush of darting through traffic, by all means try it for yourself. Personally, I’m not that comfortable driving on the left side of the street in structured traffic, so I chose the passenger role.

A Temple
Places to see 
Due to the nature of the cabbie/tour guide setup and the thick accents, I’m not actually sure where in particular I have seen. My favourite city was Ubud - a cultural and market centered city. There is the monkey forest, a large indoor/outdoor market, a palace, and all sorts of temples nearby to visit. The main areas are heavily trafficked by tourists, which means the prices will be more hiked up, so be aware that your bartering leverage will be decreased due to the high customer base. That being said, you can usually barter them down to 50% the initial pricing.

-Volcanos (with a restaurant overlooking the valley. No need to go to the base, not much to see)
-Monkey Forest
-Holy Water Temple
-Lembongan Island (great snorkelling)
-Luwak Coffee (a lot of places offer it, but we went where they produced it)

I would suggest going with a group of 4 friends because then you will all fit in one cab, and can still afford some extravagant villas. We changed villas and cities every night for our 5ish nights, each time finding an amazing place. Generally, we paid as little as $24.50 AUD/person per night, and as much as $38.75 AUD/person per night.

A Garden next to a Spa
Drinks could be as little as $1.50 a beer if you bought it at the supermarket, and as much as 4 or 5 in a restaurant. There were often happy hour specials that offered 2 for 1 drinks at $6.50 a drink (margaritas, mojitos).

Cabs Cost between $25 AUD for a full/half day, and up to $50 a day for a long trip. One-way trips places in the same city were usually around $5. If you want to do a full trip cheaply, you can rent a car for very little, I was told. They didn't give a price, however. The downside for taxis is that calling one requires a local number, so the best you can do is have one pre-arranged with whatever location you're staying, or try to flag one down on the street. The owners of the hotels/villas will often help you with whatever you need.

More Rice Paddies
Flight from Perth: $22 for the 20kg luggage, and the roundtrip ticket was around $380, bought two weeks before we left. I’d recommend booking within 3 days of leaving, the cheapest day appears to be Monday or Tuesday, if you can swing it that timing and the stress of last-minute bookings.

We found our lodgings through AirBnB, which made it very convenient and easy to find a nice place in the area you wanted. We booked our residents within one or two days before, usually the night before, yet the places were all well-priced and extravagant. Lodgings all had air conditioning units in each bedroom, the beds tended to be king sized, and the bathrooms often had an open skylight or plants growing nearby. Every place had a pool, even if it was a small one that looked like it was just decoration near the entrance, usually with a waterfall or fountain. 

Ubud Villa
Ubud Villa
$98; $24.50 AUD/person
4 people, 3 beds (1 King, 2 Doubles; 2 full bathrooms)
Small kitchen; small, private pool

They had fresh coconuts for us upon our arrival, and a bowl of exotic fruit. AC in both bedrooms, 2 beds in one, and a king in the master. A small pool, about 4’x8’x4’, at the entrance, a kitchen with a mini fridge, a stove/range, and a lounging bed on the roof - complete with electricity, lights, a small shrine, and canopy. This was my second favourite lodging.

The bathroom for the master had glass blocks at the top of the shower, a large, high-hung shower head, and small stones around the base of the wall. Being 6’7”, I was quite pleased with the height of the shower.

Jimbaran Villa
Jimbaran Villa (near the beach)
$155; $38.75 AUD/person
4 people, 3 bedrooms, 5 beds (1 King, 4 Doubles, 2 full bathrooms)
Large, private kitchen; large pool in the back yard

This was my favourite place. A massive Villa that could easily have had 10 people stay in it comfortably. Cable, big screen, large back yard, 2 double beds (not counted above) on the roof with wooden canopies where you could see the ocean from… this is luxury. It was a bit out of the way in the middle of nowhere, but the owner was very accommodating and helped us plan our ventures for the next couple of days.

The bathrooms had an opening at the top that you could see the sky through, letting sunlight spill through onto the shower. There’s something nice about showering with open air sunlight bathing you at the same time as the water.

Kuta Villa
Kuta Villa
$109; $27.25 AUD/person (We paid less; half was refunded due to broken AC)
4 people, 2 beds (Kings)

A medium-sized pool with a lounging area. Small kitchen (mini fridge, stove, dishes and cutlery), Medium-sized TV complete with DVD collection. We received about half of the cost back because the AC was broken in the one room.

The one bathroom had an open skylight with a large plant growing in the corner among stones, and a 1.5’x1.5’ raised tile where you were supposed to shower. It looked very nice, but wasn’t the most functional when you're trying to balance while washing your feet, or have soap in your eyes.

View from the Ubud Hotel Shower
A Coastal Temple
Ubud Hotel 
$61; $30.50 AUD/person
2 people, 2 nights, Queen-sized bed

This location was one of the smallest, due to it only being for the two of us. The kitchen was in a central location, and they included breakfast prepared on demand. We took them up on that offer as late as 2pm, and as early as 10am. The pool was at the back, overlooking a ravine, and was accessible by all of the ~6 rooms in the building.

Bintang and a Coconut
The bathroom had a wide, glassless window (about 2’x5’) that allowed you to gaze out of from the second floor onto the various plants and buildings, kids laughter could often be heard.

Cities Visited
Ubud: A cultural and art centre with a large market. My favourite City, we spent 3 nights here. Spas were exceptionally cheap here. As low as $6 AUD for an hour massage!
Kuta: I’d suggest just staying there for on the last day of your trip because it’s so close to the airport. It’s a more modern city, less traditional. I’d suggest against the spas here. A massive duty free galleria, but it’s not cheap - all name brands.
Lemongan Island
Jimbaran: Famous for the beach and seafood. Be careful with the seafood, as the rates are not cheap despite being right on the ocean. We accidentally spent 4 million rupiah from one dinner between the four of us. That’s $400 AUD.
Sanur: We only stopped here to take the boat to Lembongan. You can book the tickets online to get across, and we used a company called Rocky. They will get you from their office to the boat, bring you (luggage and all) across to the island, and will hook you up with whatever water activities you have in mind.
Lembongan Island: Full of tourists and a heavy focus on water-based activities. Breathtaking views from most of the places you will likely end up. The prices are reflected by the high demand of tourists, though they’re not as bad as the prices in Perth, Australia.

Wall of Masks
Random Decoration
(No idea what it is)
Temples: If you like history and religion, there is plenty of things to see. For me, the temples bled together, as they have similar architecture and layouts to one another. The first couple are amazing, but the awe quickly faded.
Parasailing: It looked like a lot of fun, but we didn’t even look at the price.
Banana Boat: $50 AUD for 15 minutes, we took a pass on this one.
Sailing: Did not experience it, but it is available.
Shopping: The markets are great, though the shopkeepers can range from aggressive to standoffish. Remember to barter - never pay the sticker price. I aimed for 50% off the starting price and got it with a little pushing and willingness to walk.
Dining: The local food tends to be spicy, but they do have lots of trashy western food as well. If you don’t like trying new foods, you’ll still be OK here. There’s enough variety and western food to satisfy the pickiest of eaters.
Drinking: Alcohol is abundant and cheaply priced. Sometimes it’s on par with what I used to pay in Canada, but generally cheaper. You can buy alcohol from most corner stores, just look for the fridge door that has an opaque advertisement on it. I overlooked it a few times because it looked like storage. If you decide to go drinking in a bar, be careful. I was warned a few times by the locals that foreigner’s drinks are sometimes spiked. They didn’t say much more on the topic, but there have been incidences from time to time. Be mindful, stick in groups, and you should be fine.

Fish that eat the dead skin
The local food was very spicy, with an emphasis on pork and duck. Dirty Duck (bad translation, but that’s what they call it) was very good. I ate more duck here than I have anywhere else, which was always delicious, though it sometimes burnt my tongue off. I’m not very big on spice, but my spice-loving friend seemed to enjoy the food. They have lots of western food, which was nothing to write home about. Dishes ranged on average from $8-12 AUD in the nicer restaurants. You could probably find cheaper places, but do so at the risk of later bathroom troubles.

Coffee lovers/foodies might enjoy the Luwak coffee, which is said to be the most expensive coffee in the world. You can get it for $3-5 AUD a cup, and it’s good… but not that good. I’d recommend trying it if you’re even mildly adventurous and enjoy trying coffee.

Watch out for
Spiked drinks: Again, I was warned a few times about drink spiking. Keep it in mind, stay among friends, and don’t get too messy. You’ll be fine.
STI’s: Can’t say how warranted this is, but the Aussies have told me that it’s common to get either sick or an STI from a trip to Bali. Practice safe sex and you should be alright.
Water-borne illness: Don’t drink from the tap. If you want to play it super safe, ask for your drinks without ice, but it’s not really necessary.
Ubud Market
Contaminated food: Stick to more reputable restaurants and you should be ok. I didn’t go anywhere sketchy and still got sick, but was fine after one round of antibiotics.
Pickpockets: No one really talked about this, and we didn’t experience it, but tourist traps tend to attract this sort of behaviour.
Traffic: The laws around driving seem to be suggestions more than hard and fast. If you need to cross the street, you kind of just have to hold up your hand (“stop”) and walk in front of them. Give them a wide enough berth to stop and they should let you pass, possibly honking. Either way, you’re out of there.

Drink Stand
$1-2 AUD tolls here and there, but nothing big.

High season: All of August 
Low season: January, February 

Real Estate 
3, 000,000,000 Rupiah will get you a 2 bedroom house with kitchen.

This was my first Asian country I’ve been to, and I really enjoyed it. Lots of gorgeous scenery, the food was decent, and their local beer, Bintang, was pretty good. The best part was the villas. Each one we stayed at made me want to stay longer because they were so nice. If you enjoy water sports or the beach, lounging around, and bartering - Bali is the place for you. It’s only a few hundred dollars to fly from Australia to Bali. It’s a bit of a long trek to go from North America or Europe. If you’re in the Americas and want only to lounge, I’d suggest Cuba. If you want culture, the most expensive coffee in the world (luwak coffee), temples, bustling marketplaces, artwork, and volcanos, then Bali is a great place to go.
Ubud Hotel Pool Panorama

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