You may have noticed I have been a bit absent in my posting recently! While I scheduled some posts while I was away, I have been traveling in Bali! I know, how unlucky…
I have never been to the lovely Bali before, and I have come back feeling fresh, well rested and loving my experience. Lucky I love my job, routine and friends back home or it may have been to much to ask to come home!
I traveled to Bali with my parents and my brother, my first family trip in a few years, although unfortunately my two sisters missed out. Originally this trip was booked for January, however circumstances arose that meant this was postponed, never mind though it was worth it and having spoken to the locals that time of year is filled with rain, when we were there now it was hot, humid and no rain! perfect!
Our flights over and back were all smooth sailing thanks to Jetstar, but the connectors from Melbourne/Launceston both ways meant about 8hrs stop over each side, which wasn’t pleasant and I would rethink this choice next time.
The overall trip was more expensive than planned, but only because we did so much. We packed in loads of tourist activities and didn’t skimp on things, making the most of the experience. This, I think is important, no one wants to go on holiday and worry about their expenses!
So some of these activities included:
- Museum, temples, Ubud rice fields, coffee plantation and waterfall (mostly donation entry required)
- white water rafting
- beach horse riding
- quad bike
- multiple massages/pedicure/foot massage/hair braids/facials etc – ranging from $4 massages to $50 spa packages
- resort day trips
- Bali Hai Beach Club
- manta ray snorkeling
- trips to: Ubud, Nusa Dua, Seminyak, Kuta, etc
- dinner out every night
- turtle island and para-sailing
- Jimbaran Bay
To explain some of these further:
There are only so many temples, museums you can see and while these were very interesting, for example the Balinese symbol is actually the swastika but the ends of the symbol are the opposite to the Nazi/German one. The black and white, yin and yang is good and bad and traditionally houses are set up as rooms but are not joined rather set up as huts in a court yard. We saw a traditional Bali home, and our taxi driver took us to his house one day where we met his family, his new born puppies and i rode his motor bike up the back streets and walked through a building construction site where even the timber is lifted to the top floor by a manual pully system!
The white water rafting was an unplanned day, mum dad and I set out and decided to go, this meant I was in my runners and no bathers, but this actually didn’t matter as I think runners were a safe option, one girl wore thongs and ripped her toe nail back (I still cringe at the image!) but its perfectly safe the whole time, you don’t get flipped out and it is a nice refreshing trip down the mountain, worth the money spent too, you get lunch included and it’s a decent days activity!
Mum and I did the horse riding one morning, from about 9am pick up and 1pm back att he hotel it was a nice morning on the beaches of Sanur. These beaches are popular for surfing but the sand, like Seminyak is black so it isn’t as appealing. It’s very safe as well and I felt trusting in my guide. You are all given a horse with your own instructor, they can guide you, walk beside you and under their guidance you can pick up speed. There is an area for refreshments at the end before turning around to ride back. If thinking of this, pack pants, I didn’t and rubbing on the saddle did become painful.
The Quad bikes were a highlight. Dad and I tackled this one. So much fun! Although in come places (it rained overnight) getting bogged became and issue the multiple guides with your group were a great help. I would maybe like a few less people per group, so if there was a hold up it didn’t last as long and some extra areas to pick up speed, but this still overall went for a few hours in both bush, rainforest, tracks, drops and road. So a great mix! I have never ridden a bike before and I found these really easy but come the end my hands were sore from holding on! It is a drive to get to the location, but at the same place you can also do paintball. I would have loved to but the thought of putting on all the gear in the heat was a major turn off. Lunch was included a choice of rice, noodles or burger dishes. There are showers here and towels provided. You shouldn’t get to dirty and they provide you with boots (I suggest taking socks) but its nice to rinse some splatters off your arms once back!
It wouldn’t be a trip to Bali with out plenty of spa treatments! Initially dad was on the lookout for the cheapest, but at the end of the day the cheapest may be $5per hour, but if you pay just $10 you get like 5star treatment! Mum and I opted to spend that little bit more for that extra treatment! I indulged in a foot massage with mum one day when I was to burnt to get a full body, I had a facial and hair mask treatment with mum another day. all three of us on the seconds last day got a 1.5hr massage, facial and pedicure for only $40 which was amazing, relaxing and indulgent. I failed to look after my nails whilst away so didn’t end up getting any manicures but did also get a body scrub once my sunburn had disappeared. Take home: spend a little more it’s still cheap!
Resorts – you know those holiday clubs you can join? (worth it to for the right company and money spent if you travel a lot) my parents are part of one, but we got asked to another presentation. They aren’t a waste of time either, for an hour of your morning to listen to a presentation, a guided tour and to eventually say no to their persistent offer (you just need to be firm) you will get free transfers, a free breakfast, they will book your day tour if you decide to do one or you can access their facilities for the day! We chose the later, and it was gorgeous! The Peninsula Beach Resort opened up on to the beach but still with a full pool, restaurant, bar, pool side meals, massages etc for the day. It was heaven and would be an Amazonian way to spend maybe a week of your holiday to just relax pool side. Nusa Dua is gorgeous to with white sand and loads of beach activities to get involved in.
Bali Hai Beach Club, was probably one of my highlights. The Bali Hai offers a few different cruise options to suit your desires. You can stay on the Pontoon port with unlimited banana boat rides, a slide, pool on deck, deck chairs and buffet lunch. they also have a aristocrat you can ride in, sunset dinner cruises or we chose the beach club option. You cruise on out, change boats and onto the beach. From here you have unlimited banana boat rides, snorkeling (best is over by the rocks) massage facilities, pool access, BBQ buffet, table tennis, water polo and volleyball court, a game of tug of war, stand up paddle board hire, glass bottom boat rides, kayaks and the bar facilities, there is even a kids club with face painting and games so the parents can have a break! Shower facilities at the end of the day mean you don’t go home feeling sandy! It was such a relaxing day and loads to do!
The manta ray snorkeling was a full day again, taking you out to manta point. The only downsides to this day: it was the only day it rained, there were no showers at the end. The water was still perfect, clear and amazing and you could see how crystal blue it would have been had there been blue skies but it was still just fine for snorkeling and plenty if diving groups head out this way also. I saw turtles, manta rays, many fish and snake like creatures! You have lunch included just before your last snorkeling point (our tour included 4 snorkeling points) which was a great menu but if your starving you can order additional at your own cost. The stops for snorkeling tend to get better each time, so make yourself get in! You feel very safe to we had about a guide per person and the boat isn’t over crowded so you know they keep an eye on you. The best snorkeling is always over near the rocks so head over to these areas first and take an underwater camera!
We did plenty of day trips into other areas. I loved Seminyak for its quieter feel compared to Kuta. Kuta is the best for the shopping (Bali style) with more options. Poppies lane is a nice spot to walk through and the Poppies restaurant has been there for years! But if you don’t like the party lifestyle its best to get out of there by 9pm as it is a bit rougher around this time, noisy and busy. The beach in Kuta however is lovely. Ubud is the required location for the rice Fields and we also did the coffee plantation in this trip, not only is it coffee you taste but also their raw chocolate and you can smell all their herbs growing and try their teas like ginger, lemon grass, and some of the fruits. Their local coffee is the Lawar coffee which is produced by the lawar animal eating a certain coffee bean that we can;’t digest, their enzymes breaking it down, they poop it out and the bean is cleans, dried and used for coffee! Ew! but their favorite and the most expensive! Nusa Dua is further out but perfect for a more relaxing and resort setting.
We were based in Seminyak, in the Harris Hotel. The Harris hotel had everything we needed, buffet for breakfast (the only time we ate in our hotel), pool that was never to crowded, pizza restaurant that you could order and eat by the pool, lounge chairs, kiddies areas, a small gym, amazing air conditioning, a beach club with a free buggy ride to and from, walking distance to the main area (Seminyak square) excellent staff, a spa if you wanted in house bookings, activities booking facilities etc. Basically what you needed, at a reasonable rate, after all we were not in Bali to spend the day in our hotel rooms!
We dinned out every night of course and some of the places were amazing. We never ate out at the same place twice, a group decision not to to ensure we tried as much as we could! Some of the places that stood out to us included: Chanti a must order is the Chanti appetizer tasting. Ginger Mood for an Asian Bali infused menu, must try is the flying fish and duck pancakes! Kreol Kitchen just up from the Harris hotel is great for their healthy meal options and make your own salad. Bali, like most Asian countries don’t do a lot of dessert, but the Bali Buzz Bakehouse saves you from that with amazing cakes and pastries. Other must try meals when in Bali include the Nasi Goreng of course, noodle dishes and sate is great anywhere, I also loved the Gado Gado! I was a huge sucker for many of the Bali vegetable dishes and those with snake beans such as: Kacang penjang bumbu kalas (coconut curry beans) and Urap Sayuran (cooked vegetables with spiced grated coconut) were two of my favorites! We dinned at Jimbaran Gansha Cafe one night, which is a must do and something that all the tourists get into. Here you hand select your fish and seafood (priced by weight) and its cooked how you like, with out without sauce. Many people do this as a shared experience as you eat on the beach and watch the sunset! Also located on the beach and in many stall areas are whole corn cobs roasted over coals chard and with added garlic or chilli butter I enjoyed one while we waited for our food! One thing to note is that if you spend a little more money, you will get better food, like anywhere really, especially if you want you meat cooked well or your calamari not tough!
Within the first few days we headed out to do a snorkeling day which included turtle island, glass bottom boat and other activities like jet skiing and para-sailing if you chose. Dad and I decided to tag in the para-sailing which while you were up there was breathtaking however disappointing was the time spent, it wasn’t long enough for the wait time! Turtle island allowed you to hold a snake, see monkeys, feed turtles and photos with an eagle. I did like seeing this and their saving program for the turtles is a great concept. No food is included in this day trip, but depends who you book through, you can buy items there though!
Things I would do next would I would love to see more of the beaches, some that take a little longer to get to, I would also like to visit my drivers house next time and have a home cooked meal there as they offered this. I would be a real experience. I ran out of time for a cooking class but I think this would be amazing and would love to do that also.
Things to be aware of:
- Bartering, start your bargain price less then 50% of what they are asking, walk away before you raise your price as they will likely say yes. You can barter for taxi’s to but expect to pay a little more at night when its busier! You can’t barter in closed door stores!
- A rough guide to their currency is $10,000 is $1 Aus.
- Ensure you check with who you book through that lunch is included and transfers – not all companies provide it and it can depend who you book with.
- If you get friendly with one driver, he will look after you well, you should be able to get up to 20% discounts on most tours.
- It’s obvious who tourists are on the motor bikes, follow the no rule, rule policy or the police will find a way to fine you.
- When you get to the airport, bag porters will take your stuff, don’t let them, or if you do you don’t have to tip them its not a paid for service.
- Keep you money closed up, you don’t want to barter where they can see your money they wont drop as low.
- If you walk out of the airport a little way, you will get a taxi for half the price as those that are right at the exit.
- There is WiFi everywhere, just ask for the password!
- Wine is more expensive as it is not drunk as commonly in Bali
- In cheaper restaurants they may not know the difference between entree and main and all your food may come out at once! Try ordering entree then main when this arrives if it bothers you!
- There are mini marts everywhere all with ATM facilities. If you want a supermarket though Bintang supermarket is the place to go, walking distance in Seminyak