Trip Start Apr 15, 2008
Trip End Apr 01, 2010

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Flag of Indonesia  , Bali,
Saturday, March 28, 2009

We flew down to Bali from Borneo, via Singapore. The flights were fine but the connection was a bit of a pain. Flying with Malaysian Airlines to Singapore and then Singapore Airlines down to Bali meant we were unable to book our baggage all the way through. This resulted in us having to queue up for 30 minutes to clear passport control in Singapore and then collect our baggage. Next we came out of arrivals and back into departures on another floor, as if we had just started our journey! We did get a bit of a funny look when we went back through passport control as we had only stayed in Singapore for 15 minutes!  
We landed in Bali about 7.30pm.  It was dark, very hot and humid. We queued to pay for our visa on arrival. The cost of this is now $25 per person and the process was extremely efficient, no form filling other than the landing card you complete on the plane, which is standard. As we came out of the airport there were heaps of hotel representatives holding up names on boards. We had arranged a transfer with our hotel but could we spot a board with our name on? No! We were accosted by several taxi drivers but managed to fend them off! Luckily after walking the gauntlet several times and after about 10 minutes we spotted our driver, phew! We arrived at the hotel 5 minutes later! So a very convenient spot! The runway at Bali Airport is built on a strip of land which is expanded into the sea, this  is due to the peninsular being very thin at this point. The advantage is planes come in and take off over the sea so there is no aircraft noise experienced in the immediate neighbourhoods.
Bali is located within a string of volcanic islands which flow eastwards from the main Indonesian island of Java, and sits just north of Australia. Being just 8 deg' south of the equator Bali has a year round tropical climate. There are just two seasons, wet, which runs from October to March, and dry, which runs from April to September. Most of the tourist resorts are located along with the airport in the gently sloping south of the island. The majority of Bali's three million people live mostly in tight village communities with large extended families. With the majority of Indonesia's population being Muslims, Bali is unusual in that 90% of its population are Hindu, however this is very different from the Indian variety. The Balinese are very religious and pray on average three times a day, offerings to the gods is a way of life. Our visit in March was a great time to visit if you want to witness a few festivals. Just keep in mind that one of the ceremonial days is Nyepi (day of silence), when the Hindu's have to stay at home. There is no trading or transportation. No electricity or fires and no entertainment of any kind. Tourists have to stay in their hotels, windows are blacked out with paper and silence is requested. Julie was very good she didn't say a word for the whole of course I couldn't keep quite!
Our home for a couple of weeks was in the resort of Tuban, just on the edge of the main resort of Kuta which was the first resort set up in the 70's. The beach here runs around Kuta bay and extends for miles. Surprisingly Bali doesn't have the best beaches in the world, but they are nice to walk along and at least there is a nice breeze when you're near the waters edge. The sea is bath warm however the waves are so strong you have to be very careful of the current when swimming. These huge waves are the very reason the Aussie surfers come to these parts. I guess the rest of Australia comes here due to its close proximity being just a few hours flight and the fact that the cost of living means your holiday money goes a lot further than in western countries. Of special mention is the bakery, Bread Talk. This is located in the Discovery shopping mall, they make delicious bread and cakes, Julie can speak from experience! And says the bread and butter pudding is the best she has ever eaten. Our hotel the Green Garden was exceptionally good value, just 18 a night. The hotel rooms were spotless, with air conditioning and flat screen TV's as standard, and the price even included breakfast! There was a lovely pool surrounded by exotic foliage, airport transfers were free, plus 2 hours per person complimentary massage at their near by spa resort, beat that!
There are various ways to discover Bali but the best way by far is hire a car and driver, at just 21 (350,000 rupees) a day it's excellent value. Our driver, Made (pronounced maa - dee) was recommended to us by a fellow traveller. He was not only a great guy but was a good guide too. If you are planning a trip to Bali keep Made's details safe, or 081 835 4088.
Away from the beach resorts Bali takes on a very tropical air, there are no main roads just small lanes criss-cross the island. The good news for Brits and Aussie's is that they drive on the left! Not that I would recommend you drive yourself, apparently the traffic police stop westerners and impose on the spot fines at regular intervals. Vibrant green rice paddies spread as far as the eye can see, often planted on steep terraces, all with a network of water canals flowing in all directions. Tall palm trees laden with coconuts dominate the landscape. Every so often we would drive through villages, where nearly all homes have their own family temple, these are decorated in colourful offerings to the gods, and statues are cloaked in checked black and white cloths, which represent good (white) and bad (black).
We travelled to the northeast of the island, to the active volcano, Mt Batur. Often shrouded in cloud, it is advisable to visit in the morning. We were lucky enough to visit on a clear day and the view stunning, with Lake Batur a shimmering crater lake at the volcano's base. Although still active, there have been no eruptions since the 90's. For the more active! I'm told the 3 hour hike to the top of the volcano to witness sunrise makes for an amazing experience, be ready to leave your hotel at 2am though! For the less active a downhill bike ride makes for a thrilling experience too. Near by you can find the Agri-tourism centre, here they have examples of Bali's coffee and cocoa plants as well as vanilla and other spices. The speciality is Luwak coffee; this little cat/mongoose like creature is fed just coffee beans. Its digestive system processes just the outer coating of the bean. The rest is passed out and the bean poo is then ground down and made into very expensive coffee, we understand it's very tasty, well I'm not much of a coffee drinker myself!  
Ubud, in the centre of the island was once a small village. Located in the hilly region of Gianyar, these days it has grown into a very large village and is marketed as Bali's artistic and cultural centre. There are hundreds of craft shops selling local and imported handicrafts as well as some nice restaurants too. The market is excellent and is worthy of an hour or so, if you're into shopping! It is here in Ubud that the once powerful Balinese Royal Family reside. You are able to take a tour around the palace, with the exception of the royal families private quarters. Ubud has an interesting Monkey forest but we were a bit monkey-ed out! So we gave that a miss. There are many spa hotels in and around Ubud and it certainly worth spending a couple of days away from the beach to enjoy this tropical hillside retreat.  
There are literally thousands of temples around Bali; some bigger than others, the one with probably the best setting is the temple at Tanahlot. Sitting on a rocky outcrop just off the west coast, this makes the perfect setting for watching the famous Balinese sunset. With waves crashing in on the rock below, plus a rock bridge just along the coast it is a photographers dream. Not such a dream is the multitude of market stalls which have sprung up along the route from the parking lot to the temple, unless of course you are into shopping, and as you know by now I am not!
In all we had a great stay and Bali makes for a great stopover if visiting Asia or if on route to Australia.     
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After reading your travelogue
Hello I am James! I'm from Taiwan and I would like to thank you for your sharing. You know, I have also been to Bali before and that was an amazing experience! I mean the beach, the mountains, the food there are just so different to Taiwan's, and all of them are great! And I hope you can keep sharing your trip with us! Thanks!

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