Trip Start Apr 15, 2008
60Trip End Apr 01, 2010
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Where I stayed
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
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
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.
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, email@example.com 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
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.