Now’s the time for the traditional end-of-trip article in which I tell you what was good and what was bad. I also give a shout-out to those who have helped make this trip a valuable learning experience, lent a hand along the way, or simply made it fun.
The Balinese people – it’s peaceful and friendly. The people are in no rush and they normally provide a “hello” and a smile as you pass. Oh, and they smell good too.
Speaking of smell, the scent of the air here is filled with sweet, smelling incense and beautiful flowers everywhere. Perhaps that’s what keeps the people so calm and peaceful. Regardless, some days it makes you want to get up and sing, Oh what a beautiful morning.
The nature – There are mountains, rivers, waterfalls, volcanoes, beaches and jungles with monkeys. What more could this outdoorsy girl want?
The temples – you can’t swing a cat by the tail (calm down, it’s just an expression) without hitting a temple. Some temples are huge, like Besakih Temple, which we visited in Rice Paddies and Coffee Poo, some created a huge impression on me, like Tirtah Empul, which we visited in Uneasy Rider, and some are tiny little things at the hotels and bungalows, and even at people’s houses. And there seems to be some sort of temple festival somewhere every week-or-so.
The coffee – While you can get a Long, Black Coffee (American) in many places, the Balinese coffee is a good, strong cup. And while I could do without the sludge on the bottom of the cup – it’s made with the grounds in the water, no filter – for those of us who like their coffee like their men (strong and sweet), Balinese coffee will make you happy. But there’s still no need for Coffee Poo.
The Intercontinental Hotel – this is where I stayed for the first two nights in Bali. It’s way above my budget (remember, I sold everything to do this and write a book) but, as my friend was staying there, I got to experience the beautiful beach, amazing pools, delicious food, great service and everything else it had to offer. If you have the money, go there for a few days. But don’t spend your whole trip there as you won’t want to leave the resort and you won’t experience the real Bali.
The prices – Yes, Bali is cheap. Where I thought India would be cheap and it turned out it wasn’t as I’m a westerner and therefore prices were generally double what they would be for a local, this was not the case in Bali. Sure, there were always negotiations for prices (don’t pay the advertised price or first quoted one for a hotel, souvenirs, or a tour, but you’ll generally pay a fair price. And yes, an Indonesian will get it cheaper, but you usually won’t pay twice as much.
The hotel and bungalow properties – The rooms are not cookie-cutter Motel 6 type rooms just because they’re under $30. They usually have local charm (and ants and maybe some lizards as it’s a tropical island). And these properties normally include a pretty nice swimming pool to hang out in.
The women – let’s just say it; they’re beautiful. But besides that, they own most of the businesses in Ubud. So while there may be shy giggles going on, many of these women are Donna Trumps in the making. And they’re strong; much of the construction work is done by women. And those Sherpas who carried the deflated rafts up the hill in Rock the Boat were women. Yes, I want these women on my side in a street fight.
Pollution – Pollution is the number one problem affecting Bali right now. Bali is known as a tropical paradise yet, you must be careful which beaches you go to if you want a swim. The beach at the Intercontinental, and its neighbor The Four Seasons is lovely, but stray fifteen or twenty-minutes away and you dare not dip your toe in the water. I spoke with one couple who stayed at a beach resort yet couldn’t go in the water due to the pollution. The black-sand beaches up north are clean, as are most beaches in Sanur and Nusa Dua. And the islands of Lombuck are beautiful. This is something Bali must deal with now or, in ten years, my prediction will be that Bali’s tourism industry will be nonexistent.
The service – I don’t mean all the service, but the service in many bungalows, hotels and restaurants. Most bad service is due to a lack of training and/or understanding of what “good service” means. As someone who worked in tourism and hospitality for most of life, I can tell you that the least expensive thing to fix in a hotel is the service. Inexpensive accommodations don’t need to be synonymous with bad service.
The wine – It’s expensive here. Well, compared to the food. If you order a glass of non-local wine (because you should), it will most likely cost more than your food. Still, as your food will probably only cost $6, you can splurge and order that glass if you want. But a bottle of Ernest and Julio will set you back about $25.
Thanks to my guide, Dewa, who showed me some of the most beautiful and interesting parts of this great island. And also showed his bravery by overcoming his fear of water which helped me get past my fear of steep hills on motor vehicles. (See, I See Dead People.)
Gina – I truly appreciate you letting me crash at the Intercontinental and sharing a couple of nights in Ubud. It was great to see a familiar face.
Jodi – Another new friend who I find peace and understanding in. You’re on your own journey and so brave for accepting what is, and starting anew.
The Laughing Buddha – Thanks for many nights of great music. If there are any record producers out there looking for new, amazing bands, come visit this place in Ubud. Oh hell, everyone should come visit this place. You won’t be disappointed.
The Green Leaf and Lemonade restaurants – Excellent food and the staff is so friendly. Thanks for making me feel like a regular. . . Where everybody knows your name. . .
You, my Virtual Travel Buddies – As always, thanks for voting and taking this journey with me. I hope you learned a little and were entertained as well. Please feel free to click the contact link or comment if you have any question I might be able to answer, or simply wish to say hi. And don’t forget to vote for the next location.
I’ll be heading to an undisclosed location (Gili Air and Sanur) for the next week where Wifi can be a challenge. Still, I might get in a Facebook, Twitter or Instagram post in about the place while waiting for the next vote to come in, so I hope you’ll follow.
The Budget – 20 days
Transportation (including R/T air from Kuala Lumpur) and motorbike rental – $191 Accommodation (2 free nights at the Intercontinental not included) – 472 Food – $310 Activities-$91 Visa on Arrival – $35
Grand Total – $1,099