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Tales from my Bali trip 1995

 

Map of Bali

Wonderful Bali
I flew from Los Angeles by Garuda Airlines. We left around 11PM, and after several movies, and meals, I finally fell asleep.

Hints:

Take some ear plugs, and a sleep mask - both available at most large drug stores; also some sleeping pills; order all veggie meals on the plane; don't drink ANY alcohol; and DO drink plenty of water. This will ensure you have the least amount of Jet-Lag possible. Some of these travel tips and more can be found at a really nice Diana's Healthy Travel Hints Page!

 

Both of the above hints helped me have NO Jet-Lag when I arrived in Bali (which was around 8AM, the next morning). I took a cab from the airport to Legian, which is just up the beach from Kuta. I stayed at the Rum Jungle Cafe and Hotel in North Legian, which was only $20/night for a nice room with western style bath (no hot water); it had a pool and a nice cafe with good food. It also put me about 2 blocks from the beach and a little off the busiest streets. The Kuta area was a great starting point because it was so nice to get out of there. The place is TOO noisy, TOO expensive, and TOO crowded. My recommendation would be to stay at Kuta for 3 days max and stay VERY near the beach where it is cooler. I ate at most of the great spots: Poppies Restaurant in Kuta, of course; Cafe Krakatoa in Seminyak, great eggs Benedict and CNN; the Rum Jungle Cafe; and several other popular places, and did a lot of walking/shopping. 

Click here to use the really nice Bali Search Engine for places to stay on Bali
 

After 3 days I was eager to see the real Bali. I arranged transportation through the Rum Jungle Cafe staff, and for only about $7, I got taken to Ubud. The funny thing is that the 'transport' drops you off about a mile from Ubud, so you either walk in from there, or do as I did, and got a ride on a motorcycle for $2. I stayed at a great place in Ubud, Oka Watis Bungalows (Fax: 0361-975063). The room was spectacular, huge king canopy bed, huge tiled bath with huge tub, and my own private front porch overlooking the rice fields. Wayan was my house boy that brought breakfast every day and always asked my 'plan' for the day. He would get tickets to the nightly dances Balinese Carved Panelat the Ubud palace for me and recommend other places to go and things to see. He was wonderful. I felt very pampered. The room was $40/day; which included a wonderful breakfast, there was a nice pool for the hot afternoons, and a nice cafe. Ubud was a delight, a coupla' first class museums', palaces, much shopping opportunities, and the town was an island in a sea of rice fields. I spent, in total, about 12 days in Ubud, visiting the market, eating, walking, doing a lot of photography, relaxing by the pool in the afternoon, seeing the dances every night at the palace. (Ubud had it's own Gamelon orchestra and dance troupe, that put on a different dance every night of the week - the dances were GREAT).

Map of Ubud UBUD


  1. After about 7 days in Ubud, walking, etc., I decided to rent a motorcycle for the rest of my trip (my International Drivers License had the motorcycle stamp, because I've had several motorcycles over the years - thus I didn't have to be taken to Denpesar for the drivers test!! I practiced around Ubud a little then set out on some incredible rides through the country side. I kept to small side roads and could stop and do photography whenever I wanted, and didn't have to worry about a parking spot. Plus I found on some really small side roads and saw a part of Bali that hardly ANY visitor sees. I got to visit Mas, for much mask shopping, and, my favorite, was able to make several trips to Celuk, for silver shopping; the silver is really beautiful and very reasonably priced. After 4-5 days of this I had Oka Watis store most of my purchases for me and I set out for the north coast of Bali. I went up to Lake Batur, which was beautiful, and then down to Singaraja, then east to Tulamben, where I was going to spend about 5 days doing SCUBA and snorkeling. However, it had rained on the northcoast, and the place I stayed was a little overpriced; so I decided to go on to Tirtagangga. Tirtagangga is the most beautiful place I had been on Bali. It sits up high and is surrounded by beautiful rice terraces, plus the 'water palace'. With the motorcycle I returned to Ahmed and did some great snorkeling. I must have seen Billions of beautiful colored fish and corral reefs. Then I continued around the Northeast part of Bali, on a road I cannot recommend for cars, but was really fun on a motorcycle. I got to see many small fishing villages, many smiling faces, and spectacular ocean vistas.

    Notes on driving: in Bali everyone drives on the LEFT side. I had planned on renting a car for my trip to the northcoast, but, when I got to Bali, I realized that not only would I need to get used to driving on the left; but, sitting on the right side of the car; and, the gear shift would be on the left!! This seemed like TOO much to get used to. I had ridden motorcycles for years, so I decided I only had to concentrate on riding on the left. My mantra, as I drove along was "stay on the left, pay attention, stay on the left, pay attention,.....". This really worked for me. Plus having the bike allowed me the freedom to stop whenever and wherever I wanted, no parking problems! One last note, the Balinese SEEM to drive crazy! After spending my first week in Bali walking and watching I noticed that they are actually very good drivers. They use the concept of cooperation instead of competition. This means, that when you're on a 2 lane road and are being passed by a truck, which is being passed by a car, the same thing may be happening with the traffic coming the other way! What happens is that everyone slows down to let everyone get back into their lanes in time not to hit anyone. I NEVER saw any accidents while in Bali. Cooperation -- what a concept!

    FOOD: I've included a list of great eating places I tried (most were recommended by Carl Parkes). Some in particular is worth mentioning: Casa Luna, Mumbul's Cafe, Lotus Cafe, Ary's Warung, Cafe Wayan, and, of course, Oka Wati's Cafe, all in Ubud. The Casa Luna gives cooking lessons on Wednesdays; they are a fun way to meet people and learn many interesting things about the Balinese culture. The women who gave the lessons(Janet), who is from Australia, is the chef and a partner with her Balinese husband. The best part of the lessons, besides the recipes you'll bring back; was her great stories of the culture mix of her western style and her husband's very different Balinese style!!

    A great NEW Restaurant in Ubud - Apakabar

    This is a great new place that just opened in Ubud, on Dewi Sita Street; down, near the polo field. Run by a great chef, Salatore Puglia ("Sasa"), trained in Italy. The food was the best of the island produce, done in a European style.... just try it!



    Poppies in Kuta - Place is really nice. Pretty fountain to sit around under the trees. Very attentive and friendly staff. And, of course, the food was GREAT! I tried GadoGado here for the first time - loved it and just click to get the recipe.
    Casa Luna in Ubud - took a cooking class here from the owner, Janet. She had her staff do all the prep/cleanup work. We (8 of us from all over the world) did some mixing; but mostly, talked about were to obtain some of the ingredients; and great stories about the merging of Balinese and Australian families.
    Griya BBQ in Ubud - that's right BBQ in Bali! I had a juicy BBQ chicken and fries! The BBQ sauce was great (I don't think your favorite local BBQ spot need worry). The setting is just beautiful; overlooking a canyon and stream!
    Mumbul's Cafe in Ubud. Just one word: ICE CREAM! They make it fresh right there!
    Cafe Wayan in Ubud. One of the oldest restaurants in Ubud. Very friendly staff. Fab food (try the "to die for chocolate cake").
    Lotus Cafe in Ubud. Great place to eat after the dancing at the temple. Overlooks a lotus-filled pond and temple.

    PLACES TO STAY: I've also included a list of places I stayed while in Bali, with some notes (FYI, you'll notice I didn't stay in very many places, mainly because I don't like packing/ moving/ unpacking/ packing/ moving/ etc.) First some general notes:
    Hotels - usually expensive and on the edge of town. If you just won the lottery and can't wait to spend a BIG chunk of it, stay at the Amandari, on the outskirts of Ubud, you're own private pavilion, and priced between $300 to $900 (yes, American money!) I think Mick Jaegar stayed there. If golf is you're sport, you'll need to stay in the tourist hotels on the south part of the island.

    Motels - I don't think I actually saw any MOTELs.

    Homestays -- this is the way to go. Usually built out in the rice fields with western toilets, etc; includes a home cooked breakfast, and, an incredible staff that will go out of their way to help. Stay at a place that looks nice, or where you've been offered a deal, because it's new. Then look around for a nicer/cheaper place. In Ubud, I stayed at Oka Wati's Sunset Bungalow's - I stayed there the entire time I was in Ubud. There are less expensive places, though, just look around. I ALWAYS stayed at homestays, the prices ranged from $40/night at Oka Wati's, to $6 in Tirtagangga at the Homestay on the Hill. All included a wonderful breakfast to start the day!

    You can use this handy search for places to stay on Bali:
     


    SHOPPING: I'll mention some of my favorite shopping spots and mention a little about prices and bargaining: Prices - very cheap. Bargaining - ALWAYS do it; it's fun! Silver of great quality and selection was found in Celuk, go there on you're own, NOT with a tour bus. Walk up the side streets, everyone is very helpful and the prices are GREAT. I found I couldn't bargain much, only if I was buying a number of items. Mas is great for carved masks, and other wood items. Art, everyone on Bali is an artist! If you go to a temple, at least one local artist will display his work to you and try to get you to go back to his home/gallery. Look around in museums first, just to get an idea of what FINE art is; then go to small galleries where the prices are very low!


    SITES to see: here are some of the places I saw and appreciated Basakih, the mother temple; Klungklung; Bangli; Celuk. I took an all day bus tour of these places. I felt they were not in the area of Bali that I intended to visit, but had heard a great deal about. The bus tour was really worth it! We were given plenty of time to see the sites and shop (don't shop too much, they tend to NOT bargain when they see a bus). You can always make note of the places you like and then return, on you're own, to bargain away!


    Summary: This is the BEST place to go and relax, sightsee, museums, water sports, SCUBA, and the Balinese people really LOVE children. I saw many families there, having their kids watched by Balinese. EVERYONE was having fun!

    Special Thanks to Carl Parkes! He helped me a great deal to get focused on what I wanted to see and do. He's an excellent author of travel books on South East Asia for Moon Publications. Bruce says: check it out!

     

    Some links:
    Bali Facts


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