Penang and Bali are two islands mentioned in Yahoo Travel as the top ten islands to visit before you die. I have read so much about Bali. I had been to several islands in Thailand like Koh Lipe, Koh Lanta, Koh Samui, Phi Phi and more. I had read and heard so much about Bali.
So, in my imagination, Bali has to be a class above those islands in Thailand. Maybe it is my own fault for weaving such magical feel about the island that I was expecting paradise on earth. That’s why I insisted to fly to Bali though my hubby was suggesting Vietnam.
I booked tickets through AirAsia and it wasn’t that cheap either as the ticket per person is about RM700 plus as I booked about a week ahead only. It is low season in Bali so the hotels were rather cheap. I booked the hotels through Agoda because AirAsia is actually rather expensive.
We landed in Bali and immediately, the grumpy and stuck up immigration gave me a bad impression of the island. There were no clear signs or personnels to direct us. So, most of us from the flight were actually queuing at the counter where the foreigners were applying for longer stay visa.
Then, the stuffy immigration officer insisted my 8 years old son to approach the counter ‘one by one’. My poor kid is too short to show his face so he had to leap and jump. I wasn’t allowed to go beyond the yellow line to accompany him. Like doh…what can a mom and a child do at that immigration counter?
The airport is at Ngurah Rai and it is just minutes away from Kuta where my hotel is. Taxi fares are cheap in Bali. Take only the dark blue or light blue taxis, coupons which you can buy from the airport counter. They use the meter so you do not have to worry of being fleeced. That night, we also took a taxi around Kuta and beyond and it doesn’t cost us much either.
RENT A DRIVER AND CAR
Do not attempt to drive in Kuta or anywhere in Bali. The roads are horrible with narrow roads, bad roadsigns, nightmare motorbikes and even kids barely 10 years old riding bikes without helmets with pillion riders, huge potholes and bad, bad, chaotic jam. Then, there seems to be no traffic law when you get to a junction because everyone is rushing to cross to the other side. Motorbikers are fearless and will not slow down for your car.
Bali traffic is so different from Thailand. We had driven in Thailand up to Phuket and we never encounter such nailbiting rides before. So, the safest is to hire a driver who will drive you around in 7-seaters SUV. We hired one for only Rupiah450,000 or about RM170 only. He drove us around, take us wherever we want for 12 hours. Petrol and parking on him. However, we paid for his meals.
BALI MAIN ATTRACTIONS
Without doubt, the temples are the main attractions. The temples are beautiful but frankly, there is only so much you can see. The altars where the Balinese Hindus pray are out of bound from tourists. After the first day, I have enough of black, hairy roof pagodas.
The scene in Bali is totally unique. There are family temples build from bricks and these are like little forbidden cities. So, these clusters of houses and one temple are all over Bali.
When you talk about Bali, you think of white sandy beaches. Yes, the beaches are kilometres long, as far as the eyes can see. However, the beaches along Kuta is not for swimming as the waves are very high. I do not know about Nusa Dua as we didn’t go there since I read that it is for the rich mat sallehs (Europeans, Australians, Americans) so I suppose we couldn’t afford it.
Spices sold at Bedegul. Vanilla beans are cheap.
Bali is actually not very big but travelling time is long because of the bad roads and the horrific jam. We headed for Ubud where the paddy fields are. Before that, we visited the Bedegul area where it is much more cooling and there are a couple of nice lakes and temples.
There is another lake where the volcano is but my children protested about another day of travelling. They do not fancy a 12-hour tour of lakes, car, temples and more cars. So, we stay put in Ubud for two days.
Our driver and even one taxi driver warned us about eating at the small stalls. Our driver, Henry said he watched on TV about ‘bad meats used by these roadside stalls’. So, we were fearful of eating any warong meals. In a way, it sort of robbed off our adventure of travelling as we dare not sample local foods too much.
The staple meals in Bali is chicken dishes served with sambal, vege and tempe. They have ayam bertutu, ayam taliwang and etc which is like ayam penyet sold here. They are delicious. So are the sate kambeng and nasi padang.
Talking about nasi padang, we were probably fleeced because we went to this Nasi Padang place where they brought out so many cold dishes. We had them returned and picked only what we want. The stall owner said, ‘Tak apa, makan dulu, kalau tak habis, tak kira’. Hmmm…I wonder how clean is their foods then?
There are other good foods but they are a bit over-rated in my opinion. It is not cheap either as each meals cost us about RM120 and above. And we are talking about regular pork and duck only, not some fancy seafoods.
WHAT I DON’T LIKE ABOUT BALI
Dogs. They have some banner about preventing rabies and they had probably shot many dogs dead. However, there are still dogs around. One night, as I was walking back to my hotel alone, I was freaked out by the number of dogs hanging around.
Monkeys. I was told that in Uluwatu which is at another part of Bali, they have a place with huge, fierce and fearsome monkeys. I didn’t want to go. I myself am afraid of being attack by them, how to protect my kids? My friend who went there before told me their tour guide told them one cannot even wear spectacles or the monkeys will snatch that away.
Then, there is the monkey forest. I didn’t go in as well though it was within walking distance from my hotel. My hubby told me the monkeys are sacred so they are probably tame. I told my hubby maybe the monkeys know I am not a Hindu so they will attack me. LOL.
And this is one thing I like about Bali
The 3-legged Rhino drink in orange flavour. The Balinese call it the Jeruk flavour. I drank a few cans and my piss smells funny. Really funny. Like chemicals smell. I wonder what they put in there? Hmm…
In summary, if you are a Muslim, I will have to caution you about haram-halal foods because you just never know what is what. I dare not buy any food stuffs back for my colleagues because you never know what is what. I came back from Bali empty handed, with only 3 bars of Balinese natural soaps. This is like the most economical trip because I am always crazy for souvenirs and local handicrafts.