Bali Highlights and Tips from a Recent Trip
Agency to book with: Escapes Unlimited!! We were delighted working with Jane at Escapes Unlimited (www.escapesltd.com). She gave us choices for accommodations, answered numerous questions and gave us much good information. She made all arrangements for our flights, stopovers, accommodations and some guide services.
Airline: Singapore Airlines is great! From the warm, moist towels given to each passenger on arrival, to the free beverages (including wine), to the menu choices, to the excellent service, to the myriad movie and other video and audio entertainment choices, to punctuality, everything was splendid! On the long flight home, we had requested exit seats and were fortunate to get the exit row that only allows two of the three seat sections to be booked, so we had plenty of room and even slept well!
Accommodations: Griya Santrian in Sanur is lovely! The lush gardens surrounding the individual bungalows, the two swimming pools, the good restaurant, and, of course, the location right on the beach make this a great choice! Gamelon players at breakfast and live music of various varieties with dinner really added to the experience.
Puri Saraswati in Ubud is also lovely! It is located on the former gardens of the palace grounds, right next to the temple to Saraswati (goddess of wisdom). The location is right in the midst of things in Ubud, but because it is set back considerably from the street, we had real sense of security and escape, but a ready access to events at nearby temples and the palace. Only breakfast is served here, but excellent restaurants are abundant nearby. The style here, too, is bungalows, with individual porches, spacious rooms, most pleasant service.
Restaurants: In Sanur we only ate at our hotel, and our meals were very good, especially the seafood grill one evening, with candle lit tables set right on the sand.
In Ubud: Café Lotus right next to the hotel looks out over the extensive lotus pond that is in front of the temple to Saraswati. We particularly liked their samosa.
Miro’s Garden (up the street away from the Palace, a bit up and across from the Museum of Fine Art) is a very quiet place, up a flight of outside stairs to rooftop garden setting, with both open and enclosed tables, very nice presentation of food, good lassi and good chicken curry.
Lamak Bali on Monkey Forest Road has a very modern atmosphere, unique menu items, and we enjoyed excellent seared scallops among other things. They also provide a nice service of free rides to patrons back to their hotels.
Café Batan Warung, near the football field, is also partially open air, and there we enjoyed more chicken curry and steamed chicken wrapped in banana leaf teepees.
Dirty Duck II, which is further out than the one on Monkey Forest Road, is situated literally among the rice fields. We walked along pathways over the rice, past several dining pavilions before reaching the last one, where we were seated, surrounded by greenery! The food was very good, especially the tuna kabob.
Shops: Many, many, many! In Sanur, we enjoyed the first saroung and dress shop to the left from Griya Santrian on the wonderful brick walkway that runs along a major stretch of the beach. Also, in the Sanur Beach Market place that is off the walkway, look up Stall #39, where Studio Co-Operate painters Suana and Marco paint and sell their brilliantly colored paintings of Bali scenes (Note: bring som of the paper Marco wrapped our painting in to adhere to the painting when we unwrapped it.).
In Ubud, down the main street, adjacent to the Oka Kartini Puppet Stage is the Oka Kartini Gallery, where we found quality puppets, masks and other artwork, and a most informative puppeteer-in-training who assisted us. Also, Threads of Life, down the alley way between Puri Saraswati and the street before the Palace, features all kinds of woven hangings and other work by a women’s cooperative of weavers from throughout Indonesia.
Artists at work: Suana, mentioned above, is fun to watch, as he puts brilliant bits of color on the canvas and creates vivid scenes. Drive a short distance from Ubud to see I Ketut Darsana, puppet carver, at Br. Babakan, Sukawati (Telephone: (0361) 295012); he will demonstrate how he creates magnificent shadow puppets from treated hides, paints them and then demonstrates the various voices and tells the characteristics of major puppets and even will put on a brief shadow puppet show in the front room of his home! We were most impressed with the passion he has for his art! (And he sells his puppets at reasonable rates - approx.US$40.00 for the White Monkey puppet).
Guides: I Putu Artama was the guide provided for us by Escapes Unlimited to greet us at the airport, take us to and from our two hotels and provide one day of sight seeing. He was most informative and took us to see our first temple, to a wood carving family and a silversmith. His information helped us understand what we were seeing and to learn much about Bali culture. He and his driver also, with the help of a suggestion in Lonely Planet Guide to Bali and Lombak, found the above puppet maker.
Dewa Marco (firstname.lastname@example.org) is a guide we learned about on Frommer’s Travel Talk section on Bali. He was most informative, as he transported us in his air conditioned car to lots of good places! We communicated with him before our arrival, asking for his suggestions, making some choices, and then being delighted when he took us to additional, unexpected sights along the way each of our three days together.
Sights: Too numerous to mention! Check out Lonely Planet, talk with other travelers and your guides. Ubud abounds in traditional performances! Also, we want to mention the sunrises at Sanur. Everyone who travels to Bali raves about the sunsets, which are, no doubt lovely. We were never on the Western side of Bali, but we did get up at Sanur at 5:30 a.m. and saw a most beautiful sunrise!
General Tips: Pump action bug spray was helpful. A mini-flashlight is also helpful, somewhat on the uneven sidewalks in Ubud at night, but definitely to read the menu at several of the restaurants at night! A lightweight, hooded sweater really helps with the occasionally chilly air on the flights. Be sure to keep your credit card receipts, as in Bali the whole number is printed on the receipt, so fraud is easier if someone finds a receipt in the trash.
Peter and Katherine (email@example.com if you have some questions)