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Just back from Bali and a little lovesick

California
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Just back from Bali and a little lovesick

We just came back from Bali about 2 weeks ago. All I can say is, why did we wait so long to go? Everything I had imagined Bali to be came true for me, and there were others I hadn't even expected. I've been missing Bali since we came back, especially Ubud...the smiling people, the Ubud restaurants, the rich and verdant tapestry of rice terraces, the spiritual culture, the beauty and serenity of waking up in the morning and looking out at the rice paddies from our balconies. We're already talking about returning soon.

In spite of the ever-present humidity and heat (even in Ubud), the mosquitoes (they loved me, my husband never got bitten, he said just drink a lot of Bintang), getting tricked exchanging money in Sanur (we got our money back in the end but the experience shook us up a little bit), our mishaps and discomfort were so minor compared to the awesome time we had in Bali.

We spent 16 days in Bali, 9 in Ubud and 7 in Sanur. Before our trip, a few of our friends who had been there before said that 16 days were too much, but it wasn't enough for us. We got to do a lot of relaxing which is something we always try to do but don't always get to do on our vacation.

Ubud:

We stayed at Tegal Sari and Green Field Bungalows. In hindsight, I'm happy to have stayed at Green Field. I had booked Tegal 4-5 months earlier but because of their popularity, I couldn't get all our nights there. Ended up liking them both, Tegal is rustic (we stayed in the super deluxe wooden room), and Green Field is more ornate, but both have wonderful views of the rice paddies. Green Field was a little rough around the edges, but their staff was so sweet and accommodating. Their egg Jaffle (kind of like a Egg McMuffin but much better tasting and not greasy), and banana pancake for breakfast was the best we had in Bali. Reminded us of the banana roti in Chiang Mai. We'll definitely stay at both hotels next time.

Ubud had many great restaurants. We used tips from Lonely Planet, not all were good, but here are our favorites:

- Casa Luna, great international food. We ate there 3 times.

- Warung Mina, Jl Gunung Sari 2, great Ikan Bakar (grilled fish) and grilled prawns

- Warung Taman, Jl Sri Wedari no 3, best seafood Nasi Goreng or fried rice, medium spicy was pretty spicy for me, and fresh stir fried veggies. We even tried frog leggs fried in butter but it was ok.

- Lotus restaurant, good food, great lotus pond.

- Cafe Mocha, the best cafe latte with sample-sized pastries. We were there every night before going back to our hotel.

Laundry service - very cheap and super clean. It's called Super Laundry Service. Coming out of Tegal Sari, turn left, walk a few steps, laundry near circle K. Circle K is also good to pick up cheap water, drinks, snacks.

We saw the Legong dance, would recommend it. We bought $8 tickets from the ticket sellers on the street. Make sure to see it at Ubud palace.

Shopping - lots of arts and crafts in Ubud. I'd recommend buying what you need here. We didn't go to Kuta or shop in other areas but Sanur beach stores didn't really have much.

Touts - many on the streets. Men asking "transport, transport?", women and children selling tickets to shows. I thought I would be annoyed from being asked too often, but I wasn't. They were just people trying to earn a little money to feed their families. I found that politely saying "no thank you" or just shaking my head and smiling, I got a smile back almost every single time, even if they were disappointed that I said no...that's the spirit of the Balinese people.

Dogs - lots of mangy, sad-looking dogs on the streets of Ubud. It will be heart-breaking for those who love dogs. It was difficult to see even for a non pet-owner like me.

Sanur:

Very relaxing, our favorite activity was to rent bicycles on the street (cheaper than on the beach) and rode along the beach every day, or rode to restaurants, and markets. We didn't go into Kuta, did try seafood dinner at Jimbaran Bay one night. Lobster was just ok, cost 2-3 times more than California. But the ambience was worth it, sitting on the sand having seafood dinner with our favorite drinks, listering to the waves, having the musicians play our favorite tunes...can't be beat, you have to try it once! Make sure you give yourself enough time to get there, traffic was horrendous for us, it took about 45 mn from Sanur so we kind of missed the sunset.

Favorite restaurants:

- Kayu Manis/Jl. Tankadan no. 6, excellent fusion food, good bread with cream cheese & peppercorn spread. Opens at 6:00 pm

We ate mostly around our little hotel, Sari Sanur, at the following beach front restaurants:

- Bennos restaurant -- great grilled fish or seafood kebabs

- Bonsai cafe -- good grilled tuna fillet, french fries, good cold juices like avocado and orange/pineapple (I had 2-3 juices a day in Bali!), satay plate is good, comes on wooden tray, very cheap and popular there. Only place on that stretch of the beach with free Wi-Fi if you eat or drink there.

- Mango Cafe

Reputable money changer with security guard in front -- Pt. Bali Maspintjinra (on main street which is Danau Tamblingan no. 18). Try to have crisp bills if you can, and uncreased. We had a creased $100 bill and got $50 exchange rate for it. They have 3 rates for US$, $100, $50 and $25.

I'm glad to have shared our experiences of Bali. I think you'd have to be there to fully experience it for yourself. If you do, I hope you'll come away from Bali with a different view on life. I came back to southern California not only rested, but a little kinder and a little more patient.

Sydney
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1. Re: Just back from Bali and a little lovesick

Welcome back and welcome to the club. There are so many of us who fall in love with Bali in a way that doesn't happen with any other destination in the world. We all suffer the "post bali blues" when we get home.

I have recently returned from my 35th trip over a 30 year period and during this time I have seen many other places in the world, but Bali keeps pulling me back. So much so that now I feel I just fill in time in between Bali trips.

It was great to read your report, and I totally understand how you feel. You'll be back!

Sydney
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2. Re: Just back from Bali and a little lovesick

PS: Meant to say that we also hang out on TripAdvisor just to read reports like yours! Makes us remember that feeling.

Byron Bay, Australia
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for Bali, Legian
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3. Re: Just back from Bali and a little lovesick

Thanks for sharing your trip with us. Sounds like we have another Bali convert on our hands.Your time in Ubud sounded fantastic. It's my most favourite place on the island and has a lot to offer the traveller. Glad you liked the food everywhere too, Bali has some fantastic restuarants and I have eaten some of the best meals of my life there. It's nice to know that a bit of Bali rubbed off on you.

Yes we could all learn a lesson or two from the Balinese with their endless patience and smiling faces often in the face of much adversity.

Brisbane, Australia
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4. Re: Just back from Bali and a little lovesick

Thank you so much for your words. I'm feeling homesick again and had only just gotten over the bali blues from returning last month.

You describe your feelings beautifully and I have to agree. When people ask me why I love Bali, I often say "Because it makes me a nicer person". I think you know what I mean.

Leeds, UK
Destination Expert
for Bali
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5. Re: Just back from Bali and a little lovesick

Thanks so much for posting your report; you stayed in 2 of my favourite places, Ubud and Sanur and it was really nice to read about these places and I can picture you sitting in a lot of those great restaurants (covered in mosquito bites).

There are some good tips in here, such as just smiling and saying "no thank you" if you don't want anything rather than getting angry, and your experience at Jimbaran and with the money changers, and you're right that you have to accept the rough with the smooth. But, it's nice to see that you're happy to return despite the slight negatives, which you just get used to.

You've hit the nail on the head by mentioning the people, and it's their kindness, humour and patience that rubs off on you.

Your hubby is right about the Bintang and the mossies; even if you get bitten you'll be so drunk you won't mind.

Asia
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6. Re: Just back from Bali and a little lovesick

Thanks for a nice read. I especially like your last paragraph! :-D

north east
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7. Re: Just back from Bali and a little lovesick

what a great informative review of your holiday , thanks for taking the time

Australia
Destination Expert
for Bali, Nusa Dua, Sanur, Tuban, Ubud
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8. Re: Just back from Bali and a little lovesick

thanks for the report. ubud and sanur are two favourite places for our family. there are so many good restaurants in bali and those fruit juices are just what you need on a hot day. Did you do any day trips?

California
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9. Re: Just back from Bali and a little lovesick

Thank you for reading and enjoying my report. We're finally over the jet lag...it hit us pretty hard the first 3-4 days. In spite of the 20+hrs it takes us to get from Cali to Bali, we're ready to do it again soon! We'd love to go in December but don't know if we can ask for the time off. In the U.S., taking a 3-week vacation like we just did is considered very luxurious. Most people take 1 to 2 weeks off for vacation. When we were in Bali, I used to get so envious when someone said he/she was from Australia...so close to Bali and all my favorite Asian countries!! I'd go to Bali, Thailand a couple of times a year if we live only a few hours away. :)

Yes, we did do 2-3 days of tours. I had researched and found what we thought was a guide/driver on the internet for $40/day. He picked us up at the airport, drove us to a few hotels (Tamukami included which I really liked but they were full) on our first day in Bali since I hadn't made reservations. Turned out he was just a driver and after 1 1/2 days going with him to Tanah Lot, Uluwatu, Kuta for 2 hrs, some sightseeing, we cancelled the other day. We didn't learn anything from him and he made me a little nervous, always following us everywhere, even when we exchanged money, plus he was kind of a nervous young man. In Ubud, we used Tegal services for 1 1/2 days. Their rate was $6/hr, very professional staff. We used them twice, half-day going to Tegallalang rice terraces (one of our trip highlights) -- it took our breath away when we first saw it. We did another almost full-day going to east Bali. I regretted that we didn't start out early enough that day so we didn't get to visit the water temple (I can't remember the Balinese name) and didn't get to spend much time in Candidasa. We had purchased tickets for the Legong dance at 7:15 pm so had to rush back to clean up, get a quick bite, then went to the show. We enjoyed the show very much. There were a couple of women who were selling mosquite spray (I guess you just pay so much a spray), and drinks but no one purchased the spray and only a couple of people bought drinks.

In Sanur, we found a very sweet driver outside our hotel and had him take us to Jimbaran, to and from Ubud, then to the airport on our last day. We always gave him a little extra on top of what he asked for. I'm sure we could have bargained down the price since he was just a driver but we didn't feel comfortable.

When we travel, mostly Asia and southeast Asia the last 7-8 years, we tend to prefer smaller, charming hotels with lush gardens over very big hotels. We were going to stay at the Hyatt in Sanur since our agent could get us rooms for around $120/night. As we rode around on our bicycles, we did get to the hotel and though it looked huge and green, we were glad we didn't stay there, it was just too large and impersonal for us. Though we did miss the huge breakfast buffets that come with big hotels. :)

I've been researching for our next trip and have come down to 3 possible choices:

- Japan/Bali (we'll probably do a tour for Japan). Japan is still kind of cold in April/May so may be we won't go there.

- Philippines/Bali (I don't know anything about the Phil)

- Thailand/Bali (we've been to Phuket, Samui, Chiang Mai so we'll check out other islands)

I'll use these forums to do my research but would like to know how to easily find the destination experts in each forum. I found Noodles, Whinnie...just by reading a lot of threads.

Brisbane, Australia
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10. Re: Just back from Bali and a little lovesick

It's now a lot easier to find the DE's for each forum. TA have added a box at the top of the forum which usually has 2 DEs listed with an option to see all of them for that destination.