We flew from Perth, Western Australia to Bali on Friday 9 July, 2010.
We went with budget airline Air Asia who were upgrading their computer systems on this day so we were told to check-in 3 hours before the flight. There was not a very long line at the airport so we did not take long to check in and clear immigration. The flight was delayed an hour due to the late arrival of the incoming flight, so this meant 4 hours at the airport before we left. It was a smooth and uneventful 3 and a half hour flight to Denpasar.
Hubby queued up in the immigration line while I joined the VOA line. The VOA line moved quickly and I only waited about 5 mins. Immigration was a different story where we waited for just over an hour. They seem to take so long to process people through immigration, God help travellers when they reintroduce the photo and fingerprinting procedure. Lets hope they have a Time Management Course before then. Our pre-booked Trip Advisor driver Dean was waiting for us and we left the airport at 6.30pm. It had been a long journey arriving at Perth Airport at 10.30am and departing Denpasar at 6.30pm – 7 hours for a flight that takes 3.5 hours. We drove off to Ubud, stopping at a supermarket in Ubud to gather supplies before being delivered to our accommodation in torential rain and darkness.
We had booked into Villa Sarna which is a small resort of only 7 villas in the village of Tegalalang which is about 20 mins North of Ubud. Our villa room, the Saraswati room, was huge 65 sqm (700 sq. ft), well appointed, king size bed, marble bathroom, walk in wardrobe, wireless internet with welcome drinks, fresh fruit and cold towels waiting for us.
Saturday 10 July
Our bed was very comfortable and we had a great nights sleep. We opened our curtains to find beautiful gardens and a view over the valley below. There was also a large water feature beside our side window.
We went to the restaurant for breakfast, which is included, and had a choice of eggs cooked any way you liked, omelettes, chicken sausage, cereal, yoghurt, toast, French toast, pancakes, waffles, Nasi Goreng, juices, tea, coffee and milk. They also bought us some fresh sliced fruit. The restaurant looks over the valley and only sits about 12 people but there are only 7 villas there.
We then went exploring the beautiful gardens which contain many levels and lots of stairs. There were staff everywhere quietly going about their duties and quietly wishing us a Good Morning.
We caught the free Villa Shuttle car into Ubud at 1.00pm and spent from then until 5.30 wandering around the streets of Ubud and exploring the markets. We stopped at a modern new café for lunch on Monkey Forrest Road where I had Beef Satay with rice and hubby had Teriyaki Chicken both were really tasty. I had a mixed fresh fruit juice then a diet coke and hubby had a Bintang beer. Total cost about 140,000 rupees A$18.
We caught the Villa Shuttle back from Ubud at 5.30pm and the driver took us through the back streets of Ubud and the countryside. We passed the locals walking to a Temple Ceremony and the women were dressed beautifully.
We went to Kampung Café, just down the road from Villa Sarna for dinner. We called for the free pick up service not wanting to walk up and down the very steep road Villa Sarna has an agreement with this café to supply meals and room service to their guests but we felt it would be easier to eat there. I had a mixed fresh fruit juice, Mie Goreng (a noodle dish with vegetables which was gorgeous) and then Tiramisu. Hubby had a Bintang beer, Nasi Goreng with prawns and Mahi-mahi (a fish) which he said was also very good and then he finished with a scoop of coconut ice-cream and a scoop of mint chocolate chip ice-cream. Total cost including a 3,000 tip was 214,600 about A$28.
We returned to the villa at about 9.00pm and were greeted by fogs jumping across the paths.
Sunday 11 July
Today we booked another Trip Advisor driver for a day tour into the mountains and through to Sidemen which is east of Ubud.
He took us through the back streets into little villages where we saw the locals going about their daily routine, mostly women doing hard labour with men watching!!!!! Women were carry heavy items up steep hills while the men were driving heavily loaded trucks up the hills. We did wonder why they don’t put all the heavy things on the trucks instead of the women having to carry them. Women were also working in the rice fields and shovelling mountains of dirt. We passed locals on their way to wedding, cremation or temple ceremonies dressed in their traditional costumes. Our driver told us that when someone gets married their house entry is decorated with streamers and flags. The scenery was fantastic along these local roads past many rice terraces.
We went to Surya Shanti Villas in Sidemen for lunch where we stayed for about 1 ½ hours. This is a resort built on the side of the mountain looking out over the valley and was only opened in January. We were the only people in the restaurant when we arrived for lunch at 1.20pm. I ordered fresh pineapple juice, eggplant salad with onion and tomato and vanilla ice-cream. Hubby ordered a banana smoothie, fried Tofu with onions and cashew nuts, an adventurous choice by him but he said it was really tasty and then he had a bottle of coke. Total price 225,000 A$29.50.
We also stopped and looked at a famous temple at Klungkung where hubby had to wear a sarong to enter because he was wearing shorts. This first time in his life where he has had to wear a dress/skirt !!!!!!!
We returned to Villa Sarna at 5.00pm and although our driver had quoted me $450,000 for the tour we gave him $500.000 A$65. He owns his own car and runs his own business so not a lot of money for 6 hours and to cover petrol and running costs.
Monday 12 July
Today I booked myself into Bali Botanica Day Spa where I had a herbal facial and a pedicure. These took 2 hours and only cost 320,000 rupees A$40. I caught the villa shuttle into Ubud and the Spa sent a driver to pick me up and deliver me to the day spa. When I had finished they organized another driver to take me back to Ubud. The Spa is down a laneway off the main street and you have to negotiate your way to the front door which is at the back of the building.
Later Hubby met me in Ubud and we had dinner at Café Wayan on Monkey Forrest Road. I was disappointed that I did not see Cafe Wayan in the daylight as the gardens looked lush. Hubby ordered an Indonesian type tasting plate and onion rings and I had lemon and ginger chicken. Hubby had a beer and I had a mixed fruit juice. Total cost 174,800 A$22.00.
We were surprised at how busy Ubud was at night, there were people everywhere.
Tuesday 13 July
Our driver picked us up at 11.00am and we left Villa Sarna in Ubud, we stopped along the way at the Horizon Glass Factory, run by Americans and not worth the stop. Then at Prapen Jewellery factory in Celuk. Their building was very modern and artistic. We watched women making silver jewellery shaping tiny pieces of silver and sticking them onto small balls the size of a pea. The silver jewellery was modern and looked good quality but not cheap. It was certainly worth the stop just to watch the jewellery making.
We then moved onto Sarawati Markets but this was a market with all the same type of shops, mostly clothing and paintings so we did not stay long and it was not really worth the stop for us.
We arrived at Santika Beach Resort at about 2.00pm. We paid our driver 300,000 rupees A$38.22 to drive us from Ubud to Tuban with the few stops on the way. We were shown to our Garden Bungalow which was a large bedroom, sitting area, large bathroom, separate toilet and an outside shower in an enclosed courtyard. We also had our own butler and afternoon tea provided daily. A bowl of fresh fruit was provided in the room and a fresh flower arrangement was in the bathroom.
We explored the hotel and walked out onto the beach where I was shocked to see that Tuban beach had disappeared. There was now a concrete path that ran between the hotel grounds and a limestone rock retaining wall. The wall was quite high and it would not be easy to climb over it down to the little bit of sand that was at the bottom.
We walked out onto the street and up towards Kuta stopping at the Green Garden Café for lunch where we both had Indonesian rice dishes and a softdrink. Cost 105,600 rupees A$13.42.
We walked up to Discovery Plaza Shopping Centre had a quick look around the shops. We felt like we were at any shopping centre at home with shop names that were very familiar to us. Seems like Australian commercialism has found Bali. We walked out through to the beach and along the beach path to Santika Hotel. We did not have dinner due to our late lunch but had our complimentary afternoon tea served to us by our butler Sudi. Afternoon tea was a choice of juices, tea and coffee served with a plate of fresh fruit and 2 different types of cake. Sudi also gave me our complimentary Internet Access card.
The Santika had advised on their website that they were renovating their beach front restaurant until November but noise would only be between 9.30am to 6.30pm. It looked like more of a total rebuild than a renovation and the noise continued until 10.15pm with earthmoving equipment and pile drivers. Read my hotel review for more information. We were not going to put up with this noise during the night and the site was heavily lit with floodlights so obviously they were going to be working after dark. A trip back to reception was in order for first thing the next morning.
Wednesday 14 July
I arrived at reception, complained about the noise going so late at night and requested that we be moved to be told "Sorry all our rooms are booked, we are full". Well they did not know me I was not going to pay all this extra money for a Bungalow that was very close to the construction that was going to go into the night. I asked for the Manager and then there was more computer searching and staff talking amoungst themselves. I was then offerred a Premier Room but that would not be available until the following day so I accepted that. I was thinking some poor customers of the Premier Room would be offerred a complimentary upgrade to a Bungalow when they arrive only to find out about the noise. Guess what that is exactly what happened as I read a review from another member, also from Perth, who posted that this had happened to them. I PM them and we found out that it was the date we moved so they got our room.
We went to the hotel buffet breakfast where there was a wide range of foods including juices, cereals, fresh fruit, eggs cooked anyway you wanted, omelettes, fresh fruit, waffles and various hot and cold asian dishes. Tea and coffee was also available. Breakfast was 7.00am to 10.30am.
The hotel had handed us information about the free South Kuta Shuttle Bus that ran up and down the street from Kuta Square to the Patra Resort near the airport. We decided to do a round trip sightseeing trip so jumped on the bus that was heading south towards the airport and when we got to the Patra Resort at 1.00pm the driver told us it was his lunchtime now so we had to get out, he thought we were staying there because we did not get off at the earlier stops. We got off and walked through the resort to the beach. We walked along the beach front path towards Kuta to the next property which was the Holiday Inn. We stopped in one of their cafes and shared a toasted sandwich, which had 3 slices of bread with filling in 2 sections. We had a soft drink each with the total cost being 128,000 rupees A$13.61.
We walked through the hotel and back to the street and caught the shuttle bus again and rode it all the way to Kuta Square.
When we arrived at Kuta Square the streets had been closed and then we saw the beginning of a huge Cremation Ceremony. First the women, dressed beautifully, were walking in a line carrying baskets on their heads. Then came the musicians playing all sorts of instruments. Then came the huge float type structure that contains the body. It was about 5 metres high by 6 metres long and highly decorated with photos of the loved ones on the back. Then came all the men dressed in their traditional costumes and then more musicians. They did 3 circles of the float around the statue in the middle of the road and then proceeded down the road heading to the beach. We were told later that this ceremony was for 2 very important people and the carrying of the bodies in circles is done to confuse the bad spirits. We were also told that in Bali when people die they often bury the bodies and when they are ready for the cremation they dig the bodies up, wash the bones in the sea and then cremate them.
We walked down to Kuta beach to watch the rest of the ceremony. There were hundreds of people there too and mountains of offerings (plates of food, flowers etc). There were cremation stands set up on the beach where the bodies were to be placed with the firewood underneath ready to go.
The procession arrived and the 2 bodies were removed from the float, in small white boxes, and each placed on a separate stand. The family gathered around the stands and the priest was obviously saying things and they were putting offerings on top of the boxes. The worse thing we saw were tourists hovering around the family, leaning over them taking photos. We stood well back from the family and friends. They finally lit the cremation piles and the family moved away and joined their friends with music playing and traditional dancing. We then left but understand that they also burn the float as well.
We walked up to Mataharis Department Store and purchased some shoes and shirts for hubby. Can’t get him to the shops at home so have to drag him there when on holidays. LOL. He then had to return to the hotel to recover from the shopping trip!!!!!
We wandered along the street towards Kuta looking for somewhere to have dinner and we stopped at the Bali Brasserie which was a part of the Bali Rani hotel opposite the Kartika Plaza Hotel. A small but modern restaurant with good service. Hubby had a huge pork spare rib and a beer and I had a mixture of satay sticks and a non alcoholic cocktail that was made with lemongrass, lime and ginger which was really refreshing. Cost 198,500 A$25.30.
Thursday 15 July
Today we walked around Kuta and up Jl Legian. I bought some fake Pandora charms, around 27,000 or A$3.40 each. We then did a left hand turn and walked along Jl Melasti towards the beach until a Cremation Ceremony came up behind us so we stood aside and watched the procession of people and music heading to the beach.
We walked down to the beach and headed north along the beach and walked into the grounds of the Padma Hotel. The hotel looked really nice and we may consider it next time we go to Bali. We stopped to watch some construction out the front of the hotel where there was a huge concrete shell of a building with men mixing concrete in little concrete mixers, no huge concrete trucks to be seen. We hailed a taxi and went back to the hotel.
We walked up to Discovery Plaza to find a place for dinner. We ended up at Baroque Café which is at the beach end of Discovery Plaza on the 1st floor. After asking if there was any chilli or hot spices in a noodle dish and being told no chilli or hot things I ordered that and hubby ordered a fish dish. Hubby decided to try a fresh coconut drink and I ordered a lemon squash. When the coconut drink arrived, in a coconut, he did not like it so I drank it and he had my lemon squash. When my noodles arrived I had one mouthful and it was really spicy hot and I could not eat it. Hubby did not want to make a fuss and just wanted me to order something else. I called the waitress over and told her that it had hot spices in it and I could not eat it and then ordered Prawn and Chicken Wontons thinking they should be pretty safe. When the Wontons arrived they had tiny pockets of meat within large Wonton pastry. A sauce that very much looked like chilli was included and when I asked the waitress was this chilli sauce I was told no tomato sauce. I told her it looked very much like chilli because I could see the seeds then a supervising waitress hurried over and said yes chilli sauce and swept it away returning with sweet and sour sauce. I would hate to have an allergy and eat in this café. They also offered Hookah smoking pipes and some customers were using these. They did not charge me for the hot noodle dish. Later that night I developed bad diarrhoea which slowed me down for the next few days. We were definitely not going back to this cafe.
Friday 16 July
I was still not feeling well today and did not feel confident about venturing out so we sat around our room for the morning just reading. In the afternoon we caught the shuttle bus up to Kuta Square to find Mayang Jewellers to have silver charms soldered onto my daughters charm bracelet. They agreed to do this and told us we could pick it up after 7.00pm that day.
We walked through Kuta Square and around to Kuta beach where they were building a new stone wall between the beach and the footpath. Construction was a number of teams working in different areas along the wall with pedestrians walking very closely past workers using angle grinders to cut the stone. Worksafe in Australia would have at least a 5 meter barrier around the work protecting pedestrians but not in Bali it is passer beware.
Kuta beach was very busy with people swimming, surfing and lounging on the beach. There were also a few mini bars set up along the beach operating from a trestle table and eskies.
We got a taxi back to the hotel for 6,000 rupees or A$0.76 cents.
At 4.30 we walked out of the hotel to the front road and got a taxi to Sanur for 80,000 rupees or A$10.19 which took about 20 minutes with the heavy traffic. We met relatives at their hotel Villa Shanti. They were also holidaying having arrived just a couple of days earlier. We sat in the bar at the beach front of their hotel with us girls having cocktails and the boys beers. The beach front at Sanur has not changed a lot since we stayed there about 20 years ago. There is now a path that runs along the beach between the hotels and the sand. We walked North up the path and cut through another hotel to the road behind and went to Made’s Restaurant for dinner. I ordered a rice type dish for dinner and hubby ordered chicken. We ordered a range of traditional Balinese desserts that we shared. They consisted of banana pancake, banana fritters and a black rice type pudding which was a bit like creamed rice. After dinner we walked South along the street and went into a very modern trendy cafe for coffee. I ordered Affogato with a shot of Baileys Liqueur and it was heaven. We left Sanur at about 10.00pm and got a taxi back to our hotel.
Saturday 17 July
We had another slow start to the day again with me being unwell. We did not leave the hotel until about 11.00am when we got a taxi up to Kuta Square 7.000 rupees A$0.89. We went to the jeweller and picked up the charm bracelet. They told me they could not solder the turtle charm on that she had bought in America because it was not silver but in the process of trying to solder it on they melted a quarter of the charm. They still charged me the full price even though I said "but you did not solder one on". Hubby was getting agitated with me so I just paid the full amount and left. This was not a cheap store, it is a large western style shop in Kuta Square. Cost to solder on 6 charms 150,000 rupees A$19.11, even though only 5 charms were soldered. I would expect a good jeweller would know the difference between silver and other metals. Not happy Jan.
We then got a taxi and asked the driver to take us to the main shopping area at Seminyak. We had not been to Seminyak before and were unfamiliar with where the main shopping area was. We drove up Jl Legian and then he diverted off taking us to Seminyak Square which was a small group of shops, mostly cafes, in the middle of nowhere. Cost 27.000 rupees A$3.44. We sat at a small cafe to order lunch. We had a toasted sandwich each, I had a softdrink and hubby ordered a smoothie. Cost 101,640 rupees A$13.00. We asked the waitress how we would get to the beach so we followed her directions and walked past the Oberoi Hotel, which is a 5 star exclusive resort and then onto the Legian Resort walking through the hotel to the beach. The beach was better up this end of the coast. We walked along the beach for a little while then found a street beside the Sofitel Hotel and headed up there towards Jl Legian past the Bali Breezers Resort. I thought this street was a little sleazy. We got a taxi and returned through heavy traffic to the hotel 40,000 A$5.10.
We went down to the pool for a swim then went back to the Bali Brassiere cafe for dinner. We had 2 good meals again and 2 drinks 130,000 A$16.56.
Walking back to the hotel we stopped in at a DVD store opposite Discovery Plaza where we purchased 13 DVD’s for 100,000 rupees A$12.74 or 98c each.
Sunday 18 July
Today we flew home to Perth, Australia and had to be at the airport by 8.00am so we had a quick breakfast and checked out. We hailed a taxi on the street and it only took us 10 mins to get to the airport with the light traffic. Cost 20,000 (with a 5,000 tip) A$2.55.
We arrived at the airport and put our cases through the security x-ray and walked straight through. I was concerned about a large glass lamp that we had packaged into hand luggage, thinking they may consider the glass could be broken and used as a weapon but we had no trouble. We arrived at the Air Asia check-in where there was not a very long line but they took forever to process people through. After we got through we headed for immigration and stood in another line to pay our Departure Tax of 150,000 each A$19.11. Then onto the immigration line that was fairly long but they too took forever to process people and I became concerned about missing our flight as we were in line with about 10 people in front of us and the flight was due to depart in 15 mins. I spoke to one of the immigration officers about my concerns but he told me that it would be OK. We made it through and went to the departure gate. Again we had to put our hand luggage through an x-ray machine and again no trouble. We stood in line to pass through the gate but also had to wait for our hand luggage to be physically searched by officers. They did not even want us to unwrap the large box with the lamp in it so how productive was this type of search? Our flight finally departed 45mins late.
The flight home was smooth and uneventful. We stopped in at the Duty Free shop and purchased some spirits, had a short wait to get through immigration and a short wait for customs. Our daughter was waiting for us in the arrivals hall and we were pleased to take a breath of clean fresh crisp (15 degrees Celsius) Perth air when we left the terminal.
•Bali has become a lot more busier than our previous trips
•The hawkers are not as bad except for the Timeshare sellers
•Taxis are very cheap
•The people or real Balinese are gentle, friendly and accommodating people
•The weather in July although hot and a bit humid was not as humid as our previous visits
•Sanur is a lot quieter than the West coast
•The beach at Tuban has deteriorated terribly
•Eating out is cheap
•Accommodation is not as cheap as it use to be
•Ubud is not a sleepy little town anymore, it is full of tourists
•The countryside is beautiful and a day trip out of the cities is a must
Wow you made it to the end of this long JBR.
Thanks again to all the members that helped me plan this trip and for providing all the information I needed to make it a good one.