Let me just start by saying thank god Stuart has been to indo a few times and has a semi handle on the ins and outs of the unique culture/craziness that makes up Indonesia, but most especially Bali. Being a pregnant woman trying to navigate the sometimes insanely hectic island would have been a huge chore without someone as a guide, instead what a wonderful blessing it was.
Right off the plane you need to know to carry 25usd cash for the visa. Taking advantage of the airport competitive and convenient exchange rates is a good idea. If you instead decide to go to street vendors you can save a few bucks but be VERY aware of con artists. Slight-of-hand when exchanging money is common on the streets go to an actual exchange building and not an alleyway (duh). If the situation seems at all sketchy just take your money and leave. The people can be sneaky but almost never violent.
After getting your luggage you’ll get hounded by porters trying to help you. It’s not the free help it seems at first… of course everything has a cost, just say no thanks (repetitively!) and smile big.
At this point I would like to point out that your personal morals on generosity will come into question quite a bit in Bali, especially if your travelling on a budget but also have a tender heart. Take the porter for example, he will only charge a dollar or two to take ALL your luggage (surfboards ect). That couple bucks will benefit his and his family greatly. On the other had there are literally millions of people across Indonesia could really use that couple bucks. Only you can make the decision of whom to help.
You’ll find as soon as you exit the airport a crowd offering different set prices for private cars. And here is where the bargain experience begins.
We spent around 80.000rp (even less) in a nice car with a/c bla bla. Don’t pay more than 100.000rp to go to Kuta, and ask to go to Poppies area. Good Luck 😛
Tip: The easiest way not to get ripped off by taxis is taking the metered ones. They do not exist at the airport, but you can find them in the city. Also, your hotel can call one.
Kuta: “In and out.. QUICKLY”
First stop: tourist filled, crazy, party central, and cheap Kuta.
Our choice of wheels is going to be the infamous scooter. We named him “Rayo McQueen” (not much thought into it but it had to have a name, let your imagination flow…) You want to rent a 125cc motorbike for steep hills. We tried a 100cc and we had to literally push the scooter, remember I’m 5 month’s pregnant- everything is possible. Also ask for the registration because you’ll need it for the ferry if you choose to go Lombok or other islands. Finally, make sure the insurance is included and a surf rack. The price you’re looking for is around 27.000/30.000rp a day if you rent it for a month, or 35000rp a day if you only come for a week or so.
To find a scooter you’ll have to ask anyone around the area in Poppies and bargain. Start with a ridiculously low price and meet in the middle. No need to rush, there are hundreds of places to rent them. Take your time and get a newer one for a good price. Last thing you want is to ruin your trip with a scooter wreck cause your brakes went out.
It was quite useful for us to have a phone with 3G, especially for the use of the GPS/Maps (find any beach or town without getting that lost). We had an unlocked phone (tablet or ipod). Just insert a local sim card, buy a data plan and voila. Simpati was an easy option for us. They usually charge you around 10.000rp a GB. The option menu for data plans is in another language so ask for help at the sim card shop. Walk down Legian st and look for banners with any phone company name (or ask, using charades, making the mimic of the phone). Don’t worry you’ll find it easy.
Kuta is also known for cheap shopping, ever seen a Bintang tank top? They bought it here. There are thousands of small shops to peruse although most are nearly identical to each other. In our opinion the bartering was more aggressive here. It’s possible to shop all around Bali so no rush.
Little tip: Better to shop near the end of the trip so you don’t have to carry it all over. We arrived with the big suitcases after being in Australia and wanted to travel light so we left our suitcases at Perama, a tourist agency, for 10.000 rp a week.
Cool things to know about are the Tattoo places. Just incase you want to get wild for good price. Stu had a big one done on his back with Buddy Marley, for 3.000.000rp. They are very clean (most important!!), and fast. You can find cheaper but the extra was worth the peace of mind. We drew a sketch of the tattoo (and it was a like a toddlers drawing, no offence) and he turned it into a piece of art.
If you want to stay here, there are a lot of partying and nice guesthouses with pools for around 100.000rp per night. We choose not to because Kuta is not really our scene and the vibes are more mellow in the villages outside the city.
Important: Always buy bottled water, tap water can really mess you up. It’s very cheap, never more then 7.000rp.
For local food try the Warungs. We spent between 10.000rp and 30.000rp for a delicious meal. The majority of times no more than 15.000rp for a big plate of Nasi Goreng (fried rice with fried egg) or Mie Goreng (same but with noodles). Our personal favorite was the buffet style Warungs. Being pregnant, I avoided the meat in those places because they prepare the food beforehand and let it sit there for a while. The Vegetarian dishes were delicious (most of the time hehe) and I avoided Bali Belly J. Stuart, was not so fortunate. Some example of the food I loved was Gado Gado (sautee vegetable over rice with peanut sauce) and their tempeh (something delicious made from peanuts). Take advantage of the fresh fruit smoothies.
Keiki On Board