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Bali, June 2006

All prices in Bali were in Rupees, which is what we used, although US$ were widely accepted. For ease of conversion RP10,000 = US$1

Gallery of All Photographs from Bali

2.6. - 3.6. Flight and Arrival

Our flights were all with Malaysia Airlines, this flight LHR - KL was a 747-400 seat configuration 3-4-3, (12 hrs); I have to say their service is quite exceptional! The seats are huge (34" = a lot of leg room), each seat has its own entertainment system & screen and you have a choice of approx 30 films (mixture of genres, new and "classics", eg King Kong, Firewall, Godfather, Joe Black, Pianist, animated, etc), 10 general TV channels (Friends, Planet Earth etc), radio and text news, flight information and approx. 50 games. The food was very tasty and drinks are free, including alc.

An hour before landing we enjoyed a beautiful sunrise above Malaysia and had wonderful views of the Phuket area, Langkawi, and the west coast of Malaysia. We landed ahead of time in torrential rain, it was only 7.15am but already 30 degrees! KLIA is superb, large and brand new.

We had to catch our connecting flight from KL to Denpesar leaving at 9.50am so we had plenty of time and had a bite to eat at the airport. Our flight to Bali took 3 hours on A 330-300 (2-4-2), no TV but again plenty of leg room. We had a nice view of the islands surrounding Singapore and also when passing Java we saw Mt. Merapi puffing out several black clouds! Quite scary actually…


3.6. Bali Tropic Resort & Spa

Arrived on time and in sunshine, we didn't experience any problems with luggage or customs, the queues weren't too bad and in half an hour we were out of the airport. The staff from Bali Tropic Resort & Spa was already waiting for us, we were escorted to the taxi and taken to Tanjung Benoa (Nusa Dua).

This was our home for the first 3 nights. We received a free upgrade from deluxe room to Royal suite! Amazing room with four-poster large bed, TV, large bath and shower room. Rooms/blocks are mainly made of wood/stone/slate, with lots of water features. The Hotel Spa is average/good, although expensive. The hotel has a jungle feel, the gardens are very lush and well looked after, everyone is always smiling and polite. When we arrived we were so shattered we only managed to go to the beach where we fell asleep for a few hours - luckily in the shade… We went for walk on the beach but returned back after a little while, some people said that the beach here is better than the Caribbean beaches … NO WAY! The staff are doing what they can to make the beach area look nice but when closer to the water the beach becomes quite rough (coral) underfoot and it's quite painful to walk on. However we expected this plus we went to Bali to see other things. We wanted to go out for dinner but ended up staying at the hotel as we were really feeling the jet leg and wanted an early night. The dinner at our hotel was very good and quite cheap, at least considering it was in a hotel (approx Rp 150,000 ($15) for 2 + non-alc. drinks).
Weather - sunny all day


4.6. Nusa Dua, Uluwatu, Kecak dance

Our second day in Bali was supposed to be relaxing so that we can prepare for all the forthcoming traveling, we had breakfast - quite nice selection, but then we caught the exploring bug and walked to the local part of Nusa Dua village (note not the enclosed purpose-built tourist part). About 4km all the way through, too far for the 1st day!

After, we arranged a trip with our hotel to Uluwatu Temple & to see the Kecak dance for the same evening, a driver & guide for 4hrs (RP 300,000 ($30)), much too expensive in hindsight. Uluwatu is very nice; the setting is quite spectacular, there are a lot of monkeys that are quite aggressive and you really have to look after your things, people were getting their sunglasses stolen! 3 monkeys jumped on my husband and tried to steal his rucksack, luckily he thought it funny…!

Although it felt slightly like "ok all tourist come here and watch the dance", the Kecak dance was actually quite impressive and interesting, but bear in mind you need to get there early to get the seats with the best views (i.e. no tourists in background (it's a ¾ full, small amphitheatre), and backdrop of Uluwatu temple & sunset). We had our dinner at the hotel again, we were heading for Jimbaran Bay but ended up too tired!
Weather - sunny all day


5.6. Dean, Kuta, Bird Park, Ubud, Batur

On Monday after breakfast we had our first trip with Dean (Dean - Driver with Distinction, www.balisbestdriver.com, balidean.blogspot.com) - we starting by driving to Kuta first and looked around the beach and the town, the memorial is touching.
Our next stop was the Bali Bird Park, we stayed for the bird show as well, not really worth it in hindsight but good for a few hours, especially with children (which we don't have!).
On traveling towards Ubud we stopped for a break at a local village. The people were indescribably friendly and welcoming, and that includes the village men who were holding a cock fight on the main street. The children in this village, and as it turns out in all villages outside normal tourist runs, were incredibly curious and sweet, peeking over walls at the white people :-) (by the way, that's meant in only the most positive of ways!). Throughout our stay in Bali we really did find everyone to be happy and kind, a cliché which in other countries hadn't turned out to be true.
The traditional villages were very picturesque, with the bamboo sticks alongside roads hanging with offerings, and women with offerings balanced on their head. On the way to Ubud we passed shops at Tegallalang village (Ceking), which had absolutely lovely wooden carvings and are also very cheap, on account of the fact that no major tour operators take tourists there.We promised ourselves we would return on our very last day stop before leaving Bali, and I'll just mention we had to buy a new suitcase and were 13kg over-weight on the flight home :-).
We stopped for lunch at Kampung Café, nr Ubud - Japanese restaurant, fantastic setting with views over rice fields, and the food was nicely presented and was so tasty and quite cheap! ~Rp170,000 ($17) for 3 people (Dean included, our offer) with non-alc. drinks. 10/10, with no hesitation. Sit downstairs, and they have traditional Japanese seating.
After lunch we moved onto Ubud, where there were further rice fields, but not as nice as the ones near Amed. We headed to Batur lake and the volcano, where we were very lucky apparently as the volcanoes are usually hidden in the mist and clouds but we had a clear view that day. The temple Puru Ulun Danu Batur at the top was completely empty apart from us (Dean provided sarongs). On our way back to our hotel we stopped at Gunung Kawi Tampaksiring temple, some local people were using the public baths there at that time so it was a bit embarrassing for us with cameras to be viewing the temple but they seemed quite amused by our shyness ;-)
We had dinner in Nusa Dua village, very nice but unfortunately can't remember name. ~Rp130,000 ($13) for 2 with non-alc. Drinks.
Weather - sunny all day.

6.6. Ulun Ubud Resort & Spa, Ubud, Monkey Forest

In the morning after breakfast we were transferred to Ulun Ubud Resort & Spa, received complimentary drink of rice wine, was it rosé? Husband loved it but it's strong! We had to wait 2 hours before our room was ready but it was worth it, the room was quite beautiful (Mattahari Suite # 302) with amazing views. The only let down is the bathroom, which is plastic and about 20 years old, but after all you don't really spend that much time in there do you... The hotel seemed very empty, apparently they were almost full but at times it felt kind of spooky as if there were no other guests, we saw probably two other people at the lobby but that was it.
We had our lunch @ Ulun Ubud (just sandwiches) for convenience and then we took the free shuttle (0800-2300, flexible, Ubud area) Ulun Ubud provide to the Monkey forest - this is quite an amazing experience, all of a sudden you feel like you could be deep in a jungle in Borneo or Cambodia with the temples almost fully buried underneath the trees, the monkeys were quite calm but cheeky.If you go there, in the middle is a pathway and steps leading down to temples by a stream in a valley, definitely worth a look. There were lots of babies (monkey versions) and they were amusing.
From there we walked to Ubud town, there were performances on the stages in the 'Town Hall' and also in the Royal Palace. We went to look inside the Royal Palace as well, the contrast of old temple-style buildings with air-conditioning units and fish tanks on the outside is, erm, interesting. The Lotus Temple is right next door where we had a dinner at the Lotus Café, which overlooks the Temple and has shows 19:30 every Tue, Thurs, Sat & Sun @ RP50,000 ($5) for a front row table or just to watch, with a reservation required for after 6pm. BTW no beef is served due to the proximity to the temple, but the food was very nice (special spring rolls! Yum!) and cost under RP200,000 ($20) for 2 with alc. drinks).
It was such a nice evening and we wanted to walk back, well it was an adventure it took us round about 45 minutes to reach Ulun Ubud and it felt like being in the gym after a while as the pavements have high steps! Judging from the Hotel Staff's reactions we were lucky to have escaped without being eaten by wild dogs, but more of danger for us seemed to be the pavement which has parts broken, leading to 1m drop down into the drainage system!
Weather - sunny all day.


7.6. Jatiluwih, Bratan, Git-Git

For no extra charge we had our breakfast served on our balcony - really, it was bliss, the views, the morning sun... However we've experienced better breakfasts so that was a big disappointment especially we had a long trip ahead of us with Dean.
First we went to see Pura Taman Auyn in Mengwi - a very nice temple, we were the only visitors there, again! After we drove through rice fields at Jatiluwih, we stopped at Bedugul market but only bought presents for Dean's best friends - wild monkeys on the road to Lake Bratan. They were very tame and let us feed them from our hands, and learn quick too! If you see them there standing at the side of the road, arms and legs outspread, it's my husband's doing, sorry! This was much better than buying over-priced bananas at Ubud Monkey Forest!
Then we drove to Bratan lake and Pura Ulun Danu Bratan, which was nice but touristy. Dean took us to a little local eatery called "Strawberry Stop", it didn't look the best I have to admit but the food was so nice and unbelievable cheap! (Rp 70,000 ($7) for 3 people). And we ate the best strawberry pancakes of our lives!! Then we continued to a view point in the hills above Lake Buyan where we rested and had a coffee, which was a nice cool area. On to Git-Git waterfall, which from the parking area was 1 km down steps (fine) and 1km back up steps (not fine!). Worth a visit, when we were there we saw precisely 2 other tourists the whole time.
On the way back to our hotel we witnessed 2 village temple ceremonies! Everybody was dressed in lovely dresses and the temples were decorated beautifully, the kids found us very funny, we took pictures and they happily posed for them and then we showed them the photos and they were laughing so much. It was a great experience, especially as it wasn't "set-up" for tourists.
We went for a dinner in Ubud @ Café Wayan - amazing restaurant, beautiful setting, gorgeous food, incense and music. It has traditional Japanese or Western seating, and is "expensive" at Rp260,000 ($26) for 2 but well worth a visit.
Weather - sunny all day.


8.6. Padang Bai, Amed, Tirtagangga

After our not so nice breakfast, we set our third day with Dean - we visited a temple called Pura Kehen where again we were the only visitors apart from two local dogs. We drove through Klungkung on the way to Padang Bai where we stopped and went to spend few hours at the "Blue Lagoon". This is a secluded cove, accessible only by foot over a hill, with a white-ish beach, 2 very cheap restaurants and maybe 5 other tourists! After we had our sun-bathing and Dean finished his Nap Time, we drove to Amed where on the way there are amazing vistas of mountains and rice fields, near Culik. We drove through Candidasa, on the road from here to Amed you can view the volcano Mt. Agung. We stopped at the Royal Gardens / Public Baths at Tirtagangga which have the most disgusting toilets I've used in my life! Otherwise a nice place!
In Amed we stopped by to be showed around the Anda Amed Resort, it is really lovely resort, they are expanding the resort, will also add spa. The infinity pool was amazing and has got nice sea views. The rooms are huge with a massive bed and the bathroom is gorgeous. We wished we could have stayed there…
Before sunset we stopped at the local Café Wayan in Amed (opposite a local warung) - it had only 5 tables and at under Rp 50,000 ($5) for 3 people you'd find it hard to complain, but I had the best Mie Goreng ever and my husband (& Dean) had the Chicken Curry, and also claims it was the best he ever had! Don't be put off by the fact it's a local eatery, it really was good and we would have gone back had we been staying in the area. We waited for the sunset near Amed on a view point overlooking the sea and the volcano in the background.
Weather - cloudy/rain in Ubud, sunny elsewhere.


9.6. Taro Elephants, Tegallalang (shopping), Tanah Lot, Jimbaran Bay

On our forth and last trip we took it a bit more leisurely, it was raining heavily in the early morning but it was quite beautiful to have breakfast again on the terrace with the rain. After half an hour it brightened up and we sunbathed for an hour or so by the pool. We met with Dean around 11am and we started off with the Elephant safari in Taro, this was supposed to be one of the highlights but well before the end of the 30 min ride around the man made park and pool we had had enough and felt uneasy. There was nothing to actually base our feelings on, and the riders/carers/staff do have a relationship with their elephants, but the elephants chained individually just didn't look happy. They didn't seem to be mis-treated at all but we left shortly after the "show" started as it reminded us of a circus. My friend visited a wild elephant camp in Sri Lanka and that was a totally different experience and environment. For the ride at Taro the published price was Rp 660,000 ($66) per person.
We wanted to do some shopping and Dean took us to Tegallalang, oh my god, we saw so many fantastic wood carvings at outstanding value! We were running around like crazy (not helped by the rain!), not knowing what to chose and buy first! Most of the 1m-high wooden masks were around Rp 20,000 ($2) opening-price, to give an idea of the values. We couldn't believe the prices and this did unfortunately lead to some confusion, with my husband bargaining down a poor lady who was selling 4 incense stick packs from Rp 12,000 ($1.20) to Rp 10,000 ($1)… He says he thought it was Rp 100,000 ($10)... We bought lots… buying another suitcase at the Galleria Shopping Centre in Kuta, and also having Ulun Ubud package the larger carvings in order to get our spree home. I'm glad Dean took us there on our last day as I fear we would have to ship a large container back to the UK!!! ;-)
Lunch at Kampung Café again as we loved it so much the first time and then avoided the bad weather in Ubud by heading to Tanahlot where it was sunny and hot. Tanahlot is quite pretty, although crowded. We stayed for the sunset and headed to Jimbaran Bay for lobster and seafood dinner at "Jimbaran Bay Café, Bumbu Bali". "Yummy" but also hugely expensive at Rp 890,000 ($89) although that included lobster, prawns, and squid.


10.6. Leaving Bali for KL :-(

On our last day we decided we had had enough of our Ulun Ubud breakfast and caught a shuttle to Ubud to have breakfast in Casa Luna - brilliant, plus tasty pancakes. Final shopping in Ubud and then we packed and set off for the airport for our flight to KL. :-(





Thank you Whinnie for recommending Dean to us, he made our trip absolutely unforgettable, he was so much fun to be with. He's a very good driver and safe. He is very knowledgeable about Bali. He even bought us the fruit he couldn't believe we have never eaten before ;-) There is simply too much to praise Dean's service for, suffice to say he's become a friend.





Go there! That's it.