Random Observation/Comment #526: Napoli and now Ubud – I think I’m unintentionally following the path from Eat, Pray, Love.
Bali is a pretty big Island packed with hidden gems and beautiful culture. One may think it’s all about the beaches and surfing, but the side streets and temples really make this place alive. The Balinese people also fully complete the package. They are often born and raised within Bali and have never left the country. Houses are passed down by generation and schools teach the traditions of song, prayer, and dance.
Things Bali Does Well
- Mid winter weather “dry season” – Really not humid at all and often accompanied by a lovely breeze in August. Gotta love the Southern Hemisphere.
- English language – while you might not have long political debates, everyone speaks English fairly well and taxi drivers love making small talk.
- Cute monkeys – I highly suggest Sangeh monkey forest in the late afternoons and the Ubud monkey forest in the morning before things get too busy
- Kites – man, they do some great kite flying at the end of August. I have no idea how they get them so high up there.
- Eggs – I think it’s just always nice to get fresh eggs from fresh hens
- Crazy, but safe drivers – it’s 7-to-1 scooters to cars, so there will be a lot of weaving, but I haven’t seen an accident yet
- Taxis – the funny thing is that every car owner will probably convert into a taxi at will, so you don’t need to worry about getting a car ride. People will do it for an easy 30,000rp per 5 minute of driving (scaling upwards depending on gas and time). From my rough estimate, 100k for 30 min, 400k for 4 hours, 800k for a full day.
- Parades and celebrations – they sure do love their Parades walking to temples during the new/full moons.
- $6 Bali massages – I personally like the Thai ones better because they include a lot more spine cracking, but these aren’t bad either. I’d avoid their head massages because they tend to pull out a lot of hair with whatever they do.
- Pluralization – I like how you double a word to make it plural. Anak-anak joke 🙂
Things Bali Can Improve
- Long commute to Bali – this isn’t really Bali’s fault, but I find it appropriate to mention. Most commutes from the US east coast take 30 hours. Make sure you’re in good company.
- Angry dogs – we would have done more walking off of side streets but we were afraid we would be mauled by dogs. I think they’re all talk.
- Food options – I personally love the food, but I can see people getting bored of the same 5 things. For me, it’s all comfort food with rice and sauces, so keep them coming.
- Twak – this palm oil based low alcohol content drink tastes like sweat and smells like Swiss cheese. It will forever be in the bear vocabulary, so for that I’m thankful
- Certain food hygiene – It’s a third world country, so I’m definitely being lenient about this, but the street food old ladies tend to use the same money fingers to pull apart chicken for your brown paper cup of food. They also tend to hand you back money by placing it directly on the food. Strong stomachs are definitely needed.
General Advice for the trip
- Haggle for taxi rides – drivers often give better prices if they think they’ll get extended business. It’s not a bad idea to ask for their business card.
- Driving is a bit crazy, so leave it to the professionals – We considered getting a car, but honestly the taxi rides are not the expensive and I feel like i might die renting bikes/scooters (even though they’re like a dollar a day)
- Pretty much no side walks – on the few roads going between major towns, there’s basically no sidewalks so be careful with walking and walk into oncoming traffic to avoid arm clipping
- Buy a Sarong and scarf for temples – they’re not that expensive and a good thing to have
- In Aug 2015, the exchange rate was 14k Rp to 1 USD – By rough estimate, I think an average worker in Bali makes $15 a day.
Stay at this Airbnb (link)
It’s offensively expensive for Bali, but it’s so beautiful, you can’t turn it down. There’s also a secret passage way in the house that comes with a riddle. Finding it was like being in a movie. Ketut is the nicest guy you’ll meet and Nyoman cooks up the best breakfasts in Bali.
Places to Visit
Ubud main street area (afternoon)
- Where is it – when taxis take you to Ubud, they often drop you off on a busy intersection in front of the palace. I will reference this location for taxi prices often in this post.
- Advice – this area is always packed with tourists, but be smart and avoid the “cafe” locations. There are better food spots down the road. Also, I can’t believe they charge 40k for a cup of starbucks coffee. That’s legit 8 meals for a local. The temples on the main road are pretty cool to check out and worth getting the sarong for.
Ubud main street area (morning before 8am)
- Advice – Ubud market before 8AM is the main time for grocery shopping. I came here a few times for street food breakfast with chicken and rice.
- Where is it – 20 minutes from the main Ubud area
- Advice – I’d probably only go here if you want to see some wood carvings. The artwork is quite beautiful and often gets displayed in large houses.
Sangeh monkey forest
- Where is it – 40 minutes from main Ubud temple. Costs 400k round trip taxi. Costs 25k per person to enter.
- Advice – go during late afternoon to miss the crazy crowds. Make sure you have one of those photography guides nearby to shoo away any brave monkeys that want to maul you
- Where is it – about 2 hours from Ubud by the south west part of the island
- Advice – go for the sunset. It’s super pretty, but probably crowded by all the tourists. I personally think it’s worth it especially when you walk further along the end and get the most epic selfie with the crashing waves.
Ubud caja rice field walk
- Where is it – Right off of the main road in Ubud. You’ll go up this side gravel path and follow the signs to the one path often taken by scooters/bikes.
- Advice – Go early in the morning before 9AM so you don’t walk around baking in the sun. The whole walk will take around 2 hours and it’s a large loop. There’s a really crazy back-way route after you reached the paved road to circle around, but I don’t remember the full directions.
Gianyar food market
- Where is it – about 1 hour from Ubud.
- Advice – it’s a tiny bit far from Ubud for food, but it’s where all the locals go for a large market. I’d probably skip the main area because they sell pretty cheap/useless plastic things. The food stalls are really good.
Tulamben shipwreck diving
- How to get here – Book a tour with Bali Scuba (or the scuba place of your choice). I’d pick something 5 stars because they have tons of them. From Ubud, they’ll pick you up at 8AM, drive you 2.5 hours to Tulumben, dive, provide lunch, dive some more, and drive you back another 2.5 hours to get you back by 6PM. 1 private diver for your 2 divers and all included for $125 with rentals. Really excellent deal.
- Advice – I recommend getting your open water elsewhere and doing this for intermediate to advanced diving. The ship wreck was absolutely breath taking and totally worth the trek up there.
Ceking Rice terraces
- Where is it – 30 minutes from Ubud main town
- Advice – Go before 8AM so you beat the traffic. It’s so much better when no one is on the terraces. Also make sure you pay the one guy that brings you to the top-most terrace. The views up there are much better.
Tegenungan Village waterfalls
- Where is it – 1 hour from Ubud
- Advice – this is a bit out of the way, but we thought it was a good 1 hour stop. The waterfall is very strong and you could go into it. I’d just take photos and avoid it though.
~See Lemons Love Bali