This summer we went to Bali for ten days. While ten days isn't that long, it was the longest time we could stay without paying an astronomical airfare. You see, Bali is a popular destination for Japanese package tourists; however, with the Japanese work ethic, most people will only go on vacation for three or four days, tops. So, we could've bought a cheaper four or five-day ticket, but we opted for the ten-day ticket, the most we were willing to pay. If we wished to stay any longer, we would've had to buy an open-ended thirty-day ticket which was substantially higher.
The flight from Fukuoka to Singapore and then onto to Bali was amazing. We flew with Singapore Airlines and it was an experience like no other flight I've been on. Usually Air Canada staff are fine, but Singapore Airlines blew them away. The service was friendly, the selection of complimentary drinks was wonderful, (we drank fruit spritzers all the way down). And the best part was the onboard movies. Usually airlines force everyone to watch the same movie, except in first class where sometimes you get a personal TV set. Well, on Singapore Airlines, EVERYONE gets a personal TV set and can choose to watch any one of about twenty movies, TV shows, news, or play Nintendo games on demand. We could even fast forward or pause our movies if we wanted to get up and use the washroom. Truly amazing.
Usually when we travel abroad, we decide to stay a cheaper places and save some money. This time however, I was checking hotel prices on the web and discovered that after the Bali bombing, there wasn't much price difference between expensive hotels and cheaper ones. We could've stayed in a really cheap guesthouse for about $5 US each, but most of the mid-range two or three star places were between $30-40 US. Then I found this amazing four star beauty for $45 US. It was incredible. We spent all ten of our nights there and it really made the vacation that much nicer. A few times we ate dinner at the hotel too, and they had special theme nights, like Balinese BBQ or pasta night, along with live music. It was wonderful.
Bali is really hurting for tourists these days. The locals have told us that the first couple months after the bomb, there was nobody. The streets were empty and a lot of stores went out of business. Now things are starting to pick up, but it is still pretty slow and everyone is really competing for your business. Most restaurants we went to were giving 40-60% discounts on food items. They were basically giving the food away, just to stay in business. It was pretty sad to see how all these people have suffered in the last year, scrambling to make ends meet because of the terrorist bomb.
Aside from that, now is probably one of the best times to visit Bali. Hotels and restaurants are cheaper, and the beaches and streets are less crowded. There are still tons of people at Kuta Beach, so we can't really imagine how crowded it was before.
In Bali we did a few things. We went snorkelling one day, where a 14-year old boy took us out to the coral. We noticed that there was an empty water bottle in the boat so the boy just threw it overboard! We couldn't believe it. Here their entire income revolves around tourists, and you think they'd try so hard to keep the place clean, but no, just chuck it into the ocean.
We also went for a one-day tour of the island. You pretty much have to do the one-day tour sometime during your trip because everywhere you try to walk in Bali, taxi drivers and just about everyone else will hound you, "Where are you going? Do you need a ride? Have you been on a one-day tour? Have you been to Ubud? Seen the volcano?" It was horrible! So we went on the one-day tour. The highlights were visiting Ubud, the cultural heart of Bali, the Elephant cave, the Monkey Forest, the terraced rice fields, and the volcano. The Elephant cave was interesting. The cave was carved out of the rock sometime around the 15th century, but then it somehow got lost. Then it was only discovered sometime in the 20th century. It was a Hindu temple, where you had to walk through the mouth of an elephant god to enter the cave. The Monkey forest was fun mainly because of our guide. There is a temple in the forest, and according to Hindu legend, the monkeys are the guardians of the temple. So the whole forest is just crawling in monkeys, and they're "friendly" because a lot of people buy bananas to feed them. Well, our guide wasn't really impressed with the monkeys. Instead he was fascinated by this one squirrel. A single, brown, ordinary squirrel. I guess it's just cultural differences, but he went crazy, "Ahhh! SQUIRREL, there he is... oh, there he is!" He just went crazy because he saw a squirrel. We were like, "A squirrel? Big deal. Look at all the monkeys!" Then it was off to the volcano were we enjoyed a rather pricey lunch, but the view was amazing. We figured that all the tour guides drop off their guests at certain restaurants and then get a cut of what we pay. Not that fair really because we were kinda herded in, and seated. Then we found out it was buffet lunch with a set price. You couldn't choose anything cheaper even if you wanted to. But it was fine, the view of the volcano more than made up for it. Then it was off to the rice terraces. Our guide found the perfect place to pull over to take a picture but as we went out we were swarmed by the locals trying to sell us just about anything. It was probably the worst experience of the trip. We found shelter in this woman's shop, where we were able to snap some pictures and the others weren't allowed, but then we felt guilty and bought something small from her. After that, we had to literally fight our way back to the van.
In Bali, I also tried surfing, but I nearly died. I had the bright idea of trying to catch the really big waves before I even tried the smaller waves. It wouldn't be that stupid to move onto the larger waves if you haven't yet mastered the smaller ones but have at least tried them for a few hours, and feel comfortable moving onto the larger ones. BUT, I thought due to my boogie boarding skills and ability to snowboard that I could ride the big waves. After paddling past the smaller breakers I reached some pretty deep water. I felt safe here and felt that I could paddle in a bit and catch some fine 6-8 foot waves. However, what I failed to consider was that larger waves break in deeper water. That is, they feel the ocean floor sooner. A very basic concept in coastal engineering... and WHAT do I want to be? :) So, after the first big wave swallowed me up, dragged me along the ocean floor, and spat me up, I decided to try it again. This time I was certain I could get out of the way and dive under the big waves so that wouldn't happen again. Well, just a few minutes after, another really big wave came. When I realized it was too late to dive into it, I turned around and tried to ride with it. And it seemed to work, until the inner surface of the wave got really steep and the hollow of the wave surrounded me. That's when it crashed and sent me doing cartwheels along the seabed. I eventually managed to stand up, in the trough of the wave and breathe. This in water that was around 12 feet deep if the water was calm! After that I came in, and was content riding 3 foot waves.
Aside from a few of these day trips around Bali, we contented ourselves at the hotel's beach lying on lounge chairs reading, and by the pool. All in all, it was a nice, relaxing trip.
This site was last updated 04/27/04