Selamat Datang - Welcome to Bali



So you guys must have read about my Kuala Lumpur experience in the previous blog post that was only half part of it, and now containing forward to my next destination, Bali. 

Read about Malaysia- Malaysia trip



Incident- When I got into the plane. I instantly remembered the बादल बहुत important हैं line by Zahir Khan. The same thing happened as the person behind me, insisted on taking his window seat and separating a family. Apart from this, it was a very harrowing experience for me which made me completely deaf till my return to India. I was lip reading the whole time. The incident happened with Batik Air. What more can you expect when the plane is sitting at 35° on the hot tarmac, but the pilot refuses to switch on the air conditioning in the plane. So we took off in hot blistering weather with the air conditioning having being switched on only around 10,000 feet into the air. One crazy pilot. The situation was so worse that people were actually fanning themselves inside the aeroplane, opening the air intake nozzles, calling the air hostess and complaining, but the air hostess were just serving water to make amends. The situation was so drastic that I actually saw a few foreigners take off their tops to save themselves from the blistering heat. As I had already told before in my trip to Malaysia that I was down with fever, that coupled with this sudden change and all that happening around suddenly gave my ears a sensation when I felt that somebody was picking the eardrums with hot needles. Along with the cabin pressure, the pain became so much that I actually screamed once or twice and started losing my hearing. When we landed at the Bali’s airport I had lost around 99% of my hearing. 

Contrary to what is known in India there is no Visa on arrival, instead it is Visa exempted country. Bet you didn’t know. We were all confused because of lack of info. At the immigration it was super fast as they had separate lines for senior citizens, disabled. Its a very big hall at the immigration so it doesn’t feel congested. Contrary to Malaysia the whole process of immigration and luggage is just the reverse with luggage taking on lot of time to actually arrive and immigration being super fast. While my family waited for the luggage I actually went in search of forex only to realise that there is a custom declaration form which need to be filled up before you actually exit the airport. On a few large tables there were forms kept which needed to be filled up (you need to fill up only one form if you’re travelling with the family). When I headed back to the luggage, I saw that my mother had picked up numerous travel brochures about Bali, which are free and you can take as many as you like. 

Normally I would include these points in the observation part at the very end of the blog post but due to the fact that they are really important I’m putting them in a separate section at the very start. So that you get clarity/what will happen with you so you don’t have to face any inconvenience and be prepared. Remember the golden words, “B for Bali, B for bargaining”. Now let’s come to money and taxi- 

The IDR (Indonesian Rupiah) is one of the few very cheapest currencies in the whole world, so you won’t get it anywhere except on your arrival to Indonesia. The exchange rate is phenomenal with 1 USD= 13300 IDR so if you exchange hundred USD would be basically carrying around 13 lakhs of local currency. 13 lakhs and you felt overjoyed. But thats the whole misconception because things there are equally priced accordingly. The moment you head out of the airport to you would find money exchanges. There are list of the prominent currencies, but INR is not one of them (you might get few money exchangers who might convert it to INR somewhere in the city, but when you actually compare you would be losing around 3 to 4 lakh rupees when you compare it with the exchange of USD in equivalent amount). The airport guy actually handed us currency notes in one lakh denomination. The scene out of the airport was just like any major Indian city with taxi and cab drivers hoggling you. As we were on a package we already had a local representative out there to receive us. Surprise, surprise, it was a lady, Rima. Ohhh coming back to taxis, make sure that you get into the light blue colour taxis of “Bluebird”. They have a virtual monopoly the airport, but they are the most trusted, safe taxis who ply by the meter. Other taxis might cheat because they don’t ply the meter and they would actually bargain in fares, so you might never know how expensive your trip would be. 

The traffic situation of Bali is just like India, the bigger problem are bike people who follow no rules and regulations and they can cut from any side so look before you get down from the vehicle and be prepared to be stuck in jams for hours because a simple 15 minutes trip from the port to my hotel in Kuta took us around 35 minutes. Our welcome kit contained travel plans for the next day, the local sim (with no loaded value) and a traditional dress Sarong. Rima asked us to get ready by 1.30 in the afternoon. The next day was our half day trip. 

The next day in the morning after getting ready the first thing I did was to locate a money changer. Fortunately, it was just in front of my hotel across the road. We needed small change and I explained to him that we needed small denomination notes for use in the city for making payments. The guy behind the counter understood and happily exchanged a lot of notes into’s small ones of 50,000, 10,000, 20,000 and the likes. Next we went in search of two places- a mobile shop and the Kuta beach to pass of the time. 





Kuta- It took me even more broken English than Malaysia to understand and make the girl understand at the shop that I needed to top up my sim. It cost us 80,000. We were approximately within 1 km radius of the beach and turning my Google map on again, we decided to walk. Two things I have noticed in Bali is that the people there whom I encountered were very friendly and everyone I mean everyone had a smile on their face. Like when I was crossing the road the traffic policeman actually halted all the cars from the opposite direction so that me and my mother could safely cross the road and he did the with a big smile. I would describe Kuta beach in one word- dirty. When you go to foreign beaches you expect cleanliness but this beach was a bit dirty as lot of people hard thrown away flowers and all on the sand and the waves had actually lapped them up and it looked really dirty. After killing a substantial amount of time, we decided to hail a Bluebird to the hotel as we didn’t have that around 30 minutes to the hotel. Bargaining with the cab driver cost us 50,000. We reached just to see Rima waiting. 

Boy, she had substantial amount of knowledge about the current affairs. That’s how she described India, “Pakistan enemy, Bangladesh enemy...Shah Rukh Khan, Amitabh Bachchan, Amir Khan, Mumbai, Delhi, Kuch Kuch hota hai , chaiyaan chaiyaan, Kashmir”. She’s actually saving money so that she can make a trip to India and specially Kashmir. Well everybody is mesmerised by the beauty of Kashmir. 

Trip- It was a half day trip, but believe me, it was very tiring as the distances were quite long between places. Our first stop was a handicraft store, nothing new for me having done the same at Kuala Lumpur. 




Next was the Taman Ayun temple, which was quite picturesque in its own sense. Plus I got to see the Barong really close. The main area of the temple is out of bounds to the foreigners so you can walk around the boundary or even take a trip deeper into the surroundings. The next was an interesting one. We stopped at the coffee and tea plantation to look at the various types of teas available and it was heaven. There were no less than a dozen type of teas available, flavours, which I never thought would be there. The tea sampling is free and if you wish to buy there is a shop too. Also got to smell the famous strong Mewak coffee. The Indian brands and nowhere close to it, nowhere. I won’t tell you how its made, because it’s more of a ewww thing. There I got to see a small girl with her own pet monkey. 



The next stop was the monkey Forest where monkeys by the hundreds were roaming around freely and a person would always guide you with a stick in the hand to ward off those primates from coming closer. After the round is complete, they would take you to their shop and ask you to buy some item. How you wriggle out of the shopping situation with exorbitant prices is purely your own skill. 




The last stop was the Tanah Lot temple, a seaside picturesque place which can make you forget you surroundings and get lost into the sands of time. The sunset there is very beautiful. 

Our day was up as getting stuck and the traffic meant that we reached late. The next day was all free and luckily this time we hadnt actually decided where to go next meant that our current tour operator could not arrange a trip and Rima advised against that, saying that the company would charge a lot. I contacted my hotel regarding the same and we got a whole tour with the car at less than one third of the price. 

Volacano- Before I had departed from India, one location was such etched into my mind- Ulluwatu Dance which had already been visited by a few of my friends. It was a dicey situation as it was only a half day tour and I wanted a full day to keep myself busy. Breaking that trend I decided to go to the Kintamani Volcano(the one which had gone active in December 2017). The next day the only fear was the growing cloud cover as according to my driver Arjun, the clouds can blanket the whole view in a matter of just seconds. 



The first stop was the Barong dance- an epic depiction of storytelling from the Balinese mythology. The best 50 minutes I had spent. We decided to skip a few stops on our way. There is a place called Ubud and its said that the weather there would give a clear indication about the weather in Kintamani. If there is cloud cover there, by the time you reach the volcano you would see nothing. 




On the way we stopped by the rice plantation fields. They can be viewed from an elevated position and for the adventurous ones you can also trek to the bottom. For the treking part you just have to contact the plantation owners and make a small donation of your own choosing, and that’s it. For the viewing, you need to purchase a ticket. 



After that the next stop was the volcano and we were very lucky as there were dark clouds, breeze and a threat of rain. We stopped at a restaurant and from the balcony of it we got a unrestricted view of the volcano and the damage it has a cause in the eruption months back. So that cloud threat came really fast and the whole view was blanketed in just a matter of seconds. Before the entrance to the place there is a ticket cost of 31,000 per person , so check the weather in Ubud and then move forward otherwise return back. 


The next stop was the Tirta Empul temple , which has a pond in which people bath and its considered to be holy. Keep in mind that you need to wrap a Sarong before you enter the temple. But don’t worry show your ticket and they’ll give you one for free to wrap. There is even a statue of Indra in the warrior like pose. The last step was a waterfall which was a 275 step down walk. On the return I tasted the durian fruit considered the smelliest in the world. A few more small stops at places for the family and we were done for the vacation. 

Here are my observations- 

1. A local guide told me that Indian tour operators don’t have any real clue about what’s happening in Bali and they usually believe the rumours, so it’s better if you contact the local tour operators and clear any confusion you may have regarding the happenings in the country. 

2. Keep loose change with you and be prepared to lose a lot of change in exchange as the person if he doesn’t have the exact change would return you the next available denomination currency. For example, if you have to get 7000 that. And if he is having 5000 note they would simply give you that. 

3. Make sure you catch the light blue bluebird taxis, they are the only ones that run on meter everybody else is again bargaining. 

4. All statues of the gods and known Hindu figures are in warrior like poses. 

5. It’s truly a honeymoon capital of the world, don’t ask me how and I won’t be able to explain. You need a lot more than just 2 to 3 days to explore Bali to the heart’s content

6. Beware of the traffic and don’t forget to bargain. 

7. All the schools in Bali have the same colour uniform, it’s only the drama in India that there is a separate uniform for every school. 

8. Drink only bottled water as their tap water can send you to the hospital. 

9. The mobile plans are more inclined towards data rather than calls, the call pulse rate is very high. 

10. The Uluwattu dance and Kitamani volcano are both in the north and south and you wont be able to do the same in 1 day. 

Selamat Datang - Welcome to Bali Selamat Datang - Welcome to Bali Reviewed by Shwetabh Mathur on 12:25:00 PM Rating: 5

2 comments:

  1. What I loved the most about your post is you described the place just as it is without too many flowery words or judgements. Just the kind of travelogue that is both informative and gives a true picture of the place. It's so culturally rich, just like India.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Bali is on my list.
    Hope to visit it soon.
    How did you fix up your travel-guide, Rima?

    ReplyDelete