Bali aka The Island of Gods: The semi- luxurious way to explore 

Tripoto
4th Oct 2017

Taman Ayun Temple

Photo of Bali aka The Island of Gods: The semi- luxurious way to explore by Sowmya Sruthi Ch

The Island of Gods is the most popularised island amongst all the other 17000 islands that Indonesia has and is sure to be on every travel enthusiast’s priority bucket list. With numerous reasons to second the claim, the island never ceases to amaze every type of traveller- be it a beach bum, history enthusiast, party freak, green panther, shopaholic, art connoisseur, food lover or a religious fanatic. To experience it, all you got to do is look out for dates and book tickets straight away!

When I decided to visit a foreign country for a vacation that would be easy on pocket, Bali is what was zeroed in on. There begins the research about the place, its popular spots, food, hotels and activities et al. We booked our tickets with Malindo Air for inward journey on October 4 and return on 11th, 2017 from Chennai. On October 4th, we reached the airport by 6 am to check in for our 8 am flight. When you book tickets with Malindo, you are supposed to go to the counter that displays Batik Air.

Service and experience with Batik Air

Though we did not book our tickets for the cheapest price we thought we could, because it cost us Rs 21,400 (return airfare) per person, given that Batik Air is a budget air carrier, we were not very sure or expecting so much of sorts in terms of service. On the contrary, we were in for a surprise after boarding the plane. With in-flight entertainment with vast choice (Headphones are provided by them) and food that satiates south Indian palette complimented by multiple fillings of the delicious soft drink, you are guaranteed to have a good flight. We changed flight at Kuala Lumpur to reach Bali. Mind the clock when you get down at the airport because, you may think there is time to board the flight but the local time is what they follow. We had barely anytime except for taking a leak and freshening up.

After boarding the flight in KL, it took us a sweet four and a half hours time with fantastic views of the ocean to reach the Ngurah Rai International Airport in Bali. We got down at the airport at around 8.30 pm in Indonesia which means it was sometime around 6 pm back home. They run two and a half hours ahead.

Photo of Bali aka The Island of Gods: The semi- luxurious way to explore  1/2 by Sowmya Sruthi Ch
Spaghetti with Broccoli served for dinner
Photo of Bali aka The Island of Gods: The semi- luxurious way to explore  2/2 by Sowmya Sruthi Ch
Veg Biryani with aloo curry was served for the vegetarians on board

With the help of one of our friends who had visited Bali earlier, we were able to get in touch with a bike rental guy in Kuta, who is of Chinese origin. He readily accepted to give out his personal car with a dedicated tour guide-cum-driver for the entire trip including picking us up at the airport and dropping us at it. We also took a sim card from our friend, which otherwise would cost you about 1 lakh Indonesian rupiah.

We were keen on taking things slow and preferred spending quality time, making memories than to cover the places just for the sake of it. At the end of the day, it comes down to the amount of fun and number of pictures than the check-in statuses, right?

Even before we landed, we got a message from Wawan, the Chinese bike rental guy about his arrival at the airport. We waited at the baggage carousel, picked up our bags and headed to the immigration counter and filled-in customs papers and exited. Before meeting Wawan, we stopped by at the ATM kiosk right in the airport and have withdrawn some Indonesian Rupiah. I must tell you that we had absolutely no trouble in changing our currency. After carrying a few American dollars with us, what we did was to withdraw cash or use credit card to make payments, of course for which we were levied tax on every transaction.

We checked in at Maxi Hotel complex in Kuta where we are given a complimentary 10-minute massage. The hotel was just everything you could wish for, within budget. However, we couldn’t really sleep the jet lag away due to the non-stop sounds that emanated from the city’s most happening night club adjoining the hotel. Most clubs there stay open until 3 am.

The next day, Wawan arrived at the hotel 15 minutes ahead of the agreed time and we sat down for a detail breakdown of the plan and price. Wawan gave us a print out of the must see places and how they usually take visitors on trips so as to cover major attractions. We booked his car with driver for 8 days for a decent price of 33, 00,000 Rp that is Rs.17, 000.

The guy in Black is obviously Wawan

Photo of Kuta, Badung Regency, Bali, Indonesia by Sowmya Sruthi Ch

You can feed the fish for free here at Maxi hotel in Kuta unlike other places

Photo of Maxi Hotel, Kuta, Jalan Legian Kaja, Badung Regency, Bali, Indonesia by Sowmya Sruthi Ch

This south indian staple Dosa is charged Rs 250 at Ruchi Indian restaurant in Kuta. Sumptuous though

Photo of Maxi Hotel, Kuta, Jalan Legian Kaja, Badung Regency, Bali, Indonesia by Sowmya Sruthi Ch

Egg Pulav at the same place. And, they speak your language

Photo of Maxi Hotel, Kuta, Jalan Legian Kaja, Badung Regency, Bali, Indonesia by Sowmya Sruthi Ch

These are the places that we covered:

Day 1: Uluwatu Temple with Kecak dance, a five-religion worship centre complex

The setting sun paints a beautiful picture during your visit to Uluwatu. Capture it

Photo of Uluwatu, Jalan Raya Ubud, Ubud, Gianyar, Bali, Indonesia by Sowmya Sruthi Ch

Sunset at Uluwatu Temple

Photo of Uluwatu Temple, Pecatu, Badung Regency, Bali, Indonesia by Sowmya Sruthi Ch

Before the performance begins. Secure a seat for yourself before you run out of a good view

Photo of Uluwatu Temple, Pecatu, Badung Regency, Bali, Indonesia by Sowmya Sruthi Ch
Photo of Uluwatu Temple, Pecatu, Badung Regency, Bali, Indonesia by Sowmya Sruthi Ch
Photo of Uluwatu Temple, Pecatu, Badung Regency, Bali, Indonesia by Sowmya Sruthi Ch
Photo of Uluwatu Temple, Pecatu, Badung Regency, Bali, Indonesia by Sowmya Sruthi Ch

Artists perform a ballet on Ramayana

Photo of Kecak Dance Stadium, Pecatu, Badung Regency, Bali, Indonesia by Sowmya Sruthi Ch

Click pictures with the performers of Kecak dance. It's free

Photo of Kecak Dance Stadium, Pecatu, Badung Regency, Bali, Indonesia by Sowmya Sruthi Ch

Day 2: Tanah Lot, Taman Ayu temple, Kopi Luwak farm, Monkey Park in Bandung.

The huge Lotus pond at Taman Ayun Temple

Photo of Taman Ayun Temple, Mengwi, Badung Regency, Bali, Indonesia by Sowmya Sruthi Ch

Sprawling gardens with water fountains at Taman Ayun Temple

Photo of Taman Ayun Temple, Mengwi, Badung Regency, Bali, Indonesia by Sowmya Sruthi Ch

Kopi Luwak Seeds

Photo of Taman Ayun Temple, Mengwi, Badung Regency, Bali, Indonesia by Sowmya Sruthi Ch

Refined Kopi Luwak coffee beans

Photo of Taman Ayun Temple, Mengwi, Badung Regency, Bali, Indonesia by Sowmya Sruthi Ch

This is the animal named Palm Civet or Civet Cat from whose poo Kopi Luwak beans are secured

Photo of Taman Ayun Temple, Mengwi, Badung Regency, Bali, Indonesia by Sowmya Sruthi Ch

Here is the infamous world's most expensive coffee in a cute cup. One small cup of this is priced at Rs 250

Photo of Taman Ayun Temple, Mengwi, Badung Regency, Bali, Indonesia by Sowmya Sruthi Ch

Day 3: Celuk Village, Batik Printing centre, Tegenungnan Waterfalls as we headed to Ubud for a stay.

There are a couple of waterfalls in here and the other one has fresh and freezing cold water cascading

Photo of Tegenungan Waterfall, Kemenuh, Gianyar, Bali, Indonesia by Sowmya Sruthi Ch

Day 4: Leisure. We hired a villa in Ubud and relaxed for an entire day soaking in the greenery around.

Given any day!

Photo of Bali aka The Island of Gods: The semi- luxurious way to explore by Sowmya Sruthi Ch

Day 5: Ubud Palace, Market place, Goa Gajah

Cute ceramic teapots that stole my heart

Photo of Ubud Market, Ubud, Gianyar, Bali, Indonesia by Sowmya Sruthi Ch

These round slings made of bamboo are painfully expensive. They will NOT let any bargain work on it. Sigh!

Photo of Ubud Market, Ubud, Gianyar, Bali, Indonesia by Sowmya Sruthi Ch

I just love it

Photo of Ubud Market, Ubud, Gianyar, Bali, Indonesia by Sowmya Sruthi Ch

A beautiful pond located in Goa Gajah

Photo of Goa Gajah, Bedulu, Gianyar, Bali, Indonesia by Sowmya Sruthi Ch

Day 6: Tampak Siring, Tirtha Empul Temple, Kintamani (Mount Agung)

The rice fields (beds) at Tampak Siring . Try tender coconuts for Rs 72 which fills you up and keeps you going

Photo of Tampaksiring, Gianyar, Bali, Indonesia by Sowmya Sruthi Ch

A huge Koi Carp fish pond in the temple complex

Photo of Pura Tirta Empul, Manukaya, Gianyar, Bali, Indonesia by Sowmya Sruthi Ch

Mount Agung and Lake Batur, Kintamani

Photo of Kintamani, Bangli Regency, Bali, Indonesia by Sowmya Sruthi Ch

Day 7: Nusa Dua Water sports and Kuta Beach with Discovery Mall

One ethereal experience!

Photo of Sea Walker Tour, Sanur - Bali, Sanur, Denpasar City, Bali, Indonesia by Sowmya Sruthi Ch

Become one and feed 'em

Photo of Sea Walker Tour, Sanur - Bali, Sanur, Denpasar City, Bali, Indonesia by Sowmya Sruthi Ch

Some trinkets that sparkled at Discovery Mall

Photo of Discovery Shopping Mall, Kuta, Jalan Kartika Plaza, Badung Regency, Bali, Indonesia by Sowmya Sruthi Ch

Jet Fly, high

Photo of Nusa Dua Water Sports, Sumerta Kelod, Denpasar City, Bali, Indonesia by Sowmya Sruthi Ch

How about some Paragliding?

Photo of Nusa Dua Water Sports, Sumerta Kelod, Denpasar City, Bali, Indonesia by Sowmya Sruthi Ch

And get up and close with these huge creatures. You can feed them too!

Photo of Captive turtles Bali Benoa, Tanjung Benoa, Badung Regency, Bali, Indonesia by Sowmya Sruthi Ch

Day 8: White water rafting in Ayung River, Ubud along with a short visit to Plaza Renon before leaving for airport.

One cannot go to Bali and not do River rafting in Ayung river. The carved mountains and waterfalls along the way of 12 kms leave you spellbound.

Photo of Bali aka The Island of Gods: The semi- luxurious way to explore by Sowmya Sruthi Ch

Accommodation

Day 1: Maxi Hotel Complex Kuta with a complimentary 10 minute massage and welcome drink. We paid Rs 3390 (including taxes) for two rooms per night without breakfast.

Day 2: Hotel Tusita with a welcome drink which is often Jasmine Ice Tea and a great spread of continental breakfast. They will even pack the breakfast for you upon request and offer iced tea as complimentary. It was for Rs 3753 for two rooms per night.

Day 3: Hotel Griya Sunset with basic breakfast of two bread slices and a boiled egg. We booked it for Rs 2662 for two rooms per night.

Day 4: Hotel Wijaya Guest House in Ubud. At this comfortable stay you get banana pancakes, fruit salad and Tea or coffee as breakfast. You are charged for a boiled egg or omelette. There are no rooms on the ground floor and this is a house run by Donald and his friends. They help you out in fetching luggage to the first floor. They can arrange for river rafting if you like at an additional expense. We got two rooms for a night for Rs 3500.

Day 5: White Cubes Villa in Ubud. This is a steal we got for Rs 4800 for a night for two villas. We get the entire villa where you have kitchen and sitting area and washroom in the ground floor. The duplex villa has bedroom with glass walls on the first floor. We hit a big supermarket in the Ubud city centre and bought some vegetables, eggs, spices and oil to cook our own food.

Day 6, 7 and 8: Hotel Maya Village in Kuta with yummy breakfast. The breakfast is served at their own set-up, ‘Karma Cafe’ where you can either choose from vegetable noodles or porridge or bread omelette accompanied with Tea or Coffee and a small cup of fruits. Their Banana shake on the menu is something you should try. And it’s no surprise to see this budget hotel always being full and has its majority rooms occupied by westerners. We booked a double room that sleeps four but we were upgraded to a duplex suite. For a total three days of accommodation, we paid Rs 7000.

Banana pancakes with fresh cut fruits and Tea or Coffee was served at Wijaya Guest House, Ubud

Photo of Wijaya Guest House, Jalan Raya Laplapan, Petulu, Gianyar, Bali, Indonesia by Sowmya Sruthi Ch

We had the entire pool for ourselves at Hotel Tusita. Bingo!

Photo of The Tusita Hotel, Kuta, Bali, Indonesia by Sowmya Sruthi Ch

A simple and cute setting at Wijaya Guest House, Ubud

Photo of The Tusita Hotel, Kuta, Bali, Indonesia by Sowmya Sruthi Ch

Breakfast served at Karma Cafe, The Maya Village Hotel

Photo of Maya Village Bali, Kuta, Jalan Mataram, Badung Regency, Bali, Indonesia by Sowmya Sruthi Ch

Must Try

If you crave for Indian food, The Queens of India is a great place to look out for. The restaurant has many branches across the island and offers south-Indian and north-Indian food that tastes pretty good but is on a higher price. Ruchi’s Restaurant in Kuta is also a nice alternative for Indian food but be prepared to shell out big bucks if you are keen to eat Indian.

- Boiled sweet potatoes that taste like heaven.

- The variety chips and fryums.

- Nasi Goreng

- Sea Food platter

- Coconut ice cream at Tanah Lot

- Pepsi, which is sweeter than what we get here and keeps you asking for more.

- Buy some dream catchers that depict the soul of handicrafts in Bali.

- Palm leaf albums and some fridge magnets as souvenirs.

- Handmade soaps, foot soak, essential oils, body mists and sprays along with some vegetable chips and wooden craft work.

- Magnets

A quarter part of the stuff that we bought for good prices. Bargaining is the key

Photo of Bali aka The Island of Gods: The semi- luxurious way to explore by Sowmya Sruthi Ch

Nasi Goreng and Chicken Burger served at a restaurant near Tegenungnan Waterfalls

Photo of Tegenungan Waterfall, Kemenuh, Gianyar, Bali, Indonesia by Sowmya Sruthi Ch

What we cooked out of grocery shopping we did at a supermarket in Ubud during our leisure

Photo of White Cubes, Kedewatan, Gianyar, Bali, Indonesia by Sowmya Sruthi Ch

Nasi Goreng at Tirtha Empul Temple

Photo of Pura Tirta Empul, Manukaya, Gianyar, Bali, Indonesia by Sowmya Sruthi Ch

Chawal and Dal fry bought from The Queens of India restaurant

Photo of Pura Tirta Empul, Manukaya, Gianyar, Bali, Indonesia by Sowmya Sruthi Ch
Photo of Pura Tirta Empul, Manukaya, Gianyar, Bali, Indonesia by Sowmya Sruthi Ch

Some healthy and yummy grub we ordered at a must-visit restaurant in Ubud

Photo of Warung Janggar Ulam, Peliatan, Gianyar, Bali, Indonesia by Sowmya Sruthi Ch

Nasi Goreng that you get from street side stalls

Photo of Kuta, Badung Regency, Bali, Indonesia by Sowmya Sruthi Ch

Best places to buy

Bali is a place of swanky and expensive experiences you get at a mall and colourful handicrafts dotting your entire view of a street, where you can shop till you drop. The advantage of shopping at the streets and market places is that not just you get to buy some authentic products but also at pocket-friendly price. As discussed, bargaining is the key. But don’t be hard. You might end up embarrassed.

Than going to shops, you can invest good amount of money on great deal of stuff at places like Tirtha Empul Temple and Tampak Siring, where the artisans line-up in makeshift shops with enticing work of art. There are dedicated market shops at these places where you can buy that exact stuff you found attractive at Ubud market for cheap price.

At Mount Batur, you will be approached by vendors (mostly women) who take INR (sometimes) in exchange of some cool t-shirts and casual dresses for women. This is undoubtedly the best place to buy those clichéd ‘I love Bali’, ‘Bali Island’ graphic t-shirts for as cheap as Rs 100. After we bought about 30 pieces from a single vendor, her competitor offered us the same stuff for as low as Rs 50 per piece. (That could otherwise be a technique to lure us to buy a little more from her, since she was around when we are making purchases in the first shop). So, look out and compare if you are keen on buying in bulk.

Water adventure

In countries or places where tourism is predominant, you find people who suggest or link you upto their associates wherever possible. While the idea isn’t really bad, make sure you do some home work about the costs and compare before coming to a decision. Wawan helped us in booking the water sports with famous organisers in Tanjung Benoa, Nusa Dua where we not only bargained for half the price they quoted but also ended up having a free lunch. And in some places like Bali, going by your guide will help you get extra value for money. But that is totally your call.

We bargained the whole set of water sports- Sea walker, Fly Jet, Turtle Island and Parasailing for $100 (plus they give you amazing pictures and video of the activities for additional $23). Since the water sports organisers were friends to Wawan, they offered us free lunch that is Nasi Goreng or Mie Goreng as complimentary. You can order anything that is available on the menu for an additional charge.

On the final day of our trip, we were again guided to a good rafting company in Ubud who got us do the rafting with lunch included at a price of $25 per person. But here, you have to pay a good sum to acquire the video of your rafting experience and pictures, separately. For video, they didn’t settle for anything below Rs 2000 and Rs 1000 for photos.

Some tips

- Do not carry anything that has metal/made up of metals in your handbags because it might require you to spend a little time at the checking belt. They got my umbrella removed from the bag and made me wait a bit.

- In Kuala Lumpur, they did not allow us to take water bottle in hand luggage and asked us to drink it off or empty the bottle. As is the case with deodorants or body sprays. Any container that is more than 120 ml will be confiscated (Talking about hand luggage). We had to let go off our two good spray tins.

- Bali is not really cheap as most people put it across. It is as expensive as possible depending on the way you spend, choose to eat and choose to stay. Their basic pricing of things/services start in thousands and that more or less equals to what we normally spend here.

- For them, one hundred Indian rupees currency note is Rp 1,00,000 and this is what you should keep in mind while they negotiate in hundreds. Hundred is greater than thousands for them.

- Most budget hotels and villas provide the facility of kitchen and utensils. You can carry ingredients if you like (keep the baggage allowance in mind) and cook your own food. Besides, almost every hotel room is equipped with coffee maker and sachets.

- If there is a place where you can make use of American dollars that is at the water sports. They accept dollars.

- Bargaining is the key at anything that you buy in terms of products or services. Until and unless it is a fixed price shop and entry ticket fee, you are allowed to bargain at every other place on everything.

For any assistance or information, feel free to ping me.

1 Comment(s)
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Excellent view of a tour programme
Tue 12 12 17, 08:29 · Reply · Report