The trip between New-Zealand and Bali was quite long, but after our many long bus rides in South America, it did not seem that bad! We first had to take a flight from Christchurch to Melbourne in Australia, which was 3:30 hours long, and then we had to wait 5-6 hours at the airport before the last leg of the trip, which took another 6 hours. We were flying on a budget airline (Jetstar), so there was not much room between the seats for David's long legs and we had to pay for everything onboard, even the refresments were not included, but we knew it was going to be that way when we purchased our tickets so there was no surprise there. Travelling the whole day in such an uncomfortable setting made us quite tired, but hey! It was fine, we were on our way to a paradisiac island!
We arrived in Bali at about 9:30pm. No need to wait in line for a visa on arrival, canadian citizens do not require a visa anymore for short stays. Passing through customs was easy and we had no issues with our luggage. That was a good start!
As we were making our way out of the airport, we looked around the lobby to figure out how we would get to our hotel. We made our way to the taxi counter where the agent, who was surrounded by a dozen, if not more, taxi drivers, told us that it would cost us 200,000 rupiahs (around 20$ CAD) to get to our hotel in Seminyak, which was only about 6 km away from the airport. Per the standards in Indonesia and from what we had read, we considered that the price suggested was rediculously high, so we decided to pass and try to find a cab ourselves. It did not take long to understand we would not have many options when we crossed the gate and a dozen more of the same taxi drivers were now standing on the other side waiting for us. As we asked around, they all kept on telling us the same price for the trip. It was becoming more and more overwhelming to think clearly as we were getting surrounded by drivers who wanted our business. As we expected, we had to bargain with the driver we decided to go with to lower the price, but he did not want to go lower than 150,000 rupiahs (around 15$ CAD). He kept on telling us that our hotel was very far and that it would take a long time to get there.
15 minutes later (!!!), we were at our hotel... yes, we probably did pay too much, most likely double what it should have been, but it is very difficult to bargain with taxi drivers, especially at that airport, since they know you need to get to your hotel and you have no other mean of transportation. The hotel we had chosen was named Room and Vespa #3. There are just so many hotels to choose from in Bali, it is a difficult task to make up your mind when trying to search for the perfect hotel online.
Upon our arrival, the employee who was working the night shift couldn't find our reservation. That was not an issue though, he provided us with a room since the hotel was not fully booked. The room was large with vaulted ceilings and the bathroom was also quite roomy with a spacious shower. As we were getting installed in our cute looking room, we started smelling something that was not so lovely... The smell was coming from the bathroom and can only be described as a kind of sulfur/sewer smell. It was simply discusting! We tried our best to explain the situation to the employee of the hotel who did not speak english very well. He finally understood and suggested we take another room. The new room seemed fine so we moved our stuff right away. But after a few minutes, it started smelling really bad in that room as well. We were so tired, we had no other choice but to shut the door of the bathroom and tell ourselves that we would only be there for a couple of nights!
We spent our first couple of days in Bali wandering around the area of Seminyak and trying different restaurants. That region on the island is very touristic and has a lot of good looking restaurants and tons of shops. The clothes lover in me was itching to go into the stores selling dresses and beach attire, but I resisted. I had no room in my "home" (my backpack!) for more clothes, unfortunately... So I unduldged in a great meal instead, my favorite meal so far in Bali, at a restaurant named Bo and Bun, which is a vietnamese restaurant with the reputation of having the best Pho on the island. I was not disappointed: the Pho, of which the broth had simmered for 12 hours long, was amazingly delicous! The task of eating hot soup on a hot afternoon was difficult, but I had to do it! It was probaby 40 degrees celcius outside, I had sweat running down back, my legs and my forehead, there was no air conditioning in the restaurant...so what! It was worth it, but kind of painfull at the same time.
It is also during our stay in Seminyak that we tried our first “Suckling Pig”, which is a mix of different meat parts of a roasted pork prepared different ways, from small skewers to hot & spicy salad. Everything is put in a small plate and comes with rice. Suckling Pig is also more than just a traditional dish, it’s Balinese people’s way of saying to the rest of Indonesia “We are different” - Indonesia is mainly a muslim country whereas the island of Bali is mainly hindu... pork is no-no for muslims so having this dish amongst their traditional favourites is quite an important statement.
After 2 days in Seminyak, we moved north to an area called Canggu. It is alo on the coast near the beach and is very popular for its surf spots. We spent 4 days in a hotel named Big Brother. It had an outside bathroom, which was a fun experience to have. Don't worry, it was completely private! Since the hotel was not really close to the beach, we decided to rent a scooter for a couple of days. Anyways, the streets in Canggu are not really pedestrian friendly (most streets don't have sidewalks) and you can't really move around the area by foot since there is no real "downtown", restaurants and shops and spread far apart on different main streets.
Even though our hotel was further away from the beach, we really enjoyed spending time there. It was set amongst the rice fields and the pool was overlooking that picture perfect scenery. It was mostly quiet, except for the few roosters living in the houses near the hotel. If you have ever travelled to Asia or maybe even to some places in South America, you probably know how annoying roosters can be when trying to sleep!
While in Canggu, we visited the Tanah Lot temple located 12 kms North of town. It was suggested to visit it at sunset to witness the most spectacular views of the temple. As the hundreds of other tourists there could testify, Tanah Lot lives up to its reputation of being one of the "worst kept secret" of the island. It was really crowded and it was difficult to get a good picture of the site without anyone else in it.
David even became famous, once again, as some asian tourists asked him to take a picture with him like it happened to us back in Trujillo in Peru. It is such an unnatural thing for us and even though we know it can and it will happen again, it makes us quite uncomfortable to be asked.
After a few days, it was time to leave the coast for a town located a little more inland. I had heard good things about Ubud from friends who had visited it in the past and from what we were told, it is supposed to be a little bit cooler than the coast. Let's see if that is the case...