Bali, Indonesia with the family

Welcome old readers and new!
So why Bali for vacay from here in Seattle?
  • Close to my parents in Mumbai and brother in Singapore ✓
  • Good weather over Christmas break so I don’t use up my vacation✓
  • VISA upon arrival for Indian nationals ✓
  • Enough things to do for a week – 10 days ✓
I thought, this would be interesting. My left rib cage hurt from totaling my car the day before the day before flying…in yet another country, Canada. Also, I had a septoplasty in November. I decided to go easy on the sports. I wanted to go hiking, snorkeling, scuba diving and to Waterbom but I’d have to tone it down. I thought I’d ask my dad. He is a doctor.
I flew the pacific route via Eva air. It’s 10 hours from Seattle to Taipei and then another 5 to Denpasar, Bali. Indian nationals don’t need to a Visa to fly via Taipei. Perfect! I saw crazy rich Asians on the flight because c’mon now 🙂
I thought my Verizon travel pass was $5 a day like Canada. Turned out it is $10 a day for Taiwan and Indonesia. They can kiss my rear. I used WiFi and tethered my brother’s phone. He got a SIM from a phone store. Walking through a 6 fold immigration line, I thought San Francisco was probably not that bad.
I carried my humblest outfits for the tropics leaving my swimsuits aside. What I gathered from safety tips for Bali, this place is going to be like India. Be prepared to gift what you have burning man style. You might not have a choice or be in a position to bargain. Also, if you like going to temples, cover the shoulders and knees and wear a veil. Done and done and done.
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Entrance to a sculpture store in Bali, Indonesia
Dec 19, 2018 was my first day in Bali. Bali is a Hindu province in a majority muslim Indonesia. Every neighborhood has 3 temples. One inside, one outside and one community temple. Indonesia is an archipelago of 17,508 islands. The temples, lush greenery and various arts are the draw of Bali, It is a 4 hour flight from Australia. Majority of tourists are from India, China and Australia. People are calm and nice.
Even their local politicians look tame on the banners.

Day 1:

I paid 300,000 to Bluebird taxi to take me to Canggu. I paid half the price on the way back. Just because a price is on a laminated piece of paper does not mean you cannot haggle them down :). Checked in to our Airbnb. It was basic. I liked it. I could hail a grab taxi here from that side of Changgu so perfect!
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Mangosteen (left), salak (center) and dragonfruit (right)

Day 2:

Also, UTI from a long flight. No, this is not TMI. You need to hear it. My good friends from TripAdvisor.com have health tips for Bali I came across as I was reading about what to do. We know we cannot drink water from the tap already. Also, brush your teeth with filtered water. I avoid ice in my water anyway so I did the usual there. One can grab antibiotics over the counter here. I can hail a grab taxi to the nearest Guardian pharmacy about a mile from my Airbnb and get an antibiotic off the counter. I waited for dad as it didn’t get too bad. I tried to dilute and flush out the bacteria with lots of water in the meantime.
I just showered and did some groceries from the productivity angle. I encouraged my brother to bring his girlfriend so we are all on our best behavior and less noise 🙂 I tried Nasi Goreng. It is a chilli chicken fried rice. It was just alright.
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Random thought: Bali, dood stop drizzling on me as I lie comatose on my hammock…

Day 3:

We did the Viator traditional day tour.

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Batuan temple
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Offering of symbolic 5 elements at Batuan temple, Bali, Indonesia
The Batuan, Sebatu holy temples, the monkey forest, rice terrace and the lunch with a view of Mt Batur at Batur Sari were the highlights.
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Sebatu temple, Bali, Indonesia
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Sebatu temple, Bali, Indonesia

The white sculptures are of a limestone called ‘paras’. The black ones are of a volcanic lava stone.

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Monkey forest, Bali, Indonesia
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Rice terrace, Bali, Indonesia
The batic (Indonesian style of fabric print), silver jewelry, woodwork, sculptures and paintings were good but not worth missing the sunset at Tanah Lot temple and delaying our lunch by an hour or so.
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Mt. Batur from Batur sari, Bali, Indonesia
If you have a bigger group and move slow, I would recommended skipping them.
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Batic fabric design, Bali, Indonesia
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Silver Jewelry making, Bali, Indonesia
We took the coffee plantation tour as well. It includes watching caged mongooses while our guide explains how they ferment coffee beans with their digestive enzymes before they are pooped out for their special, most expensive ‘Luwak’ coffee.
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Coffee plantation, Bali, Indonesia
Their sampler is complimentary. Luwak is not. I liked the Vanilla and Ginseng ones personally. Four of us shared the 80,000 rupiah worth Luwak coffee.
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Coffee sample at coffee plantation, Bali, Indonesia
The Ayam Goreng (fried chicken) with their ginger-garlic-tomato sauce was the best value for money meal from a local stall (Warung). It was 20,000 rupiah, so a bit over a US dollar. That was the price of a fresh juice in a regular cafe. At least that is what I felt till I got sick on getting back.

Day 4:

It rained on Saturday so went shopping at Kumbasari art market and then Magica. We picked Kumbasari because it was going to rain and we did not want to roam the streets. We bought sarongs for friends, nighties and a beach dress for me. The beach dress was the equivalent of close to $12. I bargained there as well. Please just assume we never paid the first quoted price for anything unless it was over a counter with a ticket with the price printed on it. This was more of a shopping arcade.
We went for a fancy dinner at Finns beach club. They offer exchanging USD for rupiah at the restaurant. About that, shop around for a good exchange rate. Businesses that take USD did not give a good conversion IMO.

Day 5:

We covered Tanah Lot temple, marine park and Uluwatu temple on day 5.
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Tanah Lot temple, Bali, Indonesia
It was a hot day. Tanah Lot was alright. I loved the boat ride to the marine park.
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Ride to marine park, Bali, Indonesia
It’s been a while since I felt the warm ocean breeze splash in my face. This is directed at you Seattle!
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Ride back from marine park, Bali, Indonesia
The park itself was gimmicky and somewhat disappointing. We didn’t see as many fish as we expected on the boat ride to the park.
The animals were kept in cramped dirty spaces. We paid for the boat ride and then 20000 rupiah per person for entry and the tour of the park. I would skip the tour but not the boat ride.
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Uluwatu temple, Bali, Indonesia
Uluwatu temple sunset was breadth-taking! (featured image) It was cloudy but we managed to see the sky blush over the cliff irrespective. It was tough on my mom as a crazy monkey stole her glasses and chewed them out. Another one stole my dad’s. He held it right in front of us. I thought of taking a swing at it but held back. This was gold for tourists with cameras. At least the monkeys at the monkey forest had some family values. They hung with their babies and left us alone. We managed to get his back. Mom carries a spare all times so we proceeded to see the traditional ‘Kechak’ dance. This one again is a must see.
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Kechak dance, Bali, Indonesia
It’s a Balinese enactment of the Ramayana, a Hindu mythology. We really enjoyed it.

Day 6:

We took the safari on Monday, saw the animal show and feeding of the alligators.
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Feeding of the alligators, Bali, Indonesia
It was well maintained. I still had this nagging feeling that the animals don’t have enough space. The feeding of the alligators was fun.
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Lion at the safari, Bali, Indonesia
This attraction felt like it was mostly for kids.

Day 7:

We wet to Kuta Beach and around. It is commercialized and dirty. Not my thing.

Day 8:

We covered Ulun Danu Beratan, Wanagiri hidden hills and the twin waterfalls this day.
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Ulun Danu Beratan, Bali, Indonesia
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Wanagiri hidden hills, Bali, Indonesia
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Twin waterfalls, Bali, Indonesia
We got lunch at De Danau. I had Gurami fish the first time. It was delicious 🙂

Day 9:

We took a chill day off. I met my burner camp mate at W, Seminyak. I loved their poolside
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Poolside, W. at Seminyak, Bali, Indonesia

Day 10:

We went to Klungkung palace, shopping at Semarapura and Besakih temple.
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Klungun palace, Bali, Indonesia
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Klungun palace, Bali, Indonesia
All 3 were well worth the drive.
Don’t miss the museum attached to the palace.
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Klungun palace museum, Bali, Indonesia
The shopping, for mom and I worked out really well. We bought 1.5 m – 2 m cloth pieces for 200,000 rupiah each.
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Shopping at Semarapura, Bali, Indonesia
This is also a good place to exchange your dollars for rupiah. We had a lot of trouble with our dollars later. Even big businesses do not accept dollar bills more than 10 years old or with any kind of ink marks in this neighborhood.
We had heard about con artists around Besakih. They were pretty tame compared to the ones at Kalighat, Kolkata. We were firm and refused to purchase anything extra.
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Mt. Agung from Besakih temple, Bali, Indonesia
We had a very good time at Besakih. I suggest going around the temple and climbing all the way to the top and behind the temple. Watching Mt. Agung from art art shop with wind chimes and volcanic rock paintings is all the therapy you need.
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Wind chimes at Besakih, Bali, Indonesia

Day 11:

Waterbom! Waterbom time. I went by myself because no one would join me. My brother gifted me the full day pass 🙂 It includes lunch and one of 4 options. I picked massage but in retrospect, I should have picked the flow rider. It’s a man made surfing simulation.
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I started with the low speed and progressed to some of the steep high speed ones. It’s all safe and chill. I remember the ones at water kingdom being scarier. May be I was just tinier then. Pro tip: wear a one piece swim suit. The water gushing in behind is not pleasant. I tried their local Bintang beer at the pleasure pool and experienced my first bee sting. Watch out! Waterbom was good, fun but smaller than I expected. Climbing the stairs to the rides took the wind out of me by about 4. I showered and headed back. I took a GOJEK bike ride both times. It’s worked a lot better for me than grab. The grab riders go in opposite direction every time while the app says they are one minute away the whole time. I don’t get it.
We happened to visit during the Galungan festival. So we drove by pretty road decorations the entire time 🙂
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Road decorations for Galungan festival, Bali, Indonesia
We got dinner at 2 trees eatery. It’s so nice to feel real plants ❤

Day 12:

My family flew back this day. I flew the day after.

TIPS:

  1. Book your stay in Canggu.
  2. Book a car for 600,000 ish rupiah to show you around the whole day
  3. Bargain to a reasonable price always
  4. Carry enough rupiah always
  5. Eat at hygienic restaurants
  6. Try the local fruits especially the dragonfruit
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Ripe dragonfruit, Bali, Indonesia

MY RECOMMENDED ITINERARY:

Day 1 (recommended)

  • Batuan temple
  • Sebatu temple
  • Monkey forest
  • Lunch with a view of Mt Batur at Batur Sari
  • Rice terrace
  • Coffee plantation tour
  • Tanah Lot temple

Day 2 (recommended)

  • Animal safari
  • Boat tour at marine park
  • Uluwatu temple
  • Kechak dance at Uluwatu temple

Day 3 (recommended)

  • Ulun Danu Beratan
  • Wanagiri hidden hills
  • Twin waterfalls
  • Lunch at De Danau.

Day 4 (recommended)

  • Klungkung palace
  • Shopping at Semarapura
  • Besakih temple. All 3 were well worth the drive

Day 5 (recommended)

  • Waterbom
Day 7 (recommended)
  • Goa Gajah
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Sculpture at monkey forest, Bali, Indonesia

 

AFTERTHOUGHTS

Bali was a great backdrop for a family reunion. Bali offers a unique cultural experience and lush greenery. Contrary to what I had expected, it was not exactly cheap or as convenient as popular a tourist destination it is. From what my brother said, if white sand beaches and impeccable service is what you are in the mood for, may be Thailand would be a better choice. From a tourist’s perspective, Bali is so relaxing and definitely worth a visit! It vibes like an outdoor spa of a healing retreat. We did not have any bad experiences in the neighborhoods we visited.

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I did get sick after getting back and went on a second round of antibiotics. It threw my local plans awry. Now I cannot fault Bali for that as I had the option of eating at better places. If you have lived in a more sanitized and sterile place for a while, I suggest being wary of the ‘warungs’. Your immunity might not be what it used to be. My family held up just fine. It’s not you, it’s me, Bali. Body, up your defense budget!

 

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