Bali road trip – lot’s of road

15 Feb

Sticky rice on the rice terraces

For some reason Indonesia (Bali) seems tougher to get around in than Thailand. There’s a lot more ‘services’ that just blatantly rip you off – with a friendly smile. Once you get a feel for the prices though, you can get good deals – so we booked ourselves a trip around Bali, mixing and matching the ‘standard tours’ and going off the tourist trail a bit. I’m not sure if the mixing of different sights was a good idea, as we ended up spending quite some hours in the car getting to the sights… But I guess that a road trip involves being on the road… lots of road… Pics below.

Getting from Denpasar airport to our Ubud hotel cost us 200000 Rupiya (only 20 US$) with Ubud Taxi (nicely pre-booked via internet), but the regular fare once you get familiar with the prices is 60000 Rp/person.  Either you get used to paying the few ‘stupid white dollars’ extra here and there, or you can get uptight about it and ruin your holiday. A simple choice to make, I think. And frankly, we can afford it, no? On the other side of the coin, there’s plenty of good deals to be made, if you shop around.

Bratan temple on the Bratan lake

So instead of going on an 800000 Rp (80 US$) set tour plus 200000 Rp for the taxi to Seminyak (near the sea), we asked around and around till we found a friendly guy offering a private taxi for 400000 Rp (40 US$) to drive us around wherever we wanted. So we took the highlights of about 3 different tours and threw in a bit of rice terraces, temples, volcanoes, waterfalls and lakes. The driver of courses added in the ‘obligatory’ coffee & spices visit (where they get commission) but hey, we got to taste some ginger coffee and saw the civits that eat, digest and shit coffee beans, which are then turned into the most expensive coffee in the world (5000 US$/kg) – yummy (even though tasting this coffee would set you back 10 US$).

Gorgeous volcanic hot springs - for locals

The best part of our field trip, were the volcanic hot springs near Batur volcano and lake. It was a place where only locals seemed to go (the tourists were usually whisked off to the expensive hotels in the area). We arrived at this hot baths complex and were the only ‘white ones’ – despite 3 weeks of desperate tanning already. The pools and baths were made of the generously available black lavastone and you basically just relax, swim or have a drink in the 38° C water. The naturally hot water is supposed to be healthy too – except for my ear as it turned out the next day (read more here). With a gorgeous view from the lake and volcano. Sigh.

The Indonesiam maffia - asking for entrance fees for every fart

For all the sights we saw, including the road going to Batur volcano, the temples and the Git Git twin waterfalls in the forest, we had to pay entrance fees. Add to that the omnipresent vendors trying to sell you the most impossible and useless tourist stuff, I couldn’t help but feel a bit like a milked cow at some stages. As if there was some grand Indonesian scheme behind it, to rid the tourists of as many Rupiya as possible. And when we went to Batur temple, we saw a mafia-like guy, donned with sarong and Men in Black sunglasses, who must have concocted this gloomy tourist extortion strategy ;-)

We got to see Bali in a nutshell, but were knackered at the end of it. But we were rewarded with a stay in our Annora Bali villa (pics here). A last few days of pool and pampering before the back to Brussels anti-climax.


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