A Weekend Getaway to Bali

Friday, 1 May 2015

Bali is one of the most beautiful islands I've ever been to. I've now been twice. My two experiences were vastly different from one another. The first time I went to Bali, I went as part of a risk and trauma assessment class. We got to see various areas of the island, got a first-hand experience as to how the Balinese live, and were immersed in the Balinese culture. My most recent trip was purely for a holiday. The entirety of the journey was spent in Ubud, attempting to relax. This trip had many positives but also a few negatives.
My sad attempt at yoga.
  • Do NOT trust what you find online: On my first trip to Bali, our transport was arranged for us. We didn't have to worry about haggling taxi drivers for the best trip. I did quite a bit of research online trying to figure out what a fair taxi cab price from the airport to Ubud would be. The airport has a website that shows the cab fare is maximum 195,000 rupiah. I also looked at reviews for our hotel and saw the most that people paid were 250,000 rupiahs. Figured if we found a cab between 150,000-250,000 they were reasonable. WRONG! I showed the website to the taxi cab stand and got the response "no this is wrong and isn't up to date". Even with the board in the airport showing 200,000, we were still being quoted 350,000 (Original quote was 700,000). We finally found a guy who offered to take us for 150,000. We repeated the price 3 times and made hand motions for 1-5-0 just to make sure that was the price we agreed to. After him saying yes, we got in the car and went on our way. When we got to the hotel, the cabbie caused a scene and started shouting that we agreed on 350,000 and we were ripping him off and that the cops would be called. NOT the way I wanted to start my trip. I had also done heaps of research on the Hanging Gardens as this was one place I wanted to visit (I did about 2 hours of research on this location). Their website says you can gain access to the pool for $40USD. We show up, they say the website is wrong, and that it's $350USD to access the pool. Needless to say, we didn't see the Hanging Gardens. 
  • Bungalows at Bunga Permai
  • Bunga Permai: We chose to stay somewhere away from Central Ubud. The hotel itself was quite nice. It was reasonably priced, the food was surprisingly fantastic, and the seclusion made it quite relaxing. The staff, however, weren't much help. Depending on who you talked to you were quoted different prices (even on activities they had solidified prices on), or they just weren't helpful. I get that there is a language barrier, so I will give them the benefit of the doubt, but it just seemed to me as though every person was just trying to get your money or upsell you. 
Awesome Poolside Views
Related Post: Gong Hey Fat Choy! 

  • Monkey Forest: This place is fantastic! I think I could visit the forest every day and be a happy camper. However, if monkeys scare you, this is not the place for you. Some of the monkeys are quite aggressive and will not hesitate to climb on you or try and steal your purse. I had a baby monkey Kronwall, another monkey that tried to grab my bag (baby monkey is my new hero). Side note: the monkeys are insanely soft. I wasn't expecting their little hands to feel so soft. They're adorable. Even when they jump from a tree and cling to your shirt. 
    My monkey hero after he Kronwalled the bigger monkey
  • Central Ubud: I LOVE central Ubud! It's amazing! There's the market, the culture, the food. It's just amazing. The first time I went, I thought all the prices would be uber cheap in comparison to American prices, it was cheaper but not what I was expecting. Coming back to Ubud after living in Australia, everything is SO cheap! Unlike Kuta, Ubud is more focused on relaxation. There are heaps of yoga studios and spas. The beautiful thing is the massages are roughly $12USD, and if you don't like one place, just go a few doors down and try the next! My favourite part of central Ubud is the market. You can find your typical souvenirs there but there is also some amazing finds there. There's incredible artwork. The paintings and wood sculptures are amazing! Most places will go down about 40% in the original asking price. And although you can't walk more than 5 steps without being offered a taxi ride, people aren't pushy here! You say no and they leave you be!
    Ubud Market
  • Bali Zoo: Last time I was in Bali, I missed out on getting to interact with the elephants. This time I decided I wouldn't pass up on the opportunity a second time. Getting to go on an elephant ride and feed the elephant was amazing.
    Poor elephants
    I was surprised at the treatment of the elephants though. It made me sorrowful to see the elephants chained up in the back. It also broke my heart to see the 'trainer' hit the elephant with an ice pick looking tool on the head to keep control over the elephant. I'm sure there has to be a better way of training the elephants and wondered if only reinforcing the elephants when they exhibited positive behaviours could extinguish the need for the picks. Another positive of the zoo was how interactive it is. There are multiple shows where you get the chance to interact with the animals. We got to hold a Bearcat, Salt Water Croc, and a Gibbon! With the package we purchased we got:
    Cute Gibbon monkey
    •  transport to and from the zoo, 
    • a lunch buffet, 
    • free fruit to feed the animals (in addition to feeding the elephants), 
    • the extended elephant ride in which we got to walk through the rice fields and see a temple,
    • and insurance

  • Bali Belly: I have been incredibly lucky to not succumb to the Bali Belly on either of my trips (I did get sick the first trip, but it wasn't Bali Belly). It is crucial that you steer clear of non-bottled water while in Bali. By this, I mean even using bottled water to brush your teeth. In most restaurants, ice is entirely fine. Just stay well hydrated, and your trip will be delightful. 
Walking through the rice fields
There is so much more of the island I still want to explore. There's the surfing, snorkelling, dolphin sighting in Lovina, Pura Ulun Danu Bratan, Kuta's nightlife, Ayana bar on the rocks, and so much more.


  1. Wow... thanks for the heads up Stephanie! This will surely help me plan better.

  2. That taxi-driver is such a ass! Scenarios like these make me think twice about countries without convenient public transport, but oh well.

    1. It was so frustrating! Especially since I didn't have any issues the first time I went to Bali. The experience didn't ruin the trip though. Bali is still an amazing place to visit!