We have returned from our 4 night trip to the island of Bali, which was just a quick 40 minute plane ride away! Well, 15 minute bike trip to the bus terminal, 2 hour bus ride, 10 minute cab ride to airport and then a 40 minute flight. We left Thursday night and returned Monday early evening.
When we got to the bus terminal in Malang, we parked our motorcycles in this huge parking lot that was filled with hundreds of bikes. We got on the bus first, and chose the seats in the very front. Sam and I on one side and Vriz on the other. The bus and the terminal were not much different than they are in the US. The bus had comfortable seats, not a lot of leg room, and had that weird, rubbery, bus smell. The biggest difference that I noticed? The hawkers. They come on the bus, and sell things to the passengers, before you leave. Then, if you stop at a stop, they will get on the bus, sell, then get off at the next stop. Seems fine, in theory. Except these people are the most aggressive sales people I’ve ever seen. They will be selling a variety of things; gloves, socks, beverages, snacks, stickers, etc. They don’t just stop by ask if you want something and then leave, or walk by and wait for someone to wave their hand, nope… they will set the product on your lap and walk away, then come around and pick up the product or their money, or kneel on an empty seat and hang the snack inches from your face, talk about what they are selling very loudly, and if you make the mistake of making eye contact with one of them, you will earn yourself an extra 30 seconds of selling. It is intense. But, once the bus starts moving, they all get off and you can finish your trip in peace. That is, until you get off of the bus and have to fight off taxi huskers that follow you around trying to get you to take a taxi.
Getting a taxi in Indonesia is much different than in the US. In the US, and even Canada, from my experience, there is a set rate and a meter to track your cost, and that’s that. Here, every hawker will be offering different price fare, meaning you have to bargain for a ride. Luckily, Vriz and Sam are both very good at bargaining so I think we got some good prices for our taxis. Bargaining for a taxi is an art form! Lot’s of fake walking away, acting super nonchalant about the whole thing, and not really making eye contact until you seal the deal. I wish I spoke Indonesian in these bargaining moment, so I could hear how it’s done! But anyway, we got a taxi to take us from the bus terminal to the airport (this taxi just had a meter), which was a pretty short ride (even though we come to find out after the trip, that the taxi driver took us the long way to rack up our meter).
We got to the airport, and boarded our flight to Bali! We were crammed into the three seats in the very back row, and Sam and I had -1 foot of leg room, but luckily it was a short flight. And of course, Sam fell asleep on me for part of it. Noticing a trend here? But, she didn’t sleep for long because as soon as we boarded, we were de-boarding and finally in Bali! I didn’t get many pictures from the first night, because we arrived at night and didn’t do much. We picked up our rental car, which was about $15USD a day, and went to find our hotel.
When we got to the hotel and tried to check in, the desk attendant informed us that the AC was broken in our room, which was a ‘family room’ for 3 people, and that they booked us instead, 2 separate rooms. One room had a kind size bed in it, so we all just slept in that one room. We didn’t even go into the second room, and the hotel still made us pay for the 2 rooms, even though it was their fault that we were moved, and they never gave us a call to inform us that our room wasn’t available anymore. The room we were in was fine, and we only stayed there for one night. We got some dinner, and headed to bed.
The next morning, we were heading from Denpasar, where we stayed and flew into, to Ubud, which is where we would be the rest of the trip. Bali is so different from Java, I was surprised! I knew it would be different, but didn’t realize that the landscape, architecture, etc, would be completely different. Bali is primarily Hindu, so there were a lot of beautiful temples and offerings every where you looked. There is no way to describe it, and because for most of the trip, I only took pictures while we were driving around, there are only a few pictures. Guess you will have to go to Bali and see for yourself!
Our first stop was the Alleyway Cafe, for breakfast. This cafe was adorable! It was super hipster-y. Sam and I both had a breakfast called ‘avocado smash’ which was a slice of sourdough bread with smashed avocado, two poached eggs, a little sprinkling of cheese, and a roasted tomato on the side. To drink, I had fresh pineapple and strawberry juice, blended together, and Sam had an espresso. The food was amazing! It wasn’t Indonesian, but the quality and taste of the food made up for that.
Next up we went to a silver shop. The shop was located next to a beautiful temple and a little orphanage. We walked in and started looking at all of the beautiful (and real) jewelry. I could barely focus on the jewelry though because I was so hot! I have never in my life, sweat so much like I did in Bali. Turns out that Malang, where Sam lives, is way cooler than a lot of parts of Indonesia because it is in the foothills of large mountains. Man, Bali was a different kind of hot! I had sweat pouring down my face and into my eyes. Luckily, I had a paper fan that I got in Malang, and cooled off enough to look at some jewelry. The silver was beautiful! There were hundreds of rings, necklaces, pendants, earrings, everything! The shelves were lined with a red material, and everything was just sitting freely on the shelves. The shop was a little dark, and when we took our shoes off before entering, the tile felt cool on the bottom of my feet. The whole place had an antique-ish kind of feel. We looked around, tried things on, for the better part of an hour, or longer. Sam and I both got rings, I got two beautiful pendants, and Sam got a beautiful pair of earrings.
After the silver shop, we went to *drumroll, please* TURTLE ISLAND!!!!!! Sounds perfect for me, right? Right!! I’m not going to write about it here, because it deserves a post all to itself. Keep an eye out!!
Then it was time to go get some dinner. We drove to have dinner on the beach, and watch the sunset. The beach restaurant we went to was of course, a seafood place. Upon entering the restaurant, I was like ohhh cool view. And then we went to our seat, which was in the sand, right on the water. Incredible! It was a great view.
At this restaurant, the food was admittedly, not bad but not amazing, so I won’t spend too much time on it. But the fresh coconut that I had to drink was the best that I’ve ever had, and the view of the water while the sun was setting was incredible. Once the sun was setting, there was a lot of cloud cover, so we left before it was dark, but I did get some amazing pictures. Plus, this was my first time being on a beach since I arrived in Indonesia, so I was sooo happy just to put my feet in the water. The water, by the way, was the warmest water on a beach that I have ever felt! It was great.
It was now time to drive to Ubud to find our hotel, which would be our home for the next 3 nights. We drove around for a quite a while, and finally found the entrance, marked by a tiny, worn out sign, behind a giant ‘LEMONADE’ restaurant sign. We parked the car on the street, pretty far away, and walked to the hotel. It was dark now so I didn’t get very many pictures, but Ubud was incredible! We were on a narrow, one way street that was lined with really cool shops and restaurants. Ubud is kind of the traiditonal arts and crafts town of Bali, which you could really tell if you peaked into some of the shops. It was really cool to see how much of an impact tourism has on a town. Ubud is a tourist destination, and is very well developed, compared to a lot of the places I’ve been on this trip. Even on the drive to Ubud, the sides of the streets were lined with every kind of art you can imagine. Stone carving, wood carving, giant statues, paintings, quilts, everything!
We stayed at ‘Jati3 Bungalows’. Our bungalow was awesome! We walked in and saw the bathroom to the right, a big bed straight ahead, and a beautiful little porch area. There was then a staircase which led up to a really cool loft, with another bed, a little seating area with cushions and a little table, and a big window that overlooked the pool. The loft reminded me of the loft we had at our lake house growing up. The wooden railing, the creaking stairs (granted, the stairs weren’t a creaky old ladder, but the sound was the same), and being able to peek over and see what was going down below. Plus, I would finally have a bed to myself!! It was great. The only downside was that there was no AC, but there were two ceiling fans that did the job. I was warm, but not hot, and fell asleep easy. The bungalow was also home to about a million little lizards. They were scurrying around the walls and ceilings, which was creepy at first, but then pretty cool! The bathroom in the room was not as pictured on the website, but there was a toilet and a shower with hot water, so I was happy! I unpacked my clothes and headed to bed, excited for what the next day would bring.