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JBR - The Good the Bad and the Ugly

Perth, Australia
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JBR – The Good the Bad and the Ugly

Just got back from Bali on the 27/10/08 and had a great time. I thought I would just jot down a couple of experiences both good and bad to share. (Remember, these are my experiences only and my views are mine and likely not to be shared by all) Good… got the disclaimer out of the way.

We stayed at Green Garden Hotel in Tuban. This is (I think) a 2 and a half star Hotel but the service is 5 star. Couldn’t fault it. For cheap accommodation, it well and truly delivered. I will try to keep this brief by categorising our trip into the following 3 categories. The Good, the Bad and the Ugly.

The GOOD

· Friendly Balinese people who tried their best to help or just joke with you.

· Waterbom Park – had a ball and was good value for money. Although that boomerang slide is a bit of a worry, on one slide we touched the top water jets with our toes. The heavier you are, the higher you go….

· African Safari Park – although it was good, it is extremely over-rated.

· Scooter riding – Yes, some say we were mad but what a buzz. It really is the easiest way to get around and we had a ball despite the hectic pace. Cost – 300,000 for 7 days rent. Scooter is automatic and comes with helmet and 30 second bike introduction course.

· SAJOJO Tailor – Eddie is a great tailor and is a pleasure to do business with. I got a fantastic product for a great price. Definitely recommend. Sajojo is in a laneway (Number 18 Gg. Samudra Tuban) off Kartika Plaza- Ph (0361) 764218, Email fsajojo@yahoo.com

· Green Garden Hotel, Tuban – Value for money (rooms were only $33 US per night). I couldn’t fault the service. The rooms were comfortable and well maintained.

· EET Café – We ate here 3 times and it was the three best and cheapest meals that we had during our stay. You could walk past this place and easily miss it. It is a small family business with only 3 tables out front. It is situated on Kartika Plaza but a small walk (towards Airport) from Green Garden/Dynasty Hotel on the opposite side of the road. It shares frontage with a talented local artist/painter. Tel (0361)752394

· Yanthi Clothing Shop – This is a fixed price clothing/sunglass/handbag whatever you want shop. It is a good place to visit before bartering to get an idea of prices because Yanthi sells at a price probably only 10% higher than your best bartering price. Don’t get me wrong I love to barter but it wears thin when the traders make it nearly impossible to look at the items. This is a must – I struggled to get most traders down to her fixed prices and found this experience was a welcome change. Yanthi is situated at Sahadewa St.No. I A. Legion. The shop can be reached off Melasti Street. Most traders will point the way if you ask for her. Her premises has to be reached through a laneway and into a private enclosed courtyard. Other traders will claim to be Yanthi but they don’t give fixed prices. Mob 081558004109 or (0361) 759964, 755320.

The BAD

· The extremely poor AU $ exchange we had. Unfortunately our timing was bad and we struggled to maintain an average exchange of 6200 Rp whilst we were there. It went as low as 5800 and as high as 6700 whilst we were there which obviously impacted on our purchase costs. A carton of Bintang beer was 225,000 which equated to $36.50 AU. (Nearly Australian prices) The low exchange impacted on every purchase which was at no way reflective upon Bali just poor travel timing on my part.

· Not being allowed to look at items without having clothes thrown at you. It was impossible to browse without being grabbed or pestered to buy . Yes, I know this is Bali but it is certainly worse than Thailand where they hardly ever do this.

· Australian Dollar requests (Gimme gimme) – This is incessant and becomes extremely annoying as they don’t leave you alone even though you kindly tell them that you don’t have any. Maybe this is only a personal experience but a lot of other travellers were complaining about it too. Oh well.

· Begging – I couldn’t go anywhere without someone asking me to buy them something. I actually had one guy follow us into McDonalds demanding a coke. At first, I thought he was mucking about but returned several times to where we were seated insisting that we buy him a coke. He became angry which prompted me to tell him to shove off. I thought that this was a one off but similar situations were repeated numerously during the trip with demands for food, drink and Australian coin. Very tiresome and tarnishes the reputation of the friendly Balinese.

· Bartering – after bartering, handing over cash and they don’t want to give you change. I always paid Yanthi’s prices whenever bartering and liked to help out the stall sellers to share the money around. To know that I can pay fixed prices but to argue to get my change back was extremely frustrating. It just made Yanthi’s store sooooo much more appealing.

The UGLY

· Bribes for the police – We were pulled over regularly with most other tourist for cash bribes. Yes, we all know that this is a regular Bali practice but the bribes were getting a bit too much to payout on a regular basis which prompted us to return our bikes early. We all had our International licences and drove courteously. Despite this we soon learned that we should carry two wallets, one for yourself hidden away somewhere and another to produce to police for them to dip their hands into. We were hit for 300,000 (AU $48) the first time until local Balinese told us about the second wallet trick. It’s a shame because it spoilt the Bali experience.

· Money changers – This is a common and well documented problem in Bali and we regularly used Kodak shops but on some occasions needed cash where Kodak shops were not available. During one such exchange, I was moved from money exchange to money exchange to an alley exchange. As soon as I realised they were trying to dud me I put my money back in my pocket. By this time three Balinese had surrounded me and I felt a light breeze and observed my pocket open with the $100 cash missing. I quickly challenged them and saw one of them squirreling away in a rear store. Eventually they realised that I wasn’t going to be intimidated and was calling the Police. They eventually returned the money but threatened me in the process. DO NOT use street moneychangers. Take it from me, they are good pickpockets as well as moving those notes around during exchanges. If you need cash, borrow from a friend until you can find a reputable money exchange.

Sorry this may sound a bit daunting and I hope I havent put anyone off. This isn’t my intention.

Actually we had a great time and we all thoroughly enjoyed ourselves. It only takes a couple of bad experiences to mar a holiday though. This isn’t the case. The Good certainly outweighs the Bad and the Ugly.

perth
Destination Expert
for Denpasar, Bali
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1. Re: JBR – The Good the Bad and the Ugly

Hi Chizzell

Thanks for your JBR! A very informative read, indeed.

A good warning, also in relation to money changers.

I would like to think that those who pestered you for food/money were predominantly Javanese. It is hard for we Westerners to tell the difference, but the behaviour you mentioned is not typical of the Balinese.

Whenever, I have had a "bad" experience with a seller/hawker, it is invariably a Javanese.

I am glad you enjoyed your holiday and am grateful for the advice you have given.

cheers

wendy

Sydney
Destination Expert
for Seminyak, Bali, Canggu, Kerobokan
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2. Re: JBR – The Good the Bad and the Ugly

Hi Chizzel

Many thanks for your JBr - it is great to hear an honest report. Yes, Bali is a wonderful place but a pity the corruption is so rife, not only in Bali, but all of Indonesia. I have been lucky - driving around in Bali and I haven't been pulled over once - maybe they find it easier to pull bikes over than cars? I have heard the 2 wallet thing before and must get myself organised for the future!

Yes, the good in Bali certainly outweighs the bad and the ugly, it's just a pity the last 2 exist at all. There are bad elements in every society, sadly, and Bali is no exception.

Glad to hear you had a great holiday despite the Bad and the Ugly

Brisbane, Australia
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3. Re: JBR – The Good the Bad and the Ugly

Thanks for your candid comments, Chizzel. Really glad you had a good holiday despite a few issues.

Just wanted to say that, in my opinion, the area you stay in has an impact on some of what you may or may not encounter.

While I was aware that all of these things happen I personally have not come across too many of them, but we don't like Kuta and surrounds at all, and don't spend much time there.

In all our trips to Bali we have only ever come across beggers, once and they were told off very succintly by the Balinese friend we were with at the time.

I have to agree with Wendy, if we have a problem, it is never with a Balinese born Hindu. I'm really sorry to have to say that, but in our experience it is the truth.

Bangkok, Thailand
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4. Re: JBR – The Good the Bad and the Ugly

Hmm that isn't strictly true.. a lot of the beggers come from North East Bali. Apparently there is a village that specializes in Begging much the same way as other villages specialize in wood carving etc!

I think it is more a result of hardship, and 'pimps' forcing people (especially children) to beg..

I go to Java very, very regularly and I would like to say they are on the whole an amazing, gracious people.. I don't think it is wise to base judgment on millions of people on the general bias that many Balinese have about their neighbors! - unfortunately the wealth of Bali attracts more than its fair share low life opportunists from other Islands (but also Dr's and other professionals!) Please don't judge the Javanese on a few low life scum bags! (there are few Balinese ones also let me assure you! as in EVERY nationality)

I personally have no issue with giving people food and drink but people really shouldn't seriously hassle you - but draw the line at money.. especially if I think they are being pimped (although I do give to some of the old people in Java at times..)

The little kids at the traffic lights are the most upsetting to me...

Just for information for any one crazy enough to want to ride a scooter here - you need to get a temp local Indonesian license from the police station if you want to drive a scooter here. (International to drive a car is fine)

Leeds, UK
Destination Expert
for Bali
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5. Re: JBR – The Good the Bad and the Ugly

Thanks for taking the time to post this candid JBR, Chizzel.

For once I agree with Whinnie, maybe the location contributed to the "bad"? The only time I've encountered begging in Bali is in Ubud, where you get the occasional woman with a baby, not as aggressive as you encountered though. Sounds like you dealt with it effectively though!

I completely agree about not being able to browse around shops without getting hassled, sadly this happens in a lot of places now, not only in Bali but sometimes in Singapore and certainly in the Middle East/Africa. In Bali, I often find that a big smile and saying "Saya hanya lihat-lihat" (I'm just browsing) gives me a little bit of peace, although sellers do still hover! LOL!

I've encountered the reluctance to give change in Thailand too, but often deal with it in good humour. Depends on the seller though, and if they have a good bit of smiling banter with you. If they're as miserable as sin, I sometimes just walk off!

Sydney
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6. Re: JBR – The Good the Bad and the Ugly

Really appreciate you taking the time out to share your experiences and thoughts (yes read the disclaimer). Still nice to hear your experiences and enjoyed the read!

Cheers

mel

Brisbane, Australia
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7. Re: JBR – The Good the Bad and the Ugly

Brigid point well taken and noted, agree whoeheartedly, but can only speak from my experience and wasn't just talking about Java. There are good and bad in every race and culture and we all have to remember that. :)

In fact some would call me a bad element here in Oz. LOL

Perth, Australia
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8. Re: JBR – The Good the Bad and the Ugly

Hi Chizzel

Thanks for taking the time to post an honest report. I think I must have been lucky (or maybe just blind LOL) but I have stayed in Tuban twice and have not been subjected to the begging. It is certainly rife in the big cities of Europe, and can be quite confronting when you're not used to it.

But I must agree that the aggressive nature of some of the hawkers does at times irritate me (while I do try my best to remember that this is their living while for me its just a holiday!) I will definitely be checking out the Yanthi Clothing Shop next time though if I feel the need to preserve what little is left of my sanity - thanks for that tip!

I'm glad you enjoyed the trip overall. I think you were quite brave to hire a scooter - I tend to look through my fingers even while being driven around in a car LOL!

Robyn

Cheshire, United...
Destination Expert
for Bali, Amed
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9. Re: JBR – The Good the Bad and the Ugly

Hi chizzel,

Thanks for posting your report, really like the title! I'll add Yanthi to my list of shops & will certainly call in there over Christmas. Very brave of you to hire a scooter. I love travelling on the back of one but god help me if I was driving!

Giving bribes to the police always infuriates me & when I'm with a driver who's stopped I struggle to remain in the car & keep quiet. I tend to use ATM's & have only used a money changer once but they tried to short change me, I stood my ground until they gave me the correct amount of money. I must say though that I admire the way in which you handled it...good on you! I had a friend with me, wasn't alone & wasn't lured into an alley.

Ursie

Shelly Beach...
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10. Re: JBR – The Good the Bad and the Ugly

Hi Chizzel

great JBR, put a small on my face. Was very interested in your comments about the Green Garden, we haven't stayed there but have eaten there plenty of times and have always found the staff to be great and with the sinking aussie $ I think we may be downgrading next trip. Have to agree about scooters as well, I love zipping around on them and personally find driving in Sydney more stressful. When we were in Bali in June we all kept 30,000rp in a pocket so it was handy for the bribe but didnt get pulled over once and most days we rode to Uluwatu and Padang. I guess this means it will be our turn next time.