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.
· 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 email@example.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 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.
· 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.