Bali it is
Why Bali first? I started off with picking and choosing a variety of places I’d always wanted to see. Actually, I let Airbnb guide my way. Oddly enough I started looking at places I’d love to stay as it was way cheaper than the traditional hotels. Malaysia actually came up first, with lots of pretty places to stay, and then, the world tour logic began. Start from the bottom, and as far away from home as I could get and bam, work my way back. One seriously painfully, long plane ride, and I could then slow roll it back towards the States for the important dates for when I knew I’d needed to be back. Now, I didn’t know Bali from any other island with the exception of Eat, Pray, Love, and that I hadn’t watched for years either. So, surprise surprise, when I got to Bali… soooo not what I expected. More to come on that. I digress.
So, I picked Bali and am working my way north with very little plan in sight other than... hey, I’d like to see… THAT…. or do THAT. I’m not a big temple kind of girl, but I passed a few. Balinese dance, totally an option, people in dragon, frog, lizard and other animal masks preforming. Wasn’t quite my deal, but if I go back, I’d probably check into it. Yoga, I thought about it, so would have done it if I wasn’t so busy with the massages and my time at the pool. The part I really would love to go back and see would be the Yoga Barn. The healing and the spiritual side of things. Hearing people talk about the body and the mind, and the health consciousness of it all made me realize my personal training and health coach certifications had nothing on these people. I was astounded at just how much people know about healing and about how the mind works to do so.
Let’s just say, I will be back!
Cars and scooters. While renting a car may seem like a good idea at the time, I can assure you that if you’ve never driven in an environment that is like New York on crack and on the opposite side of the road, just rent a driver w/a car. It costs about 300,000 IDR ($27 USD) to get to UBUD and then you can walk or choose whichever mode of transportation you so desire. It’s chaos. Pure and utter chaos. Car’s merge, scooters merge, and scooters have the right of way (not even pedestrians outrank scooters), and there is a method to the madness… it’s just not one I’d really enjoy figuring out. A few tourists from the UK I took a tour with were rear-ended on the first day they got here. So ya, hire somebody, it’s cheap, less drama, and enjoy your time. Taxis and Uber do exist. Taxis, 9 times out of 10 are scooters. You get on the back and roll as intimidating as this may seem in this type of environment. I never asked how many people could fit on one scooter, but the locals I’ve seen up to 5, with 3 of those being really young kids. It’s a skill, that’s for sure.
Walking. Totally an option, but you have to watch the sidewalks. They are broken and well, royally jacked up. I twisted my ankle twice and once went down harder that it made me see stars. The guy on the side of the street was offering a taxi service on his moped, which they do all the time, and after turning my head to look at him and politely decline, I stepped. What a terrible idea. The world turned white and black and tweet tweet tweet went the little birds. The guy felt bad and asked the lady inside the restaurant he sat in front of and for a bit of magic potion that he wanted to rub on it. By all means… with little birdies and a magic potion for my ankle, he took to rubbing it for the next 10 minutes and then took me home. So, you can walk, but I’d recommend sturdier shoes than flip-flops or sandals if you are going any distance.
The Animals in Bali
Bali Dogs. Extremely prevalent throughout the towns, the beaches, etc. They even get it. This place seems to work in such a harmony that even the dogs know that when they step out into the streets, they move if a car or scooter is coming.
Roosters. Crow at all hours (they did not get the memo). Jerks. I’m napping man. go crow somewhere else.
Geckos. These little suckers, LOVE THEM. They are all over, mainly come out towards the evening. One ran across my toothpaste and the other my ceiling. They make one heck of a noise when they choose to speak. It’s odd out of such a little being, that’s all I have to say.
Birds. There’s a variety of little guys. Very cute. Herrings (which are sacred, and you cannot kill nor eat), and wingless ducks that cannot fly. The old adage. If it quacks like a duck and looks like a duck… what the hell, It’s not a duck. but it is. Lol. They tend to hang out in the rice patties. They are cute, they do quack, but they do not fly.
Monkeys. You will find them in Monkey Forest. It’s right there in Ubud and they bounce around. There’s a tour if you choose to go there, but if you drive through, wa-la, there you saw them. That and if you take a day hiking trip up to Mt. Batur, you will see all the monkeys your little heart can stand. They will steal your food if you aren’t careful, and I wouldn’t leave my things just sitting around them. You may find your belongings have moved and may or may not get them back.
Kitties. I’ve only seen a few. Really surprised about that, but they do exist.
Mosquitos. Yep. They are going in the animal category. They come out at night and love perfume or sweat, or really anything. They weren’t horrible, but I did notice that they did come out every so often, but they weren’t small.
The primary religion in Bali is Hindu.
You can still do that in public places and restaurants. Since they are mainly open air, it’s pretty normal to see.
Money/Cash/Dolla’s Dolla’s Bills Yo
So here, credit cards are a bit less acceptable and harder to use. Cash is king. There are many ATMS, so getting money is doable. Max amount to take out at one time is 2,500,000 IDR or the equivalent of about ... This math I’ll have to do later as the Bintang (local beer) officially kicked in. Damnit, where’s the app? Sigh. Ok, finding one now. About $180 USD.
Ok so, when I first got here, the money exchange was 100,000 IDR would equate to around $7 USD. It fluctuated over time to around $7.50. Bonus. But my confusion wasn’t so much in the 100K equals $7 part, but in what that meant in regard to value. Things like a bottle of water were 75 cents, or a tall container of Pringles $3). A small container of peanut butter though ranged around $5.00 and to mail a postcard to the US around $1 each My meals ranged around $6 to $15. I liked my restaurants and always bought several things. I wanted to try it all. You could get meals from the street vendors for around $3, but I’m so not there. I take chances, but at the same time, I’m not sure food poisoning from street vendors is something I’m willing to do.
Value of Goods/Services
Now on the money side, when a massage costs $10 USD, but a Jack and Coke costs the same, it does throw me off a bit. An hour drive to the airport ranges at $21-$27 dollars, but you can hire a driver full-time for the better part of a day for $35 USD to take you anywhere, it gets confusing. This entire half-day tour to all of the various destinations is around $28, starting at 5am and going to noon, and at the same time, a blouse or men’s shirt is valued the same. So just thinking that the value of an hour-long massage, which is really hard work, is the equivalent to one Jack and Coke (a short at that), makes me shake my head a bit.
Ice in the restaurants is safe, relatively speaking, as they make it from filtered/potable water. I still highly recommend bottled water to drink, but the filtered seems to be fine.
The food is no less than amazing. Everything is fresh, and the flavors pop in your mouth. I tried to find a bad dish. It did not exist. There were a few that were so hot, you could grow hair on your tongue, but they also asked, do you want “medium” or “Bali” hot? Bali hot, as explained, would make you cry. Noted. Take a habanero and start yourself on fire, then eat the habanero, and you may get close. Lol.
Here, I’m still trying to figure this out. Tipping is definitely not what it is Stateside. My new friend tells me I’ve far outdone the tipping and need to alter my strategy a bit on that. So here is what appears to be more acceptable.
Restaurants: 5-15% of bill
Airport Porters: 30.000-50.000 per bag
Bellhops: 30.000 per bag
Taxis: Round up 270.000 round to 300.000
Hope this helps a bit, I’m learning a ton in a very short period of time and trying to bring up all the important stuff that I thought may be helpful.
Always remember: Travel till You Drop!