I spent an age online checking out many of the sites around Ubud which is a huge tourist draw in Bali. Everything we looked at was vastly overpriced and I’m talking hugely. For example Singapore Zoo, which is touted as the best on the planet charge about £8 entry, Bali zoo charges £22 with kids being marginally less. We looked into Bungee jumping which ended up being $150USD each (which is a shame because I’ve told Charlie ill try and get him one during this holiday) Many other things such as rafting etc all were ridiculously expensive and not that we don’t have the money, more that I can’t bear to pay such extortionate amounts for things that elsewhere in SE Asia would be a fraction of the price. It pretty much has been the bane of Bali to be honest, the cost is probably comparable to the EU and many things are more expensive than even in the UK. I explained in an earlier post about the extra taxes charged to tourists which can mount up to 40% extra and that’s if you even manage to get a good price to begin with – Some people realty must come to Bali and pay several hundred percent more for things.
Whilst sat in KFC having fried chicken for breakfast we made the decision to sack off all the tourist spots and have a good old drive round finding places off the beaten track, temples less visited, beaches that were deserted and hopefully make it home in one peace and in time for a Bintang whilst watching the sunset over our coconut tree.
Bali is basically a traffic jam and the rules of the road are simple:
– Cars have right of way, if a bike is there just hope he moves.
– At red lights if you can be arsed stop, if you can’t then don’t.
– Drive at any side of the road you want, the oncoming car will avoid you.
– If stuck in traffic get on the horn to the car in front just to let him know you are there.
– The outside of your car belongs to motorcyclists, if they dent it whilst trying to squeeze through the inch wide gap between you and a wall, so what; It’s theirs.
– There are no speed limits, well there are, but they are there just for fancy.
– If you finally get out of a traffic jam, don’t bother even getting out of second gear, another jam is only 10 metres away.
Map in hand we headed south to the Bukit Peninsula. The first temple we found was by far the most amazing, it was right down on the beach which was completely deserted and was getting hammered by 30ft waves. With only a few meters between us and the waterline we shimmied past and entered a temple built inside a cave inhabited only by thousands of bats. It was amazing, no trouble, no hassle, no costs, just us, in a cave on a deserted beach in a small cove watching the turquoise sea in all its awesomeness, we found out later that where we were is where the best surf in the world is and is the crème de la crème of surfing paradise. (The photo was taken there)
We continued further south down the coast and went to a couple of other deserted temples all perched on cliffs or down the side of them. We had lunch at a local make shift stall whilst looking out over the Indian Ocean.
Then we went to the most popular temple in Southern Bali – Uluwatu, as we entered the guy told me it was 2k to park, I asked for the ticket and was given 2 x 1 thousand tickets – He had tried scamming me twice the price. When we got in we had to pay, they even tried charging for the kids and even then tried over charging us, we were given a sash to wear, he was not impressed at all when I put mine on like the karate kid and started busting some karate kicks – No, that was disrespectful and it had to go around my waist. Obviously.
Uluwatu temple is very unimpressive, it is sat right on the edge of a cliff that is hundreds of feet high. It is the typical Bali style temple of like one small triangle at the top getting bigger toward the bottom (if anyone knows the actual name please let me know) It is small and I wondered how they could justify the entry since we had seen better that day for free. Then we realised – The views. Before getting to the temple you walk along the ridge of a cliff walled off, the view of the coastline I am convinced is unrivalled anywhere on earth. The white cliffs drop into a cove which gets smashed by the awesome power of the ocean. It really is a sight to behold and one which made the hairs on the back of my neck stand up. I really do not know how such a coastline could ever be improved upon. Whilst stood in awe we noticed a few monkeys walk past, one had a baseball cap on and the other had sun glasses on. We soon noticed they had robbed them from tourists and before long there were loads of monkeys all hanging about and chilling out. I admit, as a 28 year old guy I laughed like a child when I saw two monkeys having some ‘us’ time on top of the roof of the temple.
From Uluwatu we found a beach and noted it for the next day. It was getting late and knowing full well we’d get lost and stuck in traffic we headed back to the hotel after what had been a fantastic day.
The next day, and our final in Bali and we headed back to the beach we found – Geger Beach, Nesa Dua. It was stunning, the seas were dead calm and as clear as crystal. We got a snorkel and set about finding some sea life. We found loads of fishes which were all sorts of tropical colours and sizes and we saw the world’s biggest crab which must have been half a foot in size with machetes for claws and warheads under its shell. It was an awesome few hours cut short only by the rain.
We leave Bali tomorrow (Tuesday) Initially we had intended to spend till at least early August here, but we have had enough and so are heading back to Java for some Volcano treatment and some world class temple therapy.
Bali really is the paradise people say it is, some of the views are so picturesque Michelangelo couldn’t have put them to canvass. The coastline views are nothing short of breathtaking and the beaches are amongst some of the best I’ve ever been to or seen. The problem is that Bali is not really geared for the independent traveller, it is by far the most expensive country in SE Asia and the costs are not justified at all. We have experienced near constant attempts to scam us since arriving and have suffered at the hands of the ridiculous tourism tax which is nothing short of extortion. The attractions are all hugely overpriced and transport around the island is slow and awkward (unless you get a car)
If you are wanting a 2 week destination in some top class resort with all your tours pre-booked and you have the budget for it then you will have probably the best 2 weeks of your life here in Bali; It genuinely is honeymoon territory.
But as part of a bigger trip, and particularly if you are coming from SE Asia I wouldn’t say the added expense is worth it. There wasn’t really anything here that you couldn’t get much cheaper anywhere else in SE Asia and countries like Thailand match Bali for the beaches whilst offering much better value, better transport and barely any hassle at all. The Temples were good but were outclassed completely by other Asian countries, particularly China and the mighty Angkor, Cambodia. Both again are much cheaper and don’t have even 1% of the hassle Bali has.
Don’t get me wrong we have had a great time in Bali and we have no regrets whatsoever for coming here, but I’m not sure we would return, certainly not as a backpacker.
For now we look forward to heading to Java tomorrow where the next few days ‘should’ hopefully include ascending an active Volcano (Mt Bromo) in what is touted as Indonesia’s premier sight followed by Borobudur which is classed in the same league as the Temples of Angkor for being one of the best religious sights on the planet.
As we look to leave Bali we do so with great memories, sadly these are tarnished with nothing but the dishonesty and hassle we encountered and ultimately what led me to decide to leave Bali much earlier than originally planned.