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Old 15th September 2022, 17:00   #1
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Default Breathtaking Bali: 10 Day Travelogue + Local Car & Bike Scene

We never actually had Bali on our minds. We (my wife and I) were planning a trip to the USA and the Visa appointment date got delayed (for someone who paid the fee in March 2022, the tentative slots are showing up as Sept 2023).

So we thought of another place to see that would be ten days long and looked at multiple options like Turkey, Egypt, South East Asia Combos (Singapore, Indonesia, Vietnam, Malaysia) for a few days each.

After researching a bit, we narrowed down to Bali (just Bali not Indonesia as a whole) as it was as big as an Indian state, and had a variety in terms of experiences (from mountains & volcanoes to beaches, history, architecture and shopping). And by shopping we weren't looking at the malls but traditional things we can bring back home as my wife is into art.

We finally booked our tickets from Hyderabad to Bali on AirAsia (via KL, as Air Asia has a hub there).

Then we decided on places to see and stay at. This was done with a combination of scouting tour combos on MakeMyTrip, Travel Blogs and DIY Itineraries (Singh Sisters DIY Itinerary site/page on instagram was great).

With all these we decided on the places - stayed in Bali from 20-30th Aug 2022.

Places Where We Stayed/Hotels:

1. Kuta - 2 days (close to the airport which was beautiful and jets out into the sea 7 also a great place to shop)

We stayed at Poppies - one of the oldest/ first hotels in Kuta with cosy independent hut-like rooms. Was the best/nicest place we stayed at.

2. Nusa Dua - 2 days (a little secluded with high end hotels overlooking the ocean and lots of water sports)

Here we stayed at Bali Relaxing Resort - was a good, typical 4 start property with a sea facing room. There are better places, as we realised later.

3. Ubud - 3 days (in the forest, close to nature, volcanoes and the art village where they make lots of art items in the houses and sell them out in the front)

We stayed at Gayatri - a beautiful boutique hotel with traditional Bali interiors, Ramayana scenes etched on the walls and Vegan. Had the most amazing vegan food there. It is in the bylanes of the main road of Ubud and was a great experience.

4. Nusa Penida 1 day (beautiful island with snorkelling & beaches, one day speed boat trip from Kuta)

We did not stay anywhere as it a day trip from Kuta

5. Seminyak/Kuta - 2 days (back to base/close to airport)

We stayed at Grand Istana Rama, which is in the downtown area overlooking Kuta beach. We chose this as it was close to the shopping area and also inexpensive for a star property. We were going to be in Nusa Penida for the day, out shopping for another day so didn't mind not having a sea view place.

Places We Visited / Things We Did:



Kuta Beach

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This is a popular beach overlooking the airport and is beautiful for the fact that you can see flights land and take off all through the day and especially at night it is amazing. But nothing special about the beach itself, just a touristy spot - there are much better and more private beaches all over the place.

Kuta is a popular shopping area where you have good malls and also traditional markets where you can pick the best of stuff from all over (instead of visiting that specific area or region of Indonesia). It can be a convenient first or last day stop in and out of Bali as it is just 15 mins from the airport and offers a lot of shopping/food/partying options.

Nusa Dua - Snorkelling, Water Sports & Walking On The Ocean Floor

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This was something you could do as a package tour also - by getting a ticket from one of the PCO like stalls on the street corner. We actually went to the place where they operate from and directly booked our activities for the day. It was worth it but again, the corals were sort of grown/setup just off the coast. So it was real but also felt artificial as you walk on the floor in a given area that’s about 2000 sq ft and with rails to guide your walk. There is a better alternative and that was at Nusa Penida - where you are literally left in the deep waters to explore on your own.

Ubud - Town & Arts Village

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Ubud is deep inside Bali, is actually a forest town and also the heart of art in Bali. There are many houses and shops along Tegalalang road. It is like a long lane lined up with houses/shops and you can get a range of handicrafts at prices that will shock you. I realised so many brands in India get them from here too - for interiors and for fancy/cute products that cost at least 3-5X in India and 10-20X in the west. A long of them were being exported and had tags of stores in Europe (ready to export)

I realised we can go buy them from here and book them in a bulk transport / we plan to do that sometime in the future and a Sq.meter of space in a container costs about USD300 is what the shopkeeper said - when shipped directly to our home in Hyderabad.

Mt.Batur Trek

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Mt.Batur is an active Volcano about an hour’s drive from Ubud. The trip could also be booked from a stall across the street wherever you are in Bali and the operator will pick you (at 2am and drop you back post lunch - depending on where you stay). We went directly and booked a guide at the base. This is a 9km long trek and you scale almost 5000 feet over the next 3 hrs so as to experience sunrise.

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It was hard for us as we slept less and were not prepared for it as much as we should have. Luckily there are riders with dirt bikes once you reach half way who actually can take you up the mountain on the trekking trail itself (was one of the most exhilarating rides I even had on a track that was all rock and about 2feet wide with trekkers blocking you way in the dark of the night/before day break).

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They use 125cc two stroke Yamahas and the rider Bobby who took me up is now a hero for me). But this ride cost us more than the whole trip to Ubud itself as it's challenging and they know you have no way out - up or down the mountain.

Uluwatu Temple - Kechak Dance & Sunsets Over The Sea

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This is one experience you cannot book in advance, you can book the ride to the temple but the entry to the Kechak dance performance of Ramayana needs to be bought at the location and there are long queues. Go by afternoon to get a ticket for the 6pm show with the sunset in the background. We had to wait for an hour (which led us to experiencing the most magical sunset) and got seats for the 7pm show. This is a must-do and it is extremely entertaining and beautiful to experience.

Garuda Wishnu Kenchana

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This is a large tourism project akin to the statue of unity - but dedicated to Vishnu. It is imposing and the scale of the project and the views from the mountaintop are worth it. However, this can be traded for a more involving adventure/experience if you have something else in mind or are short on time as there isn’t much to do except click a few pictures.

Nusa Penida - Snorkelling & Gram-worthy Beaches

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This was a trip we actually did the day before we left. It was a day's outing with the cab picking us at 7am and dropping us back at 7pm. We had to take a speed boat from Sanur to Nusa Penida, a picturesque island that's an hour’s ride from Bali. The ride was great and the tour included 4 places to snorkel ( ) and three beaches to visit. It was definitely worth it and if you do not wish to snorkel (which you can even if you don't know how to swim as they guide you and give you a life jacket) you can spend time on the road - driving through the island and visiting the beaches which will be half a day’s trip.

Monkey Forest

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The monkey forest is a sanctuary with a Shiva temple in the centre of Ubud town. I wanted to visit it as I have seen it in numerous adventure movies and also video games. It was worth the visit and you can take selfies with monkeys (which I was against - same reason why I couldn't do the Night Safari where you travel in a caged vehicle and the lions/tigers come up to eat on the cage where food is offered).

I feel it's cruel and somehow did not want to do it. However, for people who are interested, there is a trip to the safari and also a place where you can have breakfast with the lions (you are in a glass cage while they wander). Kids would surely love it.

Temples Across Bali

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There are many Trimurti temples and goddess temples (mainly Saraswati) all over the place. They are amazing to walk by however, nobody is given access to go in (except when it is festival time) so it felt like if you’ve seen one temple from the outside the the others are more or less the same.

The other reason our driver said why the deity isn’t shown is because every house has a temple already so they don't necessarily need to visit the temple. It was also because of foreigners coming into the temples and not following local customs I think, I am not sure.

Rice Terraces & Bali Swing

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This is on the way to Mt.Batur when travelling from Ubud. You can drive by the beautiful paddy fields that are cultivated using step-farming techniques. This is very similar to the farms you see while driving from Vizag to Araku. There are a lot of cafes on the way to sit and enjoy the view and huge swings that make you seem like you're floating over the valley of fields.

Interesting & Important Things We Noticed In Bali:



Warm & Friendly People

The first and foremost was the people. They were extremely welcoming, friendly and kind. They do not try to rip you off, or treat you as a foreigner who is rich (which I see happening so often in India). But there were places, very few in the market area of Kuta where they do tricks/ quote exorbitant prices and money changers who try to short change - there were just two instances over ten days and in interactions with hundreds of locals.

Clean Roads & Cities

The roads, however narrow, were extremely clean. The main roads are basically small two way roads so there are traffic jams along the way when you travel. The foot paths are clearly marked, clean and usable across Bali. Even if there are vendors on them, there is always space to walk and people are generally civic-conscious.

Money Exchanges Everywhere - Indian Cards Accepted

There are money exchanges everywhere - it's easy to change USD - INR is a problem so change to USD and take dollars when you travel. I had no problem using my debit/credit cards and found it to be very convenient. However for rides/street shopping carrying cash is available.

The average price at the exchanges was about Indonesian Rupiah 14500 per 1 USD on the street Vs. IR 14000 in the airport and IR 14800 on google/forex sites. I suggest you change it on the street or in India. You do not need to disclose or fill forms for upto USD10k if you are getting it into Indonesia.

Renting Cars / Bikes

This is easy, they take a picture of your passport/ ask if you can drive and let you go. The bikes cost about Rs.500 with almost tank full petrol for a day. The cars were in the range of Rs.3-5k but I did not rent as I hired a taxi. If you are booking at the hotel itself, they don't even ask for your passport, just note down your room number and let you go. Nobody asked me for a licence the 4-5 times I took a bike.

Sim Card / Wifi

Wifi is free and available at every shop, restaurant and hotel. If you wish to take a sim, it is easy and there are many recharge shops just like in India where they take your passport picture and give you a card. Very easy and inexpensive, a card with 8gb data for one month costs about Rs.400.

English Is Widely Spoken

Almost everyone understands and can communicate in English. The police and the people on the street are helpful if you need directions or suggestions. Waiters/Hotel staff and shopkeepers are generally helpful.

Petrol Is Available At Groceries

Almost every grocer had a petrol dispenser so you rarely need to look for an actual bunk and petrol is actually cheap, about Rs.50 at these stores and they fill cars too. It's a little cheaper at the bunk I guess but I never filled up at an actual bunk.

Travel At Night Is Safe

Travelling at night is safe, if you have a scooter or car of your own it's even better. We did not do all nighters but had been out close to midnight and the watering holes were open. However, most shops close around 9pm so shopping may not be possible.

Early Risers - Restaurants / Activities Open From 7 AM

Most restaurants in the tourist places and buffets at the hotels open at 7 and it was very comfortable as your first meal is out of the way and you can start exploring from early in the morning.

Kid & Pet Friendly

It was surprising to see so many people from Europe & Australia (as its next door for them) come with month old babies - even on treks. It was amazing and I feel we as Indians should travel more with babies too. What was interesting was that people got their pets along, some even for the snorkelling trips and felt our four legged friends deserve the experience (if we can afford).

Cuisine

There is a range of great food/variety on offer. The drinks are great too and you can buy beer at any grocery store. Vegetarian food is a challenge but not impossible to find. In fact we had the tastiest Veg Handi curry at a restaurant called Bollywood in Ubud and the best filter coffee ever at Udupi Veg in Nusa Penida. Then there was a place called Punjabi Kitchen in Kuta which was also good. So in three out of 10 days we had an Indian meal - the goal was not to but we ended up wanting something that felt like home. The rest was a mix of some great vegan salads, Italian pizzas, pastas, Asian cuisine and local Bali cuisine which is like friend rice/noodles (nasi goreng, mei goren) without the usual assortment of seafood that it came with. They didn't taste great, maybe they would have with the meat.

Visa / immigration

Visa is on arrival and you need to pay about Rs.3k for it at the airport. I had USD but paid with my debit card. It is straightforward and easy but do expect a wait time as there are many travellers coming in. It took us about an hour and half to come out of the airport after landing - but we landed on a Sunday so that could be the reason too.

Things we could/did not do but are interesting:


  • Bali Safari / Breakfast With The Lions
  • Waterfalls / Hot Springs
  • Elephant Mud Bath
  • Snake/Turtle/Komodo Park
  • Waterparks

Now to the part I enjoyed the most: Street scenes and the cars & bikes of Bali.

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Last edited by Aditya : 16th September 2022 at 07:08.
TejasV is offline   (23) Thanks
Old 15th September 2022, 17:12   #2
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Default Re: Breathtaking Bali: 10 Day Travelogue + Local Car & Bike Scene

The Car & Bike Scene In Bali



There were quite a few Indian cars but I was really interested in the cars we do not have (and also the scale models which are almost extinct here, now).

A majority of the cars were compact SUVs/MUVs 60%, followed by proper full size SUVs/MUVs 20%, small CVs 10% and just a few hatchbacks and sedans 10%. But one thing I found was that almost 50% of the cars had some detailing/stickering/custom work on them. Most were funny but some were very clean. I found most cars to be really well maintained, in fact I did not find a shabbily maintained, unclean car at all! This could partly be due to the nice and clean roads too - even in the remotest of places, there was almost tar on the road and rarely encountered potholes except in one remote part of Nusa Penida.

Spotted these Indian cars:
  1. Innova - or the Kijang as they call it there
  2. Ertiga
  3. Brio (but they had many older and newer versions which we don't)
  4. Swift
  5. WagonR
  6. Merc C & E Classes - though very rare
  7. Datsun Go
  8. Verna
  9. CRV
  10. BRV
  11. Land Cruiser
  12. Land Rover
  13. Fortuner
  14. Nissan Evalia
  15. Creta

Did not find any Indian scooters - there are many Hondas, Yamahas and few Suzukis and Kawasakis but I did not find anything we have in India except a few variants of Vespa that’s all.


The most most spotted cars/scooters on the streets, listed in terms of popularity/visibility were:


Toyota Avanza / Daihatsu Xenia

This is a badge-engineered Toyota/Daihatsu. It is an Ertiga sized 1.5 litre petrol engine car that is found everywhere. We extensively travelled in one and really loved how it was a jack of all trades. It was spacious inside, has high seating, second row ac, tumble down third row and yet small footprint on the outside. In the mix, it was 70% Toyota & 30% Daihatsu. They were boringly in white or black colours mostly with a silver being seen here and there.


Suzuki APV / APV Arena

This was ugly to look at, but I soon realised how functional and spacious it is. It is widely used by operators as well as private individuals and I saw a couple of CVs with an open bed variant too.


Honda Scoopy Scooter


This has an odd-ball headlight design but is extremely comfortable to ride and the fact that the handlebar has no headlight makes it very nimble. Lots of these scooters in the rentals too.


Yamaha N Max
This is a larger scooter that’s very popular and is there with the rentals. Unfortunately I couldn’t get a hold of any as they were always taken/booked at the rentals.


Toyota Innova - Kijang
The Innova is pretty popular but I did not see many taxi guys using it owing to the higher price vs the Avanza which sort of is a better bet I guess.

Toyota Hiace
This is used by the big hotel chains and tour operators and is very popular on the streets.

Honda HRV

This was mostly a personal driver, with many women driving this along with the Brio. It looks good and isn’t too big than the WRV that we have here. This was the only car that I found in colours other than the white/silver/black as seen on most cars. It looked really good in grey and red too.

Honda Jazz
This wasn’t very common but in hatchbacks, Jazz was right next to HRV in terms of visibility.

Honda Brio
Though not many, the small cars were mostly Hondas, and the Brio in yellow was spotted many times, in many iterations/models over the years. The one we have in India wasn’t spotted as many times though.


Suzuki Jimny

There were a lot of old Jimnys in the rural areas. Some of them are very beautifully customised.

NOTE:
As I have not been able to convert many of my HEIC format pics to JPEG to upload here, I am putting up whatever I could convert online and share below. These various other cars and bikes I found on the streets in Bali. Also, most of these were shot with a phone from a moving bike/car so the quality of some pics is not the best.



Toys - Scale Models

As most of you may have already known. India’s supply of scale models has been severely limited after the recent ban on non-certified/ISO/Chinese toys. Hot Wheels and Bburago I used to buy for Rs.200 and Rs.1000 have shot up by 3-5x and also in very short supply. I was extremely happy and surprised to find many supermarkets having toys and also found a beautiful toy store called Kidz Station in Kuta where I fought my way through the aisles and competed with toddlers to buy about 70 cars. Luckily the customs guy didn't stop us in India and was very thankful for that. Though the value wasn’t too high, just the sheer volume could have raised doubts - as even the store guy didn’t really believe I was buying them just for myself.

I bought many beautiful Tomicas, Motormax 007 series, Hotwheels and Mattel cars and small planes in Bali. This for me was the happiest part of the trip in a way. As there was so much variety and also cost about 50-70% less than prices in India.


Finally, The cost of the 10 day trip:


I wanted to have a comfortable trip and stay in luxurious places - not prohibitively expensive but good properties with something unique to offer (location, interiors, food, view) and did not choose regular looking hotels - which I feel are monotonous. I used Booking.com to sort them and then google reviews to finalise with actual user pictures for the same.

Air tickets: Rs.120,000

Stay: Rs.60,000

Local transport: Rs.20,000
(this included a combination of cars with drivers for long distance & rental scooters - which cost about Rs.400-500 per day with fuel).

Food: Rs.30,000
(this included a range of cuisines in mostly fancy restaurants - with each meal costing about Rs.1500 i.e Rs.3000 per day, as breakfast was always included in the room cost and was at the hotel).

Misc: Rs.10,000
(this included tips, parking tickets, money lost in USD to IR exchange)

Attractions/Adventure: Rs.35,000
Total cost of the trip = Rs.275,000

But here’s the rider. This is actually on the higher side as we booked tickets just a few weeks before departure. If you book a month or two in advance, the price would have been atleast 50% less as I can see now - for Nov 22 the fare for two is about 60k only.

Secondly, the hotels. We could have stayed at clean and well appointed hotels that look like mid-tier hotels in India or even clean OYOs at 1/3rd the cost. We chose not to, but you could greatly save on that too. We plan to do it next time, when we visit to cover a few places we couldn’t and go furniture shopping.

Thirdly, if you do group trips for attractions - there are old PCO/STD kind of stalls across most streets, the cost of travel would have been much lesser too and you’d be picked up as a group and taken to that place and dropped back in the evening. We took a driver and a car (one we befriended on the first day when we hired a bike from him) and he was there with us all through the trip. Most drivers offer cush services and are safe - as long as you pick them up from a hotel/some place you can tie them down in case of any issues.

Finally, realistically speaking, with planning a two months in advance, a couple can do the same trip at less than Rs.200,000 for ten days without compromising on comfort or quality.

To close, Bali was worth it and with the limited experience I have gained over the 10 days there, would be happy to answer any questions that you may have.

Thanks,
Tejaswi

PS:
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Old 15th September 2022, 17:26   #3
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Default Re: Breathtaking Bali: 10 Day Travelogue + Local Car & Bike Scene

more pictures from the streets, apologies for not captioning them yet, will do it.
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TejasV is offline   (29) Thanks
Old 16th September 2022, 07:03   #4
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Default Re: Breathtaking Bali: 10 Day Travelogue + Local Car & Bike Scene

Thread moved out from the Assembly Line. Thanks for sharing!
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Old 16th September 2022, 10:45   #5
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Default Re: Breathtaking Bali: 10 Day Travelogue + Local Car & Bike Scene

Hey,
Thanks for the info. Am going there with my friends in Nov so it'll help.

One thing though - why did you have to pay Rs 3K for the Visa? For Indians - visa is free i believe.
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Old 16th September 2022, 11:01   #6
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Default Re: Breathtaking Bali: 10 Day Travelogue + Local Car & Bike Scene

Quote:
Originally Posted by mihir_m13 View Post
Hey,
For Indians - visa is free i believe.
Visa fee is USD 35 on arrival and you need to pay at the airport. Can be done with USD, Indonesian Rupiah or Your International Card.
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Old 16th September 2022, 12:03   #7
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Default Re: Breathtaking Bali: 10 Day Travelogue + Local Car & Bike Scene

Quote:
Originally Posted by TejasV View Post
Visa fee is USD 35 on arrival and you need to pay at the airport. Can be done with USD, Indonesian Rupiah or Your International Card.
Thanks for the lovely and informative write up. The pictures surely added spice to your post and not to forget the different breed of Automotive.

How much time did it take to complete the Visa formality? Do you recommend to have visa applied upfront in India before travel? That is what i would usually prefer.
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Old 16th September 2022, 12:13   #8
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Default Re: Breathtaking Bali: 10 Day Travelogue + Local Car & Bike Scene

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Originally Posted by UD17 View Post
How much time did it take to complete the Visa formality? Do you recommend to have visa applied upfront in India before travel? That is what i would usually prefer.
Thanks, glad you liked the post. I think itís only available on arrival and took about half an hour. Itís just an immigration officer with a stamp pad and a credit card machine. Very straight forward, only thing they may ask is your hotel bookings/itinerary so keep a print out handy.

You can block your room on booking.com and take a print out of the confirmation, and may pay once you actually visit the property (and if you like it).
TejasV is offline   (1) Thanks
Old 17th September 2022, 13:37   #9
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Default Re: Breathtaking Bali: 10 Day Travelogue + Local Car & Bike Scene

Feels good to see the place in pictures- where I lived for a whole year. The quality of restoration is really great over there and a lot of these vespa's, the VW beetle/181 as well as the toyota lc are with pretty ordinary people. Was on the border line to get myself a beetle or a LC but was not sure how long in i would stick there. The Vespa Club meets at kuta at certain time of the year, those modifications as well as the originality of some is really worth a look. Last but not the least I was one 9f the few who rode a pulsar there, referred to as a " bajay"
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