"Land Of The Gods" Bali by alvis
Bali Travel Guide: 6,300 reviews and 15,209 photos
The majority of Balinese are Hindu and it is shown in the culture, art and architecture. I never understood why Bali was known as "Land of the Gods" but not long after I had arrived I was able to work this out. Every house, building, road, everywhere had statues of different Hindu Gods (or as I was told later by a taxi driver there was only 1 Hindu God, Vishnu, who is shown in different forms) - probably wrong. This is what makes Bali such an amazing place to visit and is so far the most amazing place I have seen. To make the most of your visit to Bali a trip to Ubud is a must.
The 2nd morning in the Hyatt we decided on a trip to check out scenic areas of Bali. Having heard of Ubud and wanting to buy some masks (especially the Barong mask) we thought this would be the right direction. The Hyatt taxi service was a 3 hour return journey at $50 which we declined as we wanted a 1 way taxi to give a full day in Ubud. The Hyatt told us that taxis were near impossible to find in Ubud. When we arrived we found there were hundreds of taxis at every corner. Liars.
After getting a taxi outside the Hyatt ($10) it took around 45 minutes to arrive in Ubud. The main road of Ubud is called Monkey Forest Road and at the bottom is Monkey Forest. We got out of the taxi half way up this road and because we were starving went in search of breakfast instead of an early trip to Monkey Forest.
We called into BB's Cafe across from the market square and I got a great indonesian meal (a mixture of different indonesian foods i.e. chicken satay). The best thing about this cafe was the upstairs had pillows on the ground where we could lie down while eating our breakfast. After breakfast we walked across to the market square. There was a small temple outside where people were making offerings to God. People would rush past balancing baskets of fruit / merchandise on their heads. The prices here were quite expensive (I found out later) but I enjoyed shopping for masks and sarongs to send back home as pressies.
After shopping we made our way down to the Monkey Forest also stopping in at some shops and art galleries on the way. We paid out a small admission fee to monkey forest and a small fee to buy bananas to feed the monkeys. There were a number of temples inside the forest which we never got to visit after the girlfriend got scared because of the monkeys. The monkeys would grab the bananas out of your hand and were quite agressive so we thought it best to leave before we were robbed. This turned out to be quite lucky as Monsoon rains hit just as we were leaving the gate.
We got a taxi back up the street and called back into BB's cafe (loved the food and layout). After a rest here we took a walk and booked tickets to a Kecak dance (known to foreigners as "Monkey Dance"). We bought tickets at the side of the road and they cost around $1 each. There was also the option of another Bali dance held at the palace (across from the market) but we give it a miss for now. After an hour of shops and coffee at a trendy joint, we called in for the Kecak dance (starts at 7pm). The Kecak dance involved a lot of chanting, people in costumes and fire. There was a story to the dance but I forget it. After an hour of Kecak there was a fire dance where a crazy guy runs bare foot over burning coconut shells. After we bounced into a taxi and were on our way back to the Hyatt.
The taxi driver was a very spiritual Hindu guy and he told us all about the Hindu religion and what things meant. He told us all about the different forms of God etc. and how each God has a woman beside them that makes them stronger. He also talked about Kharma and how bad thoughts have to be evened out with good thoughts.
I wanted to know why there are a lot of small boxes with food and flowers left on the ground. You will see these all over Bali. The answer as he told was that leaving these offerings on the ground is giving offerings back to nature. If these offerings are left up high (like in the temples) the offerings are given to God. Thats about the just I got from his teachings.
Sanur - Bali Hyatt (Chilling at the resort)
When arriving in Bali I was forced to pay a $10 VISA fee (compulsary for British). After arriving at Denpasar Airport, Ngurah Rai (not actually in Denpasar) we got an airport taxi directly to the Bali Hyatt Resort in Sanur (80,000 Rupiah = $8US). While Kuta is known for the best beaches in Bali, Sanur Beaches are very close and are a lot quieter and better for relaxing area. There are a few decent resorts in Sanur the most popular being the 2 Hyatt hotels and we decided on the Bali Hyatt (being the cheaper of the 2). We stayed in Sanur because I had not seen my girlfriend for 7 months and wanted a quiet place to relax together.
The Bali Hyatt is a great resort with great gardens, decent rooms, plenty of facilites and reasonable prices for the facilities included. The private beach is one of the best in this area and plenty of water sports / activites are available. We had booked 3 nights here and including all the extras (room service etc) the final bill came to around $300. We were very lucky to get a corner room which had balconies on both sides of our garden view room.
When in Sanur there was not much to do other than chill in the resort. We went into town for dinner 1 night and the town was small, 1 main road with a number of small shops, cafes, and bars. The food was 1/4 the price of the resort food so we got ourselves some t bone steaks with chips for around $1.50 each.
My favourit part of the Hyatt was the pools and jacuzzi. There are 2 main pools 1 which is decorated like an old bali temple / garden and the other has a bar. We spent most our time in the pools and taking photos in the gardens / temples / spas around the resorts. The spas are very expensive to use. You are able to book trips / taxis inside the resort but having quite a tight budget we decided to take a short walk to Sanur and get a taxi for 1/4 the price.
Kuta - Melasti (Surfing and shopping)
On the taxi Drive from Sanur to Kuta (80,000 Rupiah / $8) the taxi driver advised us on a resort called Melasti. We thought we would give it a try and were really happy we did. Melasti is directly in the centre of Kuta beside all the up market resorts (Discovery, Dynasty etc.) The difference is the Melasti costs a lot less. We paid less than $34US a night. The rooms were decent with balcony etc. cheap room service and a seperate kitchen. The 2 pools on the resort were also real nice, the smaller 1 being the better of the 2. The resort was not directly on the beach but there was a small wall to jump over to get there.
It is also very near the waterpark, the large shopping malls, the main shopping street and almost all the attractions of central Kuta. We never needed a taxi to go places.
Kuta as you may know is the most popular of the Bali beaches and is famous for it's surfing and nightlife. We did rent a surf board and were taught how to surf for an hour which cost 50,000 rupiah (5 dollars). There are hundreds of surf boards for rent on the beach and pretty much any other watersport is available here. The girlfriend loved the shopping here and we spent hours looking through Quicksilver, Roxy, Rip Curl etc. etc. The clothes are really cheap and she managed to rack up an extra 4 bags of clothes to bring back with us on the plane. The annoying part of Kuta is the ammount of people who approach you trying to sell or promote products. We were being approached every 2 - 3 minutes when lieing on the beach and even more when walking to the resort. It does have a very laid back feel in Kuta.
On our final day in Bali we decided to do a tour of the island. We did not know exactly what we wanted to do and also did not want to do a set trip. We decided to rent a taxi for the day to take us to all the best places in Bali. In the end we rented a small minibus for me and the girlfriend from the Melasti resort where we were staying. The journey took us on a 9 hour journey costing $35 dollars (includes a tip for the driver). It was well worth it.
Our original idea was to go to Lake Batur and Mount Batur Volcano. The usual set trips to this area involves a number of stops at wood, gold, silver and stone craft houses where you are hassled to buy. We skipped most of these but stopped off on our travels at the wood carving town to check out some masks (well over priced). We just kept going towards Mount Batur and anything that was of interest we stopped at and took a quick tour.
On the way we stopped at the Goa Gajah (Elephant Cave). There is a small entrance fee and it was compulsary to wear a sarong when entering the temple (borrow at gate). Goa Gajah is a temple built into a cliffside which dates back to the 11th century but was not rediscovered until the 1920's and fully excavated 30 years later. If you take a walk around you can find another buddhist temple and fountains of youth ect. We took a walk a bit to far and ended up lost in the jungle. After finding a small village we had to walk 5 miles back to the entrance along a main road.
After wasting our time lost in the jungle we had to give the springs a miss (on way to the volcano) and continued up to Mount Batur. We took the road to Kintamani where you get a great view of Lake Batur and the 2 volcanoes. After getting some photos here the driver mentioned a Hindhu ceremony taking place nearby at Batur Temple (Pura Ulun Danu Batur). It was the temples birthday and was really quite amazing. There were thousands of people parading the 3 mile street leading to the temple with all sorts of dress, music and banners. We managed to reach the temple after a long walk where I was forced to buy some sarongs and head dress to enter the temple but it was well worth it. We then entered the temple where many prayers and rituals were taking place i.e. sacrificing a pig.
After we had seen this it felt like there was nothing else worth doing so we made our way back to the resort. On the way back we stopped at the rice terraces for some photos and the girlfriend sneaked into some small roadside shops to buy some souveigneers. This when I realised how we were being ripped off for everything else we bought when in Bali. The prices were so cheap to start with and the girlfriend managed to bargain them down further. After buying a 5 foot statue and a 5 foot carving we bounced back into the minibus and were on our way back to Kuta.
When back in Kuta we tried posting the carving and statue back to Bangkok. The cost of postage through DHL to Bangkok was $300 which was over 10 times the price of the actual items. As we could not afford this we were forced to drag them around with us for the next 3 days in Kuala Lumpur and back to Bangkok.
- Pros:Amazing art, architecture, sculptures, dress, everything
- Cons:Traders approaching you in tourist areas
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