Destination: Bali, Indonesia, April 2017
You would think that a flight mix up that had me questioning when I’d actually make it to Bali, Indonesia would be a bad start. Two different medical woes causing me to question whether or not I should take a long term flight, the cancellation of my original flight, and a new flight booking set to depart a day later led me on my way to Bali. It’s a place I’d probably never heard of until the movie, Eat Pray Love, and for I made plans to not only take one of those journeys, but spend some time in Bali. I was obsessed, and full disclosure, I watch that movie all over the world during just about every trip.
Flight: My original flight was $589 with the airline from hell that will not be named. After going back and forth with the airline and 3rd party company that I booked though, literally hours before I would’ve been heading to the airport, I decide to cancel that flight and book with another airline. New flight: 64k miles/points. A nice chunk of my arsenal of stored miles, collecting dust.
Lodging: I originally booked an airbnb for $181 for 6 nights. After getting a refund for one night due to the flight scheduling changes, it ended up being $154 for 5 nights. I had to fight airbnb for this but in the end, I prevailed.
Spending Money: I got 2,000,000 IDR out of the airport atm, which is pretty much $150. $45 of those would go to a day trip and the rest was spent on food and transportation from the airport. I probably spent about $50 on my credit card for food during my last couple days and exchanged some IDR at the airport for $14 back once I was returning home. So overall I spent about $186 which is not bad at all. I even bought more souvenirs than I normally do, so that’s very telling of where my money went. Breakfast was the most expensive at $10 even though I ate at a different place every day.
Where I Stayed
I went back and forth too many times to count about where I’d be staying. I knew I wanted to be near a beach, so pretty early on I decided on staying in Seminyak, a 15+ minute ride from the Denpasar airport depending on traffic. There will most likely be traffic.
I thought I’d go to Bali and stay in a villa with a private pool and views that overlooked a lush forest or at least the ocean. Then I said I’d stay in a hotel and skip the villa prices since it was just lil ol’ me. After actually reserving a room at a popular hotel, I happened to peruse options on airbnb and realized I could save even more money. I found the cutest little room in a boutique hotel listed on airbnb. Those are the best gems. You think you’re going to be renting someones apartment or just a room, and you scroll and find an actual hotel room for $27 a night. Jackpot!
Seminyak is probably the most touristy area of the city, or maybe it ties with Ubud, with streets lined with stores and restaurants only selling Indonesian food as an afterthought. Hell, I had some of the best sushi ever, spring rolls, and a beer for less than $7. I may go back just for that very same meal. While you will spot the occasional McDonalds or KFC, surprisingly, I would’ve had to walk a minimum of 45 minutes just to get to those establishments.
What I Did
Let me get this out of the way and say…not a goddamn thing. I didn’t do anything! Having people badger you about your plans during a trip is so exhausting and I’m genuinely sorry that I’m not the woman to go to for things like that. At least not after I tell you I honestly plan to do nothing and you try to force me to dig deep into my soul because surely, I must have plans. I’m not setting up an itinerary to check things off the list. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with people that do that, so please don’t judge me for doing the opposite.
Aside from technically staying in a hotel, my life during my travels is as close to that of a local as possible. After breakfast you could catch me at the beach on a daily basis. I considered taking surf lessons but if you would’ve saw the waves that I saw, you would’ve soaked up all the Vitamin D you could instead as well. I did take the aforementioned day trip to Ubud because I thought it’d be the best way to see Ubud. When people offer these tours, you really decide what it is you want to do with guidance from the drivers. Stops usually include a temple, the rice fields, monkey forest, etc. Now before you ask, I told Gusti, my driver, to put the pedal to the metal and to continue driving right on by monkey forest. What I don’t have time for are those aggressive creatures shaking me down for anything that isn’t attached to my body and crawling all over me. I love animals, I promise I do, but tourists have greatly affected those formerly sweet beings and I don’t have time for it! I visited the Ubud Market and negotiated like hell with those thieves (jk). I trekked to a point of the rice fields where I decided I wasn’t going any further, and hiked my ass right back up. I went to a temple where I was shaken down for the supposed “voluntary” donation and all in all, I could have done without the day trip. I am glad I visited the Ubud market but I would’ve enjoyed my day even more if I was at my usual spot on the beach, soaking up the sun and drinking a Bintang. Don’t get me started on the lady that sliced up a watermelon and walked it on over to me. Bless her heart!
Other than sunbathing I walked around a lot. By a lot I mean, more than you can fathom. I tried out all of the restaurants that piqued my interest and tried to explore different neighborhoods than the previous day. One other game changer was the fact that just like in Thailand, my sleep was thrown off on a daily basis. It didn’t match EST and it didn’t match Thai time. After my mornings at the beach I usually went back to shower and ending up sleeping until the evening before heading back out. This was a daily occurrence and I didn’t care. I didn’t feel like I “wasted the days away” and didn’t feel like I was missing out on anything from snoozing.
Bali is the land of the scooter. They are everywhere and if you’re easily identifiable as an outsider, you won’t be able to walk down the street without every single one trying to give you a ride. That goes for taxi’s too! Traffic is always bumper to bumper and they all need to make that fare. The honking was uber annoying and I assure you it wasn’t due to me being a woman, at least not entirely. I got compliments, sure, but a taxi driver or scooter honking at me was almost always asking me if I needed a ride. And they will always overcharge you.
Leaving the airport was a full time job with everyone trying to give you a ride. I knew an uber would only cost about 40,000 IDR as opposed to the 300,00o IDR everyone was trying to charge me, but the way uber is set up in Bali is bananas. It’s practically banned, along with two other car services, but you can still utilize them if you know how. I now know that getting an uber from the airport required you to trek to departures rather than arrivals. That would’ve saved me the trouble of someone trying to charge me $30 just to go 15-30 minutes away. After telling one man no at least 25 times I finally agreed to the 150,000 IDR he was set on charging me.
Moral of the story: uber to wherever it can take you and negotiate when you have to use any other mode of transport. Many are against uber (I personally no longer use them in the US) because they charge so little in Bali and essentially make it harder for taxi drivers to get customers. They are so hated that the street to my hotel had a sign that said Uber was not allowed. That doesn’t count the uber that took me to the airport for a whopping $0.36. I also read that they can take you to Ubud, but it’ll be hard to get an uber FROM Ubud. However, it just doesn’t make sense to be swindled out of my money simply for being a foreigner. So if I go back, I’ll gladly utilize uber when I can and negotiate like hell when I can’t. I also wouldn’t recommend renting a scooter because with all the traffic, scooters were everywhere between cars and speeding around them. There’s no set speed limit so not only was almost everyone endangering their own lives, but the lives of other passengers. I wouldn’t do it.
Would I Return?
Seminyak is to Bali as Phuket is to Thailand. Y’all know I HATED Phuket. However, Seminyak was what I hoped Phuket would’ve been. Get rid of about 75 clothing stores and the fact that EVERYONE is trying to sell you something, and Seminyak is a magical place. I would stay a few nights in Ubud next time but could see myself living in Seminyak. It’s actually like a faster paced Chiang Mai, Thailand. The only thing Thailand may do better than Bali is temples. I got my entire life strolling in and out of temples in Thailand and that was one of my few highlights.
I didn’t take more than the few photos here because I was intent on being in my zone and chilling the entire time. I completely understand why people don’t want to leave Bali once they visit. I have so many other areas to check out and I swear next time I’ll take surfing lessons, but my week of doing next to nothing was perfect. Just perfect. Someone said this was my Eat Pray Love trip and I think they were right. It’s at least one of them. That I know for sure.