First thought about Bali? Paradise beaches and essence of the exotic. Not really. Beaches are overcrowded and better can be found somewhere else in Indonesia, so we didn’t bother and went deep in the middle of the island, to Ubud – the town well known for its unique architecture and artists. Getting there wasn’t easy. Hoards of tourists visit this place after reading the book “Eat pray love” and locals try to take the last penny from your pocket.
So bad beginning…
We landed at Denpasar Airport, the biggest on the island. Right after we got out from the main hall of the terminal, all taxi drivers literally jumped on us. It was looking like a movie star was walking out the building and all crazy fans just attacked a celebrity, but we are not stars and they weren’t fans. Those who couldn’t get closer to us were showing a gesture of an invisible steering wheel in the air or better to say ”milking a cow” gesture. 😉 Everybody was asking where we were going, others were trying to guess where to by saying names of places. All of them had “special price for the first customer of the day” and it was a late afternoon… When we were ignoring them, they were grabbing our hands or forcing us to stop, walking behind wherever we went. Didn’t seem to let us go! When we said nothing, some of them thought it meant we accepted their offers and tried to show us the way to their cabs. Offers were so good so we couldn’t resist: Ok, 350k rupiah? Special price for you, my friend! You my one customer today… ok, ok, ok 300k rupiah…and so on… (350k rupiah is enough to pay for a nice double room, breakfast, lunch and dinner for two! It’s about 1/5 of Indonesian sallary!) Anyway, it was the price way above what we were going to spend for a transport so we went to look for local buses. From the airport, it is possible to take local minibus called ”bemo” or just a bigger bus. Tourist information didn’t exist at the airport and whoever we asked for direction, security, shop assistants they were sending us back to the taxi saying there were no buses. Yeah, right… We went to look by ourself, walking around, but we couldn’t find one. Moreover, we forgot to download an offline map and were not sure if we were heading a right direction. It wasn’t only us, to be honest, we saw other confused travelers walking around. We walked north and reached a highway… If it had been in UK, we wouldn’t have crossed it, but here? We just followed local people. We managed to stop tourists on scooters. 🙂 They had no idea about buses but knew the direction to Denpasar at least. As we were walking, cars were stopping every so often to offer us a lift. Those were regular people in their private cars, but were transforming to taxi drivers when saw us. ”Special price, my friend…” and special meant 500k rupiah! On the way, we saw a sign to Kuta and we could remember it from the map, so we knew we were going the right direction. We saw a free wifi spot, so tried to connect… and then, out of nowhere, two local guys came to us and asked standard questions like: “Where are you from? How long in Indonesia?” We were waiting for another question: “Where are you going?” and an offer of lift right after that (special price), but luckily there wasn’t any. They showed us the nearest bus station. Finally, after hundreds of people that day, someone truly helped us. After 15min walk we found a bus stop. Public bus to Batubulan for 3.5k rupiah (100 times less than taxi!) and it was almost the whole way to Ubud. We had to take another bus from Batubulan to Ubud. Our problem was that all public minibuses after seeing us turned to private transport with higher prices. So annoyed after all day walking, we had enough. There was one more traveler with us, a girl from London and she didn’t want to pay more too so all of us just walked towards Ubud. One of the drivers saw us as money walking away and changed his mind, dropped the price down to 20k rupiah per person (starting price was 60k per head, locals pay 8k). More than it should be, but we didn’t want to waste time and we still had to find a hotel as we didn’t book anything in advance. After a few first hours we thought it wasn’t a country we wanted to stay…
Ubud – it’s a good place to be in Bali!
When we saw Ubud with all its narrow streets and finally sat in the garden of our hotel with no noise and only birds singing, all bad impression of the place just disappeared and we decided to give Indonesia a blank page. There was one more thing, our friend Nina (friend who we were in Singapore with, Singapore, a short stay in Lion City) left a message that she was going to be in Ubud too! We knew that Nina and Czarek were in Indonesia, but we didn’t expect to saw them the day after our arrival in Bali. The next day we went to the town to wander about and when we were back Nina was already waiting for us.
As we mentioned before, the place was very artistic and there were a lot of galleries or shops with paintings and wood crafts. Not only that made the place unique. Its architecture was so different comparing to what we had seen before. People on Bali, especially in Ubud are Hindu. Most of the houses or hotels look like temples and have a private temple within its walls. To enter a property you have to walk through a gate that looks like portal with a lot of sculptures. After crossing the gate you are in a different world with the garden full of exotic plants, sculptures and fountains. Garden has alleys with places to rest and ponds full of colorful fishes. We have never seen such a place before! Below pictures of the houses and temples. How to tell the difference? 😉
Almost on every street we could spot some nice sculptures.
And kids who were watching us. 🙂
In front of houses on Bali people leave gifts for their gods every day in the morning. It’s a food (usually a rice) wrapped in bamboo leaves and flowers.
Do you see those decorated bamboo poles? They’re called penjors and those are for gods. They have to be very tall so gods can see it from Mount Agung.
Balinese woman in traditional clothes with her puppy. 🙂
Amazing, hand carved entry doors:
Street markets full of souvenirs:
We were not lucky enough and missed lush green rice paddies. Why? We’re there in June when the most of rice fields are just brown puddles. Have found only a few, like those below:
More travel stories about Indonesia here: Indonesia