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Donna's "Just Back" Report

November 2000

Bali Beckons

After a frantic race to win the - Free Womens E-mail Centre and online lifestyle magazine competition, I finally got the call to tell me I had won!! A trip to Bali was mine!

A mad rush to organise passports and childcare and then we were ready to go. My husband and I had researched the internet for any information we could find on Bali. We found a great resource at BALI travel FORUM -- Bali, Indonesia which helped us prepare.

We left Brisbane on 20th November and were looked after extremely well by Garuda Airlines and when we arrived in Denpassar I was very excited. It was a huge shock to step into the hot, muggy air at customs! There was quite a wait at customs but once through, the site to see outside was worth it! There were hundreds of drivers all holding cards up looking for their customers. By a stroke of luck our driver from Bali Tours was waiting for us and immediately took our bags and led us to the van.

To experience the traffic in Bali is something else! It is absolute chaos! Although it is the 'norm' for the Balinese, so we just sat back and sunk in the sights. It was quite a culture shock to see the poorly made roads and we had to remind ourselves that we were in a third world country. The contrasts were obvious though, passing littered streets and then being faced with beautiful temples.

Straight to Hard Rock Hotel-Bali and we were amazed by it's size! We were promptly signed in and walked into our air conditioned room. The room was quite pleasant with french doors leading out to the VIP pool. We decided to dump our bags and get straight into it. :)

We headed to the local supermarket (Matahari's) to stock up on a few supplies and exchange some money. The going rate was around $1AU - 4900Rph. My first thought while trying to walk through the streets was that the hawkers were really bad. But looking back on it, it was simply that we had never before encountered hawkers in our lives. After a day or two these hawkers did not hassle us at all. In fact we enjoyed many joke filled chats with the locals just sitting in the streets with them or over a drink.

We explored the shops and decided that we were ready for a swim! It doesn't take long to be soaked in sweat in Bali. :) The pool was divine and very private. It became one of our favourite places to be after a night out with a belly full of Jam Jars or Bintangs. Mind you we were quiet, it was after all, morning! :)

We hired a driver for a day and went to Celuk to a silver making factory which was quite interesting but I was more interested in the local markets. So off to Ubud markets to do some shopping. Ubud was much cheaper than Kuta and we enjoyed walking the streets. I also found the bartering easier and prices cheaper than Kuta. Although no matter where you went,things were cheap!

We continued on to see the famous Kintamani volcano where we had lunch. We had decided against the Monkey forest simply because we were feeling a tad under the weather from the night before! Then we were off through a maze of countryside to see the wonderful terraced rice fields. I got several photos of these. I have never seen such greenery and the patterns were just amazing.

We passed through so many small villages and it was just a great experience. On the way back to Kuta we got caught up in a traffic jam. Everyone just got out of their cars to chat in the middle of the road! The hold up was a truck unloading building supplies for roadworks. It was women unloading the truck by hand and to see the rocks and things they carried on their heads was unbelievable.

We did a lot of wandering the streets at night just soaking in the atmosphere. We visited the Bounty Restaurant several nights because we liked the staff and the surroundings. The $2 (1 litre!!) cocktails were unreal. Our dinner was fantastic and the service was even better. The whole night only cost us approx $25AU and that was a three course meal, garlic bread and a couple of cocktails each. We had breakfast at the Bali Aussie and for only $3AU we both had eggs, bacon, sausage, tomato, toast, juice and coffee!
We found that the Hard Rock Deli made fantastic cappuccinos and croissants to die for. Also the most delectable cakes. :) I thought it was quite cheap too. ( $2AU for cappucino and $2.50AU for huge croissants)

We were not hassled by hawkers on the beach, if anything they were very friendly and accepted very quickly when we said no. We only used the blue metered taxis and the cost was next to nothing to get around town. I think we paid approx $1AU.

We purchased heaps of Playstation games and are pleased to say that they work perfectly. :) The games ranged from 5000Rph - 8000Rph ($1-$2). We got ours from Mataharis. On advice from the Bali Forum we took two empty suitcases and yes they were bulging on our return!

The Hard Rock Hotel offered plenty to do but was very expensive. So we only drank at their bar twice and the band playing was pretty good. We dined at the Hard Rock Cafe on the first night and I thought it was quite reasonably priced (although expensive for Bali) . The service was good as was the atmosphere. I made frequent use of the hotel's internet service to contact the kids back home and it was cheap for what I wanted to do.
Before we knew it, it was time to leave and I admit that I was looking forward to getting home and seeing the kids. :) Bali is a wonderful place to experience and see the things you are always hearing about, but for us it's not our 'paradise'. I think we may have felt different if we took the kids with us though. :) Also we didn't get to see as much of Bali as we would have liked but we were simply a bit strapped for cash. :) If we went again I'd like to stay in a traditional hotel and experience more of the culture.

Before we left I decide to get one film developed. I took a photo of my hubby on the hotel bed covered in money. For a couple of days we were actually millionaires!! (thanks to the Rph!!)
I agree that for people who want to party then Kuta is the place!

Thanks to the Bali Forum for all the advice and thanks to for letting us experience Bali.

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