My wife and I have just returned from our 3-week honeymoon. We left December 15th from JFK airport in NYC on Northwest airlines ($983 r/t per ticket – booked back in August) to Bangkok connecting through Tokyo. It was approximately 23 hours,
however, if you take enough Valium you wouldn’t believe how fast a flight like this can be. We arrived in Bangkok a day later on Saturday 16th around 10:30pm and hopped a bus to our favorite hotel. The next day we made travel arrangements on Thai Airlines to Denpasar for $525 r/t for 2 tickets open return. The best deal I could find from the States was $750 r/t per ticket on same airline. Always buy your tickets abroad. They will always be cheaper. We left for Bali on Tuesday the 19th and were met at the airport by our guide Wayan
Sueta. Wayan Sueta has to be one of the most gentlest and kindest man that we have met in a long time. His English including slang is 90% perfect. He drove us to our first hotel
(Klub Kokos) just outside of Ubud. I have to say that although the staff was very friendly and efficient and the room was very nice and clean, we felt that it was just to far out of Ubud and remote of a location. The thing that pissed us off the most about that place was the amount of dogs and the never ending barking that persisted throughout the night. We were unable to get any kind of decent sleep there, which was the main reason we left. We stayed there for 2 days and then checked into the Honeymoon Guesthouse a day early. This was a good move – the Honeymoon Guesthouse is situated in the heart of Ubud but on a side road, which makes it very quiet place. They have just completed two new villas there that are exquisite. If you go do try to get room 10, it is breath taking. Believe it or not, the only thing that it lacked and could use was air-conditioning. It got a little sticky at night. Everything in this room was either marble or intricately carved wood. The breakfast was always on time and very delicious. As you all might know – the owners of this place also own the two busiest restaurants in Ubud (Casa Luna and Indus) and you might say that they have a monopoly on eating which does not help the rest of the commerce there. We ate at both of these restaurants and I have to say that as much as the people of the Bali forum rave about these two places, my wife and I found them highly over-rated with food that was just ok. As a matter of fact, when we went to Indus (their jewel) we saw the exact same menu as Casa Luna except that it was much more expensive. Note that if you go at night to eat at Indus you will see absolutely nothing except swarms of insects. All of the highly touted rice fields views are pitch black so you might as well be at McDonalds or any other place in the universe. I actually took 2 bites of my main course and left the rest for the trash or whatever they do with it. Casa Luna is not much better except the prices are a little less. If you like to look at a tiny river with a lot of garbage in it and on the sides of it then you will thoroughly enjoy this restaurant. My only suggestion for the newbies is stay away from Indus and go to Casa Luna for a dessert after you have eaten at a quality restaurant like Café Lotus, which happen to be across the street. The Chef at Café Lotus cooks up superb meals at half the price of these other two tourist traps. Do not miss any of his pasta dishes! Two other fabulous recommendations are Naughty Nuri’s and the Dirty Duck Diner.
Touring with Wayan Sueta in his air-conditioned Toyota 4 wheel drive was a pleasure. He is friendly and funny and we had such a wonderful time. He takes great pride in showing all of the nooks and crannies that most tourists would never see or even know that they exist. We saw many beautiful Temples and numerous rice paddies in different stages of growth. He took us to the real Bali way back in the country where life is simple and primitive, the way it always was. He was a fountain of knowledge about his people and every tradition that is celebrated. His threshold of patience is overwhelming especially when we were snapping pictures like a Japanese tourist. After three days of touring the countryside we got templed and ricepaddied out and wanted to relax so we went back to Ubud for Xmas eve and Xmas day and chilled out. The highlight of Monkey forest was definitely at the entrance where there is a bunch of shops that sell the usual shit to tourists, the owner of the very last shop next to the entrance has a medium size, typical Bali mutt, and he would wait patiently for one of the many aggressive monkeys to turn its back and then sneak up on it and bite the shit out of the monkey causing the monkey to almost have a heart seizure. You might not find this funny but if you have experienced some monkey aggression towards various humans you would definitely be rooting for this dog!
My wife and I had the full massage treatment with scrub and seaweed bath at Bodyworks in Ubud and Seminyak and it is an experience you should definitely not miss. We went down to Kuta area and spent half a day in this Daytona Beach, Fort Lauderdale, and Key West wannabe. If your trailer trash you will love it there! La Lucciola or however you spell it was definitely worth going there for lunch. However, if you go for dinner you will see nothing and you may as well be anywhere. We had decided that we had enough of Bali and were going to, against all common sense, gonna go to Lombok and take our chances with the Muslims. If only they knew that they could have gotten their hands on a couple of Americans, not to mention a real live Jew, they could have had one great lynching for Allah! Anyway, contrary to all reports, not only is it a beautiful island, but the people are very receptive and friendly towards all tourists. I really think that the main problem is between the Muslims and the local Christians and their churches, not between the Muslims and the tourists. We actually took the yellow boat ($35 one way) over to Gili Meno and took a small water taxi over to Gili Trawangan where we had a reservation at the Americ Hotel. Well, wouldn’t you know it when we got there they were booked and very sorry about the confusion but they would be happy to bring us to some slum homestay that would be comparable. I wanted to Strangle this pencil-neck geek but I did show some retrain. I had him call the number 1 resort on that Island, Villa
Ombak, to try to get some hotel-to-hotel courtesy, but alas, to no avail – solidly booked. I looked at my wife and asked her what her gut instinct was and she said we should go with mine (I strangled him) just kidding. We picked up our bags and through them into a horse and cart taxi and went to the other end of the beach where the sold-out Villa Ombak was located. I left her in the cart with the driver and luggage and walked up to the reservation desk and was greeted by a very big smile that asked if he could help me. I said, “Yes, I am in very big trouble. My wife and I are on our honeymoon and the hotel Americ screwed us out of our reservation so we now have come all the way from Ubud and have no place to stay. Would you possibly have a room for my crying wife and myself for 3 nights?” He said they were solidly booked but he would check. As he walked away from the reception desk to go check the books I followed him with a brand new RP 100,000 note, which I put into his pocket and said we sure hope you find something for us. Well what do you know, all of a sudden there was an available suite for us and it would be a pleasure to have us. The porters ran to the street and grabbed our bags, the waiter came with refreshing cold welcome drinks and the taxi driver was told to go back to the Americ and collect his taxi fee for our ride. We spent 3 beautiful days at Villa
Ombak and then decided to journey on to Gili Meno. We took a day trip there to scout out possible places to stay and by far Gazebo was the best. However, we failed to ask a couple of key questions. They do have showers but it is salt-water showers and you have to rinse off with a 10-gallon water cooler. They do have AC but the electricity only goes on from 6pm till 7am so if your hot in the daytime – to bad! The AC barely cooled anything off at night. There were mosquitoes and flies throughout our room. When having dinner anywhere on this Island you have to eat very fast with one hand and use the other hand to swat flies away from your food. You may as well be vacationing in Ethiopia. So we called Villa Ombak and arranged for them to pick us up the next morning in their high-speed boat and bring us to
Lombok. They were there at 9am sharp and by 9:30am we were on the island of Lombok and they drove us to the 5star Senggigi Sheraton. The Sheraton gave us a $650 a night Honeymoon suite for $150 a night and for the next 4 nights/ 5 days we were in paradise. We spent New Years Eve and New Years day and the day after, the 2nd we flew back to
Denpasar. The Food and service at the Sheraton is truly 5-star and this was definitely one of the highlights of our trip. If you go – request room 5148 – you won’t regret it. You might want to throw a little of your vacation $$$ around to the waiters, pool attendants, housekeeping and bartenders. It will definitely enhance their attention towards you. I think in our 4 days there I gave them each what they earn in a month and it was very much appreciated and couldn’t of cost me more than $150. Well, we left the Sheraton on January 2nd and flew back to Bali on the small twin prop 12-seater for $25 one way, which took 25 minuets. Enough time to go up drink a coke and come down. If I knew how convenient it was to fly, I would have never went on the yellow boat. We got back to airport and walked over to International departure and got on our Thai Airlines flight back to Bangkok. This will pretty much conclude our “Just Back” report. Will we go back to Bali? Honestly, it’s a big world and there is so much more to see.
Do use Wayan Sueta as your guide.
Do eat at Naughty Nuri’s
Do eat at Lotus Café
Do eat at La Lucciola
Do order the kilo + crabs, they are delicious
Do get the full massage treatment.
Do go to Lombok and Gili Trawangan (stay only at Villa Ombak)
Casa Luna – very over-rated
Indus – even more over-rated
Gili Meno is a fly hatchery
Do fly to Lombok