The first being “bogans, braids and bombings”. The second, “sophisticated shopping, fabulous food and friendly folk”. I fall into the second category.
I must admit, before my first trip to this tropical paradise, my thoughts were firmly in the first camp.
You could quote me on saying, “Bali, I’m never going there. It’s full of sunburned Aussies being rude and rowdy.”
Then, my husband Ross and I were invited to a family wedding there in 2001 and there was no question, it was on!
So armed with a Lonely Planet, some great advice from a travel agent friend (thanks Stephanie) and a little High School Indonesian (yes, I wish I had paid more attention), we were on our way.
Most of the time the line to get through immigration is awfully long, you have two choices. Grin and bear it, or organize a “Bali Concierge”.
This fast tracks you through for a fee of $20USD. There is a $25 USD visa cost on arrival, so have the right money in US dollars.
For departure tax you will need 150,000 IDR ( around $15 AUD). If you bring wine with you (it is very expensive to buy in Bali) you are legally allowed 1 litre/1 bottle per person.
We always take extra. Declare it on your forms, and then be prepared to pay around $10 AUD per bottle extra.
Most accommodation will offer transfers from the airport. This is the easiest option. Traffic can be slow, so it is nice to sit in an air-conditioned car, sometimes with an icy cold towel, and a refreshing bottle of water.
Do not drink tap water in Bali under any circumstance. This is the quickest road to Bali Belly or worse!
Bottled water is plentiful and cheap. Clean your teeth with bottled water too. This should be provided free of charge at the majority of good hotels.
I also avoid ice, but these days in tourist venues I think it is made from filtered water. Do pack Imodium, anti nausea tablets and an antiseptic cream. It is always good to have these supplies in your travel kit, wherever your destination.
Nyepi in March is the annual Hindu Holy Day of quiet reflection for all of Indonesia. While the rest of Indonesia is predominately Muslim, the Balinese are mainly Hindu.
From 6am on the day, through the next 24 hours Denpasar Airport, shops, bars and restaurants, even the beach is closed to everyone.
On arrival to your accommodation, you will be asked for your passport. All places need to take copies for the local authorities. This is completely normal, so don’t fret about it being out of sight.
Now, with the serious stuff out of the way, let’s get back to the fun!
On our first trip to Bali, we explored Sanur, Ubud and Jimbayran Bay. It was the perfect introduction, especially Ubud.
Located in the mountains, this is a very beautiful place known for artist and yoga retreats. We stayed at a gorgeous boutique hotel overlooking the rice paddies.
Recommended by Stephanie, it was perfect.
Jimbarayn Bay was lovely too. We enjoyed BBQ on the beach under the stars, surrounded by other travellers and locals.
After our first trip we were converts!
Second trip was our honeymoon in 2004.
Third time, Seminyak.
This is the spot for me! it ticks all the boxes for what I want from a tropical holiday.
There was no question that on this our fourth visit, we chose to stay there again.
Deciding to rent a private villa for five nights, we found the perfect one for us via airbnb. But first, three nights on Nusa Lembongan, staying at the “Bay Shore Huts”.
Located between Bali and Lombok, this small island is great place to enjoy scuba diving, which my husband does.
It takes about 25 minutes by fast boat from Sanur. After a full day of traveling, after reaching our destination, we decided to eat at our resort.
We tried the “Sandy Bay Beach Club”, for sunset drinks and dinner. We enjoyed BBQ fish and salad, washed down with a great Chilean white, simple but delicious!
On our last night we ventured to Indiania Kenaga, a restaurant and resort owned by a French chef, and you can see the influence in the food.
It is by far the most sophisticated place on the island.
The great thing about restaurants here is that they pick you up and drop you back to your accommodation, no charge.
I noticed the same principle in Positano. It is a clever way to get people out of their resorts and patronzing other venues and provides more jobs for the locals.
So after three very relaxing days, we were on a boat back to Bali for part two of our adventure, the Villa in Seminyak.
Sampai Jumpa! xx
(See you later in Indonesian)
Jo Bayley, Fashion Editor, The Culture Concept Circle 2013