View from Hotel Sintesa of sky during Mt Agung Eruption

Written by James McDonald

December 15, 2017

This year we went to Bali.

My observations:

  • The Instagram brand building culture makes people pose for photos in increasingly awkward positions. It’s entertaining to watch as beautiful people contort and genuflect to get the next morsel for their social media followers. I noted this while visiting Padang Padang beach.
  • Drones and go-pros are ubiquitous. Selfie sticks are still around and a quaint reminder of the recent past
  • Bali belly is real. You can get some Diapet tablets from any number of the local mini-marts
  • Mt Agung erupted and delayed our departure by 6 days. The extra time effectively doubled our holiday. There are worse places to be stuck
  • If you are looking for somewhere untouched by western tourism large parts of Bali are not for you (Seminyak, Kuta) . Having not checked out the whole Island however there are probably many places that may be off the beaten track that will not make you feel like you are surrounded by Schoolies.
  • View over Jimbaran Bay from roof of Hotel Sintesa with mountains in background

    View over Jimbaran Bay from roof of Hotel Sintesa with mountains in background

    We stayed in Jimbaran Bay. It did not assault my middle aged sensibilities. There was a lovely Asian fusion restaurant named La Brasserie (great food & wonderful french lady owner) and another restaurant named the Fat Chow (good food, with interesting architecture and interior design including great views over Jimbaran bay) I would definitely go to again.

  • We went to the Rock Bar. Very expensive. Next time I will clothe myself in linen, boat shoes and a Bermuda hat and bring a wheel barrow of cash. But the views are spectacular. Access to the bar is an adventure in itself and the service impeccable.
  • Indonesia is predominantly Muslim but Bali is predominantly Hindu
  • The beaches in Australia are better
  • Balinese people are polite and friendly
  • The Taxi drivers, like in many places, try to rip you off. It takes time to figure out how to work-a-round the local’s tendency to make the most of each financial interaction with tourists. (I understand this because of seasonal income and the monthly wage being around 210-20 AUD)
  • Uber is very useful (and much cheaper) but there is a war between them and the Taxi drivers so you may be dropped off a half k away from where you want to go. If you book a short trip with Uber, the drivers will cancel and never pick you up.
  • You can pay local prices if you live as the locals live, but in many areas you will be paying tourist prices which are only a little lower then Western prices
  • Unlike Vietnam there doesn’t appear to be any ANZ (An Australian Bank) ATM’s in tourist areas in Bali
  • Starbucks, McDonald’s, KFC and other annexes of American culture are all there
  • Use trip advisor
  • Reading the Australian press you would think that Bali and Thailand are filled with Australian Bikers. I couldn’t tell. Just about every 2nd person has a hairstyle and tattoos making them indistinguishable from someone identifying as “born to be wild”
  • Bali attracts tourists from all over the world. By counting the number of middle aged people wearing speedos who appear to be comfortable in their skin, I assume many of them come from Europe
  • Purchase a local SIM with the dominant telco Telkomsel. You need internet or wifi (which the locals call Wee-Fee) to book Uber and find stuff. $10 AUD (100,000IDR) for the SIM plus 145,000IDR for 6GB Data for a month. I had to show them my passport and tell them my religion. I should have done this at the start of the holiday but only did it after we got stuck with the planes not flying due to the Mt Agung eruption. We all learns
  • Volcanoes are cool, but they can disrupt your travel plans and void your travel insurance. Pay attention to news reports before you go because insurers indemnify themselves against known risks and won’t pay up for them. I’m not complaining because Mt Agung doubled my holiday but also the cost doubled
  • There are Monkeys in Bali. I enjoyed watching their antics
  • Nusa Dua is pretty
Nusa Dua panorama near Water Blow

Nusa Dua panorama near Water Blow

So I’m all dot pointed out now.

1 Comment

  1. lonni j friedman

    Nice post. My wife went to Bali about 5 years ago, and she found it to be overrun with middle-aged Austrian divorcees.

    Do you have any more Bali photos posted somewhere?


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