Dear Travel fatigue,
You're a f*cker aren't you?
Someone can be in the most beautiful place in the planet and unwilling to get out of bed because of you.
You; the long drain on the traveller caused by poor sleep, lack of routine, planes, trains and automobiles, annoying lads, a questionable diet and a myriad of other things. Anyway I just wanted to tell you how I defeated you with the power of Bali.
Also this is going on my blog so there will be lots of helpful information too. A note for readers I only visited Bingin Beach, Ubud and Canguu, I've got a lot to say, but if you need info on Bali's other attractions try the Bali Bible (after reading this of course).
The currency in Bali is the Indonesian rupiah. It is roughly 20,000 rupiah to £1 (GBP) and 15,000 to the US dollar at present. Do not become attached to your rupiah, you will not have it for long. Bali is expensive compared to the rest of Asia.
ATMs can be a little dodgy or have low limits per withdrawal. If you're heading somewhere a bit more remote definitely take some money out at the airport.
Likewise the airport is probably the best place to get a SIM.
There's all sorts of scams if you get them from the street. One lady tried to sell me a 2GB SIM for 500k (extortionate). I ended up getting a 7GB SIM for 300k (fair) BUT after about 2GB that SIM stopped working because, apparently, that 7GB is split between 3G, 4G and YouTube (why?). Get the phone guys at the airport to explain what you're getting so you don't get an unpleasant surprise.
Transport from the airport
I booked a transfer through my hostel. This is probably your best bet, at the very least find out the normal rate for your journey from your hostel. The taxis will probably try and rip you off and Grab won't work. On that-
The Taxi mafia
The local taxis in Bali have banded together to stop Grab (Asian Uber) from working and have been pretty successful. It does not work at all in Bingin (Uluwatu) or Ubud, but you can get some Grabs in Canguu. Bluebird taxis are metered and generally pretty good. There are also fake bluebird taxis. Watch out for these and negotiate a price up front. The motorbike taxis are pretty reasonable as long as you know how much you should be paying, a short trip in your local area shouldn’t cost more than 30k.
I got on a scooter briefly in Bali. It did not go well. No one got hurt but I swore off them after that and I am really glad I did. Scootering in Bali is dangerous. Someone dies almost everyday, I saw someone come off their bike in Canguu and it was terrifying. If you've been on a scooter before go for it, carefully, and with a helmet. People, especially the tourists, drive like idiots.
Tips are included with tax and added on to bills at bars and restaurants.
Lovely Bingin. There's a lot of expats in Bingin, lots of them are very friendly. It's got a very chilled vibe. Go to relax.
Accommodation: I stayed at Warung Stiky 2 after reading about it in a blog. It is a beautiful hotel and cafe set in the cliff above Bingin beach. The rooms are upstairs overlooking the sea with a seating area and hammocks outside. The private rooms were 250k a night and the mezzanine room, an open attic with a mattress and bug net, was 150k. I stayed in the mezzanine and it was great.
You have to walk down some steep stairs to get there, and some steep stairs to get back up, and if you're going to the beach there's some steep stairs involved. Basically wherever you go there will be stairs. This is legs and bums toning heaven.
I would classify Stiky 2 as advanced traveller accommodation (welcome to South East Asia level 2). They don't have WIFI, they are nowhere near an ATM and if you ask a question like 'Where can I get a SIM' you're going to get shrugs. If you want to go beyond Bingin, or to the ATM, you'll need a scooter or a taxi or really good walking shoes. Stiky 2 is not on booking sites, but you can message them on Facebook to book a room. It’s worth the hassle.
Things to do: I'm not going to lie, I 100% crashed out in Bingin and achieved very little, but I think that's part of the magic.
There are yoga classes at the Temple Lodge, Cashew Tree and Morning Light, none of which I went to.
There's the Pura Luhur Temple in Uluwatu, missed that.
And you can rent boards (50k) or get surf lessons (300k) on the beach, neither of which I did.
I did go for a walk along the beach at low tide which was stunning. Bingin beach can get quite busy but a few metres down the sand and you can find your own private cove- although something really creepy did happen whilst I was sitting doing some writing:
I was on my own in a little cove and a local guy walks by. Some other tourists pass, I do some more writing and the same guy comes back. Then a few minutes later he walks past and back again, slowly.
The tide starts to come in and I decide to head back. An English couple arrive and I take a picture for them. I then head back along the beach alone. I pass the same guy, now completely naked, heading back to where I had been sitting.
I look down a keep walking, but not before I see him clock me and hesitate.
I pass his clothes on the top of a rock and consider throwing them in the sea. I do not.
It was very creepy.
Dear men, speaking for all women who have been flashed, it's not a powerful look, don't do it. Both you and your penis look ridiculous.
***Creepy story ends***
Eurgh. You should be able to go on a walk on your own without that happening. Maybe if you're going to chill out off the beaten track take a buddy.
The beach; great for lounging. The rocks are covered in moss which put me off going in the water a little. The waves get crowded with surfers. It’s fun to watch them falling off.
Surf competitions: I was lucky to see a competition at Bingin while I was there, but I think they're a pretty regular occurrence in Uluwatu so be sure to have a Google.
Ecstatic dance: About ten minutes after I arrived my friend, and Bali guru, Claire took me to an Ecstatic dance session at Sannyas. This was intense. The teacher plays different music for each of the four elements and you just dance any way you like. It can release something primal in you. Give it a go. Rosanne does classes every Tuesday.
Sunset: You can watch the sunset from pretty much anywhere in Bingin but the cliffs round to the right (if you're facing the sea) are an especially lovely place.
Food: I ate at Kelly's Warung more than I should of. Didi's next door does amazing salads and young coconuts. And there is a fresh fish grill every evening on the beach. Away from the beach the Cashew Tree is 'the place to be with live music and great health food. The Italian restaurant, Casa Asia, was also great. It is best to book ahead for both of these places.
Accommodation: I stayed at Sayong House in a dorm room. It was cheap, had a pool, was in a great location and clean enough. But breakfast was pathetic and there was no communal area so I only met one other traveller there. The wifi was rubbish too, but I think that's an Ubud wide issue.
Things to do:
Yoga: Oh yoga. I got a three session pass for Yoga Barn for 330k. They have gentle yoga and beginners yoga, great if you're trying it for the first time. I went to another class which was packed and the teacher started getting a little stressed because people didn't know what they were doing. The best class I have done EVER was also there, it's was Myofascular release and Yin yoga where the teacher showed us how to give ourselves a massage with tennis balls before going into the yin poses. (Yin is also good for beginners as it's super slow).
Monkey Forest: You will hear people telling you not to take anything into the monkey forest. Listen to them. Do not take anything with you to the Monkey Forest.
Wait that needs to be bigger-
Do not take anything with you to the Monkey Forest
I took my bag because I went on a whim and one of those little c*nts jumped on me, opened the top of my bag and stole my headphones and my antihistamines (why?) I was lucky they didn't find the zip to the main bit of my bag. I lived in London for ten years and that is the first time I've been mugged. Monkeys are the actual worst.
The Monkey Forest has some cool temples and sculptures though. That and monkeys, hundreds and hundreds of monkeys. Picture the monkey scene in the second Hunger Games, it's basically like that.
Campuhan Ridge walk: This is a lovely and short walk out of Ubud to the rice paddies. I did it in the early morning which was fun, but next time I would try and time it to reach the restaurants by the paddies for sunset. Probably starting the walk at 4.30pm.
The Laughing Buddha: is a bar which has live music every evening. You need to buy drinks (Sangria is 80k) or food to watch or they'll charge you 100k. I went and saw a blues band on a Monday and they were outstanding.
Oh boy. The food in Ubud is exceptional. You have food of the highest standard at almost Asian prices.
Locavore to go: YUM this is the cafe attached to Michelin starred Locavore. You can get lunch and breakfast here for an average Bali price (around 100k per meal). I had duck eggs and crispy bacon on waffle and it was the best thing that has ever happened to me.
Room 4 dessert: Chef Goldfarb set up this restaurant after reaching the top of his game in New York and burning out. It is a dining experience. If you book ahead you can get a tasting menu at one of their tables inside. We just had a la carte desserts in their beautiful garden. The ambience is great, it was really friendly staff and a fab playlist. They match cocktails with the desserts or they have prosecco that's so lovely it made me a little bit emotional. There’s an episode on ‘Chef’s Table’ on Netflix about the Chef.
Bollero: Gets a special mention because I ate here almost everyday, it was right next to our hotel. It was inexpensive and friendly, the spaghetti carbonara was especially good.
This is the place travel fatigue. The place where I took my sword of energy and my shield of napping and I defeated you once and for all!
Canguu is bigger than Bingin and everything is in walking distance.
Accommodation: I stayed at wonderful wonderful Waterborn. The only dorm had five single beds and one of the nicest bathrooms I've ever seen. There were some private rooms, a beautiful pool and communal area and kittens! It also attracted a slightly older crowd. I ended up having dinner with four ladies all over the age of thirty! It was great! Cost for a dorm bed was 300k per night, but you can get a discount if you’re a genius on booking.com. If you're going to Canguu book Waterborn and book it right now. Stop reading and book Waterborn. It fills up fast.
Things to do:
Yoga: I did classes at Serenity Eco lodge (110k) and the Practise (140k). The Practise is a better venue but Serenity has more classes. Teachers at both were excellent. There's also Samadi studio which I didnt get to, bit is supposed to be even prettier.
Surfing: There's surf classes here, morning is probably best before it gets crowded. My friend hired a guy for private lessons and said it worked out cheaper than a surfcamp. I can get the number for you if you like. DM me on Facebook.
Beach: The beach has black volcanic sand and more stones covered in moss. There are so many surf shacks and bars where you can sit and chill or watch the sunset. There's also live music at sunset at Sand Bar .
Party: Here's a list passed to me from another traveller of the places to party on any given day. I visited Old Man's on the beach which is huge and very clubby, Deus which had a superb live band and Luigis which had brilliant pizza and a table tennis table.
Be careful when you're out and about late at night. Lots of people drive drunk. I even heard a guy trying to convince a girl it was fine to keep driving when she wanted to walk. He was British. British lads on tour are the absolute worst. If I could wave a magic wand and give them all an STI I would save my energy because they probably already have one.
(You may notice whilst my energy is back, my patience with lads is not. Now I just have the energy to get more annoyed.)
Moana Restaurant: Unfortunately this has nothing to do with the Disney Princess. It’s still good though. Incredible fish dishes, average prices and popular with locals as well as tourists. Booking is recommended but we chanced it and were fine.
Betelnut cafe: Was my favourite. They have the perfect menu. You can get super massive salads or Mexican or even a delicious burger.
Warung Bu Mi: Very cheap and tasty Indonesian food. You can get a huge plate of food for 30k.
Overall: I mostly napped, ate and did yoga in Bali, but it I also started writing my next book which I'm really excited about. A girl I met at Ecstatic Dance told me that Bali is a spiritual power centre and that it will always give you what you need. In my case she was 100% right.
Have fun in Bali and f*ck you travel fatigue!
If you think my writing is interesting why don’t you check out my first book ‘Afterlife’? It’s like a really long blog with chapters and a thrilling storyline…
Also have you tried booking.com? I use them pretty much exclusively now as my ‘genius’ discount makes them cheaper than everyone else. Here is a link that gets you £15 off the first time you use them* Try booking.com.
*This is a genuine recommendation, but an affiliate link (I’ll make a little money)