It’s travel time again and time to head off and explore another of South East Asia’s travel hotspots… Bali. Generally a frequent travel haunt for over-zealous Australians, those yoga sorts and surfers with shaggy locks, Bali is a fascinating mix of local Asian culture and cuisine, over-priced vegan food, beaches and Bintang.
After arriving in Bali it quickly dawned on me that the locals in Indonesia’s travel capital have absolutely mastered ripping off tourists. It is very obvious that the type of people that travel here have never understood the concept of haggling, with the local taxi drivers (the kings of the con), and the tat market sellers being some of the worst (or best depending on how you look at it) that I have come across. Extremely high prices, very little wiggle room, and the attitude that everybody is a millionaire. Quite simply, there has been too many rich Australians and Chinese visiting Bali in the past few years, chucking the Dollars and the Yuan around, making life more expensive for other travellers. But nevertheless prices are still a fraction of what you would pay in New Zealand for the same thing.
Thankfully, budget travelling was not on the cards this time round. This being a “holiday” instead of a “backpacking” style trip I was more willing to flash the cash and try to ignore the ever-depleting bank account for once.
Accompanied by Soph and 3 friends (Anton, Hugo and Hannah), our Bali adventure began with a 6-night stay in a rather fancy villa close to Sanur Beach. To get there the first challenge was snag a taxi from the airport without being subjected to daylight robbery. Our first offer was a hearty 450,000 Rupiah, which equates to around £25 for a 30 minute taxi ride. Urrrrm, fuck off mate! After talking a random bloke with a car (he was definitely not even a taxi driver) into doing the same trip for 150,000 Rupiah, we were off.
The villa was incredible, the location was nicely positioned far enough away from the hustle of any other tourists, but close enough to be within an easy scooter ride of anything we needed. Anyone wanting an affordable, yet top-notch villa in Bali’s Sanur region, check out Roger’s pad: https://www.airbnb.co.nz/rooms/16019448
Not needing to do anything too arduous for our first few days – after all this was a holiday and a nice break from the daily grind of work – we relaxed around a more than adequate pool, sipped on an array of cocktail creations, and left the comfort of the villa mainly for food and drink related missions. Whether that be shopping for snacks or alcohol, popping to one of the local bars, or treating ourselves to a luxurious meal at one of Sanur’s classy restaurants.
From previous feedback and overhearing some young backpacker sorts (who sounded a little bit like the privileged gap-yaaar types), Sanur is not the go to for the hipster Bali experience. The more sort after locations are on the opposite side of Denpasar (Bali’s main city), in Seminyak and Canggu. We decided to take the time to head over and visit these much chattered about locations. We mounted our scooters, and headed off – Hugo and Hannah went off a little earlier than the rest of us because Hugo drives like a granny and Hannah (being the better half) is obliged to maintain the same pace. We finally caught up and met at an extremely quirky spot called La Laguna in Canggu – a sort of cross between a Romany gypsy caravan park and a hipster restaurant/bar. A strange concoction of style, but nevertheless a very interesting and absorbing place, and just a stones throw from Canggu Beach’s wild breaking waves, separated only by a rather rickety looking bridge, adorned with gypsy style skirting.
To reach Canggu from Sanur, we were required to drive through Seminyak – the true modern backpacker hotspot in Bali. I can see the appeal, if you like too many cars, too many bikes, not enough space (in lots of cases I resorted to driving on the pavement), and far too many bamboozled looking westerners on scooters, then it is great. After working in a job where I am required to speak to people non-stop pretty much all day, the idea of sharing my holiday with that many people made me feel a bit sick. Take me back to the sanctuary of my villa please.
OK, I’ll stop being a grumpy asshole. Seminyak and Canggu are clearly awesome places, with so many options for food, drinks and general mooching around. The dark sand beaches are fringed with quirky little beach shacks, all pumping out various eclectic music genres, renting out surf-boards and dishing up all the Bintang you could ever want to wrap your lips around.
OK, so what is Bintang? For those of you who don’t know – it is Bali’s best known and most popular beer. It’s shit – possibly my least favourite of Asia’s selection of piss-water lagers – I don’t really get the hype. Bintang’s main competitor – Bali Hai – is much better, however it is only really available in slightly swankier establishments, but weirdly it is offered for a very similar price to Bintang… hmmm, strange. Sack the Bintang and more Bali Hai please.
To be continued…