Tag Archives: Bali

Travel Budget & Summary: Indonesia

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So here it comes, the first of many travel budget posts, in which I disclose exactly how much money we have spent in each country we travel through.

I've been umm-ing and aah-ing over whether or not to write these kinds of posts. Talking about money is a very private subject and I worry about being judged about our style of travel by others - while we consider ourselves budget travellers, we certainly do not rough it. Some will read this and scoff that we could have done it a lot cheaper (yes, its true!), whereas others will wonder how it is possible to spend so little on a month long trip for two people!

However, I have decided to go ahead divulge exactly what we are spending on the road, as Alan and I found these kinds of posts by a number of different bloggers insanely helpful while planning how much money we needed to make this trip possible. If this can inspire just one reader to realise that living your travel dream is financially possible - and not as scary as it looks - then this will all be worth it!

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The life of a backpacker ain't so bad - Ubud, Bali

Indonesia: Our Itinerary

As New Zealand citizens, we received a 30 day visa on arrival into Indonesia (we flew into Denpasar, Bali). We stayed in Indonesia for 28 nights, and visited a grand total of four islands. Indonesia consists of more than 17,000 islands, so we barely scratched the surface!

Indonesia: Travel Budget Breakdown

Please note these costs are in New Zealand dollars (NZD), unless otherwise stated.

Total we spent over 29 days for two people: $2,307.45 ($1,153.73 per person)

Daily average per person: $39.80 (our daily budget is $50 each)

We came in 20% under our maximum budget - hooray! How about a category breakdown? Note these costs are for two people and I have rounded to the nearest dollar.

  • Accommodation: $710
  • Food and drink: $700
  • Transport: $520
  • Entertainment/attractions: $201
  • Visas: USD$70 ($35 each for visa on arrival)
  • Shopping: $50 (this includes items like shampoo and soap, but is very high for Indonesia because we purchased our Southeast Asia on a Shoestring Lonely Planet on the way to Bali!)
  • Massages: $47
  • Laundry: $10

Summary

Accommodation

On average we spent about $25 per night on accommodation ($12.50 each), however some places came in well under $20 a night and others we splurged on $30 or more a night - its all about balance, right?

We use Agoda for the majority of our bookings as they have great value 'insider' deals, and most importantly it means we can pay in New Zealand dollars via credit card, which saves us in both currency conversion fees and ATM withdrawal fees!

We always try and book accommodation that includes breakfast, to help offset the cost of food. All but two of our accommodations in Indonesia included breakfast.

We stayed in private double rooms, mostly at guesthouse style accommodations. Private bathrooms (as in, adjoined to your room and not shared) are common in Indonesia, and all of our rooms had them.

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Food

On average we spent about $25 a day on food and drink, for both of us. Mostly, this included lunch and dinner, as breakfast was usually included with the accommodation. Some of our cheapest meals were $2 for both of us (crazy cheap!), whereas our more expensive ones were western food and hovered between $15 and $20 for two (mainly Yogyakarta and Ubud). An average meal of a plate of noodles or rice-based dish with a smoothie at a sit down restaurant, cost about $8 for both of us.

This category also includes beer, which we would have most days (often one with dinner, sometimes a couple more), plus our unhealthy obsession with pringles and cornetto ice creams which is a bad habit that we are working on! Beers typically cost about 20,000 - 30,000 rupiah each ($2-3). We also had quite an unnecessary splurge on Starbucks at Jakarta airport on our final morning, ridding our wallets of our remaining rupiah.

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Transport

We hired a scooter in Ubud, Nusa Lembongan and Lovina, costing us between $5-8 a day. We love the independence of having a scooter!

We used tourist buses to get from place to place in Bali, and a mixture of local and minibuses throughout Java. We wanted to catch trains but unfortunately our route didn't really make much sense to take the railway, we would have had to combine with bus travel making it more expensive and more complicated. Long, sticky bus journeys were the best way round for us.

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We were really pleased with ourselves for coming in well under budget in Indonesia - so much so that we splurged much of what we had saved on visiting Universal Studios in Singapore! Because, um, YOLO. But thats a story for another time.

Tell me what you think - is it interesting to read about our travel budget? Are you surprised with how little (or how much) Indonesia cost us?


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Alan’s Notes on Kuta, Bali

As you've probably figured, I'm travelling with my significant other/boyfriend/partner-in-crime, Alan. He feels compelled to share some of his stories and thoughts on the road on my humble blog - I didn't force him, promise! This may become a regular feature, if Alan retains the writing bug. His first post is about Kuta, Bali. You can read my post on our time in Kuta here.


Up until this moment Christie has carefully drafted and completed all of the blogs on the Butterfly Editions. It was her goal to create and establish a blog that people would find insightful and entertaining whilst also providing some detailed information to our extended friends and family as to what we have been up to, and for our own memories.

Whilst I’m generally lying on the bed next to her reading her kindle and providing little to no help, after six weeks of travelling I have decided that it is time to give this blog thing a crack and maybe provide a slightly different point of view to our travelling adventures.

I'm writing this in my budget room on Coral Beach on the Perhentian Islands off the east coast of Malaysia. Pretty sweet huh? Except that it’s uncomfortably hot (30+deg) and due to the looming monsoon season and the lack of tourists the place we are staying in only runs power from 7pm to 7am, so I can’t even turn on the fan!

So what to write about? Christie writes about all the places we’ve been to and what we get up to so I’m not going to repeat that. I can’t specifically recall any funny stories, so I think I’ll write a series of blogs that give some insight to my specific highlights of my month in Indonesia, and hopefully throw in a few good tips!

Kuta - It’s Pretty Cool

I’d never been to Bali before and I guess in my mind I had this image of a tropical paradise, the pristine white sand, crystal clear blue water, palm trees swaying in the cool ocean breeze. Kuta is kind of that but not really. The beaches are ok, I mean they’re nice, there’s a little bit of trash but not too bad, but if you’re travelling on a budget you’ll probably see and experience a side of kuta that you weren’t quite expecting. Yes, there’s the luxury resorts with the fancy swimming pools and nice restaurants right on the oceanfront, but if you’re like me and only want to spend NZD$20 a night on accommodation, you’ll end up a few streets back having fun in the economy section.

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Here’s where the fun begins. Now you have to negotiate the narrow one lane streets plagued with the never ending hoard of scooters that beep at you. Its kind if like playing a game of dodgeball except you’re dodging moving scooters. Not to mention that there is no footpath, so once you've managed to safely cross now you have to meander along the side of the road side stepping down a narrow path on the edge of danger not wanting to fall into the abyss that is oncoming traffic.

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Once you’ve figured out crossing the street, you have to find your way around. You can stick to the ‘main’ streets which will add an extra 15 minutes and 1 litre of sweat to your journey, or you can cut through the narrow labyrinth of alley ways. Back in New Zealand these would be for pedestrians only as they can just fit two people walking side by side, but in Bali these are still considered roads. Now when a scooter comes your way you literally have to twist sideways and reverse hug the wall, not put your foot in the open drain and look out for squished rats (yes I saw two of them). You don’t want your jandalled foot going anywhere near that stuff.

Yay! Now you’ve made it to Legian St. This is the main drag in Kuta, this is where you can get your fake Oakleys and Ray Ban sunnies, don’t pay anymore than 50,000 rupiah though (NZD$5) even then your probably getting ripped off. Maybe you’ll find a sweet Rolex or some new Nikes, remember to bargain hard and be prepared to walk away if you aren't getting a good deal. Don’t worry about missing out, there will literally be a exact replica of that shop and merchandise probably right next door. Seriously it’s like deja vu all over Indonesia, they all sell the same crap!

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Once you’ve wandered past the shops, said 'no thank you ' a dozen times to the pushy salesmen, had a squizz at the bars and restaurants and made a mental note to come back for happy hour, you going to want to find the beach. Just follow some dude with his surfboard perilously attached to his scooter and you’ll find it. You can’t really miss it.

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You’ll have to agree that the beach is pretty nice, there’ll be a whole array of different sights wandering up and down the beach so don’t forget to bring your sunnies for a good discreet look. Make sure you head north up the beach (turn right when you’re looking at the water) and head up to Legian and Seminyak. There's some nice restaurants up that way where you can grab a bite, can definitely recommend a mango smoothie if its not Bintang o’clock yet.

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Thats pretty much it for Kuta, you’ll probably spend the day people watching at the beach intertwined with a paddle in the surf. If you’re there for a for a party it won’t be hard to find.

Overall I thought Kuta was pretty cool but I guess it depends on what your intentions are.

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Tips/Advice for Kuta, Bali

Large Bintang should cost around 30,000 Rupiah (about NZD$3), just ask for two glasses if you want to share. Cheaper than buying two small beers for 20,000 each.

You don’t need a scooter in Kuta unless you plan on traveling a fair distance, plus it’ll take a while to build up enough confidence to tackle driving in the crazy traffic. If you do get one, make sure you get a helmet (we saw one bad crash).

Sunscreen. I know you want to get a tan, but the number of red tomatoes I saw walking around was enough to convince me to lather myself in the stuff. Don’t ruin your trip by getting sunburnt on the first day. Trust me, the tan will come.

And a helpful tip regarding ATMs in Indonesia...

There a two types of ATMs in Indonesia:

  • One will give 50,000 Rupiah notes with a max of 1,250,000
  • One will give 100,000 Rupiah notes with a max of 2,500,000 (sometimes less)

We wanted to save on withdrawal fees, so we always used atms with the max limit. The Mandiri ones generally had the highest limit.


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Why you should visit North Bali

North Bali is a bit of an underdog in comparison to the popular areas in the South and East of Bali. It is a region sadly forgotten from many itineraries, overshadowed by the celebrity status of destinations like Kuta, Seminyak, Ubud, Uluwatu, the Gili Islands, Nusa Lembongan and so on.

We didn’t spend anywhere near long enough in beautiful North Bali, squeezing in just a mere two nights in a quiet beach town called Lovina - but I’m so glad we did.

While our time in Kuta was fun and Ubud simply magical, Lovina was an escape from the densly-touristed areas of Bali to a place where westerners do not make up the majority of the population, and locals’ day-to-day lives go peacefully undisturbed by tourism.

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Lovina is the kind of place where children smile and wave shyly, where foreigners are much less commonplace than they are in the South. We noticed a lot less English spoken around North Bali - its a good place to test out some of those new Balinese and Bahasa Indonesia words you have learnt!

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In the name of honesty, it is fair to say that the beaches in Lovina are not quite as beautiful as Kuta or the islands, but their biggest drawcard is that they are gloriously empty. Look in either direction and you are unlikely to see more than a fisherman or two.  Lovina’s beaches are perfectly adequate for anything you truly need from a beach: sunbathing, swimming and sunset strolls.

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We arrived into Lovina on a minibus from Sanur. The drive took about 5 hours, winding through some stunning landscapes!

For our one full day there we hired a scooter and went exploring with two destinations in mind:

Banjar Hot Springs (Banjar Air Panas)

Banjar Hot Springs was well worth the trip. It cost a mere IDR 5,000 (that's like 50 NZ cents!) for a few hours relaxing in a series of three pools, each with water fountains to stand beneath. The green colour of the pools, while initially a bit strange to get used to, comes from the sulphur occurring naturally in the springs.

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Brahmavihara-Arama Buddhist Temple

A beautiful Buddhist temple (in fact I believe the largest in Bali), Brahmavihara-Arama is a beautiful complex to wander and gather your thoughts. Entry is free, take a sarong to make sure your legs are covered. They run regular meditation retreats, which looked really interesting!

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I would love to see more of North Bali, in our couple of days there we barely scratched the surface. There is so much to see and do in a region that feels like the tourist wave hasn’t quite caught on yet.

Still make sure you get to all of the popular destinations in the south - after all, they are popular for a reason! However, if you can squeeze a few days in North Bali into your itinerary it is well worth it to see a completely different perspective of this diverse island.

From Lovina, we caught an overnight bus towards Mount Bromo in Java - but thats a rather long story, so I'll save it for next time!

Have you visited North Bali?


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Living the Good Life in Nusa Lembongan, Indonesia

After we left the almost-paradise of Gili Air, the very next day we were headed towards another island paradise of Nusa Lembongan. Living the good life, huh?

After a good local feed and a nights rest in Sanur, we boarded a slow boat for a peaceful 1.5 hour journey to Nusa Lembongan.

We arrived about lunchtime and after checking in, wolfed down some noodles at a warung along the main street before settling poolside for the afternoon.

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Yup, thats a pretty choice looking pool for a budget guesthouse, right?

We LOVED our choice of accommodation in Nusa Lembongan - I will talk more about it in an upcoming post about all of our favourite accommodation right through Indonesia - but it goes without mention that if you are on a budget on Nusa Lembongan, I highly recommend staying at Nitya Homestay! I would go back in a heartbeat, even if just for the pool and the banana honey jaffles...

Our days in Nusa Lembongan were incredibly lazy relaxing. We spent a lot of time beside the pool (seriously, how could you not!) - but we did manage to escape the pool’s clutches a couple of times a day, hire a scooter, and get some decent exploring in.

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We scooted across this rickety bridge to the neighbouring island, Nusa Ceningan. I wrapped my arms tightly around Alan and left my life in his hands!

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Thankfully, we made it across in one piece.

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The roads are veeery bumpy (not particularly safe considering the lack of availability of helmets on Nusa Lembongan!), but well worth the risk - check out these views!

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We rode nearby the mangroves of Nusa Lembongan which was peaceful and secluded.

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There were puppies! Puppy cuddles happened.

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We saw plenty of seaweed being collected and left to dry out in the sun. It is a big industry in Nusa Lembongan! We asked a local what it is used for, and he said he exports his to Japan for use in cosmetics. Interesting!

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Alan gave me a scooter lesson…I look terrified (okay maybe I was a little). Once I built my confidence up, I proudly drove us both to lunch!

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As usual, we consumed an entire mango tree's worth of smoothies…

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And ate plenty (side note: have you tried tempeh? It is abundant in Indonesia as a vegetarian protein and it is super tasty!).

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Logged some beach time….

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Before ending up back poolside - bliss!

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With a handful of brilliant sunsets thrown in for good measure.

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Oh, Nusa Lembongan was luxurious!

Have you visited Nusa Lembongan?


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Is Indonesia’s Gili Air Paradise?

Aaah, Gili Air. There is a lot to love about this little Indonesian island (and dare I say it, a couple of things not to love - but we’ll get to that).

The Gilis are a bunch of three small islands just off the coast of Lombok, Indonesia - however are also very accessible from a number of locations in Bali, which is the route we took to get there. The three islands are Gili Trawangan (better known as Gili T), Gili Meno and Gili Air.

We knew we only had about three nights to spend on the Gilis so we decided to stick to just one island. It was a tough call deciding between Gili T (party reputation!) and Gili Air (peaceful reputation). Although we had plenty of great feedback on Gili T from friends who have been there, we naturally felt a pull towards the more chilled out Gili Air.

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We made our way there from Ubud. Prices depend where you are coming from however it is very common to get ripped off on the price of this - some people end up paying more than double what you should - and its not exactly cheap to begin with!

We paid 500,000 rupiah each (approx $50 NZ) return. This included pick up from accommodation in Ubud, shuttle bus transfer to Padang Bai (approx 2 hours), fast boat to Gili Air (1.5 hours), fast boat return to Padang Bai (1.5 hours) and return shuttle to Sanur (approx 2 hours).

Tip: There are plenty of boat companies, so shop around. Some companies are known to charge more than double what we paid…be sure you have agreed to a good deal before you hand over the cash!

Regardless, the minute you arrive on a paradise like Gili Air, such worries about money will elude you.

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Let’s start with what I loved about this beautiful island.

  • It is tiny. You can walk around the entire island in less than 1.5 hours, and thats walking slowly! We did this…once. We were far too busy lounging on the beach, bobbing in the warm sea and sipping mango smoothies in cafe cabanas to care much about exercise.
  • The snorkelling is great. I’m going to be honest here, those who know me well are aware that snorkelling is perhaps not my most preferred activity (too many fish all up in my face!). Alan went snorkelling plenty of times in our three days on the island, and even saw a TURTLE!!! That was enough to convince me I needed to get out there with my mask and snorkel on, so I did. I saw plenty of rather pretty fish but alas, no turtles. The Gili Islands are also fantastic for diving if you are that way inclined!
  • The cabanas in the cafes. Just about every cafe on Gili Air sits on the beach with cabanas nestled into the sand to comfortably dwell away your days, mango smoothie in hand.
  • In the evenings many of the restaurants set out tables, each with a glowing candle, on the beach right down to where the water licks the sand. Its pretty romantic.
  • Gili Air is so peaceful! There is one main swimming beach/area (the island is surrounded by coral so this is your best bet for being able to get in and out of the water easily!), and even on a busy day the beach was far from packed.

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But in the sake of being honest, there are a couple of downsides we discovered to Gili Air.

  • Horse and carts. There are no cars, scooters or motorised vehicles on Gili Air. Other than your own two feet (which is what we used the whole time we were there), the other forms of transport on the island are bicycles or to be taxied around by a horse and cart. Seriously it was 30+ degrees every day we were there, these horses were NOT in good health and were made (read: whipped) to run around all day long in the heat. To make it worse, they are decorated with colourful ribbons and bells, which you could hear jingling in the distance. Each and every time I heard some jingling coming up behind me my heart would break. The horses are used to cart supplies around the island however mostly are for tourist purposes. I couldn't understand why any tourist would get in one of these. Its animal cruelty and inhumane, in my opinion.
  • Decent local food is hard to find. Gili Air is a tourist island, so just about all of the cafes cater to tourist taste-buds. Half-decent western food is available just about everywhere, but unfortunately the local food is pretty average too.

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As we floated away from Gili Air after three relaxing days we were pretty content. I’m not sure we discovered paradise, but Gili Air is pretty darn close.

Have you discovered an Island paradise? Please do share!


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Volunteering at a Dog Rescue in Ubud, Bali

A huge part of the reason Ubud had me captivated was because we spent much of our time at a dog rescue shelter, where they rescue street dogs (and cats, and sometimes even monkeys), sterilise them, bring them back to health and work to adopt them out.

A friend of ours is currently volunteering there, and it is no secret that I love dogs, so we took advantage of her invitation to pop in one afternoon and see what it is all about. We ended up spending much of the next couple of days there - washing puppies, playing with the sick little puppies, feeding the animals (including bottle feeding tiny little newborn puppies!), and playing with the bigger dogs.

The second I stepped in the gate, I left a piece of my heart at this place. Even though I had only known them for mere hours, I love all of those dogs to bits!

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Some of the dogs are, sadly, disabled. There are many whose back legs don’t work and have become a little bit deformed because of this.

One of the dog’s back legs had become almost bat-like which made it easier for him to walk on his front legs. Another had just had his back legs amputated and was recovering from this surgery, yet still managed to bound around on its front legs - quite incredible!

There were two blind dogs, one with cataracts and another that had both of its eyes removed. There was a dog that had a gash in his head from a machete, as he unknowingly tried to eat a farmer’s chicken. This dog was nick-named 'Maggot-head' so I'm sure you can imagine the condition he was in when he first arrived to the dog rescue shelter.

There was a dog that had been kicked in the mouth and could no longer open it, he had to eat his dinner through the only small gap he could open in the side of his mouth and slowly slurp his food in. There were dogs that were so sick they could barely lift their heads.

There were puppies who were so sick that had no hair and skin of scabs, plus dogs with all sorts of skin conditions, that just needed some love and care.

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There were some of the happiest dogs you've ever seen, yet it was still such a sad and upsetting sight to see. The minute you took a sick little puppy out of its cage, had lots of playtime and cuddles and tummy rubs with it, their eyes would light up and you could see the happiness and love just absorbing into its body!

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Its such a challenging, dirty and tiring (physically and emotionally) job the volunteers at these shelters do. One dog came in with problems with its back legs and the vet had said the legs either had to be amputated or the dog be put down. They persevered, initially he was able to drag his back legs along, and now he is learning to walk again! He can walk on all fours now, sometimes his back legs get a bit tangled and he trips over himself, but hey, that happens to the best of us!

There are so many dogs, and I wonder with a very heavy heart what is going to happen to them all - they need loving adoptive homes!!! I did consider adopting 20 or so and sending them back to New Zealand, but unfortunately I’m not a millionaire 🙁

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It just really reinforces the point, no matter where you are in the world, please rescue dogs instead of buying them! There are so, sooooo many dogs needing homes, not only in Bali but all over the world. And, if you can afford it, please come to Bali and rescue a dog from one of the many animal rehabilitation centres - they are the most loving, beautiful animals!!

There are a lot of great animal shelters doing great things in Bali. We spent our time at BARC.

Have you ever spent time an animal rescue shelter? I would love to hear your stories!


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Ubud, Bali: I could have stayed forever

The Lonely Planet describes Ubud as the kind of place that you come "for a day or two and end up staying longer, drawn in by the rich culture and many activities."

They hit the nail on the head right there. We took note of this so planned a generous stay of four nights, though still ended ended up extending our stay by an extra night! If we did not have a gajillion other places on our list we want to visit in Indonesia before our 30 day visa expires, I could have easily stayed in Ubud a lot longer!

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We travelled from Kuta to Ubud and simply booked a tourist shuttle the day before. It cost us IDR 60,000 (approx $6) each and picked us up from our accommodation in Kuta and dropped us off centrally in Ubud a couple of hours later. This is by far the easiest option and fairly budget-friendly.

Our friend who is currently living in Ubud organised a guesthouse for us, and it was the most incredible setting, nestled amongst the rice paddies. What a view to wake up to!

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We even had an incredible outdoor shower, and outdoor kitchen in which we attempted poached eggs and toast for breakfast one day. Fancy!

The place we stayed is very new and has only been open for two months, so is still yet to be named. It was on Jl Bisma - right down the end towards Monkey Forest.

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Ubud is an easy place to stay. It is very chilled out, especially for us having come direct from crazy Kuta! There are a lot of expats living in Ubud, so it has become quite westernised in terms of the food offering - we had great and authentic mexican food, delicious italian pizza, serious health food (think probiotic, vegan, raw...) and some good Indonesian food while we were there. Word on the street is there is some pretty tasty sushi around too.

There is some magic in Ubud and I don’t know, it just got me. I definitely considered throwing in the towel on this whole travelling thing and staying in Ubud forever….but there are plenty more places to see first!

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What we did in Ubud, Bali

HIRED A SCOOTER

The minute we got to our guesthouse we hired a scooter straight away, and this made Ubud so easy for us. It would have been such a hassle having to walk everywhere as Ubud is quite spread out, so with the scooter we were able to jump on and go! It is far less hectic for scooters than in Kuta, even though at times I felt like my life was in Alan’s hands! Depending on how long you are hiring for (days, weeks, months) you will get a different price, we hired for five days at IDR 60,000 a day, though later found out this was at the higher end of the spectrum (expect to pay approx IDR 50,000/day).

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SACRED MONKEY FOREST SANCTUARY

The Sacred Monkey Forest Sanctuary is very centrally located in Ubud, and is a series of 3 temples nestled in a lush, green forest - with about 600 hungry monkeys calling it home! At some points on your stroll through there are women selling (overpriced) bananas that you can hold up above your head, for monkeys to climb up you to grab it. We didn't buy any bananas but it was good fun watching everyone else do it. Even though we didn't have any bananas a monkey still tried to befriend Alan by climbing on his head.

Tip: stick to the paths and don't taunt the monkeys, just let them do their thing - they are known to bite and we saw more than one child in tears there!

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 GOA GAJAH

Dating back to the 11th century, Goa Gajah is a religious complex containing both a Hindu and a Buddhist temple. It is most known for the Elephant Cave and the bathing pool. We wandered around and took in the serene atmosphere for half an hour or so before discovering a dirt track that we thought looked interesting. We ambled down the track, further and further - until I was convinced we were the only ones in the forest! About 10-15 minutes down the path we came across a flowing river, it was so tranquil. We dangled our feet in the water for a while - one of those truly content moments 🙂

Tip: Don't be forced into buying a sarong from one of the many hawkers in the parking area at Goa Gajah, you can loan one for free on entering. We drove ourselves on our scooter from Ubud, it is about 6km away.

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 DOG SHELTER

We spent a fair bit of our time in Ubud at a dog shelter, where they rescue street dogs, bring them back to health, shower them will love and cuddles, and work to rehome them. Although we only spent a couple of days there I still found it so difficult and heartbreaking to leave! I have plenty of memories and some photos from this place so look out for more on this in another post.

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My obsession with the dog shelter and the time it took for us to plan out our next steps (combined with maybe a little too much relaxation...and laziness) meant we didn't get around to doing yoga like I had hoped. If you are planning on some yoga in Ubud, Yoga Barn is probably the most well known and has a variety of classes every hour or so with all types of yoga and meditation, classes are about $11usd.

We had a GREAT time in Ubud, and every day since then I think about our time there and how easily I could simply live there. Life is lush in Ubud. I'll let you know how I get on with convincing Alan of that one...!

Have you been to Ubud, Bali? What were your highlights?


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Beaches and Bintangs in Kuta, Bali

We arrived into Denpasar, Bali after slowly working through the longest customs queue of all time. After hopping into a taxi at the airport and being driven through narrow streets and multiple near misses with scooters, motorbikes, pedestrians, chickens, dogs, etc, we arrived to our accommodation in Kuta at about 6pm.

Tired, weary and starving after a day that began at 3am NZ time, we were excited to explore for a moment or two before ravishing down some food and collapsing into bed for a good nights sleep.

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On our brief evening explore we didn’t find the beach as we had hoped, having not quite got our bearings yet, but managed to follow our noses back to our guesthouse and grab some dinner at a warung (local food restaurant) across the street.

Maybe this sets the tone for the rest of our travels - I don’t know - but we broke pretty much every “rule” on our first evening. This place had no english menu so we had no clue what we were ordering! We ate Nasi Campur - a common Indonesian meal that is essentially your choice from a selection of different proteins (chicken, fish, tempeh, egg, etc), vegetables and sauces, served with warm rice. With ours we ate cold chicken, cold eggs and some other unidentifiable meats, that had been sitting out for who knows how long. And you know what? We did not get sick in the slightest, it was tasty, and it only cost us $1.50 each!

Kuta Beach

Kuta has a fairly poor reputation amongst many backpackers, as a place full of bintang singlets, fresh tattoos and heads full of cornrows. Wandering the streets I can certainly see the truth in this, however, I have to say I was pleasantly surprised when we reached the beach. It was lovely, if overly busy and filled with many, many hawkers trying to sell you everything from jewellery and sarongs, to ice creams, kites and bow & arrows! A simple “no, thank you” repeated three times over as they continually ask you to buy their goods seemed to send them on their way.

Kuta Beach

Kuta Beach

We spent three nights in Kuta, with two full days which we spent mostly lingering along the beach and enjoying smoothies at various beach cafes which sprawl out into the sand.

Kuta Beach

Kuta Beach

We spent one morning waking all the way up to Seminyak beach (about 1.5 hours) where the people thinned out a bit and it was slightly more peaceful.

Kuta Beach

Kuta Beach

One afternoon we indulged in a massage, which typically cost between 50,000 and 60,000 Indonesian Rupiah (IDR) for one hour, approx $5-6 NZD. It was quite lovely, but I’m sure a few more dollars would have helped make the experience more relaxing (or at least paid for childcare for the little girl that insisted on continually ripping open the curtain to my massage booth!).

On our last evening there was a beach festival on Legian beach (just down the end of Kuta beach) so we grabbed some tucker from there along with a bintang, laid out the sarong in the sand and watched the sun set.

Kuta Beach

If you’re on a budget, Kuta’s food offering is not great. Try and eat at local warungs where you can and it will be a lot cheaper, plus a lot more authentic and delicious! We ate at one of the restaurants on Legian street on our second night, and whilst it was a lovely setting, we ordered Indonesian food and not only was it 3x the price of a local waring it was bland and ordinary.

Whilst I did enjoy our time in Kuta, I have been more impressed with the places we have been to since (as I write this I can hear the surf gently folding into the sand, on the peaceful island of Gili Air). It was a great place to start and get a bit of beach time in, so I’m glad we spent some time in Kuta but I’m also happy that we didn’t stay there longer. There is a lot more to Bali (and Indonesia) than an overcrowded beach and a bintang singlet!

Kuta Beach


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