I recently wrote a review on Bali Island, and decided to put it in my blog. Bali was probably my favorite vacation spot during me years as a JET. Thus, I recommend Bali as an inexpensive vacation location rich in culture and things to do.
Flying to Bali is not very expensive. It costs about 5 man yen / $500US, or less. If you don’t get a package, you can stay for a week and a half. Tour packages might be less expensive, but you are limited to 3-7 days, and the longer it is, the more expensive.
So my recommendation is to get the chapest flight you can find, and then stay in hotels. This will allow you the greatest freedom.
Hotels range from extremely cheap to expensive. I stayed in nice hotels, which included breakfast, for 300 to 400 yen / $3-4 per day. Get a Lonely Planet to get a list of hotels and prices. Once you are in the country, you can find more places to stay. For 2500 yen you can stay in a VERY nice place.
The best way to travel around Bali is probably by Taxi. You can rent a taxi for about 1000 yen / $10 per day. They will not only drive you around, they will recommend hotels and restaurants, and be your own personal tour guide. It was a great experience to rent a taxi. The way to do it is to ask the concierge at the hotel for a taxi, or to look for one on the street. You might even just ask at a little market. The whole feel of Bali is very small, so you probably won’t have problems finding one.
Hmm. I would have to say that in my experience, the Japanese school teachers are very picky about their omiyage. I don’t see it disappear very quickly from the break room. The best things to buy them are things with individually wrapped candies or things like that. I found an energy drink, in powder packets that was so good and you can’t find it here. It was a hit in Japan. Sorry, I can’t remember the name. For your own souvenirs, I recommend that energy drink, and Balinese coffee mix in packets (delicious!).
Places to Go, Things to Do:
The most fun I had was in Lovina, in Northern Bali. My taxi driver insisted that we go see the dolphins. He said “The dolphins like it! And for $5 you should really go.” I had read a bad review in the Lonely Planet. The review said that the boats chased the dolphins, and that the poor dolphins couldn’t get away. This review was obviously written by someone lacking a few brain cells, or at least someone who didn’t think for themselves. As far as my observations went, the dolphins are free to roam where they wish, they appear when the wish and the leave when they wish. It seemed almost ritualistic, and if dolphins are as intelligent as they are famed to be, I am certain that they are conscious of their interaction with the observers. We left the beach at about 6:30. We waited in a certain area. 45 minutes later, the dolphins appeared to one side of the boats. I assume that these are their morning feeding grounds, if not, they are just there for fun. We would chase after their leaping forms for a while and then they would disappear, reappearing in a different area. There, they would begin leaping once again. We would chase them, they would swim with us for a while, and then hide again. This happened several times in a matter of an hour and a half. Then they were gone, they did not resurface. I suppose that they went to go about their daily feeding in some other area. Apparently, they appear in about the same place every day. I would assume that if they were fishing, the fish would be seasonal. If they didn’t like it, they would find another place to fish, as they are free to come and go. But the dolphins appear every day of the year at the same time. I can only assume that they are playing some sort of hide and seek with the humans, who get very excited and happy when they see them. It is a wonderful experience, and if this kind of tourism begins to dwindle, the dolphins might lose their playmates. So much for animal rights. Well, that’s what I think, anyway.
Traditional Balinese Massage is really nice. It costs about 2,000 yen / $20 per hour, but its good. Even better, get lessons! I spent two days studying with a woman who taught traditional Balinese massage, and it was fun. I would like to study Thai Massage, too…
Eat durian. Get it from a fresh fruit vendor, preferably with someone who knows what the tastiest ones look like. A bad durian is very bad. But good durian is a flavor you will never forget (so is a bad one!).
I ate at a buffet overlooking a crater lake. It was beautiful and though the buffet was about 800 yen, it was really tasty, and the view was awesome.
There are great things to buy. Barter, barter, barter!!
Watch the traditional dances. I saw a wonderful rendition of the Kechak Dance at Uluwatu, where the surfing is famous. It was an amazing place, on cliff overlooking the ocean.
Ubud and Sightseeing
Ubud is a beautiful art town. I highly recommend it for shopping for art and textiles. Also, the surrounding area is very picturesque. The ancient temples are amazing, too.