A rock and a lava place
November 28, 2017 12:33 PM   Subscribe

With the ongoing eruptions and shakes near Mt Agung on Bali, our long planned vacation plans are looking dim. Suggestions for alternatives appreciated.

We visited eastern Bali a year ago, and were planning to go back this winter – friendly people, great food, traditional music and dancing, diving, etc. Right now Mt Agung is acting up and even if we'd want to we wouldn't be able to get there – acquaintances on site tell us that there's plenty of ash-fall and face masks are necessary at all times.

The plan was to revisit Padangbai, which is 18km from the volcano so outside the exclusion zone of 10km, but we're going with an 11 year old this time around so unless the mountain gods calm down the next couple of days we're prolly have to plan something else. Living in Sweden it would be nice to be reminded of what the sun looks like, so we gotta go somewhere.

Q: Given that we enjoyed the languid seaside, lack of clubbing and drunk tourists, do any well travelled mefites have suggestions for where to go in the general area? We're trying to see if other parts of Bali are reachable, or other Indonesian islands, or further away – we're open for suggestions. Cambodja? Borneo? Our itinerary has us laid over in Singapore, so most of SE Asia would be in reach (if within our means). Right now our tickets are for 14/12–9/1 – Christmas and New Years, the best time to improvise travel…

Side quest: Given the islands dependency on tourism the latest eruptions must be a kick in the teeth for the less diversified hamlets and towns, so we're trying to find some Balinese NGO's or similar which would be worthwhile to support – suggestions welcome. (Maybe some sea conservation orgs?)
posted by monocultured to Travel & Transportation around Indonesia (8 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Here's what The Points Guy suggested yesterday.
posted by karbonokapi at 1:30 PM on November 28, 2017 [1 favorite]

This is going to depend on how keen you are to avoid other tourists, but parts of kerobokan and canggu are lots of fun and much less prone to drunkenness and loutish behaviour than the kuta area. There are some excellent restaurants around that part of town.

Ubud seems to still be ok, and it probably the obvious choice within Bali.

In terms of other Indonesian locations, if you are up for it Sumatra is amazing. We went to Danau Tobago, Berestagi (trekking, volcanoes) and Bukit Lawang (orang-utans) before heading to Pulau Weh, staying at Freddie's, a backpackers joint that does full board and is run by a Sth African guy who I think used to work for the UN, from memory. There are some great diving spots around there and there are entry style dive options if you don't have a licence. You do need to travel through Aceh, which is under Sharia law. This was no trouble at all for us but worth being aware of. It also required a flight into Medan, then Banda Aceh and then a ferry, so full days worth of travelling.
posted by jojobobo at 5:36 PM on November 28, 2017 [1 favorite]

Seconding the TBG suggestions. No place is quite as magical as Bali. But we were pleasantly surprised by Langkawi (the mangrove eco boat tour was worth it, and many nice restaurants in Telaga Harbour)
posted by NotAlwaysSo at 5:56 PM on November 28, 2017 [1 favorite]

My understanding is that flights into Bali have ceased so unless you're planning on getting the ferry over there, you would appear to be out of luck. Langkawi isn't a bad option, you could also try Bintan which is under an hour's plane ride away.
posted by Jubey at 9:20 PM on November 28, 2017 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Thanks for the suggestions all!

Denpasar just reopened but the airlines aren't flying, so we're unsure of if Bali is an option at all. Lombok is open though, and that's just a ferry away from Bali – albeit the east end of it, so we'd have to route along the coast if we were to get anywhere…
posted by monocultured at 4:00 AM on November 29, 2017

Another thing to consider is the malaria status quo of your locations. Last time I was there Lombok and Sumatra had malaria.
posted by jojobobo at 3:15 PM on November 29, 2017 [1 favorite]

Dengue is what you have to watch out for on Bali. Two years ago there was a huge outbreak. There's no prevention, just long sleeves and pants, that sort of thing.

Lombok airport is closed today although DPS is open. Many flights are still cancelled--ours from BKK was--and there is the backlog to get through. The ash fall is ESE so Lombok and Padang Bai are in the path. People are getting in and out via Surabaya when DPS is closed. It's at least 10 hours if the stars align and three or more connections.

It's just a crap shoot, really. We're holding out in Chiang Mai at the moment. It doesn't have a beach but y'know, life's pretty good here and you can't beat the weather this time of year.
posted by TWinbrook8 at 10:35 PM on November 29, 2017 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Hi all!

Thought I'd follow up with the results: We took a gamble and went to Padangbai, Bali. All's well so far – we've been up on a hill overlooking the vulcano (we're some 20km away) and saw some vapor and ash, but nothing dramatic has happened. Depending on the winds we might get som ashfall, but none as far.

Happy holidays to you all!
posted by monocultured at 6:32 AM on December 24, 2017

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