Bali Hai, or Hi Bali
November 26, 2007 10:22 PM   Subscribe

I have two months to prepare for a two month Surf/Adventure trip to Bali, what should I not forget to take and what should I absolutely not miss when I am there, within reason.
posted by kanemano to Travel & Transportation (13 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: Quick thoughts: the scene at Kuta and area is a lot of fun in its way, but if you're not into the antics of drunken Aussies (and others) 24/7, it can get tiresome pretty quickly. If you're up for a party not unlike any spring-breaky party you'd find anywhere else in the world, well, good. Otherwise, head north.

Touristy as it's become, I quite like Ubud, for the artsy-fartsy feel of the place. Get a wee villa or room a little outside town, wander around.

I very much liked the next island over, Lombok, as well (although I hated the much praised Gili islands just offshore from it), and if you're up for it and have time, climbing the volcano there is quite an experience. Renting a scooter and cruising around the island was one of the memorable days in my couple of months in Indonesia way back when.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 10:36 PM on November 26, 2007

No surf, but I like Lovina up the top. If you've got a couple of months, a trip over to Java to see Borobodur is well worth while (mindblowing).

Climb to the top of a volcano - gunung Agung is the biggest on the island. There's an interesting crater just south of it too, but I found that area a bit weird and freaky.

I like the orchid collection at the botanic gardens in the middle of the island.

The kecak and fire dances are my favourite - you'll see these at Ubud.

If you're budget is greater than minimal, i recommend staying at my friends hotel for a bit while you acclimatise will do. if Alan or Meryl are around they have a ton of local knowledge. (airport pickup available and excellent view of some of the island's surf breaks). Some of their staff are from Flores - another island worth a visit.

To be honest in two months I'd be looking at going over to Java and Flores for a bit - I'd probably give Lombok a miss but I might just be being prejudiced.

Selamat Jalan!
posted by singingfish at 10:36 PM on November 26, 2007

I missed that it was a two-month trip -- by all means, head over to Flores, and don't miss Komodo and Rinca on the way, where the dragons be.

I took a 5-day boat trip between Lombok and Flores on a rickety old fishing boat completely free of any safety measures of any kind, sleeping on the deck, with about 8 other backpackers, and loved every minute (though some, when the seas got high, were terrifying).

Flores was, back in the 90's, hard travelling, but it's less travelled and less touristy by far, and there are some magnificent places there. One of the most spectacular things I've ever seen in my life and decades of travel was the stone age village on the flank of this volcano (I think). I wrote a bit about it here.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 10:44 PM on November 26, 2007

West of Jesus: Surfing, Science, and the Origins of Belief by Steven Kotler

In Search of Captain Zero : A Surfer's Road Trip Beyond the End of the Road by Allan Weisbecker


Stickers (for quick repair jobs)

Snack bars

posted by iamkimiam at 10:51 PM on November 26, 2007

Sleeping sheet. ear plugs, el cheepo waterproof wristwatch that has an alarm.
posted by iamabot at 11:00 PM on November 26, 2007

Response by poster: Is Malaria prevalent in Flores?
posted by kanemano at 11:22 PM on November 26, 2007

As far as I know, there's malaria throughout the region. I was on antimalarials the whole time; it's probably still a wise idea.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 11:35 PM on November 26, 2007

Don't forget that when you think your taking corny pictures the next day you will be grateful.
posted by pwally at 11:50 PM on November 26, 2007

Best answer: Sunscreen and mosquito repellant. Not commonly sold, because the locals are used to the sun and insects. Readily available in most in-hotel and airport shops (duty free? ha!) for a marked-up price.

And if you're bringing your own flip-flops (slippers, sandals, whatever), have at least one pair that's all rubber or something. So that it dries off quickly, and you won't be walking around with annoyingly damp and smelly flip-flops. That said, cheap rubber flip-flops are readily available and dirt cheap. They call it "selipar jepit", or "sendal jepit".
posted by Xere at 1:17 AM on November 27, 2007

Just remember it's a touristy place, and not the wild west. That said, go boarding. Go meet some swedish girls at the clubs. And remember, the hotels in Bali have two prices - one for tourists and one for locals.
posted by markovich at 2:25 AM on November 27, 2007

Best answer: Two months?! That's enough time to see Bali, Lombok, and a good chunk of Java as well and surf all over the place. I'm sure you're probably going to get it, but go and pick up the Lonely Planet guidebook to Indonesia - I used it while living there for nearly a year last year and found it pretty accurate.

A few tips:

- It sounds like you'll be traveling around the end of January/beginning of February: be aware that this is right around Chinese New Year, which is a public holiday, so Bali will be pretty packed. You might want to make your reservations for that time period (the day itself is February 7) now, if you can.

- If you don't already know how to ride a moped/scooter, learn now - there are a lot of inexperienced travelers riding them, and you don't want to have to deal with possible accidents or unnecessary encounters with the police. Helmets are compulsory and Indonesia drives on the left, like Britain.

- The Indonesian language is really, really easy to do well in at a low level. Bar none, the best book I found for doing everyday things there was the shortest, too - it's called Instant Indonesian and it's less than $10 on Amazon. I can't recommend it highly enough - this book focuses on the 10 most important words in 10 different categories (things like "talking about time", "buying things", or "meeting people"), but combines them in a whole bunch of useful ways; Indonesian doesn't really conjugate verbs like, say, Spanish, and word order is a little freer; there are also lots and lots of cognates (ie, polisi for police). A few weeks with each word on a flash card and you'll be able to communicate well enough. Also, everyone you meet will speak Indonesian, with the possible exception of some very old people who might only speak their local language (Javanese, Balinese, etc).

- If you're a diver at all, try to get up to Bunaken up in Manado, on the northern tip of Sulawesi - it's fabulous.

- If you're into some non-surfing stuff, you could see Borobudur, Prambanan, and Yogyakarta in the space of 5 days or a week - all of these places are within an hour or so of each other via train or bus, and all are well integrated for tourists as they're in the cultural heartland of Java. You'd want to fly from Bali to Yogyakarta if you weren't up for going overland, which is, to say the least, rather harrowing; I know that Garuda Indonesia flies the route as do other, less reputable airlines, and you should be able to just book your tickets at any travel agency on the ground there, or right at the airport. You don't really need a tour to get to these places, either, though you might want one for more context; I traveled solo and found the LP guidebook sufficient to get me where I wanted to go.

- Malaria is NOT a problem on Java, in resort areas of Bali, or in big cities, but can be a problem basically everywhere outside of the places mentioned above (link).

- Street vendor food advice: if you see them cook it in front of you, if the stand seems crowded, and if you know you're OK with all the ingredients, go for it; if the place is empty, if the food has been sitting out, or if you can't be sure about how clean things are, skip it - over two months you'll eat some awesome things, but don't be too ambitious the first few days. And bottled water/beverages or air putih (boiled water, often served hot!) only. If you do get sick, rehydration salt packets are everywhere, which is nice, as is a whole range of stomach-bug-management stuff. Pharmacies can sell antibiotics without a prescription, I seem to remember, but if you're having trouble getting some, it's worth talking to your doctor back home about getting some in advance to take with you. I found doctors in Bandung, the city I lived in, to be universally friendly and helpful; ask at your (or just a) hotel for recommendations. It's worth having one in your back pocket in case you decide to to see if your stomach bug is really dysentery or dengue fever or something.

Have a great trip!
posted by mdonley at 2:48 AM on November 27, 2007

Response by poster: Great tips all keep them coming. I live in Waikiki now, so I have the flip flops and moped riding down pat. I'll be going to Australia first for about 2 weeks so won't be in Indo until about the 21st of February.
posted by kanemano at 5:16 AM on November 27, 2007

As others said, Indonesian is a very simple language and it is easy to learn enough to make people smile. At least learn enough to say things like good morning/afternoon/evening and "very tasty" for complimenting food purveyors and waiters. And, most importantly, "Bintang besar" to get a 22oz bottle of the local beer.

Always have bottled water on hand, and don't eat anything that has been washed in regular fresh water. I pushed my luck at the end of a trip and was in a fair amount of distress for the next week or two.

You must eat babi guling (roast suckling pig). If you go up to Ubud (which I also recommend), go to Ibu Oka, which serves nothing but. In Ubud you also need to check out the monkey forest. You can easily spend a day or two there doing the above, shopping, and watching music and dance (it will be going on all over the place, out in the open).

Things may be different in tourist spots like Kuta (I spent most of my time in Ubud), but in general, shop proprietors will expect you to haggle. Just play along, and if you get them down to around half of their original offer, then 1) you'll have done the culturally appropriate thing and everyone will be happy, 2) you'll still be getting "ripped off" compared to how low you could have bargained them down, and 3) it won't matter because it's so cheap anyway. It'll generally be obvious when something actually is a fixed price rather than up for discussion.
posted by dfan at 10:02 AM on November 27, 2007

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