Since Bali is the only hindu island in Indonesia, the locals are understandably pretty serious about it! That should be treated with openness and respect. There are some special rules, you have to be aware of when entering a Temple: Every Person, who walks into the Temple have to wear a Sarong (a traditional east-asian fabric), which you wrap around the waist. At most Temples you will get those fabrics! But i suggest, you buy one, because somehow those Sarongs will be stuck in your head and you just want to have one of those beautiful fabrics - and then you have your own :)
Shorts and f.e Tanktops are usually not likely seen.
Be sure, that you do not bleed (also for girls if they have their menses) blood is only in the context of offerings allowed. Even if you think no one will notice, show respect to the culture and don't go into a Temple.
In Bali are lots of temples you can go and visit. F.e. the Uluwatu temple in the south (Kuta Selatan) or the Tanalot Temple (on the westcoast of Bali).
You can reach those places with the motorbike, you rent in Kuta ( a little more expensive than in Ubud, but still worth it). Bali is actually called the island of the 1000 temples because even in every house there is a small place they call temple.
Kuta and Legian Beach
There are little surf booths all around the beach :) people will ask if you want to learn surfing etc, just listen to your intuition, where you feel comfortable to learn.
Surfing is very special, because there is you, who has to get skills to do it correctly and then there is nature, the waves. You got to melt together. When that happens you suddenly just love it and never want to stop!
You do not need anything, they have all the equipment and the experience you need to learn :)
Go big or go home!
Welcome in Kuta Bali! A busy place, where you apparently find one of the greatest surfing spots in Bali. For us it was the last station on our trip, we've planned to stay there one week, learn how to surf and and enjoy the awesome nightlife. Since we were traveling low budget and we've been managing it pretty well, we figured that we like to kick up one's heels and book a fancy resort (it is still much much cheaper than in f.e. Europe). Thats what we did and it was really cool, at least if you are not used to that standards :). There are plenty of beach resort in Kuta and Seminyak (like 40 minutes apart, both surf and party spots) Best place to be is Legian, a part of Kuta. Seminyak is a little more expensive than Kuta, and you maybe wont find as much crazy action as in Kuta (concerning clubbing and hanging out on the beach) .
In Kuta, i suggest you walk, you actually do not need a motorbike to come around.
8 August 2013
Senaru is a small small small mountain village on the bottom of the Rinjani mountain.That is where you will stay one night before your big hike - the accommodations are not very nice,but still a bed to sleep. The people, who work there are mostly very young (around 20-35 years old), they also work as guides or porters. We got lucky again and had a great night with a young guide, who we drank traditional asian ricewine with :)
There is also a Kuta in Lombok, and see here it is Surfspot as well :) We could not go there, but friends, who were there in july as well, told me that it's'á very beautiful place, with nice waves, more nature and not so many people than in Kuta Bali.
If you have time left, try this place :) i would!
Doing some 3000 m hiking
In the North of Lombok you can find the incredible Rinjani Mountain, which is the highest one in Lombok, it's around 3200 m high and has a volcano and a crater lake were you will stay the first night.
It is quite something to hike up there :) and not easy, seriously you need to be a little sporty!
Usually you are able to buy packages,like hiking up for two days with a guide and food one night, two nights or even longer. Always remember to negotiate, that's the way it works!
We payed for the one night, two days hiking with guide and porters around 60/70 euros.
Have a good hike!
7 August 2013
Hopping between Islands
There are two ways to come from one island to another: Ferry and speed boat. Both options sure have advantages and disadvantages - take the ferry you will pay very less, you might have the option to drive through the night and save money, because you can sleep there. AND you won't get seasick! But I have to tell you that you shouldn't take the time schedule too serious.
Well, the speed boat (here's a list http://www.gili-paradise.com/fast-boats/), it is the fast way, indeed. And the fun one :) but be sure you do not tend to get seasick! otherwise its pretty nice, you actually should try it, best from Bali to Gilis or Gilis to Lombok, and from Lombok to Bali the Ferry - as a recommendation. The ferry leaves from Padang Bai and crosses to Lembar harbour on Lombok every two hours, 24/7 and takes 4 hours.
How to explore Gili Trawangan
Since it is a small island and there is only horse-drawn carriages and bikes, I'd go with the bike. Its the acme of feeling freedom! And it is not expensive at all (even though the Gilis are more expensive than Bali or Lombok).
Enjoy your ride, take a few breaks getting a coconut from a local family or chill out in a beach bar drinking a cocktail, whatever you want :)
The famous and infamous GILIS
Gili Islands are what you will hear very often in Bali, "Party island, no rules, no cars, just horses and bicycles, legal drugs, just this unreal paradies". Yes that is pretty much it, especially Gili Travangan!
It is a whole new world, surreal and absolutely beautiful!! Very touristic, but that is totally okay.
AND true, you will have a lot of fun there!!
Well there is always another side; since the Gilis are actually just for fun (for tourists mostly) there are Indonesian people working, who have no other chance than to move to Gilis (from f.e Bali or Lombok) to earn money, which they send home to their families. The labour situation in and around Bali is not so well. I just think that is good to know, you might react differently when f.e. locals "annoy" you because they want you to buy something, to stay at their brothers bungalow etc etc.
6 August 2013
Amed is located in the northeast of the Island and is a tiny fishing village. Its a diving spot, there is actually the most beautiful diving spots around Bali and the Tulamben Ship Wreck, which you are able to see while diving down there.
Very nice is also the black volcanic sand on the beach - surrounded by good fish-restaurants and beach bars with local music and some guys with an acoustic guitar it is just that cliché of a Bali-Dream :)
Singaraja: city culture
Close to Lovina is the Former capital city of Bali, called Singaraja. It is very different from f.e Ubud. In Singarja you have the typical structure of urbanity, lots of variety. You are also able to reach it with the motorbike, but be aware its a little different to drive there than on the countryside ;).
Traditional night market
In a city like Singaraja you can experience one of those super awesome night markets, just ask where to find them! There is real Indonesian food, real Indonesian people and just a huge turmoil - you will love it, if you crave for authentic (as you would imagine it ;) ) lifestyle.
Also you might not wanna eat meat or fish from one of those markets, because the western stomach is not used to this kind of outside food. Even if you are usually not so delicately!
5 August 2013
We got lucky and had the perfect timing - coincidentally we saw a gorgeous decorated house and lots of people apparently celebrating something special. We were wondering, what it might be, so we stopped - and see there A HINDU WEDDING! AND WE GOT INVITED! So we ate, sang and laughed with the family and had a really great time. I am glad that this family was so generous and nice!
Close to the buddhistic ashram are some hot springs called Air Panans Banjar. You have to pay a small amount of money for the entrance and you can hop into the nice warm water :) It is thermal water, which is very healthy.
You gonna have an unique experience!
Brahma Vihara Ashrama
This is a buddhistic monastery close to Lovina, exactly in the area of Banjar, with a map and asking people you will find your way (there is also nameplates next to the streets). It is very special place, calm with lots of flowers. It makes you meditate right away (what you actually can do, if you like, just look for a place you feel is right for you and go for it :) )
You are able to reach it perfectly with your motorbike (it is rentable in Lovina).
As in the hindu-temples you also have to wear a sorong or sarung (is a large tube or length of fabric, often wrapped around the waist and worn by men and women throughout much of South Asia).
4 August 2013
West Bali is National Park, an incredible beautiful flora and fauna. Usually tourists are not allowed being there, but there are tours etc (of course you have to pay quite a bit, but I think it's worth seeing though!). We did this 50 EUR trip to Pulau Menjangan, which is a small not inhabited island in the northwest of Bali (included in the costs is the drive from Lovina to the west, the boattrip, snorkeling equipment, drinks and a meal, also vegetarian options - like I said before, always try to negotiate, so we also got a drive to Amed and a connection for an accommodation there)!
It's getting quite fishy
PLEASE PLEASE do eat some fish dish at the Beach. In Lovina are many small fish-restaurants where you can get excellent food AND they won't be offering everything, just the daily catch! Oh, I highly recommend the fishsoup!
Lovina - "Chasin'dolphins"
Lovina is a Vilage in the North of Bali, pretty close to City Singaraja. It is known for it's dolphins, which you're able to see in before sunrise :). We had a great experience there, so many nice people and a lovely quiet atmosphere! Concerning the dolphins, it is more chasing them than actually just watching. Kinda weird the whole action. Men are actually standing on the streets and asking "Wanna see dolphins? Dolphins watching?" There you can book a boattrip. We actually payed a friend of a guy we got to know in Ubud, who took us out on the sea. It starts around 5:30 am to 6 am and there will be loads of boats, the whole thing is a matter of taste I'd say. But if you are lucky you maybe get to see some of these beautiful creatures. :)
We took a driver and left Ubud to get to Lovina (the dolphine village we heard), on the way to Lovina (it's around 2\3 hours) are the Gitgit Waterfalls located. It is in the north of the southeast-asian island, not too far from Lovina and the old island capital Singaraja in the Village GitGit. And a beautiful place to be! You walk a little while, through some booths with art and spices, lots of street-dogs and beautiful flora. There will be also children selling something or begging for money, we were told (by our housekeeper Wayan, he is Balinesian) that people from Bali don't like their kids begging for money, and it is not likely to be seen, so tourists should not give money. Well that is of course easy in theory, but probably it is the best to actually what people from the country wish tourists to do in such cases. And ALWAYS talk to people, this is always the right choice, even if there is a language barrier between you, it will be always a way to understand each other!
3 August 2013
Highest mountain in Bali - Gunung Agung
The volcano is over 3000 m. If you're sporty you can climb it. Most people do that during the night to see the sun rising in the morning and avoid the day heat. I've heard that you also get breakfast up there, when you do that sunrise walk, with scrambled eggs and other fancy stuff :)
We didn't go up there, cause we went to Lombok (the island right next to Bali) and went up the Rinjani Mountain.
Pura Besakih Temple
Pura Besakih is one of the six mother temples in Bali. It is close to the highest mountain of the island Gunung Agung. It is a massive area with many temples.
Night Market in Celuk
At the Silver Village Celuk, Gyaniar you can visit an awesome night market. It offers every kind of traditional food and snacks, also sweet :)
In Bali you find this booths on the sidewalk of the streets - there you can get Nasi Goreng or Mie Goreng (Rice or noodles with meat, eggs and vegetables) its delicious and you can almost get it everywhere in Bali for like 1 to 3 EUR :) you can always ask for an vegetarian option! it is hard though, because sometimes Balinese people just smile and say "yeees, yees, yes"and you think "great, it's possible to get it without meat" and then you find these undefined little pieces between your rice... that is meat! No, usually you will get what you have ordered :)
Celuk - silver
This village is the epicenter of silver-jewelry! There are many silver manufactories, where you can buy nice stuff a lot cheaper than in stores. Maybe you'll get lucky and someone shows you the production :)
2 August 2013
Great great great food - it is mostly organic, you get things you won't find anywhere else, amazing atmosphere. Please try the cakes! Not the cheapest though. I highly recommend it anyways!
Bali is known for it's stunning rice fields - there are many all around the island, but we were told that in the north of Ubud you are able to wander between fields and enjoy a great tour. We hoped on our motorbikes and went to the north, asked around on the streets (Indonesian or Balinese people will be very helpful) where to go and ended up at the most beautiful place I could imagine! At the beginning of the "walk" is this organic farmer and his amiable wife, who has a booth with cacao fruits, ginger and some oils. He was lovely, explained everything about organic farming in Bali, answered every stupid question we asked and let us try raw cacao beans. Please try to meet this guy, just ask around, people know him :) (Ubud is small, and inhabitants know each other)
Coffee and copper
Across the monkey forest entrance is this sweet little restaurant called "coffee and copper". A pleasant vibe hits you right at the first table. Art on the walls, colorful festoons, a bookshelf and easygoing people. There I had my first LUWAK COFFEE (find out more hitting the link) - this Bali speciality tastes a little stronger than usual coffee - Try yourself! We also had the traditional DADAR (green pancakes with grated coconut and palmsugar) very delicious :)
Sacred monkey forest
The momkey forest Ubud is a sacred place, the monkeys have a special place in the hearts of the Ubud people. There is an entrance fee to pay, but it is not that much! It is this beautiful forest with some Hindu sculptures and old stonewalls. Always be aware of the monkeys! They are quit cheeky :) F.e. if you are hiding bananas (which you're able to buy at the entrance) they will know, trust me, I don't know how, but they know! Probably it will be crowded, because it is a touristic place, but still worth walking through.
some words you might like to use :)
Terimakasih - Thank you
sama sama - you‘re welcome
cantik - beautiful (only people and animals)
enak - food
sayur - vegtables
you will make friends :)
1 August 2013
One of the fruits you will see everywhere and you will ask yourself "What the hell is that?" That is a fruit called Jackfruit, based in all tropical regions of the world, as well in Bali. Balinese love it, they use it in their kitchen and also sell it on the street r in stores. Often you will get it dried, it is delicious!
Good to know: Driving license
In Indonesia you need an international driving license, which you get f.e. in Austria at ÖAMTC for about 15 euros. Make sure you have your original license with you (even better if you have an Austrian driving license for motorbikes/scooter). Also always wear a helmet, because of safety reasons and prevention of getting stopped by the police!
How to get around easily
There are many ways to explore an incredible island like Bali: "eat pray love"-style with the BICYCLE, that is always a beautiful commendable choice. Then there is the CAR, what might be a good choice, if you like to come around the island fast (it's not the cheap way though, and just to mention not eco-friendly ;) ). And there is the MOTORBIKE, which we've chosen. Renting a Motorbike is a cheap option - you're absolutely self-determined in a certain way, you might be able to see places, you couldn't reach with the car. Usually there are motorbike rental-stations in almost every second street in Ubud, make sure you negotiate (July 2013 you could get a bike for like 3-4 euros a day!). The driving Habits are very special, left side driving (if you're not living in GB, it's gonna be exciting :) ), and last but not least: BE SAVE! You will see what I mean -> motorbikes on the right side, left side, honking everywhere just to let you know they are going to pass by ....
Your own little paradise
Via Airbnb we booked a house before we started our trip, like two weeks in advance. Like I mentioned before, Indonesia, Bali in this case, seems cheap for European rates. F.e.: we payed like 70 Euros for a full week (with pool, kitchen, 5 rooms, coconut trees, Lily the housecat, a housekeeper and someone, who would help us out with whatever we need).
Coincidentally there were folks from Vienna staying there as well - we made great new friend - it's Bali's special Treatment, a Lightness and an open mind, which you wouldn't find at home!
We booked via Denton (Air BnB), who helped us out with our first motorbikes and a driver from the Bali Ngurah Rai International Airport to Ubud.
Airport fee and first steps
First, make sure you have money with you (around 50 euros, july 2013) for the "Bali fee", which you have to pay as a foreigner after you get out of the plane, right at the airport. There is an ATM as well, it's just nice if you are able to go through the bureaucratic controls fast!
Well, from there you're a free human ready to explore the island :)
Probably there will be plenty of men asking you if you need a driver. We actually choose to go with it and were very happy. In Bali its common to negotiate over the costs of almost everything - also the drivers. So usually they start of with like at least 50% more than you need to pay, so negotiate, politely but still with a special certainty (because that's the way it works). Trust me, it might be weird for you at first if you haven't been to one of these countries, where its common to negotiate over payment stuff, but you will get used to it and become a pro ;)
31 July 2013
Art of the sea
Well, I'm not keen on aquariums at all, since I don't like the fact that animals, who need a big space to allow growing their natural habits, being caged! I want to be honest, right at the beginning are some pretty disturbing small places with sea-animals, where you're able to touch them etc. but I started talking to one of the guys working there and he explained very honestly: This is a way of informing people and actually trying to protect sea-animals in further instance. They try to raise money to build a bigger place, also for an animal rights NGO (street dogs and cats in KL - you'll see everywhere, because there are SO many of them!).
The entry fee is not really cheap, but if your a student and have an international student card, please take it with you, you will get half off! And if your interested in any kind of knowledge about the sea and their animals talk to the stuff, they will be glad to tell you everything they know :)
Petronas for low budget folks
In the rich business part of KL you will find the famous Petrona Towers (at the moment the highest twin-towers worldwide - but lets wait a little while and I'm sure the emirates will figure something out to beat them ;) ). Since its not quite cheap to go up there, we had the insider tip to go to the hotel (called Hotel Traders) across from the towers - there is a skybar on top of the hotel, and it is free for everyone. Go there, have a drink or not, but enjoy the amazing view to the Towers. My personal recommendation is that you do that during sunset! It is spectacular, seeing the towers during daylight, and while it is getting darker from minute to minute the towers are getting more and more lighten up, like your facial expression will :)
It's like this beautiful little nature spot right next to the city's turmoil. There you find the bird park, the orchid garden, hibiscus garden and some monkeys (which are by the way just awesome ;) )
The birds are not very shy, they are used to people, so you will get at least one stunning picture!
(Just to mention: The birds are not in cages or anything like that. They have these really awesome huge territory to spread their wings)
Islamic Arts Museum KL
I truly recommend the museum of Islamic Arts! A massive building, which is btw air-conditioned (what you will appreciate during the Malaysian summer), with like 3 floors of great exhibits and a small museum-shop.
The Mosque is one of those typical tourist attractions. Still it is something worth seeing. Even there are many many tourists such as yourself, it is a place with a calming down atmosphere You just have the feeling of wandering through this huge room with it's pastel-colored floor, it's pillars and it's terrific silence, gaining inner strength. Please mind that there are opening times for tourists, and that you will get a cape and a bandana to go inside :)
30 July 2013
Reggae Mansion - hostel and bar
The Reggae Mansion is a Hostel in KL, we did not stay there but we've heard about the nice roof bar they have. So we went there, and YES it is pretty cool. They have public viewing (soccer, tennis etc.), a nice beer bar, and lots of nice world-travelers.
n the streetO
A great way to get to know a city is walking through. Its not always possible, because of the dimension of some cities. But if there is any goal you want to reach, like a museum, a park, a restaurant etc. try to walk there - because there the real life is happening, there you will see the movement of the city and its people! RIght there on the streets. You will meet great people, learn a lot about culture and yourself, get to take nice pictures (catching the real life) and you probably hit upon some very special things!
Nice dresses for the ladies and booze for the boys ;)
Bukit Bintang is the young, cool almost hipster part of Malaysia's capital city. A district full with restaurants, bars, intercultural spots, shopping malls, many massage studios and tourists. If you would like to go shopping during the day, seeing a monkey on a motorbike (no kidding) driving through, having a delicious dinner in a sushi bar, taking a look over to the other side of the street, where you can find the mexican bar, in which you will be stuck drinking tequila all night long with a bunch of crazy French travelers, you've found the place to be!
Unfortunately i do not remember the bar we were drinking, but i am sure, you will find something you enjoy, because there is such a wide range of bars and clubs!
Firts: It's a cultural melting pot! Since the entry to Kuala Lumpur's China Town is very colorful and full of life, we had to go there! Well, there is a China Town in almost every big city around the world, so you would think there is nothing special about it, BUT not so fast - KL China Town is different from all the others I've seen yet - there are tropical fruits in every corner. We actually fed ourself almost exclusively from papya and mango. For Europeans it seems pretty cheap. And don't worry about any dirty water issus, the people, who sell the fruits, would peel it in front of you. There is no entrance fee to pay. Please be aware that you look out for your bags, since its a little crowded. I'd recommend that you take it easy and buy some fruits, nice juice and and take a walk through whole China Town. Probably there will be something that catches your attention. It might be clothes, bags, some weird artist in the streets, or wonderful Malaysian snacks :)
Malaysian traditional food
Right next to China Town, in between the city center and the river you will find a couple of these small, open, (yeeah not sure how to call them) let's say mini-restaurants, where locals eat their meals. Usually they are tiny and grounded full of people, who are loud and lively (if you're interested in culture and authentic lifestyle, you should definitely go and eat in one of those eateries. Mostly you have Indian influenced, spicy food, which you will eat with your fingers. You sit down get your meal, there might be someone who bakes naan (indian bread) right next to you and offers you some, which you take (it's part of the game) and trust me, you will need it and love it, 'cause spicy in malaysia is not spicy in europe ;). It is not common to tip in those little restaurant, such as it is not common to sit there and talk after you had your meal - it's more of a "come-get nice food-eat-pay-leave thing. Well there is nothing else to say than please ENJOY!
In Malaysia the Islam is the state religion, so during Ramadan - the Islamic fasting month, which is very important and obligate for every Muslim - there will be huge cook outs, right on the sideways and open for everyone to join :) I recommend it, because of two reasons: First, you will eat remarkable food! Second, great company, you will get to know lots of exciting people, who will tell about their culture and their life.
Ramadan was in July (2013, Malaysia) the date does change from country to country and year to year.
Safe and sound to Asia and back
We booked via Emirates from Munich to Kuala Lumpur and back way cheaper than other airlines and really really comfortable! www.emirates.com
To get from Kuala Lumpur to Bali and back, we went with Air Asia. It is an asian low Budget Airline with european Safety Standards! www.airasia.com
Everything went perfectly! :)
Like I said before, we went shopping into the Dubai Mall, which is the world's largest shopping mall based on total area and sixth largest by gross leasable area. Inside of that enormous building you even see an Icehockey-Field AND an Aquarium! Well I think it is a matter of type, if you like that kind of luxury or not. But it is definitely an experience.
Btw it is located pretty close to the highest building of the world "Burj Khalifa"!
Hot hot hot hot hot.
40 degrees, crazy high humidity, you must have landed in Dubai!
We had 14 hours stopover in Dubai, so what to do we asked some people at the airport. Their answer: Shopping, because in the mall it will be air conditioned and between 1 pm and 5 pm everything else in the city is closed anyways, people stay inside. You don't want to be under the blazing sun, trust me, days of red, hurting skin, not so nice.
Usually you need a Visa for entering the United Arab Emirates, but since we had such a short stop the friendly guy at the Visa counter was so kind and put free stamps into our passports. Just talk to people friendly and explain everything, everyone will be cooperative!
First thing, we took a taxi to the harbor did a little sightseeing walkingtour :)