14 – 18 JUNE 2015:
Third destination on the Samanda trip is Bali, Indonesia! Which means it’s time to hit the beach and get some colour!
Firstly, Bali is as beautiful as I had expected. It’s a well known honeymoon destination so my expectations were pretty high! And speaking of honeymoons, we were actually lucky enough to witness a beautiful beach wedding from our balcony one evening. They were having my dream wedding! I was a tad bit jealous (only a tad)… Amanda decided to go and buy the bride a drink as a nice gesture to wish them lots of marital bliss.
Hotel: Grand Mirage Resort
The hotel where we stayed was located in the south eastern peninsula of Bali, which had one main road running down it. Our hotel faced this central road and had a private beach located at the back. The whole road was full of resorts so there are many places you can choose from, all fairly similar I suspect. What I enjoyed about our hotel’s location was that everything was easily accessible. Walk out of the hotel on one side and you are immediately on their private beach. Walk out the other side and you are on the main road with tons of local restaurants to choose from. The whole strip seemed to be a mix of mainly restaurants, tourist shops, massage spas, laundry places and convenience stores. We did so much in Singapore and Malaysia that we were content with lazing on the beach most days and going for a massage and dinner in the evenings. The massages are dirt cheap, around £4 for an hour and they offer a good selection of different types of massage (and no I am not referring to any happy ending ones because I wouldn’t know about that!)
As there are so many parlours to choose from it’s hard to know where to go. We were talking about it on the beach, and the couple next to us overheard and recommended the place she had been to earlier in their holiday. It’s called Teo Herboral Spa and Salon. The masseuses are very friendly, the premises were clean and air conditioned and it is directly outside the Grand Mirage hotel entrance so no effort to get to at all.
The beach was very clean however the ocean wasn’t quite as beautiful as I had expected. It wasn’t the clear aquablue seawater that you imagine when you picture island holidays (I think you get this mostly around the Caribbean). There was also a lot of seaweed not too far offshore, and the terror of these teeny tiny crabs wandering the beach. Also low tide occurred around 2pm so it was difficult to get any swimming done in the afternoon which was a shame because I’m not a morning person! Amanda managed a good swim one morning though around 10am when the tide was still high. Personally though, I was quite content sitting in a sun lounger with a book for most of the day.
After weeks of travelling, I was running low on clean clothes. Thankfully Bali has so many places that will do your laundry. On our first evening in Bali we found a laundrette, called ARBA Laundry, that I decided to remain loyal to as the women there were really friendly even though it was about a 15 minute walk away and there were others much nearer. The next day I took a huge bag of clothes down to them and they washed, dried and ironed everything (even my underwear) within 4 hours. I was so impressed that they did it so quick and I only paid around £15 which was considerably less than the hotel, who I suspect would have charged me around £100 for the amount of clothes I had and they wouldn’t have been able to turn it around as quickly as 4 hours.
I have to say the Balinese people are super friendly. I would go as far as saying they are the friendliest and most polite people I have ever had the pleasure of meeting. They go out of their way to make you feel comfortable and in my experience it was always sincere.
WHITE WATER RAFTING
We pre-booked a White Water Rafting excursion when we were doing the original holiday planning from the UK. On the day of the trip we were picked up at 8am by a friendly driver, Sony, who took us to The Telaga Waja river. The car ride took considerably longer than we expected at 3 hours, however we did have to pick up some other people on the way.
When we arrived, we were teamed up with two Canadian girls that we had also travelled in the mini bus with. The four of us were given some brief instructions by our rafting instructor / leader, Wayan, and then off we went. I do remember at one point Wayan claimed “Not good English” all while speaking incredibly quickly. The key piece of instruction though was when he shouted “Boom boom!” it meant we needed to hold-the-fuck-on. Very key. There were many other rafting boats going down the river with us, and all of the instructors seemed to really enjoy what they were doing. They all had a good sense of humour and would poke fun at and splash the other boats every time we managed to pass one.
Our experience on the raft was amazing; the majority of the rapids were fairly small however there was a large 4m drop at one point which was pretty terrifying, especially as Amanda and I were in the front seats! We also spent a fair amount of time crashing in to rocks and getting stuck (one might claim we were “beaching”). We had to do a bit of a butt jiggle to free ourselves and Wayan had to constantly jump out of the raft in to the water to try to set us free. A couple of paddles also got lost along the way but luckily we located them further downstream. There were many stops to allow us to buy drinks on the way, although peeing in the raft was not something I wanted to do so I refrained from filling up the tank.
After our journey along the river we were provided an Indonesian lunch buffet, a few simple dishes but it was all very tasty especially as we were all so hungry from our workout!
Amanda and I absolutely loved Bali and wished we could have spent a few more days there. The only thing I found a little annoying was when we were walking down the road we were constantly asked if we would like a massage, or to go to the restaurant they were promoting, or whether we wanted to book an excursion or get a taxi. After a few days we began to find saying “no thank you” quite exhausting. They are all so friendly so you don’t want to be rude but it can be very draining when you repeatedly have to keep rejecting their sales pitch. However that is my only negative and you get that in every major holiday destination so it’s nothing unusual.
I am even considering going back in a few weeks I loved the place that much!