Now that Adam and I have [semi]successfully re-entered the land of the living and working in New York (a rough feat), I am ready to talk about the magic that is Bali and Lombok. Spoiler alert for the rest of this post: find a way to go. Just do it.
I am going to level with you: the trip to actually touch down in Bali sucks. Reaaalllllyyyyy sucks. It’s 20 hours+ in the air, and you’re guaranteed to have a layover of some sort. For us, we flew 15 hours from JFK to Taipei, had a 4 hour layover in Taipei, then flew another 5 or so hours to Denpasar (capital of Bali). Woof.
By my standards, we booked this trip late – only about 2 months before we left (for reference: we booked our honeymoon 6+ months in advance, ‘coz I am the exact opposite of a cool, spontaneous girl). Thus, there were only a certain amount of seats left on the flight, and because we’re cheap, we went with what was the least expensive option (though it was certainly more than we had been hoping). Turns out, the not-so-cheap, but cheapest-option-available, seats were a fancier option, which was a pleasant surprise considering I was having a near panic attack about how my severely arthritic knees were going to handle 15 hours in a baby seat (this is real life).
Anyway, we took off at 1:00AM on May 10, and landed in Bali at 3:00PM on May 11 (including a cool 12 hour time change). Our trip itinerary was 11 nights spread across various places in Bali (Ubud, Seminyak and Jimbaran), then 4 in Lombok. We expected the landing in Denpasar to be somewhat chaotic because we’d read pretty much everywhere that there was a mandatory traveler’s visa that needed to be purchased before leaving the airport for $35 USD. Not sure when this changed, but we did not have to purchase anything, so from landing to ground transportation it took maybe 20 minutes.
In Ubud, we rented a great Airbnb for 5 nights, and arranged airport pick up before landing with our host. This is usually right around $400,000 IDR/roughly $30 USD (FYI, $100,000 IDR = $7 USD, approximately), and we highly recommend it. It made the process of arriving much less overwhelming to have someone navigating us through it.
Before we get in to talking about Ubud, there’s something you need to know. The Balinese people are fucking awesome. Truly. You know how people always say “so and so person was the nicest/friendliest/best person I’ve ever met” and you’re like “bullshit, you say that about everyone and how could you even know if they’re the nicest person because you haven’t met everyone on the planet?” (no? just me who has this thought?). Well, I’m confidently saying it now: the Balinese people are actually the nicest/friendliest/warmest people ever. And, they don’t hate Americans, which was a sweet bonus for us. Double bonus: most people speak at least some English, so the language barrier isn’t an issue. Okay, so back to the trip. The man who owned our Airbnb, Made, had arranged for his cousin to pick us up and drive us to Ubud (about 1-1.5 hours in the car). Fun fact: in Balinese culture, names, specifically for men, are prescribed based on birth order (1-4), and the same names are used for all families. So, the first born is called Wayan (or, Petu or Gede), the second is Made, the third is Nyoman (or, Komang), and the fourth is Ketut. And, if there’s a fifth or sixth (or more) – it starts over again, often with “little” in front of the name. So, you’ll meet many Made’s or Wayan’s throughout your trip (literally, every day).
Really back to Ubud now… once we arrived to our drop off location, Made and his daughter met us in the parking lot on scooters and took us to our rental (get used to it before you go: you’ll ride scooters everywhere, and every time it will be a stressful/near-death experience). We stayed close to Ubud center (about a 20 minute walk), but felt very much out in the country, surrounded by rice fields (something we really liked). From the main parking lot/drop off spot, the “road” (about 15’ at it’s widest, and 3’ at it’s narrowest – see below) to all rentals, restaurants, homes and rice fields splintered off, and it was a half mile or down this road to our rental, which was the very last villa with an epic view of the surrounding land.
Our villa had 2 separate bedrooms/bathrooms and a private pool we put to use every day. It was here that Adam discovered his love of a bidet (who knew this would be a thing in Bali?!), and decided, while we were thousands of miles from New York, that we needed a Tushy upon our arrival home (currently on my toilet and very ugly). With the time change and the travel we were pretty beat by the time we got settled, so we took a quick swim, then showered and grabbed an early dinner before going to bed. Fair warning: the time change will kick you in the ass, both on the way there and on the way back, so plan accordingly. In my humble opinion, you need at least 10 days actually in Bali to make it worth your while.
OKAY so now that I’ve got all this typed I am realizing what we actually did in Ubud needs to be a separate post because I am pretty sure at this stage even my 2 readers (shout out to you, mom and Adam) are bored and have stopped reading. SO, Ubud details (and, Seminyak, Jimbaran and Lombok!) to come soon!