After our brief stopover in Singapore, we caught a Valuair flight to Bali. The flight cost S$172 (about 4,000 baht) and took about two and a half hours. I had never been to Bali. We chose to spend about a week in Bali because it’s one of the stops on the way to Dili. The cheapest, easiest way to get from Phuket to Dili, as far as I am aware, is to fly Phuket-Singapore, Singapore-Bali and then Bali-Dili (about US$600 in all). There are other ways, of course, but this route suited my needs and gave me a chance to see a bit of Bali.
I really came into this trip blind, without much of a clue about anything related to Bali. The first big shock was the money. We changed up less than 10,000 baht and both of us ended up millionaires. I’ve been in Bali a few days now and the money is still a point of bafflement. What further confuses the matter is that a lot of the Balinese deal in US dollars as a guideline for their prices, although they don’t actually accept US dollars. So you end up converting from one currency to another and back to a third.
When you arrive at Denpasar Airport you are herded through immigration with about a hundred other foreigners. You certainly don’t feel privileged for having made the trip to this Indonesian island. They sting you at Immigration for $25 for a 30-day visa-on-arrival, or $10 for a seven-day visa. Of course, nobody arriving at Denpasar ever remembers to carry US dollars, so the fee goes up slightly to 250,000 or 100,000 rupiah (US$10.8 or US$27) for those with local currency.
It takes forever to get through Immigration and once you have your visa, there’s nothing left to do but to collect your bags and find a taxi. Outside Denpasar Airport is a lot like the outside of Phuket International Airport, with taxi drivers, and guys who might be taxi drivers but you’re not sure, touting for business. If you can carry your bags, there’s nothing to stop you walking to the road and catching a metered cab, but most people leave the international terminal, turn right and find their way to the taxi stand.
A taxi from Denpasar Airport to Legian cost us 60,000 rupiah. The journey only took about half an hour. We checked in at the Legian Village Hotel (US$28 a night) and went out to grab something to eat. By this time it was close to midnight. First thing that struck me about Bali is that in the tourist areas you are hassled non-stop by taxi drivers in their various forms. They shout and beep at you in the street, which becomes tiresome after about 20 minutes. Other than that, everyone seems to sell “ma-roo-wa-naa”. Sure, we are staying in Bali’s equivalent of Chaweng or Patong, but there is far more to Bali than the heavily touristed areas.
As a base for exploring the rest of Bali, Legian is cheap, easy and accessible. A motorbike costs about 50,000 rupiah a day, but we were lucky enough to know someone here who has leant us his bike. I’ve really enjoyed being in Bali so far and we’ve only been here for a couple of days. Much more to explore yet.
Details about Bali hotels here.