If you’re planning on visiting or traveling Bali, Indonesia – when arriving by air, you’ll want to fly into Ngruah Rai International Airport in Denpasar, Bali – only a 10 minute drive from the commonly known Kuta, Bali. Upon arrival and first gusts of humid air you’ll be somewhat ambushed by taxi drivers left, right and center in their attempt to over charge you for the short drive to Kuta. A negotiation and price must be agreed upon before getting into any vehicle. It’s my advice to never pay more than 150,000RP (equivalent to approximately $15 AUD) as long as your destination remains within the Kuta area. ATM fees at the airport are overpriced so if you don’t already have some Indonesian Rupiah I’ve often asked the driver to stop at an ATM along the way to prevent paying additional airport fees with no problems.
I’ve stayed at a few home stays and guest houses in Kuta although my favourite so far that always keeps me coming back, whether it’s for a few days or just a night before onward travels is Gora Beach Inn. Conveniently located walking distance to the beach and in the bustling heart of shops, restaurants, bars, surf shops and massage parlours. The staff at Gora are always friendly and helpful with an array of different room options – all double rooms with own en-suite bathroom either have a fan, are air conditioned or poolside and air conditioned. Prices range from very basic rooms with a fan at 100,000RP ($10 AUD) to 350,000RP ($35 AUD) for a poolside villa with air conditioning which are very pleasant. The pool is always well maintained and a great place to relax, read or just a refreshing spot to hangout. Complementary breakfast is also included each morning with three different options: Western breakfast, Indonesian breakfast or Continental breakfast, all are served alongside fresh fruit with tea or coffee.
Poppies Lane I and II are the most popular backpacker streets, same location as previously mentioned Gora Beach Inn. This is where most budget travelers will be found with accommodation starting at 50,000RP ($5 AUD) for basic rooms with fan and cold water, to 250,000RP ($25 AUD) for an air conditioned room with hot water. Many popular restaurants and bars, such as Sky Garden has constant drink specials and deals daily.
Balinese Morning Rituals and Offerings
When traveling, I’m an early riser and tend to wake up with the sun. This is my forth time back in Bali and am always so grateful with my morning ritual sitting on my guest-house front porch or veranda overwhelmed with warm air infused with incense. I’m completely in love with the morning rituals of offerings and blessings of the Balinese people, majority of whom practice Hinduism. Every morning, generally women, begin their day with creating handcrafted palm or banana leafs designed to hold rice (or various food items), flowers and lit incense as offerings to the Gods. There are numerous different offerings that can be created, each having their own significance; for example, Chinese coins can be viewed as prosperity. Some offerings are as simple as placing a frangipani flower one by one on steps or at a statues base. These offerings are for the Gods or ancestors as well as bad spirits or demons. Depending on the offering they tend to be found in home entrances and shops, statues, temples, on sidewalks or anywhere seen fit. The amount of daily work and dedication of these magical little crafts is wonderful to watch and learn about. Many locals love to share this information and stories of their beliefs for those who want to learn.
Kuta is a common starting point for most travelers once arriving in Bali – its ideal location to the airport has massively blown up the tourism industry here over the years. If you’re after shopping, partying and beginner surfing, Kuta is the place for you. It’s cheap flights and close proximity from Australia brings an overflow of Aussies coming for a week or two who want nothing more than to relax on a beach with bintang (local beer) and party at night, on repeat. I tend to only spend a night or two here to get my feet on the ground and plan my onwards travels.
If you want to truly experience Bali, there is so much more to see than this one stop resort and tourist destination. Don’t get me wrong, if this is your first Southeast Asia trip you may be blown away and it’s a great start to your trip. At the end of the day the experience is what you make it, I’ve had some great experiences here… Although speaking from someone who has done and seen other things, there is so much more out there. The bustling streets and overcrowded beaches can be quite overwhelming – if culture and pristine beaches is what you’re after, I encourage you to search beyond Kuta, Bali.