Bali Tips part 1

Right so you can probably tell by now that I (and my blog) am more about the story than the location but I thought I would do a tips for Bali post before I leave. Something to impart the little ins and outs about Bali that I have picked up over the last year.

1) Accommodation:

There are PLENTY of cheap places to stay in Bali, most are centred around party central Kuta and will be full of 19 year old Aussies over on school holidays. Since I have actually been living here for a year, I don’t really have a lot of experience staying in a hotel/hostel over on the west side of Bali. If you want to party -stay in Kuta.

I can give some suggestions for other parts of Bali though, so I am not completely useless.

Sanur: 

  • Little Pond Homestay http://www.littlepondbali.com/ I stayed here when I first got to Bali before I started work and it was fantastic. It is small, clean and cheap. It’s right in town but off the main road so it’s not noisy. The beach is about a 10 minute walk away. Also there is a pool!!
  • Diwangkara Holiday Resort www.holidayvillahotelbali.com This where my brother ended up staying when he was visiting. WAAAAY out of my price range but it really nice if you can afford it. Especially if they screw up your room and give you the honeymoon suite. There is a traditional hotel building and also a variety of villa rooms. There is a restaurant attached which has a breakfast buffet. There is a pool for hotel guests but the hotel has a section of private beach chairs as well. 

Lovina:

  • Nirwana Seaside Cottages http://www.nirwanaseaside.com/ Me and my friend stayed here when we took a trip to the north side of the island. Again, there is a traditional hotel building and private cottages of various sizes. We opted for the tradtional hotel building as the private cottages on offer only had fans not AC and my friend is a bit of an AC nut. Breakfast is included.

Although there is another option if you are planning on staying for more than a month, it might work out cheaper or easier to get a kost while you are in Bali. A kost is a basically a studio apartment or a very small house. I am living in a kost right now and I have a huge front porch, a big bedroom, bathroom, kitchen right on the beach and I pay $150 a month. But like everything in Bali there are a plethora of sizes, options and locations. My friend has brand new really flash loft style apartment with everything included and pays $300 a month. It all depends what you want. I am fine without air conditioning but some people can’t live without it. If you are thinking about this option and say, “Hey Kate. If I stay at a hotel someone is going to clean up after me everyday. If I stay in a kost I am going to have to spend my valuable beach time cleaning. REMEMBER this is Bali. You can pay anyone to do anything here- if you are that angry about washing plates or cleaning your toilet, just hire a cleaner or most kost complexes have an in house cleaner that you can hire.

2) Driving

I know everyone loves my driving in Bali stories and if those haven’t scared you off driving a motor bike when you get here, I’ll give you some tips.

  •  Pay about 40-50,000 a day. There are plenty of bike guys around so if someone tries to rip you off just keep trying. Sometimes they will give you a better rate if you rent for a week, month etc.
  • Try it out first. Make sure everything works. This might seem slightly obvious but there is nothing worse then getting down the road and realizing that your brakes don’t work.
  • Wear a helmet (especially on the Bypass) ! Not only for your safety but the cops love to pull over white folks and this is the main way that they get you. If you are driving around town or out in the country, you can get away without wearing a helmet.
  • I think this is actually the most important tip I can give about driving a motor bike in Bali. Learn to use ‘slow down’ hand wave. Take your left hand off the handlebar, put it down next to your side and wave your hand up and down from the wrist. People driving around you WILL NOT pay attention to your actual turn signal. This is pretty much the only way you can safely cross lanes or turn corners. When crossing a busy road, wait for a slight break in traffic, beep your horn once, stick your hand up in the air and go slowly- usually one car at a time because errant motor bikes will come zooming through the slowed cars. Sometimes if you are lucky one of the car drivers will stick their hands out the window to warn other drivers a motorbike is coming. *Side note- you can also use these slow down waves when walking across a street as well*

3) Food

 To a traveler, nothing is more exciting and daunting than eating local street/ market food and one of the questions I get asked most often when eating my dinner at the night market near my house is “Is it okay to eat here?” Of course this is a sensible question because no one wants to get the dreaded Bali, Delhi, or other various locations Belly while on holiday, and to me the people who only eat at western restaurants are totally missing out on part of the experience of travelling.

My local night market has everything that you could ever want to try while in Bali or Indonesia for that fact as a lot of the stalls are run by people from elsewhere in Indonesia.  I will give you a rundown of some of the local faves. Plus the prices are a fraction of what they would be for the same dish at a restaurant.

Nasi Goreng/Mie Goreng

Nasi goreng or simply fried rice is ubiquitous with Indonesia some going as far to call it the national dish. Nasi Goreng knows no boundaries- you can find it in the markets and also being sold for a –in my opinion- ridiculous price in higher end restaurants. The main ingredients for a good Nasi Goreng are going to include rice, soy sauce, spices (like cumin, nutmeg, salt, chili pepper), onions, fish sauce, and green leafy vegetables or really whatever the chef decided to put in it. Also if you see Nasi Goreng Spesial, you are probably going to be getting a fried egg on top.

Mie Goreng is essentially the same thing but with fried noodles instead of rice.

In a busy touristy market expect to pay around 9-10,000 rupiah, if you go off the beaten path a bit I have found Nasi Goreng for 6,000 rupiah.

Nasi Campur

Nasi Campur means mixed rice, and this is referring to the variety of side dishes, if you will that you can get on top of your rice. These dishes can range from vegetables, seafood, meat, or eggs. Campur is the one meal that looks especially hazardous for your health, as it is already prepared and sitting out in dishes waiting for the customer to pick. Don’t be worried about choosing meat from the Campur carts even though it has been sitting out for hours. This is the way that the food is meant to be served. Not a lot of people in Indonesia have sit down family meals rather opting to have the food prepared and sitting out under a lid to be eaten throughout the day.

The prices are determined on 1) how many dishes you get and 2) if you get meat or seafood. But don’t expect to pay more that about 15,000 rupiah for A LOT of food, the average I pay is around 9,000rp. And again if you go off the beaten track a bit you can usually get it for cheaper.

Ayam Goreng

Fried chicken, this is usually made without a KFC style coating. The cook will score a chicken breast or leg and chuck it in a scalding hot vat of oil- so again don’t worry about germs, those things are not surviving this bath. Ayam Goreng is usually served with a side of rice. If you opt to be a bit more adventurous, Ayam Goreng Lalapan is fried chicken served with rice, spicy sambal, cabbage and some mint leaves. As far as I understand you are supposed to use the cabbage leaf as a sort of dish for the rest of the items. Or at least that is what I have been doing and no one has corrected me yet.

Ayam Goreng at a touristy market will usually cost you about 12,000rp for one piece of chicken and rice.

Ayam Betutu

Is a Balinese dish of steamed or roasted chicken cooked in spices and may be made extra spicy by adding extra onion slices mixed with chillies and coconut oil. Sometimes you can find Betutu as a Campur mix. Expect to pay a bit more for it as it takes almost a whole day to prepare. It is also a nice alternative to all the fried food that you will probably eat.

This is a very minor list of the plethora of food that you can find at a local market in Bali or the rest of Indonesia, but my main point is don’t be afraid to try the food at the market, this is part of the great experience, don’t worry that you are going to get sick, I can honestly say that the only times that I have been sick in Bali were after eating western style food, which sucked because I was really excited about having them, especially my Christmas Day cheeseburger. The people who cook at the night market and other food stall know what they are doing when it comes to cooking their own food safely. It’s when they are trying to cook western style food is where the problems lie.

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