BALI: A BEGINNERS’ GUIDE – PART I

I’m v v aware that this post is incredibly late (I started gathering all my photos on the way home, then I landed and life got in the way), however, better late than never and all that!

So! Where to begin. About three weeks ago for my birthday, I took the trip of a lifetime to one of my dream destinations, Bali in Indonesia for 8 days on my own and to say that I had the trip of a lifetime would be a severe understatement. I’ve decided to split this post into two or three parts, as I couldn’t possibly fit everything into one so in this post, I’ve decided to create a kinda…beginners’ travel information guide for Bali – the things you need to take into account before going, essential travel items, flights etc etc, so grab a cuppa and a slice of cake because it’s gonna be a long’un!

 

So you wanna go to Bali, huh?

The mistake I first made when thinking about Bali as a destination was assuming that Bali was a tiiiiny island off the coast of mainland Indonesia and that I could probably do the whole Island in a week.

Wrong! While Bali IS an island, it’s blooming huge and so my FIRST tip would be that if you want to explore multiple towns and villages in Bali, make sure you try and go for at LEAST two weeks. Because I was only there for a week, I decided to stay in Ubud, which is in the central part of Bali and an entertainment hub. So I’m guessing you’re wondering about all the other towns? Well lemme break it down for ya:

  • South Bali: South Bali includes Kuta, Western Bukit, and Uluwatu, Canggu, Denpasar (this is the location of the main International airport, for reference), Jimbaran, Sanur, Seminyak and Tanah Lot. These areas are the most visited parts of Bali due to their gorgeous beaches and ‘Westernised’ lifestyle. Yep, it’s kinda like the Ayia Napa of Bali so you’ll be among loads of British and Austrailian tourists. I actively avoided this area as I’m a fan of going off the beaten track. If you’re into your idyllic beaches, 24 hour BBQs, avocados and all that fun tourist stuff, then head to any of these towns.
  • Central Bali: Central Bali includes Ubud, Gianyar, Bedugal and Tabanan. This region is the cultural capital of Bali and the central mountain range. Ubud is also Yoga central and is a place where a lot of people come to get their Eat, Pray, Love on, so bear that in mind if you’re looking for an awesome place to relax. It’s also worth bearing in mind that central Bali is an hour and a half’s drive away from the airport.
  • North Bali: North Bali includes Lovina, and Singaraja. You can enjoy quiet black sand beaches and the old capital city.
  • East Bali: East Bali includes Amed, Besakih, Candidasa, Kintamani, Klungkung, Mount Agung, Padang Bai, and Tirta Gangga. Here, you can discover another atmosphere with laid back coastal villages, an active volcano, and the mighty Mount Agung. I would double check before thinking about visiting here though, as I believe there are still warnings surrounding the active volcano.
  • Gili Islands: The famous Gili Islands are three tiny islands off the main island of Bali:
  • Gili Trawangan: The Party Island. This island is the most developed of the three and is one of the world’s cheapest and safest places to learn how to dive if you’re into that sort of thing. You can walk the entire circumference of the beach in two hours (or run it in just under an hour). Everyone here is extremely friendly! A great place to visit if you’re travelling alone and want to make new friends.
  • Gili Meno: The Romantic Escape. This island is for the lovers among us. Beautiful sunsets, private areas of the beach, and is the smallest and quietest of the three islands. It definitely has a honeymoon-esque aura when you visit.
  • Gili Air: The Chill-out Spot. Bitch this place is just peaceful AF. It’s sort of a blend of the first two beaches. There are plenty of beach bars and restaurants and a couple of diving centres. Overall, it’s just a place to watch the sunset in peace. Beautiful.

Ok, so you’ve decided where you want to go. Now what?

What’s the country like? Racist? Fatphobic? Crime rates??

Now, this won’t apply to everyone, but as a fat black person travelling halfway around the world, the issues of racism and fatphobia are important to me and I always do research on a country before going.

  • Racism: Nah. There are loads of black tourists that go there and I didn’t experience any racism at all.
  • Fatphobia: Yes. During my time in Bali, I did not see one plus size person. Not one. At all. Which is fine because the Indonesian diet is very different to Western diets. Everyone is very healthy there. Which is why when I turned up, I was laughed at and people pointed their fingers and gasped at me. When walking, a guy actually came up to me and pinched my arm fat, and laughed. Yep. But you know what? After about 2 days I just ignored it, as I didn’t want it to affect my holiday. The thing is, I don’t want to say that they are completely blameless but because obesity isn’t an issue over there, I think they saw my body as a bit of an anomaly and were more curious than anything. Just something to bare in mind!
  • Crime: Nah…you just have to be vigilant, like anywhere else!

It is important to note that there is NO PUBLIC TRANSPORT IN BALI. Everyone gets around by either car, moped or taxi. There are no buses, no trains, and no metros. You can rent a Moped for about $20 a day though! I did this for a couple of days and it was fantastic.

How much money should I take for a week?

You can probably get by on about £200 per person for a week. You’ll probably have money left over to be honest. £5 – 100,000 Rupiahs. A three-course meal costs around 120,000 Rupiahs. So you’ll be fine!

Do I need injections? What about Maleriaaaaa?!?!

  • Yes. You need injections, specifically Tetanus, Hepatitis A, and Typhoid. Get these at least 6 weeks before you travel and double check the Hepatitis A injection, as there is a nationwide shortage of this and you may need to get this done privately (costing upwards of £55 depending on where you go).
  • While there are mosquitos in Bali, it’s not an area with a high malaria rate at all, so you do not need to take anti-malaria tablets. Most GP’s/healthcare professionals will tell you this. What you will need, however, is a mosquito spray to ward off the little critters because they WILL still bite you. I used the Incognito Insect Repellent spray which was really good.

Flights, flights flights…

  • Skyscanner is your friend folks. I bought my tickets in January during the January sales. It’s worth knowing when the sales start so you can be ready. The British Airways sales always start after Christmas and end towards the end of January. The rest of the airlines normally tend to follow suit.
  • I bought my tickets during the sale, and they averaged around £490 return, which is pretty good. Now, which airlines I hear you ask? Emirates is a great airline and the most popular to fly to Bali with, however, a close second is Cathay Pacific, who are AMAZING. I was shitting myself because I’m so used to flying with BA, but this airline was absolutely amazing. Left on time, arrived on time. The food was amazing and the staff were so friendly and helpful!

What about that flight time tho?

Ok so…even if you get the most expensive flight, you’re still looking at at least 17 hours flight time, both there and back. Because of this, I booked two extra days off work to account for this. If flying with Emirates, you’ll normally stop off at Dubai for a few hours, then take a connecting flight. If flying with Cathay Pacific or any other airline, you’ll stop off at Hong Kong for at least 3 hours. Make sure you take some books, a portable gaming device, a tablet with you because the waiting times are NO JOKE.

Hotel? Villa? Airbnb? Which one??

Bali on a whole is a very cheap place to live, so for a low cost, you can stay in a BEAUTIFUL Airbnb place, complete with a private swimming pool. It’ll take a few searches to find a gem, but house shares are generally very cheap. Because it was a birthday treat to myself, I stayed at the Royal Kamuela Villa in Ubud (which will have its own post coming soon!) which was absolutely beautiful. Hotels are also VERY cheap, so it’s up to you really!

OK. Hotel and flights are booked, injections done. What else?

Now that you’ve booked your flights and accommodation, now comes the fun part. Packing! So what to take?

Bali’s general temperature is around 35 degrees so pack loads of sandals, bikinis, sunglasses, and sundresses. Also, because this was my first connecting flight (and because I have an immense fear of losing my luggage) I took one of the most conspicuous and flashy suitcases of all time. I decided to opt for the hard case large Maluku suitcase from Revelation! which is an extremely durable and GORGEOUS suitcase. I had several people come up to me during the flights asking me where I got it from. It’s definitely a show stopper!

If you’re going alone and want to take some amazing shots, I’d suggest taking a mini tripod. I took two, one for my iPhone and another for my digital camera.

The Joby GripTight Magnetic Gorillapod for Smartphone

The Joby Gorillapod is a tiny tripod that accommodates smartphones and is a nifty little thing I tell ya. This tripod literally clings to EVERYTHING and comes with a Bluetooth remote that connects to your phone so you can take selfies or those beach shots handsfree. Below is an example of a shot I used taking the tripod and remote:

Manfrotto PIXI Mini Tripod

The great thing about this tripod is that it can be used with a smartphone adaptor, or can be used with your regular camera. I used this tripod with a lot of my bikini shots and it has a really comfortable handgrip if you wanted to shoot videos during your holiday. The tripod is VERY light btw so that’s a plus!

What about cosmetics? Stuff for the plane? 

Alongside my regular cosmetics, face washes, body gels and the like, I decided to add on a few extras this time around seeing as I was going to be in the air for 18 hours.

O.R.S Hydration Tablets

So I’m really shit with drinking water in general. It can take me up to three days just to drink two litres. Knowing that I was going to be in the air for that long, I decided to pick up some hydration tablets for the plane. Similar to your regular vitamin effervescents, you pop a tablet into some water and drink. I picked up the lemon flavour and it’s refreshingly good. It contains a combination of salts, glucose, and essential minerals to keep you hydrated and to keep your electrolytes in balance. IT WAS A LIFESAVER LEMME TELL YOU. I got off the plane feeling tired and rubbish, but I felt hydrated and it was definitely what I needed.

Swish To Go Tooth Powder

Again, 18 hours in the air can make for a ripe mouth if you’re not careful! Instead of taking up space with a toothbrush/paste, you pop one of these in your mouth, swish it about while it dissolves in your mouth and spit it out. Simples!

So these are just a few tips and tricks for you guys in case you were wondering where to go and what to take! In part two, I’ll be talking about my hotel, and what I got up to in Ubud. I hope the above has been helpful and if you have any other questions, please hit me up on twitter!