If you love eating spicy food, singing karaoke, getting to know colourful cultures and smoking Shishas (hubbly bubblies), Bali is the perfect holiday spot for you. Our journo, Jaco-Mari Haasbroek chats about her experience during their honeymoon.
We booked our holiday through Thompsons for Travel (www.thompsonstravel.co.za) and our package included return flights, four nights accommodation at Fontana Hotel in Kuta and another four nights at Pertiwi Resort and Spa in Ubud, as well as transfers to and from the airport, hotel and resort. The deal came to R26 000 for me and Francois. We spent about R10 000 on food, activities, and souvenirs and I have to say that we enjoyed ourselves to the fullest and we were quite spendy …
Bali is a breathtakingly beautiful Indonesian island with colourful streets, a very interesting culture and loads to do. Kuta and Ubud are the tourist hot spots so that’s where we stayed. While Kuta is close to the bustling Legian Beach, Ubud is close to scenic waterfalls and rice fields. We stayed in the lively Fontana Hotel during our stay in Kuta and got the chance to relax at the tranquil Pertiwi Resort and Spa in Ubud.
I have to warn you that when you first visit Bali, the traffic will be something to get used to because they don’t really follow road rules. You can count the traffic lights on the island on your fingers and there are no road signs. As long the drivers keep more or less to the left side of the road and allow other road users to turn in front of them, they are good to go. There are probably 20 scooters for every car on the road, which makes the roads very crowded but their system works somehow – just don’t attempt to drive there yourself. The taxis are very easy to flag down and they are relatively cheap but it is lovely to walk around and visit local restaurants and shops on your way.
As you dodge the cars and scooters on the roads, you should also be careful not to step on daily offerings. Businesses and households give daily offerings and sometimes even put them on the sidewalk. The offerings usually consist of flowers, incense and whatever they have to offer that day (you can expect to see everything from sweets to food and even cigarettes). It is disrespectful to walk over these daily offerings while the incense is still burning, so you should always watch where you walk.
If all the walking sounds tiring, I have good news for you! Almost every second building in Bali is a restaurant, bar or coffee shop … We drank plenty of coffee and beer and ate loads of spicy foods while in Bali … The popular Kopi Luwak coffee is produced in Bali – coffee beans are fed to a Luwak monkey and the coffee beans that come out in their excrement are used to make some of the most expensive coffee in the world (we didn’t have the guts to try it though).
Bali has quite a few locally produced beers, of which the refreshing Bintang was our favourite. Most pubs have live bands or karaoke nights, so you will be entertained every step of the way. The more traditional Balinese meals consist mostly of fruit, noodles and spicy meat sosaties and are regularly served in BBQ buffet style. You can also rent a Shisha to enjoy with your food and drinks at most restaurants.
I suggest you visit the Australian – owned Billy’s Bar and Restaurant in Kuta for cocktails with a kick and shooters with quite questionable names – the staff are a treat and the drinks are out of the world. And if you find yourself in Ubud, please try a bowl of fruity, chocolaty goodness at the vegan-friendly Acai Queen.
Although many families vacation in Bali, it’s ideal for a group of friends or a couple, because the busy nightlife will make you want to stay up ’til dawn. If you thought New York was the city that never sleeps, you were wrong. At 3am, we still found many restaurants, bars, and even coffee shops open, which makes Bali the best destination for bar-hopping without worrying about the last round.
You can also relax and unwind at one of the countless Balinese spas … Most hotels and resorts have their own spas but you can also pop into a spa on your way to dinner for a quick massage. If your hubby, like mine, won’t ever set foot in a spa, he can grab a beer while you get pampered but there are loads of spas that offer couples massages.
More good news … Bali is very cheap. Everything costs more or less the same as it would cost in South Africa, but you feel like a big spender because R50 in Indonesian Rupiah is about Rp50 000.
The island is also known for its exquisite architecture. Most traditional buildings have a lot of open space and attention to detail.
There are also a lot of traditional temples all over but tourists should wear appropriate attire to enter. We booked a few of the many tours available during which our tour guides shared a bit of their rich history while showing us the island’s pride and joy.
Using the GetYourGuide app to book your tours is seamless and affordable. We went on the Tulamben: USAT Liberty Shipwreck Full-Day Snorkeling Trip and Ubud: Jungle Swing Private Tour, which included seeing the TukadCepung Falls, visiting the Pengelipuran Village – one of the cleanest and most traditional villages in the world, swinging on a jungle swing, and visiting bamboo forests as well as coffee and rice fields. We paid R800 and R1 300 per person respectively for the tours, which included pick-up and drop-off (so we didn’t have to worry about transport) as well as sight-seeing and activities. It was interesting to get to know the culture straight from our Balinese tour guides while we spent the whole day with them.
There is so much to do and see that we fell in love with the island all over again every day. More highlights of our honeymoon in Bali include swimming in the blue sea and relaxing on the white beaches of Legian and Sanur, getting a sunkissed tan, looking at the volcanoes (from a safe distance) and visiting the feisty monkeys of the Sacred Monkey Forest.
I can testify that Bali has it all … Relaxation, luxury, drinks, and activities to keep you entertained from the moment you arrive until you board your plane back home.
Details for your stay in Kuta: www.phmcollection.com/fontanabali
Details for your stay in Ubud: www.pertiwiresort.com.
Text & images: JACO-MARI HAASBROEK.