Shaz's Bali just back report

Hi Everyone

This is a very late JBR but I have received so much valuable information from the forum that I will still post as my info may be of some assistance to others. Have been a frequent visitor to the forum for 3 years but have not posted a JBR before. This was our fourth trip and we visit Bali mainly for surfing and relaxing. On our return I had several uni assignments due, so I promised myself that once the assignments were over I would do a JBR.

We are a family of five with 3 children Sarah 19, Zoe 14 and Thomas 11. We book a package for seven nights, two at the beginning and five at the end. We visited Nusa Lembongan and Ubud for the 14 days in between. We left Brisbane at 8.30 am on the 7th June and returned on the 27th June.

No problems with flight, flew Garuda, first Bintang tasted great (and I don't normally drink beer). VOA no problems after purchasing our US dollars at Brisbane. We live in a small town and were unable to get any US dollars in any of the banks before leaving. Bags came out straightaway and two of our three boards, but wouldn't you know it no sign of the third board. Hubby finally found it with some other boards and an hour later we were off. Found a van to transport the three boards and us and off to MBR. Cost 70,000rp which compared to the $22 per head that had been quoted with the booking was much better value. In the traffic the bali fun began. Our son was sitting in the back of the van facing out and a bike was following us with a family on it. A very pretty little girl, about the same age as Thomas was sitting in front of her father and her father caught my eye and started signaling that his daughter would make a good match for Thomas. All of us were laughing and he overtook us calling 'my daughter marry your son!'. Oh it felt good to be back.

Arrived at Melasti and we had requested a suite room in the old section with double bed and we were shown to a room on the second floor a few down from the restaurant. Air conditioner a little tired but otherwise no complaints. Sarah had a room in the new section on the ground floor, checked it out, nice but still prefer the feel of the old section. Sarah was itching to get a SIM card for her phone, so she was off, and thomas went straight out the front of the hotel for a surf. Greeted all the beachsellers and promised to see them again when we came back from Lembongan, they are so good with names, calling out to us as soon as we walked up. Hubby and I settled on the verandah for a few drinks after a lovely dip in the pool. Sarah returned with her SIM card bought on Jalan Melasti at the shop across from the Kodak moneychanger, for 90.000rp including 50,000rp credit. But she was having troubles and didn't think that the messages were going through. Then my mobile, which we had just turned on to try to send a message to, and is not connected to any international network, starting ringing. It was friends of ours who are staying at Semingyak ringing to organize to meet. His phone is on international roam, and he explained that Sarah needed to add +61 and drop the first 0 in the number to make the messages work. Yeah, got through. She was happy and each SMS only cost 500rp. The only problem was that the when she used any of the features like find out how much credit is left, it spoke to her in Indonesian, will have to sort out later.

Visited our friends who were staying in a beautiful villa, with lovely pool and very private. Few more Bintangs and off to Made's Warung for dinner. Everyone enjoyed their meals, Hubby had nasi campour special and he reckoned it was one of the best. Prices a little more than most of the places we eat at but worth it. Home in a Bluebird taxi. Hubby and Sarah decided to go up and see if the shop was still open where Sarah purchased her SIM card. Suddenly a Balinese ran up to them and jumped on Hubby's back, It was Joey. He is working in a shop a couple doors down from Uncle Norms and still on good terms with Norm. He told them he has an Australian girlfriend and she has been helping him a little financially. Promised to catch up with him. And to bed, the King beds are absolutely huge and very comfortable, definitely no trouble sleeping.

Breakfast good as usual, lovely table overlooking the surf. I find there is something for everyone and I always enjoy the fruit with some yogurt, an omelet and some vegies. We take the old Nescafe gold with us and just order a pot of hot water, sit back and watch the world. Thomas gobbled down his breakfast and was straight out for a surf, sarah and Hubby joined him and Zoe and I headed for the pool. There is a little of the pool lounge saving going on but I must admit we often just move their things. If by 11 am they haven't arrived bad luck, find another one. Once everyone had returned form the surf we headed off to the Balitoo for lunch. Great to catch up with all the girls, Cindy, Catie and Sharon. Wendy had her baby and they haven't been busy enough for her to get her job back but they are hopeful that she will be back soon as it seems to be getting busier. Had a lovely lunch and lots of conversation. Back to the MBR and Zoe went to have acrylic nails put on in the Spa, Thomas off for another surf and the rest of us went to change $1500 to take to Nusa Lembongan. It is a much lower rate on the island so we usually take enough to last us. Then caught a taxi up to Bintang supermarket for a few supplies, mainly lollies, Dynamites to be exact. They are a lovely mint with chocolate inside, and are great. Got thongs for everyone, comfortable Nike rubber slip ons for 19,000rp and a couple of pairs with wetsuit material. Then went to a mobile phone shop down the side of Bintang Supermarket, told the girls that Sarah's phone was speaking in Indonesian, and they had a good laugh and changed it to English for her. The phones in this shop were really good prices, probably a quarter of their cost in Australia, if you need a phone definitely buy it in Bali. Back to MBR and a quick phone call to Lembongan to the place we stay the Puri Nusa. The staff all excited that we were coming tomorrow, 'will get your room ready and send a boat to meet you off the Perahma'. We had organised to meet our friends at Ketaput restaurant at Kuta at seven, so quickly got dressed, ordered the kids room service and we were off. Beautiful dinner and cocktails at Ketaput. The setting is nice with the tables surrounding a pool and quite a few bales with cushion seating. Ketaput is a traditional way of slow cooking rice for many hours and it has the texture of potatoes. The specialty is ketaput with an assortment of curries and vegetables, all served in individual little banana leaf dishes, Yum. Back to the hotel for a early night, backpacks ready for tomorrow.

Woke up excited. We all love Nusa Lembongan and have made many friends with the islanders. Looking forward to seeing new babies, children who have grown a year older and of course the waves. There are three reef breaks that surround Jungabatu bay, Shipwrecks (which is right out the front of Puri Nusa, about a kilometer away), Lacerations and Playgrounds. There are hardly any cars on lembongan, just a few trucks, and no tourists shops hardly, and no hawkers. Just peace and quiet! Breakfast and then organise transport to Sanur. Arrived at Sanur by 10 and booked our tickets, 45,000rp each. The guy tried to charge me extra for the boards but when I told him have never had to pay before, he said don't worry. Not a full boat and a fairly quick trip of just over an hour. The swell wasn't too big. The Parahma is a traditional boat with the outriggers on both sides and they are very stable. It has three quite big outboards on the back and we usually feel safe unless the swell is big. Smiling faces of Wayan, Kal and Rickie were on the beach to meet us, and a quick change over of bags from one boat to another and we were sitting at the Puri Nusa Restaurant catching up with some of our friends. The Puri Nusa is about a kilometer up the beach in deep coral sand. With five heavy backpacks and three boards the lift in the boat is pure luxury. I still don't forget the first year we went, struggling up the beach in the blazing sun. Organised our rooms. We have a family room that is towards the back of the complex, a two storey, Balinese style concrete bungalow with a room upstairs and room and bathroom downstairs. This year we also moved into the room next door, this had two singles and a bathroom, the family room has a queen bed upstairs and one downstairs. Went to negotiate with Made the manager and he said how much do you want to pay and I suggested 100,000rp for the three rooms, which is what we paid last year for the two rooms. He nodded and smiled in agreement. The toilets were not flushing, which is no surprise as they weren't last year either. Staff brought us two big buckets and a smaller bucket and we were set, you just fill the smaller bucket with water and flush manually, works fine for us. The water in the shower and bath is cold but as Lembongan only has an island generator that operates from 4pm until 8am each day, except Sunday when the power is on all day, its probably a waste to have hot water. A couple of the newer places such as Surfers Café and Bungalows and Ketuts Bungalow do have hot water and some places have there own generator so you can have power all day. We like the basic nature of having no power except when it is busy the drinks don't keep to cold, but when there is hardly anyone there you get frozen Bintangs.

Before we knew it word had traveled to Thomas's friend Ketut, a boy that we met four years ago and who has become great friends with Thomas, he arrived and they were paddling out for a surf at Shipwrecks. Hubby joined them and we settled down to chatting and playing cards for the afternoon. Kal and Wayan who works in the restaurant are now engaged and we were brought up to date on what everyone was up to. We had brought them all presents, the boys all had a Billabong (original from Australia) hat and we had Billabong T Shirts for the girls, everyone was stoked and those hats did not leave their heads for the whole time that we were there, except for poor Ketut whose brother borrowed it during the day while he was at school and gave it back to him each afternoon. Decided to go to SukaNusa for dinner. The majority of the restaurants are on the beachfront at Jungabatu Bay and the SukaNusa has lovely food. The resident dog had puppies so the kids were delighted and puppies were nursed all night. We had bought a few DVD's to play on the different restaurant players. It is a great way to keep the children entertained in a place without television etc. Ketut came with us for the first of many dinners and the food was great. They make garlic breadcrumbed snapper fillets that are so nice. The kids love the chicken and avocado burger and we all watched scary movie 3. Home to bed for the children and a nightcap out the front of the Puri Nusa with some of our fellow travelers. We always find a great mix of nationalities visiting Lembongan for the surf and this particular night there was a few young guys from Ireland, New Zealand, a Japanese girl and a Balinese guy who works as a surf guide for Japanese. His name is Nata and he is originally from Lembongan but stays where the tourists that he is working for are and spends a lot of time in bali. Finally to bed and the cocks started crowing, it was around 11pm. Now we know we are definitely back on Lembongan.

The next 12 days were spent in a variety of ways but mostly just kicking back and relaxing. Many an hour was spent with our friends teaching us snippets of Indonesian and us helping them with as they call it ' English Grammar'. We made a close friend with a 19year old from Australia and he spent a lot of time with us, playing cards, shooting BB guns, driving around the island on motor bikes and surfing. Sarah went back to Bali a few times for a few nights to catch up on a bit of nightlife. Caught the state of origin at the Scooby Doo bar (the only bar/nightclub) on the island, and is has satellite TV. Went snorkeling with Captain Aqua over to Nusa Penida and saw even more fish than last year including some really big ones, cost us 30,000rp each. Went snorkeling with the Japanese girl, a guy from the gold coast, who was travelling alone and joined us for a lot of outings and meals for a bit of company, and of course Ketut.

Food at all the restaurants was good, especially the pizzas at Surfers Café. They had just had delivered a gas pizza oven and with a little instruction from a few aussies were soon churning out some of the best pizzas. For value we spent a lot of lunch times at Ketuts warung where all meals are 6,000rp. The kids love the gado gado and Ketut makes them special non spicy peanut sauce. Zoe is very friendly with Ketuts grandson, Batu, and spent many hours entertaining him. Ketut also does a great Green or red curry and Pad Thai. The food is also really good at the Puri Nusa and we had all of our breakfasts there and quite a lot of other meals. A lot of people were staying at other bungalows but coming to Puri Nusa for the food.

The down side of our stay was the third day when Sarah wanted to surf Playgrounds. She is a goofy footer so surfs better on a left which is what Playgrounds predominately is. Hubby does not like Playgrounds, reckons it's the most dangerous. So they caught a boat out to the break and as it was late in the afternoon the captain decided to anchor and stay. Hubby caught three waves and then his board flipped and hit him in the eyebrow, he felt it split and then the nice sensation of warm blood. Gathered Sarah, Thomas, and whoever else was surfing with them and boated back to the Puri Nusa. I am a nurse and the kids came running 'Mum Dad has split his eyebrow open. Had a look and hubby is going just steri strip it, it will be OK. I am looking into this big gapping hole saying no its not going to be OK. Everyone around is looking very concerned. I ask Wayan if there is a Doctor and he says yes I will take him on the bike to get it stitched up. The doctor turned out to be a midwife but she was great. He needed 4 stitches inside and 6 on the outside and she gave him local with great skill, hardly hurt he said. A course of antibiotics was included and the total cost was 200,000rp. Better service than you would ever get in Australia. He had to stay out of the water for three days and then I removed the stitches 5-7 days after. It healed really well with hardly a scar.

I spent most of my days reading, sunning and swimming. On high tide the water in the bay is deep and good for swimming, as the tide goes out you can usually find a spot to get wet. The islanders main produce is seaweed. On low tide they all come out with their big baskets on rubber rings and start farming the seaweed. The areas are roped off and have a few pieces of rope tied to stakes. The seaweed is then tied on with plastic and left to grow over the high tides. Then on the low tide they bring it into shore and clean it by jumping on it with their feet on the sand. Then it is rinsed and taken back out to the plot and retied onto the rope. This process continues until it has grown enough for harvest. They get very little money for all the work.

Before we knew it was time to go. The kids wanted to do some shopping in Ubud before returning to Legian for our last five nights. Big pack up the night before as the Perahma leaves at 8.30 in the morning. Sarah was already in Bali and meeting us when we called into MBR to leave our luggage. No problems with Perahma, nice flat seas. Ketuts brother greeted us at Sanur and had organised transport for us to the MBR for 50,000rp, thanked him and promised to catch up next year. Arrived back at MBR and left boards, most of our luggage and headed for the car rental place. Thomas had a quick surf at legian.

Into the traffic and found the way to Ubud from recollection of last visit and arrived at Ubud without getting lost once, Wow. Found the same place as we stayed last year, in Hanoman street, Dewri Bungalows. This is a good place as its right in the middle of all the shops. We had two rooms, each one with double, single, and hot water. Cost 100,000rp per room with breakfast for the five of us. There is a nice pool and after a quick swim it was off to lunch. Had lunch at Café Tutmak where we had dined the year before, it is now across the road from where it was last year, overlooking the soccer fields. Not as good as last year for the price you are paying. Then it was off to what we call wholesalers street. As you head into Ubud and turn left to go towards the markets at a roundabout, you go right instead and follow this street. It goes literally for miles and miles and all the shops are amazingly cheap. First we headed about ten miles up and came across a skeleton shop. Thomas collects them on each of our trips and has quite a good selection. He was in heaven, got a half size full skeleton that hangs on the wall, a skeleton head, a walking stick with vertebrae and skull head, a skull coffin box and several skull key rings, all for 50,000rp. We all had a great time in the shop as Thomas was practicing his Indonesian and asked how much in Indo, the guy then replied in Indonesian and of course none of us understood. So then it was a quick lesson in how to say thousands. Then it was off to a wooden fower shop and 180,00rp later we walked out with two huge bags full of flowers. Heaps of frangipani bunches, flowers on plaques for the walls and a few of the really big flowers complete with bamboo vases. Then a stop at a photo frame shop and some good purchases made of the painted frames with flowers all for 4,000 and 5,000 rp. Enough shopping for the moment, back to the hotel for a rest and then more shopping and dinner. On the way to dinner we went to lots of Jewellery shops where a few purchases were made, we were also looking for a particular pendant that we bought Sarah last year and she wanted one for a friends 21st present. Did find one but the price was a lot more than last year, will keep looking. Went to the restaurant that had moved into where the old Tutmak was. We had a beautiful dinner followed by the best coffees and black Forrest cake, Yum. Back to the hotel for the night.

Woke to another beautiful day and were presented with a nice breakfast. A guy called by with some hand painted eggs, They were really beautiful with ocean scenes painted on them. Bought two at 20,000rp each for Thomas's schoolteacher. Left the hotel and we had hired the car for another day so Hubby took Zoe and Thomas back to the wholesale street to finalise a few purchases that they wanted and Sarah and myself went hunting for Jewelry and the pendant. Went into the shop where she had found one, explained that I paid 120,000rp last year and she agreed on 140,000rp. We were stoked. A few more purchases for Sarah and back to the restaurant to meet the others. Early lunch and more beautiful coffees and in the car headed back to Legian. Stopped at Batubalan at Putra Silver. We found this place a few years ago and have never been able to find anywhere to match the prices. It is a wholesaler but they are happy to sell to individuals as well. They do not man the shop the whole day, but if you drive in and take the stairs at the front, they send someone to open the shop. Expect to spend at least an hour there, as they have a big range but it is so cheap. The girls went mad and spent about 600,000rp but got heaps. Most of the earrings are under 20,000 and the rings all around 7,000 to 20,000rp. After that a stop at one of the quilt shops and I bargained hard for two quilts. Final price was 120,000rp for a double dolphin quilt and 290,000rp for a balinese material patchwork queen size quilt. We also stopped at a family compound in Celuk that we have been to before and got a great bangle for 110,000rp and a dragon cigarette holder for 60,000rp. Returned to MBR happy little shoppers. Had our first lunch at Legian snacks. We highly recommend Legain snacks for cheap eating. Some say the staff are not friendly but they are, its just they are so busy and work such long hours that you have to spend a bit of time with them to see the real people. Booked back into MBR to find that we had been allocated a room with singles after requesting a double. Reception quite happy to move us but only available room was on the third floor overlooking the pool. But it had good views. Oh well the stairs will keep us fit. I did feel for the room boys who had to move the children's beds from the original room on the second floor, across to the bungalows on the other side and up to the third floor, and they were still laughing. Tipped them both for their efforts. Settled in, unpacked and had a few drinks.

Decided to catch up with the staff at Uncle Norms but when we arrived it was really full, so back to Bali too. Wendy was back, they are now a lot busier. Had a nice dinner and then back to melasti for a bit of TV watching, everyone hanging out after two weeks of no TV.

Usual start to the day, breakfast watching the ocean and then some surfing and swimming. Spent the afternoon with Zoe on a trip to Geneva with a stop at Mades Warung for lunch. Geneeva was great. Full trolley at the end and Zoe mentioned at one stage that wasn't it hot and the staff were straight to the fridge and offering us cold waters. We bought lots but some of the prices were: Carved wooden placemats 17,500rp, shell belts 17,500, shadow puppets 27,500, salad servers 6,000 and small ones 3,000, Frangipani candles 5,500 per pack, wooden boxes 15,000. Went to Mataharis a few days later and saw the same things three times more expensive.

Returned to MBR and our friends had arrived. They are a party of a couple, a single mum, 2 14 year old girls and a 17 yr boy. We had organised to spend the last few days with them. After some pre dinner Bintangs we all got ready and once again tried Uncle Norms but they were really busy again, booked a table for 8,30 the next night. Off to Bali Too where everyone had a nice meal and some great jokes with the girls. They were all pretty tired from the day travelling and so they went back to bed and we had a last Bintang out the front of the Loci Supermarket and watched the world go by.

After Breakfast the surfers organised a driver and headed for Changuu. The rest of us headed for the pool and massages. After the pool our friends were keen to hit the shops. I went with them for a while, assisted with some bartering and then left them for a while. Caught a taxi to Bintang Supermarket and bought some supplies. Cheese and biscuits, lollies, milk etc. Back to the MBR and Hubby had brought me back a beautiful greek salad. They found a bali Deli at Changuu , in the middle of no where and had lunch. I crave for feta cheese while I am in Bali, so the Greek Salad went down well. A few more drinks on the verandah and then on to Uncle Norms for dinner. Joey was still in the shop so we all caught up and he came and spent some time with us after our meal. He is so likeable and soon our three girls were openly flirting with him. A few purchases were made by the kids during dinner, including fireworks for the next night. The food was really nice and everyone agreed that Uncle Norms was a good place to eat and a booking was made for the next night.

The next day was Waterbom park day. Had a great time and did as little or as much as we wanted. The kids loved the bungie trampolines and spent all day on the slides. The adults had a few rides, a few Bintangs and a nice rest. Back to Uncle Norms for dinner and a lot of cocktails. Roger and Luke were leaving the next day for G land so it was the last time we would see them, being picked up at 5am to catch the boat, (Roger only lasted two days before he came down on the reef, severely cut his head and had to be helicoptered out to Dempasar and plastic surgery attended. All covered by Insurance, but managed to ruin his wifes 40th birthday!)

The next day I suddenly went to Hubby, oh dear must confirm our flights. We rang Garuda and were told that Sarah was booked but none of us were. Got the Kuta address and caught a taxi. Got there to find that they had moved. Walked a few blocks to the new office and they had closed half an hour before. Told them our story and the lady got the boss who turned the computers back on and booked us on the flight and allocated all our seats. Spread us out a bit because he said if the allocation is made early the chances of the seats filling at the front of the plane were remote. It worked Hubby and Sarah each had three seats on the way home, Zoe had a two to herself and only myself and Thomas had to be together in a window seat pair. Then it was on to Matahari. Had a good look around the shoe section but ran out of time for anything else. Still had DVD shopping to do so off to a little shop in Jalan Melasti and 100 DVD's later off to Uncle Norms for a quick drink. Went across the road to some market stalls and bought boardies for Tom and ordered some Paul Franks tops and bags to pick up tomorrow. Dinner was a cheap, quick one at Legian snacks and an early night. The girls were all shopped out.

The surfers went to Dreamland for a morning surf and the girls all had a nice quiet breakfast. Then a few hours by the pool. The depression of having to leave today was starting to sink in. My friend and myself grapped a taxi and I showed her Bintang Supermarket. I needed some cartons of Garams and a bag to hold the DVD's. She needed to purchase a kettle. Quickly found a kettle for 14,000rp and wondered where the girl serving us had taken it too. We found her at the counter with the kettle filled with water testing it for us, where else would you get that sort of service? My friend filled up on the usual supplies and we were off. Had arranged to meet everyone at Bamboo corner and had a great lunch there. Then a quick grab of a few more DVD's, a pair of linen pants that I had my eye on, pick up the Paul Franks stuff and back to the room for the awful process of packing. Managed to be a little late for check out at 6pm. Then off to Bali Too for dinner and goodbye to all the staff.

Back to the MBR and transport to the airport. Weight was under by 2 kilos, have to buy more next time. Good flight home most of the family slept the whole way. Customs no problems.

Certainly can't wait to go back. Currently getting quotes for next April. Another great Bali Holiday.