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It is no revelation that Bali is already a Retirement Location for many expats.
I came back to Bali because I wanted to look outside of greater Kuta to discover what ‘gems’ might lie around the island.
Gili Air has already made it to my Retirement Locations shortlist (albeit as a part time destination as part of a retirement location ‘suite’).
The flight was scheduled to leave KK at 18:30 and take 2.5 hours. We left at 19:00 and landed at 21:15.
We were handed a Customs Declaration form on the airplane.
On entering the Immigration Hall, we all queued up for our Visa On Arrival (VOA); as with my last visit to Bali back in December 2014, I had my US$35 ready. However, when I got to the counter, the lady at customs said that I did not need to pay.
Indonesia changed their VOA Fees on 1st June 2015. Some nationalities no longer need to pay for their visa. I hold a UK passport so I was one of the lucky ‘exempt’ ones.
Clearing customs from there was fast and easy.
RUNNING THE GAUNTLET:
The ‘taxi’ touts are now waiting for you inside the Duty Free area! Last time they were only queuing as you exited into the Arrival Hall.
They are all over-priced but avoiding them is very hard… some even follow you as you try to walk by.
There is a Taxi Counter inside Immigration. I believe that this is over-priced too. However, I had no IDR at that point in time so I could not find out for sure.
Armed with the knowledge from my last visit to Bali, I didn’t bother with the ATMs and Bureau De Changes in the Immigration area.
When I got to the Arrival Hall, I looked around for the ATM that I used last time. I was being harassed by touts so much that I decided to give in and head straight for the Domestic Terminal which is a 5 minute walk away (and much more ‘relaxed’).
I found a stand-alone building specifically built to house ATM machines from about 10 different banks. I tried about 7 of them until I found one that would dispense IDR3m (all others would only dispense IDR1.5m or IDR2m). The one that I used was the Commonwealth Bank ATM.
I found out last time that free WiFi in Indonesia is unreliable. On Gili Air, I discovered that the XL network had better coverage than the TelKomSel network. For Bali, TelKomSel is meant to be best.
The TelKomSel SIMcard that I had from last time had expired so I needed a new one. The last time, I picked up a 3.5Gb SIMcard for IDR70k that was ‘on promotion’ – only to find that 1.5Gb of that could only be used between midnight and 6am (which is OK for software upgrades, etc but not much else).
At the Domestic Terminal ‘Pick Up’ area, I found a TelKomSel counter. They had a 6Gb, 1 month Mobile Data Pack for IDR200k which included IDR60k of credits (for phonecalls and SMSs). I bought one.
GETTING TO MY HOTEL:
Again, I learnt last time that it is cheaper to catch a taxi from the Domestic Terminal than it is from the International Terminal.
At the Domestic ‘Pick Up Area’ you will find 3 Taxi Counters: Red, Blue, and Yellow. I went to the yellow one (because yellow is my favourite colour).
Armed with my new SIMcard, I was able to show them where I was going on Google Maps and ask for a price. They spoke excellent English but Google Maps ensures that there are no misunderstandings.
They asked for IDR95k. Don’t negotiate. I told them that I would pay IDR60k. He looked at me ‘knowingly’ and I looked at him ‘knowingly’. We both smiled… ‘you know the price’ he said to me… ‘yes’ I replied. ‘IDR70’ pleads the driver. Like a ‘softy’ I agreed. It was 22:00 and I was feeling generous.
WHERE TO STAY:
I have gone off the Kuta area. Especially the area around the Discovery Mall.
Every 5 metres that you walk down the street you get asked something… ‘taxi?’, ‘moto?’, ‘massage?’, ‘massage with happy ending?’, ‘money change?’, ‘T-Shirt?’, ‘bag?’, etc.
There is only so many times that you can say ‘no, thank you’ politely before your patience runs thin.
The next time that I land ‘in transit’ in Denpasar, I will book a hotel in the Legian area.
Warning: There are quite a few ‘RaBaSTa’ hotels around Kuta. If you book into one, make sure that you know exactly which one – especially when catching a taxi.
I had pre-booked 2 nights at the RaBaSta Resort online using Bookings.com. I find that I use Bookings.com most of the time. The price was discounted to IDR 170k / night for a Double / Twin with Aircon, in-room WiFi, Cable TV, hot water ensuite and mini-fridge. There was a promotion on at this price to include a free buffet breakfast (normally valued at IDR30k).
The Buffet Breakfast was excellent (at this price). Tea, coffee, fruit drink. Toast, butter, and Jam. Prawn crackers. Mini pancakes. Vegetarian fried rice. Vegetarian fried noodles.
The room smelt ‘musky’ and ‘mouldy’ on entry.
The toilet fan had the decibels of a passing train. The ensuite was very basic – but the water pressure was excellent (so much so the the toilet hose nearly blew off my ring-piece and did wonders for my hemerrhoids).
WHERE TO DRINK:
I walked the 200-300 metres from my Hotel to the Discovery Mall area. This is exactly the sort of area that I dislike. It is a tourist trap with small bottles of beer for IDR30-40. I had a ‘nightcap’ and headed for bed.
I found it… it is called Hotel The Flora and its found just East off Jalan Bakung Sari. Large Bintangs IDR25. Small IDR15. A nice place to sit and talk with friends without getting your ears blown off by a DJ, a Jukebox, a Karaoke Singer, or a Sports TV. 🙂
I only planned to be in Kuta for 2 nights. This gave me one full day to do a bit more research and to organise my trip up to Padang Bai.
So, after my free breakfast at the Hotel, I headed off to Jalan Legian to find the Perama Bus Company Kiosk between Jalan Poppies I and Jalan Poppies II. It was about a 2-3 km walk from my hotel. It was good to stretch my legs again.
Perama are a Bali-wide bus network company that are recommended on the internet. They have 4 busses to Padang Bai from Kuta each day. Their price is IDR75k but they do NOT pick you up from your hotel… you have to make your own way to their kiosk.
I didn’t fancy trudging 2-3 Kms in rush hour traffic to their kiosk the next morning, so I did not buy a ticket. I looked around. I easily found someone else who did a hotel pickup and minivan to Padang Bai for IDR85k. I booked that one… it’s only a 2 hour drive… how bad can it be?
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