Hello Bali!

Hello my dear friend, it’s nice to see you here. Thanks for sticking around and sorry for my absence. As you know, I always disappear for a while during summer when work gets a little crazy.

But you always know I’ll be right back, don’t you?

Back to Indonesia

I’ve decided to write about the second half of my backpacking trip to Indonesia. You’ll recall I have already shared with you my experiences in this wonderful and diverse country of the rainforest in Kalimantan (Borneo) and my experiences in Java, including Jakarta, Yogyakarta and the East Java Volcanoes route.

Part II of the adventure begins with our arrival in Bali after the stunningly beautiful but treacherous East Java Volcano adventure.

ferry from ketapang to gilimanuk

First view of Bali from the ferry – see how close it looks!

Hello Bali!

Our 3 day volcanoes tour ended at Ketapang ferry port. Everyone on the tour was moving on to Bali next. The tour guide/driver will try to sell you really over-priced ferry tickets, saying that you will go with the group and you won’t get lost, etc. Don’t listen to this. The ferry port is right opposite where they drop you and you just walk into the terminal and buy a ticket. We paid 13,000 rp from Ketapang to Gilimanuk and on the tour they were selling it at 50,000 rp.

From the ferry terminal in Ketapang you can see the island of Bali. In fact it looks close enough to swim to! But the ferry goes so slow that it actually takes an hour.

Ferry to Bali

Hello Bali!

When we arrived at Gilimanuk in Bali we were surprised that the ferry terminal was practically dead. We had expected lots of taxis and touts waiting for the fresh tourist blood from Java, but we were pressed to find a taxi actually. I guess most people arrive into Denpassar, the main port.

Due to the lack of action in Gilimanuk, we ended up paying more than we had anticipated for a private car to Ubud.

We paid 500,000 rp for the four hour journey, which is still a good price when split between four, but my god did we have to barter hard for it!

The journey to Ubud was horrendous. There were four of us cramped into the tiniest car imaginable and the roads were only marginally better than those on Java.

I amused myself by staring out the window and noticing the differences between here and Java. Some differences were minute but others made Bali seem like another world, rather than an island in the same country just a stone’s throw away from where we’d set out earlier:

We saw plenty of road accidents on that trip from Gilimanuk to Java. Mostly minor, but one was a truck that had gone off the road and down an embankment. This surprised me because my first impression of the roads in Bali was that they were considerably better than those on Java (still no motorways though) and that the driving was ever-so-slightly less erratic, with more of a sense of chilled-outness and less rush.

We saw many monkeys on the road. That was new. Our driver thought we might like to get out and take photos of them but we politely declined; we had seen enough monkeys to last a lifetime in the jungle back in Kalimantan.

One of the things we noticed within the first hour of being in Bali is that it rains just as much as in Java!

The houses we passed during the journey were so much better than the typical roadside shacks on Java, neatly painted and with their own small garden. I bet the quality of life is much better here than elsewhere in the country.

Bali is very green, not just with the typical Bali image of rice fields but with plenty of palms and banana trees too.

The most marked contrast in Bali, making it worlds away from the rest of Indonesia was the people. The people here are predominantly Hindu whereas the rest of the country is Muslim. And the difference is instantly clear: There is a sense of fun and vibrancy here. People mingle more, the colours of the bright clothing are incredible! No heads covered and bowed meekly, there’s flesh on display, there’s music, festivals every day… This makes the people of Java sound drab, boring and oppressed, I know, but I don’t mean it that way at all, it’s just all a bit of a shock to the system when you first arrive on the island. The people here speak much better English too.

There are cows on the roads here like in India. I guess that has to do with the Hindu-orientated way of life too.

Something else I noticed during this drive was police controls; something I didn’t see once on Java. I’m not sure what the police were controlling but there were regular check-points where cars would be stopped and papers were checked.

When we arrived in Ubud we were sore and cranky and it was raining. The driver, after a few laps of the town, found the address we had given him and stopped at the end of the narrow road where we off-loaded our backpacks and had to walk the last 200m into a maze of tiny alleyways and properties.

I had booked a place in a hurry right before we left Yogyakarta and that’s the place we were looking for. All we could think about was nice warm shower, rest and food. It was mid-afternoon so we would just chill for the rest of the day and settle into Ubud.

That was the plan anyway.

I think you can tell by my tone that that isn’t quite what happened…

Filed Under: asiaBalifeaturedIndonesia

About the Author: Based in Mallorca, obsessed with the world and have a lot to say about both... Step into my shoes and join me on a journey...

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