The first beach we went to in Bali was Sanur because it was known to be more quiet than Kuta, the party hearty beach. I didn’t think I’d fall for such a touristy beach but when we finally reached Kuta a few days later, the cynic in me relented as we found home in the waves. Joshua, the skateboarding snowboarder, predictably fell in love with surfing. I was content to rent an umbrella-shaded lounge chair while watching the three of them have fun: Jason trying to stand on the board, Joshua managing to balance with his teacher’s guidance and Jimmy body-boarding with another hired surfer dude.
So this is how the prices of the accommodation go. If you want to stay as close to the beach as you can, there are older resorts which must have seen their heyday some decades back and which cost half of the newer, swankier hotels. They may have a swimming pool which is ideal before and after slathering your body with sand. You can find better value in the smaller, less busy streets. And you must know already that to save on food, go local, not Western. Bargain with the taxi drivers. It cost us 500,000 rupiah for the three-hour drive from Sanur to Rony’s place in the north near Lovina, and 200,000 rupiah for a one hour drive from Kuta to the Green School area.
We met two guys from Lebanon who rented a car straight away from the airport and they said it only cost them 250,000 rupiah a day and was well worth it. Jason and I originally intended to rent a car but we chose to hire a ride instead. The guys from Lebanon were a part of a project called Earthship Biotecture and were filming a documentary about ecological architecture.
Eight days is not enough in Bali but it’s also enough considering the adventures that we’ve managed to squeeze in. We hit three different beaches but never ventured to the nearby smaller islands where boatloads of tourists disembark. We weren’t able to return to Sanur and rent bikes which I really wanted to do because the there was a perfect bike path along a lengthy stretch of beach. We weren’t able to make it to Ubud which some people swear is the best part of Bali, but we can save that for another time when the kids are older. By then, Bali might have turned into a nightmare if they are not able to turn around the garbage situation.
When we headed back to China, we passed by Hong Kong again and this time we knew better than to get a hotel in the city. For the same price as a budget hotel in Bali that comes with a garden swimming pool, in Hong Kong you get a pitiful cubicle that makes an overnight stay in the airport, a luxury you would rather splurge on for free. The kids sleep well but it may be harder for the parents. What’s a few hours of rest anyway that can’t be compensated for in the plane? Cathay Pacific may have the best selection of inflight entertainment that spoils us because mainland airlines don’t offer that ridiculously wide range of choices from indie films to commercial hits, from game consoles to meditation videos, from Jamie Oliver to TED Talks. Ah, peanuts please and a glass of orange juice.
Joshua’s front tooth came off while he was brushing his teeth but the tooth fairy probably skips airports.
Can’t resist posting some more Bali photos:
P.S. Clement, the French couchsurfer we met in Bali just sent me a message on Facebook that Ubud was very touristy and crowded when they visited a few days after leaving Rony’s place. Perhaps there is such a thing as a race to go somewhere unspoiled and unmarred by tourists. As soon as a place gets labeled must-see or featured in too many guide books, the flock of phone camera-toting travelers (made worse by the selfie sticks now) swarm in, reaching a point of discomfort.