Sunday, January 16, 2011

J&K's Indonesia Tips


We flew into Denpasar Airport and took a taxi from there to Ubud. There is an 'official' taxi hire immediately upon leaving the airport. We took an unofficial taxi and paid slightly less than the 'going rate' of the official company. There are a few common modes of transport throughout Bali and Lombok. First is a Bemo, which is a schedule-less public minibus. They are very cheap, but we needed locals to point them out to us and hold them for us. Really, it was no problem. Second, is private taxi ('taksi'). Every time we used a taxi (which wasn't often) we were able to barter the price down to at least 50% of the original price given us by the driver. Third, is
a tourist shuttle. The most well-known company is Perama. There are many other tourist shuttle companies that are slightly cheaper than Perama. We used several and all were reliable. Fourth, you can rent a motorbike (manual transmission) or a scooter (automatic transmission). We rented a scooter and had no issues. Be careful, though: the Balinese and Lombok roads are cluttered with daring motorbikers. We met more than a few travellers who sported a "Balinese tattoo", which is an ugly flesh wound resulting from an unwelcome incident on a motorbike (usually caused from extremely congested driving conditions).


Gas/petrol cost about 5,000rp per liter. As a nice, rounded number that equals approximately $0.50/L. Outside of large towns, fuel is sold in reused water/vodka bottles at stands on the side of the road.

Driving Conditions

As mentioned above, the roads can be uncomfortably full, especially around the larger cities. That being said, we still rented bicycles and without any effort at all escaped nearly all traffic with one or two turns. We found the bicycle to be an excellent way to explore. There is no need to carry a map: get yourself as lost in the adventure as you can and then just ask locals for directions back to whatever village you came from. It is so simple!

Technically, you also need an International Driver's License to drive in
Indonesia. If you decide to rent a motorbike or scooter, you are also officially supposed to have a license rating for that, too. The only people who seem to care about this is the police who use it as a way of 'ticketing' foreigners. We talked to person after person after person who were pulled over by the police and given the opportunity to give money so that the officer can "take care of the infraction" (read: bribe). When we rented a scooter, however, never were we stopped by the police.

We were laughed at when we asked about a helmets when we rented bicycles. You might (but not necessarily) be able to get a helmet if you rent a motorbike or scooter.

Driving distances on Bali and Lombok are not far. Still, driving times can be shockingly longer than expected.


Guest houses and hotels are easy to find. During our time there (December 2010) we never had to pay more than 100,000rp per night per room. This price would include a fan (not air-con), a cold shower (which was perfectly fine in the hot climate), breakfast and sometimes that even included a very nice swimming pool. Once, that price didn't include toilet paper. Rooms can be bartered for.


We really enjoy South East Asian food. For our taste buds it rates second only to Indian food. We found traditional Indonesian fare to be quite simple. Compared to other South East Asian cuisine, it lacked the flavour sensation that we were hoping for. Nonetheless, the food can easily be inexpensive and filling. When we told the wait-staff that 'we liked it spicy' the food would almost always taste better than our meals when we didn't state that. A simple and full meal need not cost more than 15,000rp.


Internet cafes are plentiful in many towns. Cafes in the larger cities offer free wifi for customers (is it really free, then?)


As a nice, rounded number, we were using an exchange of 10,000rp to $1cdn.

A Few of Our Favourite Things...

Sejuk Cottages on Gili Air

Kecak Cafe in Ubud

Our guided trek in Munduk, Bali

Renting bicycles

The friendliness of the locals

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