Eat, Pray, Love in Bali

I was hugely influenced by the Julia Roberts' movie 'Eat Pray Love' (last part was shot in Bali) ! And guess what, we stayed at a villa (in Bali) booked via Airbnb named 'Eat, Pray and Love our Bali home'. Some coincidence! We decided to go to Bali for our honeymoon in May. After a lot of running around, planning and excitement, after being at 16% of our energy levels, we reached Bali Airport.

Why we chose Bali?
-Getting a Visa on Arrivalis a huge pain saver. Indonesia has VOA for most nationals, including India.
-The INR is a much stronger currency - it just feels good that there's not much of a difference while purchasing goods and services in Bali compared to India. (While in Malaysia, or in Kuwait, we felt the pinch)

-Bali, though very famous for it's beaches, also has a lot of other attractions - from the temples to it's very talented populace. We had a host of other options - Bangkok + Koh Tao, Maldives, Mauritius and Andaman. We decided against Andaman as my sister just recently went there and suggested we could skip it for now.
-Thailand we kept for another time as there was too much of travel involved. Maldives and Mauritius both seemed lovely too, maybe another time but Bali just called to us.

Getting to Bali 
We booked our flights 2 months in advance - I wish we'd booked earlier as I felt we landed up paying a bomb for the tickets. (I paid 25k per person return to travel in May). We flew via Kuala Lumpur from Kochi - and flew Malindo Airlines. Bali has no direct flights from India. You have to go via Singapore or KL.
We had a four hour layover at KL both ways. First time there, we walked towards our L terminal and were very disappointed as there were hardly any shops - I know, sad. I was bummed. Next time around, we walked towards the P and Q terminals - which had many more shops. (Small detail, but if you're in the shopping mood, important detail)

There's a small immigration fee of US 35$ for every international visitor that wants to enter Indonesia.
Tip: I have said this earlier, am saying it again. You can use your international debit card to withdraw money in the local currency - instead of going to a Cox & Kings or Money Exchange, it's usually easier. However, it may be a good idea to carry 100 US$ or so.

Staying in Bali 
After spending a lot of time on Trip Advisor to figure out the best hotels, we found Rama Candidasa Resort & Spa to be quite nice and in our budget. I had mailed them and the package they offered to me was for 370 US$ for 2 persons, 2 nights, complimentary breakfast, an ocean view room, a lunch, an underwater divewalk and some 10% discount at their restaurant. This is almost 11.5k per night. It was quite a tempting offer.

I also checked Airbnb and some of their properties were too good to be true. I fell in love with one such villa - and it cost us less than 10k (after I include the breakfast we ordered at the villa)
So we finally landed up staying at 'Eat, Pray and Love our Bali home' We totally loved out stay ! Like totally. I would recommend everyone reading this to at least once try booking via Airbnb and explore local properties.

We stayed in the Canggu area, which is considerably north of all the happening areas like Kuta or Nusa Dua, and quite far from Ubud. Was that a good decision ? I don't know - I would've preferred staying closer and being more accessible to Kuta or Ubud. One plus was staying close to Tanah Lot and Echo Beach. They were beautiful. We hung out at Old Man's twice, making it our favourite.

Around Bali: 
Bali is a huge island - and we explored not even 10%. The capital is Denpasar, where the airport is located - It's called the Ngurah Rai International Airport. I was surprised to find a lot of traffic blocks on our way to Canggu - it took us an hour.

Our villa was nestled away in the quiet Canggu village - and was surrounded with rice fields. (Reminded me very much of Palakkad in Kerala) We were able to cycle around the region. We rented a scooter for a small amount and rode around Canggu. But moment we wanted to go further, we hired a car which was also very reasonable, and the drivers perennially smile. They're the nicest and so very patient. 

Places we visited : 
Tanah Lot on scooter : This beautiful temple built on rocks on water is an architectural marvel. There are two beautiful temples, and both will not fail to mesmerise. It's a must go.

Tanah Lot temple
Ulawaatu + Nusa Dua : This took us almost a whole day and we chose a package from one of the several pamphlets available at the airport. Again, a really nice driver accompanied us the whole day. Our package included Snorkelling in Nusa Dua beach, Visit to the Turtle Island (you have to pay a small entry fee separately), Dream Beach (we ran out of time as we also decided to do scuba diving at Nusa Dua beach so we couldn't see the Dream beach), sunset at Uluwatu and a seafood dinner at Jimbaran. It was totally worth the 40$ per person - but I would not recommend diving in Nusa Dua. Infact, I would go ahead and say don't do it. 

If you have time, try Tulamben or the Coral Island towards the North. The hospitality is impeccable, one of the ladies even sympathised with me on Salman Khan being sent to prison ! But the scuba diving - for which we paid 150 US$ - wasn't great. The water isn't clear, current a little too strong, and there was hardly an instruction given considering it was our first time diving. On the way to Uluwatu, we tried Luwak coffee, lovingly also called Shit coffee.

Best part of Luwak coffee is that they serve you this set of 12 teas and coffees for free for tasting.
Luwak Coffee - made with coffee beans that's been fed in a raw form to the Luwak - a form of cevet, and the excreta is being processed again to form the final product - Personally, this coffee was way too strong for me !
Echo Beach on Scooter : This was the closest beach to our villa, and very famous for surfing. We hung out here twice - at Old Man's cafe by the beach. We loved this place for we met many fellow travellers and had many nice conversations. The drinks and food was quite reasonable.

Legian Region, Kuta : We hired a cab and got dropped near SkyBar. We went on a Monday night, and trust me, it was a pretty cool experience even on a weekday. Lots of tourists filled the many bars and restopubs ! It was a very non-Bali feeling. One thing I felt was the service and hospitality was very different in Kuta compared to everywhere else we'd been. They were a little cold and a little indifferent towards us. We did bar hoping and finally settled at Expresso Bar where the music and crowd was decent.
I wish I had time for a couple of surf lessons - I've always wanted to learn surfing - but we were short on time. And I also wanted to see the cultural heart of Bali which is apparently Ubud. There were a lot of local tours to Ubud, but again, no time ! We only spent 5 nights and 4 full days, alas !

-As a vegetarian, I found it quite difficult to get good food. All the good restaurants had something veg, but if you have a craving, you might just have to wait till you come back to India.
-You need to negotiate at the street shops - by almost half. This goes for all street shopping irrespective of the country you're in. I am horrible at bargaining, so I left that to my husband.
-We asked for a Balinese massage at our villa and we paid a bomb - later, we realised that had we done the massage at Kuta or Echo Beach or a touristy place, we'd have to pay only half or so - we did another massage in Kuta ;) 
-The drivers know limited English - same can be said about some shop owners. So asking them for help will be futile. Talk to someone who you're sure knows good English.
-While in Jimbaran, if time permits, check out the Ayana resort. I have heard many good reviews.

Quick info
Language : Malay (Bahasa) (Keluar is Exit, Selamat Datang is Welcome - That's all I picked up)
Currency : Indonesian Ruppiah (200 IDR = 1 INR) - Most rates are in '000 IDR
Most visited places : Kuta, Ubud, Nusa Dua
Best places for Scuba Diving : Areas near US Liberty Ship Wreck near Tulamben
Best places for Surfing : Echo Beach

It's the people and architecture of Bali that I will remember. Until the next holiday, Adios and Selamat Tinggal.

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Edit : Also read Being a Veg in Bali 

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