Our S.E. Asia journey has begun, and we started off with flying from Cape Town to Bali via Dubai. We used Emirates airline and were impressed with pretty much everything, even the airline food was pretty good, and the free drinks any time you wanted was awesome 🙂
The flight to Dubai was about 9 and a half hours, starting at 1:30pm on Monday in Cape Town (29 Feb), and arriving in Dubai on Tuesday at 01:15.We time traveled by 2 hours. At Dubai airport we had to wait until 8:50am for our connecting flight, so spent a few hours walking around the airport, before claiming some chairs to sit / sleep in until our next flight.
The flight from Dubai to Bali was again about 9 hours, so we arrived at about 10pm in Denpasar, still on 1 March. We time traveled a further 4 hours. We hadn’t really slept much at all during the journey to Bali, so were eager to get to our first accommodation place called Gandhi Hostel. After going through customs, we quickly met up with our driver from the hostel, who took us directly there.
The first impression when walking out of the airport in Denpasar at about 11pm was “Oh my god it is HOT!”. After being in cold aircon for hours, it felt like walking into a hot oven. The drive to our accommodation was INSANE! The streets were packed with scooters, so many scooters it was crazy, and it seemed like not one person was obeying any rules of the road. We were surprised we did not witness at least 5 accidents on the way from the airport.
Indonesia is about 6 hours ahead of Cape Town, so even though it was late in Bali, we were still on SA time, so were exhausted, but feeling awake…very strange.
The Gandhi hostel is in the middle of Denpasar, and is really a kind of stop over place once you arrive from the airport, or if you are going to the airport. There is nothing really to do nearby, and walking around the neighborhood is not very interesting.
The rooms at the Gandhi hostel are also not great. On the first night we had a room with an aircon, but had to move to another room for the next 2 nights as that room was already booked by other people. The new room we got only had a fan, no aircon, and was insanely hot! Still, we were glad to have a power point in the room to charge phones etc, since the first room did not have that. The new room didnt have any lock on the door, so we barricaded ourselves into the room at night, lol. In Cape Town we always lock everything, and double check it is safe, in Bali, that does not seem to be such an issue.
The people at the Gandhi Hostel were very nice and friendly, but the place needed a lot of renovation. There were 2 floors with double, twin and dorm rooms on each floor, and a bathroom. Both bathrooms were a single room with a bath, toilet, basin, and a shower head. The bath was out of order in both bathrooms, and the toilet on the top floor where we were did not flush. Leaving just the basin and the shower head. We discovered that in Indonesia, most bathrooms are fully tiled and the entire room is basically a shower. There is no divider separating the shower, you just shower and all the water goes onto the floor and down a drain…sometimes close to where the toilet is too….yes, your toilet is in the shower! The top floor bathroom also had a large bucket filled with water and a scoop, so that you can manually flush the toilet…apparently this is how a lot of toilets work in Indonesia, and a Western flushing toilet is not too common outside of tourist areas.
One great thing about the Gandhi Hostel, is that they are super friendly and always willing to make you awesome ‘Mie Goreng’ or ‘Nasi Goreng’, any time day or night. Mie Goreng is a spicy fried noodle dish with vegetables and a fried egg, and Nasi Goreng is basically the same, except with rice. The meals were huge too, so one mie goreng dish was enough to fill both of us. Not bad for 20k IDR, which is about R24. So far we have not found a place that actually makes better mie goreng that they made at Gandhi hostel, it was so delicious!
After the first night, we needed to get some Indonesian money to pay for our stay, so took a 15min walk to the closest ATM. On our walk we saw how the locals in that part of Bali live, and looked around the area of Denpasar we were in, that was close to the airport…it was not pretty! The houses were all very close together, and the streets buzzing with tons of scooters and cars that appear obey no rules of the road. It takes skill just to cross the road! Most people riding the scooters don’t have helmets! Many of them look way too young to even be driving, and we saw a lot of families riding a scooter! Yes, mother, father, two children and a baby or dog on one scooter, all without helmets! It was crazy, but we have yet to see one accident.
The Gandhi Hostel is in a part of Denpasar that is smelly and dirty, and not the best place to stay, but Hostel was close to the airport, cheap, had good food, was run by a friendly family, and was full of other travelers and backpackers to talk to. Unfortunately we did encounter some bed bugs too!
It was an interesting start to the adventure, but we were more than ready to move on.
On the third day we were there, we traveled to another part of Denpasar to meet our friend Sabrina, and see where she lived. She took us to an awesome area called Sanur, and showed us a great place to stay called Little Pond, which is in a great area, close to shopping, restaurants, and only 5 minutes walk to the beach!
We went out to get something to eat at Little Bird warung, which was almost across the road from Little Pond, and had great food at a reasonable price. 25k – 45k for most meals which works out to about R30 – R55 for a meal. That is pretty good for a sit down meal in a restaurant.
We went shopping for groceries, and got some foreign fruit to take back home to try later. The ‘snake fruit’ actually looks like it has scales on it, and tastes kind of like a perfumed apple. We also got ‘mangosteen’ fruit, which was hard on the outside, had soft segments on the inside, and was quite nice tasting. The store we went to was called Hardies, and it has everything you can think of, from fresh food and groceries, to clothing, souvenirs, beers, etc. You can spend hours in there enjoying the cool aircon while looking around at all the beautiful artwork. We think most of the stalls around Bali must get their stock at Hardies and then resell it to tourists.
At the end of the day, we made a booking at Little pond homestay before heading back to Gandhi hostel to spend the last night and begin our evacuation to Sanur.