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when we touched down in Bali, the hotel pickup driver asked if we had made plans for tours. he recommended his brother in law to bring us around for a fix amount including petrol.
the next morning, we waited at the hotel lobby and a guy who was waiting and observing us approached. We asked if he's the brother in law and he said yes.
When we are in the car driving away from the hotel, he told us he want to charge us more for the petrol . End up, it was a weird trip. The guide did not explain much, he was not bringing us to the places that we thought we are going and he made an excuse to quit the day early.
at night, the brother in law called us and angrily asked where we are. he was insistent to bring us out the next day until i told him we are boarding a flight home. it's a good thing that we took down the bogus driver's number and name and we told the brother in law to call him . this is the most weird situation that i was ever in, even a little scary now that i recall it.
my impression of Bali is it's no longer a paradise. It's filled with people who said they are religious and yet fleece tourists of their money at any smallest opportunity that they can find.
It's a city that has majority of its population surviving on tourism.
Fun Alternatives: to avoid such situation, i think the best might be to pay a little more and get more reputable tours and hopefully a good tour guide.
Written Aug 7, 2007
Bali is beautiful, but prepare yourselves for the mental stress of aggressive vendors. There will be plenty of walking, shopping and sight seeing. All in all a beautiful vacation.
Unique Suggestions: My experiences are:
1) PACK LIGHTLY. We spent most of our 3 weeks there in a bathing suit, sarong and flipflops. Plenty of shopping opportunities forced us to have to buy 3 extra suitcases. Humidity is high so it took forever for things to dry out. Don't forget tennis shoes w/extra socks.
2) DO NOT BUY ANYTHING FOR THE 1st COUPLE OF DAYS. This enabled us to get our bearings back from jet lag and got us used to handling the foreign currency. By us simply buying things at the hotel (ie: Bintang beer, dinners, etc) got us used to the strange money.
3) For the ladies....get your hair braided. The humidity is so high there that you can forget about trying to do hair and make up. It's a vacation....sun yourself and go free with the braided hair and no make up look. Just wake up and go.
4) Waterbom park. The stairs up to all of the water rides were borderline dangerous, as they were steep and abundant. Just watch yourself and keep yourself hydrated. Have fun, a definate must for a day of water park fun. Plan accordingly, make the next day after your trip to Waterbom park a down day. We just slept in (as our muscles were achy from all of the walking/stairs) and kicked back at the hotel pool for the next day. Very relaxing and the kids had a ball.
5) Wouldn't bother with the white water rafting. When we were there (July) the water level of the river was very low. I'm not sure if it's always like that. We kept getting hung up on the rocks going down the river. The walk down to the river...and especially the walk back up to the road was hurrendous!! Steep, concrete stairs w/no handles (in parts). Very strenuous. Not to mention all of the vendors (who apparently are not allowed in that area) who will get right in your face as you're sweating to get back up to the road. Not a pleasant experience. Good photo op, though...they'll snap your photo as you're white water rafting.
6) BALI DYNASTY hotel. You have everything you need right there at the hotel. VERY kid friendly and walking distance to tons of shopping.
Fun Alternatives: The best choice I made was staying at the BALI DYNASTY hotel. Honestly, there was no need in us leaving the hotel. My husband and I traveled with our two children (9 & 6) and there was so much for them to do at the hotel. A beautiful family pool with a swim up bar (in my opinion they closed down too early, 10pm, if I remember correctly). A kids club where they'll take your children and keep them entertained while the grown ups go do their own thing. A really cool waterslide leading to a seperate pool that kept my kids entertained for days. There were also only 2 ladies allowed to come onto the hotel property to braid hair; that was a good thing as it was a set price and I wasn't overwhelmed by the vendors. BEWARE of the alley way outside the back of the hotel....instantly bombarded by vendors!!
Written May 25, 2007
We joined a volcano Batur & Sunrise Trekking Tour through an agent. The guide who went with us wanted to charge us extra $800 000 Indonesian RP for descend down to other craters. I have already forgotten what my tour package include. The other Swiss couple who went with us bargained to $100 000 Indonesian RP. My hubby said we'll join but pay later. Some of the other tourists at the peak went down the same way.
After speaking to the driver from the tour agent when reaching the carpark, we found that it is included and we do not have to pay. In the end, we didn't pay him.
Unique Suggestions: Bargain and bargain. Just think that it's their way of getting tipped.
Fun Alternatives: Check your tour iternary and not be swayed by the tour guide's words.
Written Apr 28, 2007
As most of us know hotels charge a fortune to do your laundry.
Unique Suggestions: Just look for a little sign that says laundry usually near some side street take you washing there to be done. Fast and very cheap about the same price for a small bundle as you would pay for one item at your hotel, and these poor ladies really need the money more than some rich hotel owner.
Updated Mar 18, 2007
When you wish to change your cash at the money changer, go to authorized and licensed money changers. They will give you the correct change at the latest Bankers exchange rates, and they will not try to cheat you out of a few thousands of Indonesian rupiahs. In any case, you still have to count your changed notes in front of the money changers.
I had one bad experience when I tried to change my Malaysian Ringgit to Indonesian Rupiahs. I happened to go to a money changer in one of the souvenir shops that lined the Kuta streets. They displayed a very good exchange rate (no commission charged) and I thought I was getting a good deal.
However, later I found out that I was cheated out of a few thousands of Rupiahs notes becos of the confusion with the number of zeros on the Indonesian Rupiahs (thousands vs. millions, etc.). I found out that I was short of cash when I tried to buy some stuffs later. When I went back to the same money changer the next day, I told him of the short-change problem. I assumed he made a mistake but no! The guy didn't even blink an eye nor looked surprised; he just gave me back the correct change. He knew he was cheating and he had hoped that I was a dumb tourist, not returning to his shop looking for him!
Well, I knew better now. Never again will I get cheated when I exchanged monies.
Unique Suggestions: If you have to go to an unauthorized money changer because the exchange rate is very good and you don't want to pay high commission rate, make sure you count your changed notes in front of the money changer. Don't get cheated!
Fun Alternatives: Alternatively, go to a licensed and authorized money changer or to a Bank. You may pay a commission for changing the money but at least you will not get cheated or rip-off.
Updated Mar 15, 2007
Keep an eye on those time share locals selling shares, they will not stop at anything to get your attention or to get you to buy.
Never Ever say "YES" maybe they are giving a holiday away with it but still dont take it.
Just walk past and say "NO THANKS", its really not worth it.
Unique Suggestions: If some one comes up to you selling them just walk past and say no.
Alot of time share people hang around Kuta Markets just at the front next to or around Matahari's in Kuta Square.
Fun Alternatives: "as above"
Updated Feb 27, 2007
Taxi's are the best way to get around anywhere, but always catch a Taxi with a meter in it, mostly taxi's now days in Bali have meters but some dont.
If you get into a taxi that doesnt have a meter or a Bemo (bus/privately) always bargain with a price before taking off as they can get alot of money out of you.
I always catch a Blue taxi company owned called 'Blue Bird Company' as i remember, they are always good.
Also just remember to look at the top of the taxi if the light is on thats means no one is in it so flag it dont and give it a wave if you want that ride. (just be careful sometimes they can trick you with the lights.)
Unique Suggestions: If you get in a taxi or bemo without a meter and they dont give you a good enough bargain just shut the door and leave or just walk away. Simple as.
Fun Alternatives: Just try and find a Blue Taxi. Or if you like hire a car for your stay just remember to get insurance.
Updated Feb 27, 2007
Kuta beach is a well known tourist trap on the beach. You walk past many people asking "Do You Want Massage" etc, All you have to say is NO but if you want to get a massage or buy somthing like watches, rings, ciggies, lighters etc from walkin men, do so, but pay a cheap price dont get ripped of they always want double of what you want.
Unique Suggestions: As stated above just say "NO", or "NO THANKYOU" or TIDAK" (No in Indonesian).
But if you plan on saying "NO" make sure you dont share eye contact for long other wise they will keep following you.
Most of the sellers understand and lay of you staright away when saying "NO" etc.
Please buy somthing from then as Bali suffers with their economy.
Fun Alternatives: Just walk past dont say anything or make eye contact, or either just dont go their.
Updated Feb 27, 2007
Visitor should be aware that these monkeys are attracted to shiny object, so cameras and jewelry should be left behind or well hidden under clothes or in a bag before setting off to explore.
Unique Suggestions: The main attraction here are the hordes of Balinese monkeys that inhabit both the trees and the temple.
Fun Alternatives: Sangeh & Ubud Monkey forests
Written Feb 22, 2007
I love Bali in overall. I agree with million people that come here and like this beautiful island. One thing that I found myself a bit exhausted is everything for sale. I should not complain since I met wonderful people along my journey. But true, you see all size of signboards, selling this and that, people approaching you to offer this and that, list of shops, hotels and restaurants, galleries, etc,etc. Yes, it helps a lot though….that’s why I am very happy to go to villages where the scene of ‘businesses’ is not too obvious. And I found only few places in Bali that are not touched by hassle bustle tourism business.
Unique Suggestions: Well....it's not a trap though...
Fun Alternatives: Ignore them..
if you decide to use services, the best is finding recommendation from people who have done it
Written Nov 28, 2006
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