We came to Bali on a whim, trying to locate some suitable accommodation in Ubud for a planned family trip next Christmas. We had picked out a good spot on an earlier trip in 2011 but had somehow lost the details and even the trusty Internet had failed to reveal the place. Still, it is a hell of an excuse to get away. A quick two nights in Ubud was largely to seek accommodation. This was followed by three nights in Kuta, a return to the famed location after at least twenty years and a couple of nights in Sanur, another beachfront location that we had never visited before.
Having a Driver
We had organised with Dewar Putra, a driver from Ubud, to pick us up from the airport. We had used Dewar before and had his email address. Having someone who can speak reasonable English and is a really careful driver is an absolute bonus. While things can be done much cheaper by negotiating with hotels or haggling over taxis, the luxury of having someone roll up on schedule, wait when required and feed us lots of interesting insights into life in Bali is well worth the bit of extra. Four or five days of driving over the week adds up to around the same as a taxi to and from Perth Airport so it all needs to be put into perspective. The sad thing is, that living off tourism in Bali can be a tough life. Once the short Christmas rush is over, Ubud goes very quiet. Kuta will rock on for a while but a lot of the work dries up. We were Dewar’s only work for two weeks and he had the bank on his back for payments on the car. Since we saw him last, he has bought a new car in the hope of attracting better and more jobs but if there are no tourists, there is no work. It is a matter of surviving until the June-August busy time.
Finding a Hotel
Going from hotel to hotel and inspecting rooms etc is actually a lot of fun, especially during a down-time, when everyone is very keen to get business. We saw some really lovely spots on the outskirts of Ubud, quiet hideaways set in gardens that would grace any lifestyle magazine. In the end, we opted for the Cendana Resort and Spa in Monkey Forest Road to give access to lots of good cheap eats and markets as well as great grounds and nice rooms. They have four rooms in a row that will suit our needs very well.
We were last in Kuta back in the early 90s. The bombings did put us off somewhat but then we had already decided that there were nicer places to go than Kuta anyway so we haven’t been back for ages. Just to catch up, we stayed at the White Rose, right behind the Bombing Memorial opposite Poppies Lane. The Memorial is quite moving and it seems as though there are a few ghosts in the area. Unfortunately, its main use seems to be as a prop for Japanese tourists to stand and do funny poses but then you get that.
The streets, the traffic, the bars, the touts, the loud music, the rubbish, the smells, the drunks; all is Kuta.
“You look now, Boss?”
“G’Day Mate. You Aussie?”
The sign on the gate at our hotel says “No BB Guns. No Fireworks”.
I hate being called Boss in Bali. Having spent some time in Aboriginal communities once run as Missions by the Catholic Church, the term has some overtones that smack of sub-servience and racism. I hate to think that I am “Boss” when having the privilege of visiting someone else’s country, but I am probably stating a minority opinion here.
We did give one place down Poppies Lane a bit of repeat business, having a hair cut, a massage each and Christine had two lots of nails done. They were a fun crew and never stopped trying to find ways for us to spend more. “Pedicure Mama?” or “Shave your beard Boss?”
The White Rose is a wonderful hotel/resort beautifully located right in the heart of Kuta. Being a block back from the beach, the rates are affordable. The grounds are expansive and beautiful and we spent a lot of time just lounging by the pool. The only real down-side was the fact that we could hear every cough, fart and loo flush from the neighbours but then, I guess they could hear ours. The three young girls across the way kept us awake one night with their festivities, which got louder as the alcohol levels rose. Another group produced some worrying female screaming noises at around 2am. Kept to a reasonable level, such goings on a usually an entertainment.
That’s it! We’ve been back to Kuta and don’t have to go again.
I don’t know why we’ve never been to Sanur. I had heard it described as quieter, more up=market and more expensive than Kuta. True, but not ridiculously so.
We loved Sanur. Any place where it is safe to ride around all day on a bike is good (except Rottnest). The 5km beachfront cycleway is fantastic. A leisurely ride down Jalan Danau Tamblingan is relaxing and interesting. Want nightlife and shopping? Go elsewhere. Want lots of good eateries and relaxation? Go to Sanur. We found budget accommodation and food in abundance without the continual harassment that one endures in Kuta. People are friendly and helpful. The beaches were mostly clean and well shaded. We will be back.
Flew Perth – Denpasar with Air Asia. Very tight seating with no services included.
Flew Denpasar – Perth with Virgin. Better seats but no services included.
Ubud – stayed at Y Resort. Cheap at $50/night but on the outskirts. Used a shuttle to get to Central Ubud. Pool too dirty to swim in and restaurant too dear. Not recommended.
Kuta – stayed at the White Rose at approx $50/night for upstairs room. A lovely hotel, although showing signs of needing maintenance. Great pool area and a wonderful breakfast. Top location.
Sanur – stayed at Puri Sading at $50/night for an upstairs roomz. This is a wonderful small hotel with gorgeous gardens and a lovely pool. The rooms were very comfortable. The breakfast was very basic, as was the restaurant but pool-side snacks and beer was as cheap as anywhere on the street. We’d go back.