I’ve been in Bali now for over seven weeks writing the travel guide for travelfish.org. The information is now online which is really quite quick for destination information that has been solidly researched! Many paperback travel guides can be 6-12 months out of date by the time you purchase the latest version, so this really is impressive stuff.
I’ve been wanting to write about my experience as the researcher of a travel guide…but I just can’t figure out what angle to take…and what would be interesting to a reader. So for now, I’ll leave that story until another time but I’d like to know what you want to know about — if anything!
Bali really is an interesting place. Most people know that the Kuta/Legian area is mass-tourism-central and for that reason, most people talk about avoiding it like the plague. But that story isn’t backed up by the facts. The fact is that there are a lot of budget travellers in town. A LOT. I mean, OVER RUN. So I’m sort of getting the impression that while it’s cool to say that Kuta is a terrible place, most people stay here for a few days or a week anyway and take in the sun, sand and surf as well as cheap beer and food. It’s a winning combination despite the throngs that partake in it!
Outside of Kuta/Legian, things have been decidely quiet. The entire North feels comparitively deserted and it is absolute bliss. Places like Amed and Pemuteran have been amazing places to hang around and relax. Yeh Gangga on the south coast felt like a million miles from civilisation. Tirta Gangga felt special because no other tourists were staying around there. Kuta/Legian feels like a different planet. It really does. And I don’t hate it. It’s just different.
There has been a bit of debate on the interwebs in recent times about internet access in Bali and how awful it is. Quite frankly, it’s all rubbish. I have had very cheap 3G internet the whole time here except for a black spot in Yeh Gangga. The rest of the time I’ve been getting better coverage than in many parts of Australia and the cost has been $11 for 300mb. That’s a bargain for mobile data on a phone. It gets even cheaper if you go into the Simpati shop and get a proper 3G broadband deal. Free WiFi has been rare outside of Kuta/Legian, but the guesthouses and cafes are generally so cheap that to get free WiFi would be a fantastic bonus. When I have gotten free WiFi, the connection has usually been 1mbit, but has sometimes been 4mbit. That’s pretty good, I reckon.
Costs have been like this so far. Average accommodation price for me has been 150,000 rupiah ($16.50) inclusive of tax and breakfast. This has usually gotten me a good quality room and occasionally with hot water and very rarely with air-con. I hired a car for 40 days earlier and that cost $9 per day. Petrol is dirt cheap and not even worth explaining in detail, but just say it’s 50c/L and you don’t use much here. I’ve tried to eat one local meal per day and those have cost me $1.50 with a drink. Occasionally $3 if I go overboard and load up on meat. Tourist meals have been around the $6 mark which will normally gets me a pizza or burger or some other Western rubbish that I can’t do without. A big bottle of beer is $2.50.
I honestly thought loneliness was going to be a problem, but it hasn’t been. I have been so well-connected to the internet via my iPhone that it really doesn’t feel that different to being at home. Twitter, facebook and the web have been great companions, no matter how nerdy and socially isolationist that sounds!
All in all, it’s been a great time, relatively cheap and I have not been slumming it. I’ll try and get some inspiration up to write about my travel writing gig. In the meantime, ask as many questions as you like!