Bali is a stunning island with plenty of amazing places to visit and lots of exiting activities to do. The island has a nice range of transportation choices for visitors, and I have so far used them extensively. However, nothing can equal the freedom of having your own car, driving it yourself, stopping anywhere you please and decide your own schedule without depending on anyone. This is why this year I have decided to take a nice drive around Bali.
I started by renting the car from a reliable car rental company. Echo Bali Car Rental – http://www.echobalicarrental.com – have been around for a few years, have a wide range of cars, comprehensive insurance, and offers a delivery and pick up service. The car I was assigned was a small and reliable Toyota Agya, perfect for the Bali small roads.
My tour started at the airport, where I picked up my white Toyota and drove to my first accommodation in Legian, the GrandMas Plus Hotel Legian – www.grandmashotels.com – a green artistic oasis in the heart of the tourist area. Legian stretches north of Kuta to south of Seminyak and it comprises a similar access to shops and bars than Kuta, but it is less chaotic than its sister destination, and it also is a popular destination for surfers. I spent my first day in Legian
bicycling around, courtesy of GrandMas Plus Hotel Legian free bicycle rental service: the basic Polygon bicycle took me through the busy streets of Kuta and along the beachfront all the way up to Seminyak and back. It was a sweating activity, I admit, but I loved it: it gave me a chance to get a good zoom-in of local life, of shopping madness and of beachfront activities such as surfing and leisurely lying on beach mats. I ended the day with a great treatment at GrandMas Plus Hotel Legian signature Rehat Massage & Reflexology, a great relief for my aching muscles, ad with a properly cooked pizza at GrandMas Plus Hotel Legian partner restaurant, Bella Italia.
The day after I moved to Jimbaran, driving along the great Jalan By Pass Ngurah Rai, with its 2 lanes per each traffic direction, and through a recently built underpass that offloads some of the traffic from an important intersection.
Jimbaran is an area with a splendid crescent-shaped bay boasting a white sand beach that is home to 5 star beach resorts and to a few more moderate mid-market hotels. There is little in terms of nightlife there, and the area is nowhere near the action of Legian, but the clusters of grilled seafood restaurants on the beach makes up for that, and so do the stunning sunsets to be had from Jimbaran beach. I checked in at the magnificent Keraton Beach Resort – http://keratonjimbaranresort.com – had a shower and rushed to catch my car again and drive off to explore the Bukit.
The Bukit is the southernmost point of Bali, a large limestone peninsula attached to the rest of the island by a sliver of land south of the airport. Apart from having a good number of great beaches, perhaps the best on the island, and from being the top surfing spot in Bali, the Bukit is mostly famous for the cliff-hanging temple at Uluwatu. It was there I was heading, after my Toyota shared the peninsular rugged and dry environment with lots of other drivers driving towards the same destinations. I had a great vegetarian lunch on a typical Balinese eatery by the side of the road, and I reached Uluwatu temple compound just in time to enjoy the sunset and the famous Kecak Fire Dance.
After I paid the IDR 30,000 (about 3 US$) temple entrance fee, I was free to walk around the temple grounds – you need to dress decently, sarongs are available free of charge at the entrance – but the central courtyards can only be entered during special rituals and are normally off-limit to visitors. Uluwatu forest is inhabited by a large number of cheeky monkeys who love to distract themselves by snatching visitors’ eyeglasses, cameras and bags, so beware, stow away everything you can and leave as much as you can in the car/bus/bike.
The iconic Kecak Fire Dance – or Tari Kecak Uluwatu – performed at the cliff-top amphitheater is an art performance where a group of sitting men use voice instead of the traditional gamelan ensemble of instruments, with women in traditional Balinese outfits performing dance-drama in the center. At the entrance price of IDR 100,000 (about 8 US$), it is a 1 hour sunset show you should not miss. Buy the ticket at the temple, or book in advance at firstname.lastname@example.org
On day two in Jimbaran I gave the car a break and spent my day at the beach and at the Keraton Beach Resort magnificent free-form pool, I sunbathed and I enjoyed a great lunch of grilled baby snapper at Keraton’s Joglo Restaurant, right on the seafront. In the evening I went to visit the local Jimbaran fish market, where tourist buy fish and seafood – with lobster a great favourite – and have it all grilled at the local stalls that set up BBQ service and sell drinks. I went to bed satisfied…
TO BE CONTINUED… STAY TUNED !
A drive around Bali – Part 5 – the North coast
A drive around Bali – Part 6 – the West coast
The Toyota Agya was kindly supplied by Echo Bali Car Rental