Arriving in Bali was somewhat magical, in that it truly felt different than any other place immediately upon landing.
We arrived at the airport and had to exit the plane via stairs, and board a shuttle bus to take us to the terminal. Seems the airport the is pretty old and lacks most of what we’ve come to expect in a modern country. In fact, this is pretty much the way all of Bali seems to be, modern convenience on top of old infrastructure.
The thing that stood out the most about the airport, aside from the throngs of taxi cab drivers all waiting for passengers (seems most people call ahead and book a driver), is how indoor/outdoor integrated the airport itself is. Unlike most airports or even buildings, there is no direct front entrance. Instead, as you’re walking out, you go from having a ceiling, to having a canopy top, to all the sudden, you’re outside. This style seems to be a pretty cool trend in Bali as a whole, and was actually the feature Lauren and I loved most about Zeavola in Koh Phi Phi Don, Thailand.
Of course, before booking the car, we needed local currency. Given that we were running low on “pristine” US currency, we decided to suck it up and just withdrawal money at a penalty from the ATM. Unfortunately Chase didn’t like this, and denied both of our debit cards immediately. Well crap. We had enough pristine bills to exchange $100 USD, which turned into about 1.1 million IDR (the local currency). We knew we’d make our millions one day, who knew it would be in Bali.
With our new found riches, we made our way to the taxi desk, try to avoid eye contact with the strange taxi driver, who was among the 4-5 dozen other drivers, making steering wheel motions, as if to say, “come over here, I drive you real cheap.” Aka, “you don’t know any better, get in my cab so I can price gouge you.” No thanks. Sticking to the line, we were quoted 70,000 IDR to get to our hotel. Not too bad, as that converts to just over $6 USD. Unfortunately, I didn’t do the math right away, and instead heard the driver say over and over again, $10, $10.
Now, we didn’t have to pay $10, we had to pay 70,000 IDR, however in my own confusion, I was thinking more about the fact that I had limited IDR, and a $10 bill in my pocket and if I gave him the $10, I could keep my IDR. Which I thought was a great idea, and that’s exactly what I did. It wasn’t until I got to the hotel room and did the math in my head, that I realized my mistake. Double pay much? Oh well.
Our hotel was the Kuta (pronounced Coot-ah) Station Hotel. We actually booked this at the last minute earlier in the day, before leaving Kuala Lumpur, so that we could use it as a jumping off point for the day, before transferring to our main hotel for the stay. Similar to the airport, the lobby of the hotel had no front and the outside flowed right through the reception area, out through the back, into what appeared to be a standard hotel/motel structure.
Our room was nice, had its own balcony and was honestly a tad more than we needed for what we used it for, to crash for the night. Well, that and try to contact Chase via Skype to get our cards unlocked for use in Bali.
Fun fact, Bali is a province of Indonesia, which is #2 on the list of International fraud watch lists. Because of this, Chase will not unlock our cards for use in Indonesia. While I don’t blame them, as from the stories I’ve read, credit/debit card theft is rampant here, it still sucks, as we were counting on pulling out money here. Lucky for us, that is where the nice Barclay Arrival card comes in, as it had no problems letting me withdrawal cash in local currency. I brought it for the no foreign transaction fees, unfortunately, withdrawing cash is never free from a credit card. While not ideal, at least it gets us through this leg of the journey. Note to self, use my Charles Schwab account next time we travel abroad.
We woke up early in the morning in order to spend the day on the beach. I have to say, the beaches in Kuta are quite amazing. Apparently this is one of the most popular surfing beaches in the world, and I could see why. The waves were amazing and the people out there were pulling some amazing rides. I had never seen anything quite like it before. Pretty cool.
After a few hours of watching surfers, swimming a little, and some light shopping, we made our way back to the hotel and got a taxi to transfer to our main hotel, the Conrad Bali. I have to say, this place is impressive looking. You drive in to a waterfall and the guards at the gate checking all incoming cars for … well, I’m not sure. They act like US border patrol though with their mirror sticks looking under cars and checking trunks.
The entrance to the hotel is once again and indoor/outdoor open concept, with massive ceilings and a clear shot through the back to a huge set of pools, leading to the beach and the Indian Ocean. Well, at least the Indian tide pool. Seems the tide has been out and all we can get access to as some knee deep (at most) water for 150 meters or so out. So, there is basically no beach to speak of here at the moment. Bummer.
The hotel itself is amazing. Our room faces out to the ocean and we have a small balcony that we can sit out on and enjoy the breezes coming in off the water.
The resort complex itself is quite huge. We’re both pretty intimidated by it at the moment, as this place isn’t really our ideal spot. It is very self contained, and not in a cure fun way, like Zeavola. Here, it just feels hard to get out there and see the rest of Bali. Given that our 3 nights were paid for completely with hotel points, I’m not going to complain. This is definitely one of the better beds and rooms we’ve had on our trip.
Anyway, we’re both pretty excited about Bali. And we have plenty more adventures to share.