In September 2017, I had an opportunity to travel to Bali, one of the habitable islands in Indonesia with a population of slightly above four million people. It has forested volcanic mountains and houses several tourist attractions including beaches and temples. Islam is the biggest religion.
Largely, Bali, just like other parts of Indonesia is hot and humid throughout the year. The official wet season runs from October to April and is marked by heavy, short rainstorms after which the air is fresher. Temperatures are from 26 to 35 degrees Celsius in the lowlands. Higher altitudes enjoy cooler conditions.
Travelers access Bali through Bali Ngurah Rai International Airport, a.k.a Denpasar International Airport, located in southern Bali, 13 km south of Denpasar. For Ugandans and some countries, there is no visa requirement see (see http://www.imigrasi.go.id/index.php/en/layanan-publik/bebas-visa#free-visa-countries-list). Otherwise, the non-visa entrants must pay 35 USD. Upon entry to Indonesia, each adult can bring in tax-free a maximum of one liter of alcoholic beverages and 200 cigarettes or 50 cigars or 100 grams of tobacco.
From the airport, there are several cabs that can deliver you to your destination. If you have booked your hotel, they can also arrange airport transfer for you.
A cab ride
Please note that Uber is “illegal” in Bali. In most parts of town, public notices are displayed discouraging the use of Uber and other travel apps as a protectionist policy of the local cab drivers. Apparently, it was making them more poor and profits were going to America.
A notice “banning” Uber on the streets
The currency used in Bali is the Indonesia Rupia (IDR). The coins are valued at 100, 200, 500 and 1000. Notes come in 1000, 2000, 5000,10,000,20,000,50,000,100,000. The exchange rate against one dollar is around 13,500 IDR. If you are changing cash from foreign currencies make sure the notes are relatively new and clean as it can be difficult to change old notes. Additionally, seek money changing services from a more established outlet. Try as much as you can to avoid the random money “street hawkers” since you can easily get fake money. There is no restriction on the movement of foreign currencies in and out of the country, so you can carry as much cash as you wish.
The hotel industry is well developed, and the service is really good, more so with the tight competition. An expensive hotel will cost you between 70 to 100 USD but there are many cheap options too. God hotels include Holiday Inn and Rama Hotel.
A view from Holiday Inn, Bali
For shopping, there are several malls one can go to. The most popular for clothes, jewelry and souvenirs is Krishna Mall located in Kuta. Their prices are friendly, and the quality is quite good.
Some of the souvenirs on display at Krishna. This particular ones were funny. I was shocked to see parents picking and drop[ping on shopping baskets carried by their children.
This story is incomplete if I don’t talk about the night life. Bali has many bars. Being a tourism city, it naturally follows that there are countless outlets selling ‘unholy’ beverages including beer and wine. The most popular beer I was told is ‘Bintang Pilsner’. Besides the local music, they also play Reggea (Bob Marley is a god here) and lots of Western music too especially HipHop and R&B.
A night walk on the street will also expose you to some beautiful sisters, who work through proxies. One evening while taking a walk, a guy called me “American American, me have sweet sweet girls. Come sit my bike, me take you enjoy. Cheap cheap”. When I ignored, he rode his motorbike close to me and re-echoed the same message. I later on learnt that that’s how the prostitution industry is structured there.
As for the food, they have a good menu dominated by rice and noodles. There’s plenty of fish too and of course vegetables. A Ugandan will enjoy at least the first week because there’s something similar to our home delicacies. I didn’t see but I was told they grow a lot of matooke too.
A meal of rice, fish and vegetables
Bali is beautiful (or is it handsome?). There are several beaches to visit plus temples as well as historical sites like…. The people are generally warm, ready to start up a conversation and courteous. The females are beautiful and like most Asians, they all “look together”.
Anytime you get an opportunity, Bali should be one of your dream destinations…