Before I had arrived in Bali I had heard about its reputation. Kuta was described as being like Benidorm is for English visitors to Spain; an area where the boozed up Brits abroad go to get wasted for a 2 week holiday and cause loads of trouble. At least this time it would be the Aussies getting the bad reputation and not me, as a Brit. Having said that, I had been mistaken for an Aussie pretty much the whole time while travelling by any foreign person who was not English or Australian so maybe it wasn’t such a good thing after all…
Bed Bunkers, Bed Bugs
I had booked into a hostel called Bed Bunkers which was only around 1.5km away from the airport. There are loads of taxi drivers waiting for fresh meat to arrive so that they can rip them off by charging an extortionate amount of money to take them a small distance. I ended up paying 100,000 (£5) at the time (August 2015). You could probably walk it if you wanted to but it was hot and it looks to be tricky to get out of the airport because it’s closed off with metal fences.
There are two Bed Bunker hostels, this is the 2nd one. It’s right next to a place called the Discovery shopping mall, which is on a main road which leads you all the way up to the main beach, Kuta beach.
It’s so easy to meet people when you are staying in a hostel because there are a lot of people in the same situation as you are and they also want to meet people. I often find that I would have to go out of my way and be quite rude in order to stay by myself. I’m not complaining because I do like meeting new people but this usually leads to a night out drinking and too many nights out are not ideal for the body…I met a lot of people there, including two northern English guys, who were about to go on a road trip to India on Royal Enfield motorbikes. I have since stayed in touch with them and helped them with a load of questions that they have had about certain parts of India and what to do with the bikes.
For a few nights I went out with Stefan, Emily, Anthony and Kelsey, all of who were English apart from Stefan who was Norwegian. All really good people and I enjoyed going out to places like Alley Cats, Sky Bar and Vi Ai Pi. All of which have great deals on…
Alley cats did a great deal on what they called “double, doubles”. They are double vodkas with red bull. You could get 1 for 15,000 rupiah or 12 for 180,000….Which wasn’t actually a better deal now that I come to think of it! Clever marketing, or poor marketing, perhaps…Still, at the time in August 2014 it worked out at around 80 pence per drink.
The place called Sky Bar did an all you can eat buffet every night between 5pm and 10pm, but the food changed each night that it was on. The food quality was very high and if you just ate there it was a fantastic deal. Where they got you was on buying drinks. Everyone bought one and it was very expensive so they made their money back pretty easily.
The place next door, which I think was called Vi Ai Pi did a deal on pizza and beer. It was one large pizza which was thin and crispy and pretty decent quality and as much Bintang beer as you could drink between 6pm and 8pm every night of the week. Amazing deal! All that for just £3.50.
I’m usually very careful with my possessions but I guess there is always a chance that you have a bad night and I had one of them in Kuta. After quite a few drinks some of us decided to head down to the beach and get in the water. It was around 1am, so we left our clothes on the beach and went into the sea. At the time I can remember thinking that it was a bad idea to leave all our items on the beach unattended at that time of the night and I was right…When we came back my phone had been stolen and some money was stolen from another girl’s purse. Nightmare. Lesson learned. I upgraded my phone to an iPhone 5S after that so it actually worked out as a bonus!
It’s common knowledge that in a lot of countries in SE Asia you can bribe your way out of most situations and Bali is no different. The problem with corruption is it works so well, as I once read in a book called Shantaram which I was reading when I made my way around India. It’s too true how valid that saying is. In India it’s not that expensive to bribe the police so it’s not an issue but when in Indonesia the fines were a lot higher.
In order to ride legally you need to have an international drivers license which I did not have. It’s easy to get one before you go away but I hadn’t bothered because I didn’t realise that I would need it. Anyway, if you don’t have one they will try to charge you up to 500,000 rupiah. That’s about £25 which isn’t that much but you can get stung a few times which gets super annoying because you know that the money is going into the pocket of the police man. The official fine they say is 1,000,000 if you go to the police station so it’s cheaper to pay the bribe. You can haggle your way down so that’s what I did one night when i was riding back home…
They love setting up small road blocks and checking everyone’s papers in order to make some money. So, I got stopped and managed to negotiate my way down to 75,000 saying that it was all I had left in my pocket after my night out. The police officer accepted it and I asked him how to get back to my place. I thought I was going the correct way but 5 mins later I ended back in the exact same place at the same road block…I had to tell them that I had already paid earlier on. Luckily it worked so I went off again but this time a slightly different way. However, 5 mins later and I was back in the same place again…I laughed as I rolled up to the police and they laughed as I approached! 3rd time lucky and I managed to get back to my hostel, albeit a very long way around but I was determined not to get caught up in the same spot again.
I got my scooter for 50,000 rupiah a day which is around £2.50. This was in August 2014. It’s pretty cheap. If you are looking to get one I would recommend going through the hostel because they are more likely to protect you if something happens. If you are getting one from the street the prices start really high and they are also more likely to rip you off. The hostel have a reputation to keep so they don’t want to ruin it by screwing over the backpackers.
I wanted to learn to surf in Bali, that was one of my main aims of going there to do a surf camp. I got recommended that I head down to one called Rapture Surf School which is near to Uluwatu and Pedang Pedang by my friend Damien, so I went down there to check it out.
The place is in a very much more untouched and quieter part of the island, which I really liked. It felt as if you were really far out in the middle of nowhere with just the beach not too far away. The camp itself was amazing. Very well laid out with great chill out areas a bar and place to eat. The prices were not cheap, though, so I had to have a look around to see what other options there were. It was possible to just do the surfing with them and not stay there so I went on a search.
I met a Spanish girl who was also looking for places to stay around that area for her and her friend so we ended up riding around together trying to find some places to stay. After a long search we found a place that was 250,000 a night in a nice location and great rooms. That’s about £14 a night for your own room.
After that I rode back up to Kuta thinking that I would head back down to that place and stay there for two nights, but the plans changed pretty quickly as soon as I met some people back at the hostel and we ended up going out drinking to Alley Cats…I never ended up going back down to Uluwatu, so it will have to wait for another time.
In the end I decided that I could just hire a board and get one of the guys who I was hanging around with, Lucas, to show me how to ride. After 1-2 hours of surfing I had discovered that it was a lot harder than I thought it would be. I couldn’t even stand up, I just kept falling off. I didn’t try to surf again for a while, until I met a couple of American guys called Izzy and Joseph. They had been surfing for longer and showed me a different way of getting up onto the board, which seemed to work much better for me. It was like a stepping motion rather than a jumping one which I had been shown before. Within 3 attempts I could stand up and at the end of that first day I could stand up almost every time.
I went again on another day and managed to move from a longboard to a 7’2″ board but that was much less stable and I was more tired after having ridden for a bit already so I only got to partially stand up on that one.
While at the hostel I met a guy called Lucas. Me, Lucas and Stefan were all standing outside of the hostel where there is a large outdoor area for relaxing in and we started to practice handstands and it turned out that Lucas was into something called calisthenics, which I had heard of before and also really liked but had yet to get into. The next day we went for a beach workout just using a bar and a couple of chairs that we borrowed from one of the people who run a stall on the beach. I ached for a few days after that!
I had a small bit of time away in both the Gili islands and Ubud but upon my return I was originally going to stay back at Bed Bunkers 2. However, on my last night there when I got up in the morning I noticed that there were 3 little insects crawling around in my bed…I thought they looked like bed bugs so there was no way I was going to stay back there again!
I met a couple of other guys there called Jacob and Yoske who I went surfing with and a couple of girls, too, but they went to get a lesson from someone on the beach and we met up with them later on at Alley Cats, which was now becoming a usual visit for me on any night out…
So, instead of staying at Bed Bunkers I went and got a place at a nearby hotel called Warapsari Inn. I paid 300,000 a night for it which converted to around £15. It was a nice room, comfortable, air conditioned and had TV from which I watched the Mayweather vs Maidana fight on. That alone saved me a trip to the pub.