Leaving New Zealand and Australia was incredibly difficult after meeting such wonderful people but we knew that there was so much more to explore and new people to meet.
Our next destination would take us to the wonderful country of Indonesia, specifically in Bali. The first few days of our arrival provide stark contrasts from New Zealand and Australia in more ways than one. For starters, our first impressions ranged from insignificant reactions when we encountered larger Uber cars in Bali that better accommodated our luggage, to outright hallelujah moments when we experienced 4G internet speeds in Bali compared to the unfathomably slow Wi-Fi speeds in Australia and New Zealand.
Beyond the initial first impressions, here are 9 things that you should know before visiting Bali!
- Street food is incredibly inexpensive in Bali which does wonders to reduce your food expenses. Instead of paying on average $10 – $12 meals for two, suddenly we were paying $3 – $4 for two heavy meals! We still did our grocery shopping when our accommodations provided a refrigerator but it wasn’t as imperative to do so compared to exploring in Oceania. American food brands are noticeably cheaper so be sure to snag your favorite cereal or snacks.
- If you’re going through a chocolate withdrawal because it doesn’t taste like home, have no fear. The chocolate in Bali tastes similar to the U.S. brands compared to Australia and New Zealand. We’re convinced that Oceania includes more milk for the Cadbury taste.
- When it comes to selecting your accommodations, be sure to read reviews before booking a hotel or apartment to ensure that the photos are accurate. Though we didn’t have any problems with our lodging, we heard that many boutique hotels and rental apartments feature doctored pictures that deceived many. Avoid being misled by booking a reputable hotel upon arrival, then visit rental properties in person to determine suitable accommodations. Trust us, it’ll be less disappointing when you don’t have to lug your luggage to a space you are uncomfortable with.
- Roosters are your enemy. Regardless of what your elementary teacher told you or your favorite childhood cartoon portrayed, roosters do not cock a doodle doo at sunrise. In fact, they crow before day break for hours on end! Roosters are a symbol of good luck in Balinese tradition and are also used in cock fights. If your space is near a residential area, be warned that a roster may be nearby. A rooster woke us up religiously at 4 am and didn’t stop until six hours later! After two sleepless nights, we kept our headphones by the bed to drown out the unwelcomed noise.
- Data plans and SIM cards are incredibly cheaper in Bali with more data. The data plans in Australia and New Zealand don’t even compare. We purchased our Indonesian SIM cards at a local convenient store and topped up (added additional data or minutes) there as well. Although you may have no use for local calls, we suggest having at least 10 minutes worth to contact your Uber driver or for food delivery. Maybe more depending on the length of your conversations.
- If you plan to stay in Indonesia beyond the 30 – day mark, extend your visa at your own risk. While there is a hassle-free way to extend your stay through an agent, we did it the hard way as recommended on their website. The process alone requires four different trips to the immigration office which may leave you pulling your hair out.
The first trip requires you to pick up the application. You cannot pick up and complete the application in the same trip!
The second trip requires you to drop off the application.
The third trip requires you to return to the immigration office to take a headshot at a specific date and time and leave your passport at the office. We were skeptical but still complied and photocopied our passports for good measure.
The fourth trip requires you to pick up your passport with your approved visa extension.
Talk about a loss of time and resources! Since the immigration office is not centrally located, we took a taxi four different times outside of the main city areas. No wonder it is advised to renew your visa at least one week before it expires.
- One of the best parts of experiencing a culture is eating! While we welcome the opportunity to taste new flavors, be weary of the question You like spicy? when your meal is being prepared. We tend to like our food spicy but Balinese food brings a whole new meaning to spicy if your pallet isn’t prepared for the heat.
- Depending on the toilets in your accommodation or in public, you may be confronted with an entirely new experience. Many of the toilets were typical of back home in the States however we were faced with standing toilets in the men’s and women’s bathroom that required a squat position. Get your squat muscles ready cause you’re going to need them. Popular tourist areas will have seated toilets but don’t be surprised if you are presented with other options. Also, ladies, be sure to travel with tissue and hand sanitizer. Traditionally, a hand-held spray is located next to the toilet to be used as a bidet in place of tissue and in a few bathrooms I observed the absence of soap.
- Hire a taxi driver for all day adventures. At first we felt bad for consuming the driver’s time after learning that this was common and beneficial for both parties. You pay an agreed upon price for a half or full day rate to your destinations without having to organize rides in between stops which alleviates the need to secure transport. It’s a win-win situation. They chill while you chill. If you only need a quick ride make sure you use Uber or Grab (SE Asia’s Uber competitor). They are always cheaper than a taxi. If you do need to use a taxi make sure you negotiate a price before you get in the car. DO NOT get in the car before you have a set price or they agree to run the meter. The taxi drivers are usually twice as expensive as Uber or Grab.
Despite the differences from Oceania to Indonesia, the elements that remained the same are the kindness of people and the beauty of learning a new culture.
Have you been to Bali?! What are some other tips that you suggest for new travelers?
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