We left Cebu City in the wee hours of the morning on November 17th and – after a short layover in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia – arrived in Denpasar, Bali at around 3:30pm the same day. When we finally emerged from the baggage area after a lengthy wait, the leader for our upcoming Bali Intro tour we booked effortlessly online through Tourradar, Alissa, met us in the Arrivals area with a local driver. By this time it was probably close to 4:30pm as we headed to the van, which would get us to our accommodations at Bendesa Hotel in Kuta by around 6pm. According to google maps the journey should have only taken 20 minutes! However, the traffic when we got to Legian street (which I believe is the main street in Kuta) was torturous, but Alissa was so friendly and full of info we conversed with her the whole trip, which made the time pass by quick. When we finally arrived at Bendesa we said “Good Evening” to Alissa and checked into our room. Our economy room was basic, but clean, and we were happy with it. For the price, I don’t think you could do any better and be located practically on the buzzing and vibrant Legian street.
We were excited as always to be in a new place and super hungry, so we went straight out in search of a vegan restaurant called Happy Buddha I had found on the Happy Cow app. On the map it looked really close and easy to find, but after a lot more walking then I had anticipated and some uncertain twists and turns, we made it to the Happy Buddha restaurant. The restaurant was super plain, just white walls, tables and chairs, and a kitchen at the back. There was a large group of people sitting down at a few tables joined together and waiting for their orders when we arrived. The menu was in Indonesian with English translations, of which there were some funny spelling mistakes. We ordered some Kentacky fried Chiken (vegan meat substitute of course) and a couple of vegetable dishes. For drinks we got some fruit juices which were nice and refreshing.
It was all very good and, although the staff spoke almost no English, everything went smoothly. When it came time to pay, I went up to the cashier and a piece of paper was handed to me with the number 21,000 scribbled at the bottom. I was still new to the currency so I ended up handing over a red coloured bill that had 100,000 on it and subsequently (tbh, had to check whether or not to use “consequently” here) received a lot of change back. I’m still not sure, but I think they must have made a mistake tallying up the bill because, at the current exchange rate, 21,000 rupiah is less than $2 dollars! I knew it would be cheap in Indonesia, but this was just too good to be true. It was all very confusing, but I smiled and left a 5,000 bill as a tip and we made our way back to the hotel.
The next morning (Nov. 18th) we went for a walk south along Kuta beach until we passed the Discovery Kartika Plaza hotel, which looked like a massive resort, before turning back around. When I looked it up online later they offered accommodations from $150 to over $1000 per night, that’s quite a range! The walk was great and there were lots of vendors selling merchandise and food the whole way.
We also passed the Sea Turtle Society (you’ll know when you get there, see photo below) that releases baby turtles into the ocean every time there is a hatching and lets visitors actually hold them and carry them down to the beach. Unfortunately, we had just missed a hatching event so they said to check back in a couple of weeks or check on their facebook page for updates.
Bright and early the next morning (Nov. 19th), we jogged over to The Stones Marriott Hotel to get in some much needed gym time. We want to stay in good shape throughout our travels, so we do our best to do some exercise every day even if it means unrolling our yoga mats and doing push-ups, sit-ups, etc.. Today, however, we treated ourselves to a real big boy and girl gym. The gym was just ok, but we were expecting a bit more for such a posh looking resort. We thought the 150,000 IDR (about $11 USD) fee to use the facility was a bit steep, so we decided not to go back again. On our walk back from the gym we discovered an amazing place for breakfast called the Beach Bowl that did vegan smoothie bowls and other healthy food.
On our walk along the beach the previous day, we had noticed banners for the Colours of Culture Festival happening on the beach over the weekend. We decided to check it out and it turned out to be performances of Indonesian music and dancing by artists around Indonesia. There were also food and merchandise stalls around the area as well, where you could get a taste of local cuisine and pick up some souvenirs.
It was really great to see something about the culture in Indonesia, especially around Kuta which can feel very touristy walking up and down the main roads. It was walking to the festival that we got our first (but not last) street food corn on the cob. For 10,000 IDR (about $0.75 USD) you get a tasty corn on the cob grilled over hot embers with your choice of salt, garlic butter, or chili sauce. So good….
The next morning, we were up and at ’em again pretty early and we went for a run north along Kuta Beach until we got to Seminyak Beach. We continued running until we got to what looked like the main road in Seminyak and were so tired we just got one of the Bluebird taxis to drive us the 15 minutes back to our hotel for I think 30,000 IDR (around $2 USD). On our last evening before the start of our Bali Intro tour, we found an amazing place to eat that sold vegan falafel wraps. Coincidentally, it was called the Falafel House. The wraps were so good I could have eaten a bunch of them.