Before arriving in Bali, we decided it’d be wise (for a change) to book our accommodation in advance—on the assumption that transitioning from New Zealand to Bali was going to be a bigger leap than from the container ship to New Zealand. Bali represented our first foray into the foreign and exotic, and given the twelve hours of travel time in getting there, the crossing of five time zones, and a significant ratcheting up of heat and humidity, showing up on the shores of Indonesia without so much as a care in the world seemed a little cavalier. (How I managed to rationalize hopping off the container ship without knowing a thing about New Zealand—and getting Stephanie to go along with it!—still amazes me.)
Which meant we had to take a crash course in Bali while we were still “winding-down” (read: wwoofing) in New Zealand, courtesy of Lonely Planet, TripAdvisor, and WikiTravel. I’ll admit I was Bali-skeptical when Stephanie first mentioned the idea. My uninformed preconceptions screamed “tourist destination”, but the more she researched, the more excited she got, which eventually won me over (not to mention the fact that flying to Manila via Bali was significantly cheaper than flying to Manila directly from New Zealand).
We booked our flights to the Philippines at the same time (in the event that we needed proof of onward travel to enter Indonesia) so we knew we’d have three and a half weeks in Bali to play with. It seemed to make the most sense to spend at least the first
four five nights not too far from the airport, while we were acclimatizing and acculturating. We initially looked at Kuta, Legian, and Seminyak, the original west coast tourist destinations, but the more we read, the more we were turned off by their overcrowded surfing, shopping, and clubbing scene. Interesting yes, but not what we had in mind to start.
So we shifted our sights to Sanur, the “sleepier” beach strip on the east coast. Eventually we stumbled upon the nine-room Tropical Bali Hotel on TripAdvisor. The reviews were unanimously positive in a way I’d almost never seen. It was a little off the beaten path, but we were fine with that. All we wanted was to be enveloped in our own tropical oasis for the first few days. A cute pool and breakfast on the terrace were bonus, not to mention the price: 400,000 rupiah per night, or about $40. It was perfect.