Expedition Bali – A review

So it’s been a few weeks after my 9 day Bali adventure so I thought it’ll be good to jot down a few notes so that anyone who wants to fly to Bali (including myself again) will have some starting point to plan their awesome holiday. Prices mentioned here are in rupiah unless specified.

My Bali trip was on 1 – 9 June and we went to 3 places: Candidasa, Gili Trawangan (that’s in Lombok, not in Bali) and Kuta.

Plane tickets were SGD220 each, taxes included from Jetstar. Jetstar is awesome, booking was clean and neat. We booked the plane tickets way in advance, sometime in¬†February¬†that’s why prices were slightly lower i guess.

When we arrived on the 1st it was night time and a cab ride to our hotel in Candidasa was a whopping 100K pax for the 4 of us (non-metered) and the ride took 2 hours. The hotel actually provided airport transfer services for only 350K. Looks like we got ripped.. Because of some screw up with our first hotel booking, the hotel kindly offered us 2 rooms in their sister hotel that’s next door. So our first night was spent in D’ Tunjung and subsequently at Rama Shinta at Candidasa. One of the hotel staff named Paleng was exceptional, helping us organise our itinerary and was simply one of the best hotel staff I have ever met. After checking in at D’ Tunjung we went to bed (it was already night) and that concludes our first day.

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View from D’ Tunjung’s infinity pool. We went snorkelling at the rocky islands in the distance.

On the second day we went snorkelling at one of the nearby rock islands for 120K pax (after haggling) inclusive of our own boat and equipment (mask, snorkel and fins). To be honest snorkelling at candidasa wasn’t pleasant. Perhaps it’s the timing or season but water was choppy and current was strong. Sea floor was really deep and we couldn’t see much. We spotted a sea turtle but it was swimming along the depths so it was really small. 2 of us were mildly seasick after the ordeal. Nevertheless, water was clean and crystal clear. In the afternoon, we checked into Rama Shinta and went around exploring.

Candidasa isn’t a big area. It’s more like a very long street with eateries and hotels. So don’t expect white sand beaches and waves. Quiet little town to just chill. If you’re looking for more happening things to do, just give candidasa a miss. We chose candidasa because it was a springboard to Mt Agung and Padangbai (the port to Gili islands) Food isn’t particularly cheap or fantastic.

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Sunrise from the point after we descended to a warmer part of Mt Agung. Simply breath-taking

Third day, we decided to go climb Mt Agung and do whitewater rafting on the same day. A crazy idea but we’re all young men all fit from army so we decided to go with it. Thanks to Paleng who helped organise the trip for us, we paid only 800K for both activities. We woke up at 12am and boarded the car which will bring us to the starting point of the climb. When we alighted we were shivering because it was cold and the winds were blowing. We expected a hot climb so we were dressed in t-shirts and shorts and I was in a singlet. The guide was in jacket and long pants. We didn’t make it to the summit because we were shivering very badly and muscles were cramping up. Mt Agung is 3124m tall and we made it up to 2400m (my camera had an altimeter) which was not bad considering we were poorly equipped. We descended to a lower height such that it wasn’t so cold and caught the sunrise. Although we weren’t at the top, the view was still breath-taking. I recommend climbing Agung but the terrain may not be suitable for children or older folks. Many a time we had to go on all fours. Total time needed to ascend the mountain is 6 hours but if you’re fast like us (we ascended really quickly wanting to reach the top ASAP since moving would keep us warm) probably can reach in 4 – 5 hours.

Whitewater rafting was by this company called ALAM. A 2.5 hour ride down the Telaga Waja river. Rafting wasn’t difficult or particular dangerous. Just cruising down the river with really nice sights of padi fields and waterfalls (we don’t go down the waterfalls, they’re from another river/tributary) and the frequent bumps and shakes. Very pleasant ride, especially after the mountain climb. Wasn’t too taxing on the muscles. Very clean toilets and shower facilities and buffet lunch included. Comes with insurance too if I may add. Dry bag provided to keep your valuables. And that concludes our 3rd day.

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Whitewater rafting down the Telaga Waja river

Rama Shinta and D’ Tunjung are both very pleasant 3 star hotels with basic hotel amenities and pool. But strangely no water boiler. Very cosy and kampong style feel to it.

Fourth day we took a fast boat over to Gili Trawangan (also organised by Paleng) at a price of 900K pax (includes taxi from Rama Shinta to Padangbai, return tickets for the ferry and a taxi ride to our hotel in Kuta) which we felt was very reasonable. Ferry company was called EKAJAYA FAST BOAT. Their boat was very comfortable, no air-con. Seating capacity is 66 pax. Took about an hour to get to Gili Trawangan. Upon reaching, someone from the hotel picked us up and we checked in to our “hotel” called Welcome Inn. A very basic no frills (and no aircon) hotel with only 4 rooms. Very cosy and the staff are very friendly. The Russian owner of the hotel was rather pretty if I may add. We went exploring the tide pools at low tide in the evening and saw some pretty interesting marine life like brittlestars, stonefish (very deadly, my friend almost stepped on it), lionfish (equally deadly but no one stepped on it), frogfish, mantis shrimp (the punching shrimp), various species of sea urchins and sea cucumbers.

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Stonefish hiding. Beware of these!

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Face of SATAN!! That’s if Satan was a stonefish

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Baby lionfish

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Frogfish

Fifth day we went snorkelling (glass bottomed public boat) around the gili islands for 100K in the morning, only mask and snorkel provided, we rented fins at 15K. Current was pretty calm so snorkelling was easy. Corals weren’t as colourful and marine life was rather sparse. I mean there’re lots of fishes and stuff but if you’ve been to Krabi you’ll be disappointed. BUT BUT BUT we saw lots of sea turtles, they brought us to this area with lots of sea turtles and we got to see them up close, unlike in candidasa. Lunch was at Gili Air but we had to pay, 100K was too cheap to have lunch provided. After snorkelling we went back and took a rest, explore the area and climbed this little hill to catch the sunset. Simply beautiful.

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The glass bottomed boat. Comes complete with crazy angmoh at the bow.

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Sunset from Gili Trawangan. That’s Mt Agung (taller) and Mt Baktur in the distance

Our sixth day was spent doing absolutely nothing, just relaxing, chilling and soaking in the sun, sand and surf.

Perhaps we didn’t go at peak season cuz the nightlife was really bad. There’re plenty of bars but not much going on. Drinks were cheap though. Since there’s no police on Gili T, you’ll meet plenty of people peddling magic mushrooms and marijuana under tables. But Gili T is an awesome place for a beach getaway. Sand was abit coarse, mostly crushed coral but the water is just extraodinary. Crystal clear blue waters. My friends call it listerine blue. There’re no cars or motorbikes on the island, only pony transport to keep the island as pollution free as possible. Limited water sports available so no jet skis, banana boats or sailing. Plenty of diving spots but we didn’t dive. I’m sure you’ll see lots of interesting things when you dive. The tide pools already contained so much.

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Crystal clear waters

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View from Gili T’s beach

Days 7, 8 and 9 was spent on Kuta beach. I won’t go into details for Kuta since there’re already so many Kuta reviews. On Kuta we just did some shopping, body-boarding (we didn’t surf but you can do it at 200K), massage and shopping (did I mention that already?).

In total, we spent almost SGD1000, air-fare SGD220, accom SGD186 and expenditure SGD600.

Hope this review helped! Watch the video for a better idea of what my 3 friends and I did for the trip!

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