Call me ‘ignorant’ if you like, cos I think I really am. But I don’t think I am the only one. 🙂 Do you know that Bali is actually much much bigger (about 8 times bigger) than Singapore?
Before my trip, I had the impression that Bali is probably about the same size as either Langkawi or Penang. I guess I have this perception since Bali is one of the favourite destinations for a short getaway, the 3~4 day kind, you know? Having been to both Langkawi and Penang, I would say that a 3~4 day trip is good enough to cover most of the attractions in those two destinations. But a trip of same duration could barely cover the southen and central Bali.
Due to some reasons, we had to book a late flight to Bali and it was already late in the evening when we checked into the hotel on our first day. There was nothing much we could do except shopping at Discovery Mall which is in the vicinity of our hotel. As it turned out, this was the best shopping place for us for the entire trip. We went to Kuta Square, Bali Brasco Shopping Centre and Ubud centre, but we spent most, if not all, of our rupiah here in this mall – Discovery Mall at Kuta.
For local products and supermarket, Kuta Square is the right place to go. But for international brands such as Billabong, Converse, Adidas and Nike, I think Discovery Mall is the best. Although Brasco Shopping Centre offers a lot more international brands like Burberry, Esprit and Fred Perry at heavily discounted prices (50~80%), we were not sure of its authenticity on the basis of “If it’s too good to be true, it probably is”. However, I did buy 2 pairs of Adidas shorts at S$7.50 each; looked authentic but the quality could be better. In any case, we left the huge shopping centre (Brasco) in less than 20 minutes.
Another interesting aspect of Bali shopping is the number of shops selling the same things and no, I am not referring to the souvenir stalls. If you walk along the street of Kuta Square, you will find a lot of Rip Curl, Hurley, Quiksilver, etc shops and these shops offer the same items at the same price. The exception? It’s probably Ralph Lauren. If you observe carefully, you will notice that there are a lot of Ralph Lauren shops which look somewhat similar but not quite the same. In fact, there are at least 3 different types of Ralph Lauren merchandise under a similar branding. We checked out all of them, including a visit to the so-called authentic Ralph Lauren factory outlet (located on the outskirt of Bali). The authenticity of Ralph Lauren in Bali has always been a topic of interest and I am sure it will continue to be. Is it really too good to be true? Or are they genuinely priced lower for the local market? Anyway, I will cover these in a later post on their differences and how to differentiate between the International and local Ralph Lauren. Stay tuned… 🙂
For this trip, we had a local guide (his name is Eka) who drove us around Bali and this is the best decision we made. Given the road and traffic condition, it’s definitely a bad idea to self drive, unless you are on motor-bike. Moreover, we were travelling in a big group (6 adults, 2 children) and getting around in a single vehicle (a mini-van in this case) was really a blessing.
Eka’s experience and easy-going nature were just icing on the cake as we had to make many changes to our original itinerary due to the bad weather. Eka never showed any signs of displeasure and in fact, he was very apologetic that we had to miss out on a huge chunk of our planned itinerary, even though the bad weather was no fault of his. Nevertheless, he made recommendations on the revision of the itinerary and I know some of the places were quite out of the way. He did it so willingly and made no fuss about the extra distance or hours; only to make sure that we covered the “important” attractions. Eka mentioned this in one of our email exchanges prior to the trip, “As long as you are happy, I am happy”, and he truly lives up to his words. For that, I thank you Eka.
As usual, here’s a summary of our itinerary for our 5-day trip and more details are in the subsequent posts. Just wanna share some of my thoughts on the itinerary, there are actually many temples in Bali and I wouldn’t say “if you have seen one, you have seen them all”, but most of them are really quite similar. So my plan was to go for a few iconic ones (sea temples, directional temples, etc) and to include some shopping. I didn’t include any river rafting activities, for instance, as I have a young one. Like I said, there are many activities that one could do in Bali and I would strongly recommend you to do some research and plan your holidays as per your interests and preferences.
Day 1: Walked around Kuta area and shopping at Discovery Mall
Day 5: Swimming in the hotel (Kuta Paradiso) and home sweet home.
Useful Information – Local Guide :
Our local guide:
- Name: Eka
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- General observations:
Eka speaks reasonably good English and is quite responsive via emails. If you plan to engage him, I would suggest that you drop him an email to book his time prior to your trip. Eka is also quite proficient with the handling of our DSLRs and he usually offers his help to take group photos. 🙂
- If you do engage him, please help to send him my regards. 🙂
Estimated traveling time by car:
- Kuta → Jimbaran : 30 minutes
- Kuta → Tanan Lot : 1 hour
- Kuta → Uluwatu : 1 hour
- Kuta → Mount Batur : 2 hours
- Kuta → Gunung Kawi (Poet Mountain) : 1 hour 30 minutes
- Kuta → Ubud : 1 hour
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