Many people say that time shares are a waste of money. I say they are dead wrong! Without our time share, we wouldn’t have been able to enjoy a fabulous week in Bali, Indonesia, let alone other amazing places around the world. This is a week of relaxation that we needed and perfect timing after a not so fantastic time in Cambodia. We have been running around the world for almost 11 months and were in dire need of some R & R and some pampering wouldn’t hurt either.
Arriving in Bali is an experience in of its own. The airport is one of the nicest and well landscaped airports we have ever seen; they drive on the left side of the road; Bali is largely Hindu; and Bali is home to over 3,000 different species of marine life. Being huge snorkeling fans, this is perfect for us.
Per Southeast Asian ways, everything is negotiable. One of the few times that I do haggle when in Southeast Asia, is for a taxi at the airport. Bali’s infrastructure is 80% tourism, so try not to haggle too much. The average cost for a taxi from the airport to Nusa Dua is anywhere from 100,000 to 150,000 rupiahs (IDR) which is about $7.00 USD. Just don’t go to the taxi stand at the exit, walk around the corner and there will be people there offering taxis where it’s not fixed priced.
With our time share, we booked Novotel Bali Nusa Dua Hotel & Residences which is located in the south side of the Bali and is also where all the mega resorts are. Now, when booking using a time share there is always an exchange fee, ours was $175. What did we get for $175, you ask?? We checked into our two bedroom, two bath suite, balcony and kitchen. Now this is what m talking about!!!! The grounds of the resort are beautifully well kept and with so many trees, the staff work around the clock to keep it that way.
The amenities of Novotel consist of:
• Split level pools
• Main restaurant that has rotating cuisine themes
• Pool bar
• Fitness facility (extra fee)
• Beach club and bar which is locate on the beach
The resort is not located on the beach but just a short 5 minute walk along a paved path takes you directly to their private beach area and bar. You can snorkel directly from shore but currents can be strong. Careful not to drift in the way of the locals fishing, but not to worry, they will yell and warn you when you get too close.
Geger Beach Area
Just a short walk from our resorts beach area is Geger beach, a nice public beach where there are rental chairs, umbrellas, water sport activities, and a couple of restaurants. The waters here are more calmer and more clear that other areas along the stretch. The beach is lined with four and five star mega resorts who aren’t afraid to flaunt it. At the end of the walk, look up and you will see Pura Geger, a temple perched up on the cliffs with great views. The temple has strict entrance requirements, dress attire, so make sure you abide by them before entering.
If you walk a little further past the temple, along the road and to the left, you see some stairs that lead down to a more secluded beach area. It’s rough at high tide but come during low tide when the water is over 200 yards out and you be rewarded with shallow and warm waters where the only people you will see are locals fishing and surfers taking the long trek out to the waves.
We are avid snorkelers, so coming to Bali just wouldn’t be right if we did didn’t take a snorkeling trip. Just to let you know, everyone has a brother or cousin that can book water sports for you and they will all tell you it’s the best price. We booked Nusa Lambongan and Nusa Penida snorkel trip online because we wanted to rent a GoPro for the trip but when we checkout and paid, there was no option and we figured we could just get one when we get there…….WRONG!!!
We were picked up from our hotel and picked up another couple and went to xxxx where the speed boats leave from. It’s organized chaos at best. We wait in line, check in, given wrist bands and wait to be herded to the boats. Just am FYI, there are no docks…..the boats are just on shored with just the front anchor released. After everyone climbs aboard, they pull the anchor in and effectively pulls the boat out enough to use the engines…..now, that’s a tough job. Then once we get to the next island, we are treated with amazing blue waters and we think, yes, we’re here…..water is awesome….lets do this! Wrong again! We get into a bus taxi, a pick up truck with bench seats in the bed and take another 30 minutes trip to where we will actually start. We had a welcome fresh coconut juice drink, pre-ordered lunch and off we went, finally.
The ride out was incredibly scenic as we sped past remote beaches, cliffs and rough inlets. We slowed down and trolled around for a little bit but what was he looking for…..and then we saw it….MANTA RAYS!!!! We grabbed our gear and jumped in, literally. I don’t even think I had my fins on when I jumped in. Allison and I were the first ones in and we went as fast as we could towards the last spitting but it was gone. 10 minutes later it return and with a friend. They are incredibly docile creatures and just glided right by us with no fear. Being beside these things makes you feel almost invisible in size. There virtually no fish around, just three giant manta rays…..oh, and it’s not always guaranteed that there will manta ray sightings so don’t get your hopes up and expect it.
The second spot was just a short ride away where the fish was abundant and the water was clear, kinda of. Ok,yes the water was incredibly clear but as you dive down, the water temperatures mix and water will seem oily…..and it’s freakin cold too!!! We got to see some fish that we have never seen before, which is always a plus.
The third spot was a little more fun. Because of the current at the time, all we had to do was float and let the current take us. That’s all fine and dandy but we were on the boat with four Asians which are……lets just say special and by special I mean they snorkeled by holding onto the life vest and wildly kicked. The freaky part of this spot is we were gliding by the cliffs and there was about 20ft of ref and fishes and then an immediate drop off into the deep blue. This part has always freaked us out. Not know what’s down there……what’s lurking and what can just dart up and swallow us up.
After the last snorkel spot, we headed back for lunch, which is not worth mentioning, we had one last quick trip through the man groves. What the hell is a man grove??? I know Allison and I looked at each other and said that. We got on SUPs, cause we hadn’t done that since San Diego, and there’s a reason for that. Yup, still not a fan. Ignoring that fact, the water was incredibly shallow and we got stuck a few times and had to just walk…not exactly comfortable when there are sharp shells and rocks beneath you. We were over it within 10 minutes….back to the main land.
Are you wondering why I talked so much about snorkeling?? Well that’s about all we did other than eat and relax.
Indonesian food is a strange one. Middle eastern, Indian, Chinese, Polynesian and Malaysian plays a large role in influencing it’s cuisine along but yet it’s it’s own cuisine. There are five dishes that comes when I think of Bali.
- Martabak: This one was kind of confusing when we found out about it. There is a sweet version called ‘manis’ and a savory version called ‘talor’. Martabak Taylor is make by spreading out a dough ball and pan frying it with a filling made of eggs, green onions and a sautéed meat (beef or chicken usually). It’s folded into a square while keeping the filling neatly tucked in and then cut into squares and served with pickled carrots and daikon and bird eye chilis.
- Roasted pig: Roasted pig is one thing that can’t be missed when in Indonesia. The pig is roasted early morning and then broken down by section. Each section is then expertly prepared in different ways and then sits patiently for a hungry passer by to devour it. Soup comes with your order and don’t fear, the crispy skin and belly peaces will on your plate along with several other pork items.
- Mie/Nasi Goreng: Mie means noodles, Nasi means rice and Goreng means fried….actually stir fried. Both are staples all over Indonesia from food stalls to street vendors, brick and mortar restaurants to high end dining….is just a local favorite.
- Prepared dishes: Many small local eateries have window displays of what they are serving, so eaters can just go and choose and be on your merry way. Most all of them that I have seen have fried chicken, fried rice and fried noodles…..the three staples of Bali, in my opinion.
- Ribs: Pork ribs are a local dish that is slow cooked until super tender and topped with a local sauce that is partly traditional BBQ sauce with a little kick of spice.
Bali is a beautiful island with a beautiful coast line. Although we didn’t get to explorer the island like we hoped, it leaves room for a return visit!