Forget all the “Eat, Pray, Love” hype for Bali (on a side-note, I hated the movie). Bali has been on everybody’s list as the “go-to” destination for eons. Unlike South Bali (Kuta Beach, Legian, and Sanur visited in 1980), Ubud is gentler, and culturally richer. Read already published articles with details about our previous in-and-out trip to Seminyak (also in South Bali) and Ubud led by Imaginative Traveller two years ago. I encourage you to visit the Adventure Center “Adventure Finder” on the sidebar of Travels With Sheila and consider signing up for “East Java and Bali.” That was one great trip! Our destination now was Ubud, Bali for four days. One, albeit long, day in Ubud two years ago was not enough to explore the cultural, artistic, and spiritual heart of Bali.
A priest from Java (so it is said) wandered into Ubud in the eighth century and thought it was the perfect place to meditate. That was then, this is now. Do not expect to find a sleepy little village. Ubud has been discovered by everyone from former hippies to the uber-wealthy who stay at the Four Seasons and other hotels who pamper guests with private pools, butlers, the whole enchilada. Nonetheless, we still wanted to return.
A short, 20-minute ride to Singapore Changi Airport, given boarding passes and we entered the beautiful Singapore Airlines lounge to wait for the two-hour flight to Denpasar, Bali on Singapore Airlines. Again, free Business Class tickets on Singapore Airlines thanks to miles accumulated on United Airlines. Repeat, repeat, repeat. Hoard those miles. The Singapore Airlines Lounges always has an abundance of wonderful food to choose from. Unfortunately, I was still stuffed from another humungous breakfast. Hindsight proved that I still should have eaten; this was the first time that the meal aboard a Singapore Airlines flight was terrible.
Ngurah Rai International Airport is also known as Denpasar International Airport. Located only 13 kilometers/7 miles south of Denpasar, this airport is the gateway to Bali and the International Terminal handles nearly 5 million passengers a year.
Indonesia is one of those wonderful countries where a tourist can get a Visa On Arrival. Follow the signs towards Immigration/Baggage, down an escalator where windows say, “Visa on Arrival.” There are no forms to fill out. Hand over $25 U.S. per person along with passport. They return passport and a Visa. Get in line at Immigration. Immigration personnel takes passport and visa, inserts visa in passport and that’s all there is to it. Welcome to Bali.
Visa in hand, ATMs were next. There had to be at least six different ATM kiosks in a row and a row of money changer booths. TIP: Before you go, print out a little exchange paper showing, for example, $1 U.S.=8,612 IDR; $10 U.S.=86,120; $100 U.S.=861,250. The ATM chugged out close to 3 million Indonesian Rupiah and we became instant millionaires with instant hernias from carrying wads of currency. Wear a money belt!
Outside the International Terminal was a gauntlet of meeters and greeters holding signs. That always intimidates me, searching for my name among all the waving placards held by tour operators shouting out client’s names. And then the uncertainty of whether or not your “meeter” is somewhere in that line. A driver waved “Sheila Simkin,” took bags and began the one hour drive to Ubud on two-lane, narrow and congested roads.
Many hotels in the immediate Denpasar area offer a pickup service. If not, take a bemo, taxi or bus to your hotel.