Researching Websites and Experience Reviews
Finding the cheap and clean, and the Shangri-La where you travel Oct 16, 2011
Confined to the dust, blood, and boredom of working at a NATO hospital in Kandahar, Afghanistan, I've been planning a few trips as reward and reflection for these past X months. Returning to Bali is something I have wanted to do since visiting in 1999 as part of a trip through the Pacific that took me through Tahiti, Rarotonga, Fiji, Aukland, NZ, Sydney, Australia, Thailand, Guam, and Maui, HI. Bali struck me during this trip as a place of magic--where you could be wide awake, yet woozily seeped in a dream state.
My first stop was Sanur--and I'm thankful that for some random reason I chose it over filthy Kuta ((Yes, Kuta is distinctly dirty, even if you have a passion for its energy)(an Aussie Tijuana, moreover)). Being stuck in theater w/out my guidebooks, relaying on the internet to find cheap places in Bali has been difficult, until you stumble on something like Travel Buddy. Through the lead of one helpful local that dropped me the names of a few places, I found a neat little website made by a Dutchman who had been to Indo and other areas--dutchpickle.com. His recommendations for cheap places to stay in pretty good--though there isn't a lot on places to eat.
Through reading his articles, I do remember Taman Ayu on Poppies 1--which I paid $2 USD to stay at per night back in 1999. Amazing that people pay $40 for a nice place and think it is a bargain--keep the Indonesian Rupiah in mind when you buy things--if a website is in Rupiah, rather than dollars--that's usually a good sign, and you can just pull up the currency converter on Google. (And I remember Taman Ayu as not being too stellar--there are cleaner places right around TA for the same price, btw).
I also found permatour.com--good for reasonably priced excursions to outer islands as well as points of interest in Bali--some websites--namely bali-star.com--try to convince you you're getting the cheapest tour or hotel--not so. Always look for the sites putting the value in Rupiah, and you will not go wrong. Agoda.com, a site one cool Kiwi reminded me of, is reasonable in the dollar sense, but you can still find better deals by combing.
If you're really adventurous, just show up and find a place. I did it Bali and did it in Thailand. It's risky, but you'll save by finding cheap places and cheap tours. I stay at a nice little place at the norther tip of Sanur w/ a balcony overview of the ocean and morning tea all for $5 USD, and took the local boat from Sanur to Nusa Lembongan, saving a lot of money.
I've learned to stay away from hotel sites--especially Hotwire.com--which is worse than Las Vegas--I haven't been fully satisfied w/ the results of using this site (which will not reveal the hotels listed until you process the booking--without any chance of refund!); An d I'm not one of those picky, whiney travelers who leaves you wondering why they even left their country of origin in the first place.
Dutchpickle was a good start--and he's been to some cool places--like Dili in East Timor, another one of those beat-up, dilapidated, third-world-city-by-a-beautiful-sea places some of you more adventurous types are familiar with (sorry, I'm American--we typically end out sentences with conjunctions--it just sounds comfortable).
I will say this about his reviews--they could use a little more filling-out--some clearer attention to detail. And he never mentioned the Caz Bar along the beach strip in Dili. Right down across from the water, with a caged wild monkey next to its open-air bar. Never forget to mention a cool beach bar in your travel writing. Some people live for such simple-sublime things.
So I guess my next review will be on Dili, East Timor. Enjoy--and go to Bali. Despite its reputation for being overrun with rowdy Aussie partiers and aging Swedes, it is a magical place.
That's it for now--CL
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