My friend Gary messaged me one day to tell me he was engaged. I’ve known Gary since I lived in NYC. We used to go clubbing and go out to eat with our crew every chance we’d get. We were pretty tight until I moved out of NYC in 2006. I still keep in touch with this group here and there and always meet up with them when I’m back in town. So when Gary told me he was getting married in Bali and Taiwan, and asked if I wanted to go, I said “hell yeah!”
I met up with my friends in the Taipei airport and all of us took a flight over to Bali from there. The flight from Honolulu to Taipei was roughly 10 hours and 15 minutes. The flight from Taipei to Bali was another 5 hours. My friends were traveling from NYC so their total travel time was 30 hours that day! Gary and his bride, Justine, were flying from Hong Kong so they had a shorter distance plus they didn’t have to change time zones!
It was late afternoon when we arrived in Bali. The airport was chaotic with a line to pay for the visitor’s Visa, then another long line for Customs, and finally a line for security. We rented a villa that included a driver so luckily he was waiting for us at the airport exit. It was about a 20 minute car ride from the airport in Denpasar to Jimbaran.
After going through crazy traffic with scooters going everywhere, hardly any traffic lights, and through windy roads up a hill, we arrived at Villa Leana.
It is a beautiful villa which has 4 bedrooms, 4.5 bathrooms, an infinity pool, an outdoor cabana and shower, and an open kitchen. It fit 11 of us comfortably.
The helpers at the villa cooked us dinner on the first night so we could take it easy and rest up for the rest of the week. The next day, we went out to exchange currency and buy mobile sim cards. My phone was locked so I could only use internet when there was wifi. Luckily the villa had free wifi.
The exchange rate between the US dollar and Indonesian Rupiah was about USD$1 to 10,000 Rupiah. So it was an easy calculation when we were shopping to figure out how much something cost.
After getting our money and phone cards, we ate lunch at Warung Khas Bali! The weather was hot but not humid since it was winter in Bali. However, the restaurant didn’t have air conditioning so we had the local beer to cool down.
Bintang means “star” in Indonesian. Bintang beer is a light beer that I found perfectly refreshing. Indonesian food uses a lot of spices so the beer really helped cool us down.
Bali is predominantly Hindu so the locals eat a lot of chicken and pork. The only local dishes we seemed to have eaten the whole week was suckling pig, or babi guling. It was really tasty and each plate comes with a big slice of crispy skin.
After lunch we drove to Kuta, which is 20-30 minutes north of Jimbaran. There was a mall with stores like Starbucks, Nike, Burger King, etc and we spent some time shopping. We were interested in checking out the local shops and markets so we walked down the main road, where traffic was chaotic again. There are no crosswalks so to cross the street, you have to walk out onto the street slowly and make sure the cars and scooters see you. Most of the time they will let you cross so you just have to be careful.
The local market sold clothing and household accessories, like place mats and utensils. Here is where you can bargain with the shop owners. I got a dress for 100,000 rupiah (USD$10) after Gary’s sister, Angela, helped me talk the price down from 250,000 rupiah! Some of us returned back here later in the week and got similar dresses for 80,000 rupiah (USD$8).
On the drive back to Jimbaran, we stopped for dinner. Gary and Kenny selected the fresh seafood from the tanks and the restaurant cooked it for us.
This was a Chinese restaurant so we were able to order some Chinese dishes with familiar flavors. This was the one place that served beef and of course we ordered it. The flavors were pretty good and I believe everyone was satisfied from this dinner.
The restaurant is famous for their chili pepper crab. It had a deep pepper flavor but was not spicy.
We also ordered the garlic crab and since I love garlic, I thought it was better than the chili pepper crab. The group was split on the two dishes so there was no clear winner.
After dinner, we went back to the villa and hung out that night. Gary put together a sightseeing itinerary for the group for the next day so we all took it easy and went to bed early.
Warung Khas Bali
Jln. Uluwatu no.75 Kedonganan
Kuta Plaza Restaurant
Jalan I Gusti Ngurah Rai