3 scams in Bali and how to avoid them

scams in bali

I've encountered 3 scams so far here in Bali, so I thought I'd share them, to save you the hassle of learning the hard way!

1. Taxis are a great way to get about, and cheap too. A half hour journey seems to cost about £4-5 pounds. They're mainly run by Bluebird, and they're branded, and easy to hail over. They're metered. You will start to find that they start trying to get you to agree to a fixed price. Luckily this happened after a few days of drivers sticking to their rules, so when we were 'offered' a ride for £12, which would we knew would be about £4, we could scoff confidently, and demand he put his meter on, or leave. We've since found lots of drivers try this. We tell them no, that we want the meter on. They sound as if they're offering you a deal, but in the many times this has happened, the actual price has never come close to what they tried to 'offer'.  Stick to the meter. And tip.

2. There are many people who will try and gain your attention as you walk about, and one of these people will be holding prize cards, that will need to have the 3 sides torn off, to reveal what's inside. The first guy who came over to us, seemed to just handing out flyers, so to be kind we took them and tried to keep walking. He explained we had to open them, and we would be shown what we'd win at the hotel he worked for. We pretended to be pleased, and said we'd be sure to swing by and collect them later on. He then becomes insistent that he can arrange a car for you now, and that they have to be claimed that day, and he gets paid when we collect. I appreciate these are just people trying to make a living, but save your time, and don't take anything being handed out. It's never that easy just to walk on!

3. Despite having learned of the prize card trick, I started to spot some other people, and felt sorry for them. They seemed to be collecting survey data for the Bali Tourist Office, and I felt sorry that they got ignored all day, despite not trying to sell anything. So I agreed to do the short survey. The questions were about rating Bali, and the facilities etc. We then got a phone call to our hotel the day, explaining we'd won an amazing prize thanks to taking part, of a 7 day holiday. They'd send a car that morning to collect us and bring us to the hotel to collect it. The patter was pretty slick. I of course refused, and said no to the car, but they kept calling for the next two days until we got more insistent. Don't fill anything out!

Just a few things to look out for, should you be heading to Bali anytime soon!

Elephants in Bali and why I've decided not to visit any.

Here in Bali animals form a large part of the tourist entertainment. You can hold an orangutun, eat dinner next to lions, and wash an elephant. The pamphlets that fill every tourist tour booth definitely give the message that these are respectable zoos and are about protecting and championing wildlife.

Yesterday I was considering whether to pay for the awesome opportunity to get up and personal with elephants, and in my mind I thought that the fact that they make the elephants perform once a day, was a small price to pay for their sanctuary. However, I started to doubt myself, and decided to have a google.

The Bali Animal Welfare Association (BAWA) clearly states that there are no ethical ways to view elephants in Bali, they are not wild here, and by visiting you are encouraging a trade that is cruel. Elephants are simply too smart and intelligent to have to tolerate these acts, and therefore I won't be visiting any elephant parks.

I'm disappointed, as of course the chance to wash an elephant sounds amazing, but who cares right?

I once visited an elephant sanctuary (an actual sanctuary who rehabilitated elephants back into the wild) which was pretty incredible. 9 years ago I volunteered in Kenya, and had the chance to get pretty up close and personal with some rescued elephants:

ethical elephant

These babies were orphaned after their mothers were killed by poachers, and the only performing for tourists they do is playing their regular game of football and playing in a paddling pool. The keepers explained that they had to be played with to distract them from their grief. They carefully ensure the elephants don't become too attached to humans, so that they can be introduced to a new family in the wild. 

Elephants form complex relationships, and on top of often burying their dead and returning to the grave years later, they've also been known to hide tusks of dead elephants (as they know they get stolen). 

This sanctuary has keepers with supervising the babies 24/7/365, on 3 hour shifts to prevent an attachment to one particular keeper. Once an elephant was used to one keeper, and when the keeper went away for a week, it died as it refused to eat.

I also went on safari and saw some elephants in the wild. Blimey they were huge, and I recall feeling very anxious.

Elephants deserve better than being made to perform for us. Don't buy a ticket, don't support the industry, don't encourage cruelty. So I won't be washing an elephant in Bali. 

Renting a pool bed or cabana in Bali

hiring a sunbed bali

It turns out that B had never considered visiting a hotel just to use its pool, so I thought I'd write a quick post, in case you hadn't either!

Our hotel has a nice pool, but it's rather closed in, and there aren't any umbrellas to hide from the shade, so I suggested visiting another hotel. I had a quick google for pool beds you can hire in Bali, and so far (today is the morning of day 4) we've visited two.

Firstly we headed to Cocoon Beach Club, which despite being a party venue, was lovely and quiet during the day. They also allowed us to book a spot online, and when we arrived we were offered a pool bed or cabana.

bali cocoon pool hire

Cocoon don't charge anything for using a bed or cabana, but they have minimum spends. I believe the sun lounger beds had a minimum spend of 400k/500k IDR, and the cabanas had a minimum spend of 800k (in today's money it's about £50).  We had some cocktails, a shisha and lunch, and easily spent this. I also had reflexlogy by the pool too! A lovely way to relax. You can hire towels too.

The next day I headed to the W Retreat & Spa, to indulge in some luxury. The bamboo lined drive way certainly creates a dramatic entrance! I'd read online that there was no charge or minimum spend at the W, but this turned out not to be quite true. Perhaps they've updated their policies recently, as many of these places don't directly advertise the ability to hire pool beds, most information comes from blogs and reviews. 

I was told I couldn't use a pool bed as these were for guests only, but you're welcome to order a drink from the Woobar. I obviously didn't want to just sit at a bar, so when I enquired again, I was told I could pay for a wrist band, hire a towel (mandatory) and be assigned a sofa. Once I removed the cushions, the sofa was in essence a single bed, so I lay down and enjoyed a book. I didn't have a umbrella for shade, so I tried my best to be diligent with my factor 50.

The drinks are expensive here, but the service is great, and I loved the pool. The W is right by the sea so a quick paddle is a nice option too (no swimming as like most of the area, the waves and currents are too strong and dangerous).

The wristband costs me 50k IDR and the towel was 30k IDR I think! My two cocktails were about 150k and 200k. 

I had a lovely afternoon in both places, but no doubt will keep exploring other options too! It's a great way to enjoy the facilities of other hotels, especially ones you can't afford to stay in!

Bali - day 3 (and four massages later)

reeree in bali beach

It's odd isn't it, that holidaying can prove stressful at first. Where to eat, what to do and when to do it lead to endless debates, "No I don't mind, honestly..." and they can seem overwhelming. I'm hoping I'm not alone in admitting that holidays can take a while to adjust to!

When I was a young adult my mother would describe me as "eccentric", and now I'm an older adult these same behaviours get labelled "creative". If you'd asked me when I was younger to explain why I saw the world in the way I did, I'd mumble something about having "a busy brain". I felt that my thoughts never stopped, and that they were bubbling up and out of me. I love this about me; I've been raised to value intelligence and curiousity, but the downside is that I struggle to 'chill the fuck out'.

So I'm nearing the end of day 3, and I'm finally finding my groove I think. I've started to feel like the I understand Bali a little, that I know what options we have, and what we want to do while we're here. I've started to think about work less, and be a little more ok with not doing much.

rockalily in bali

The weather is glorious, and hour long massages are about £6-£12 a pop. In three days I've had four, and I'm not ashamed. There is healthy food, cheap taxis and so much to see and do.

circus cafe bali

I promise I'll write more coherently once I've settled in some more; and share advice and experiences, but for now, I'm sticking to what my bio says at the top, and just sharing my life in the retro kind of blogging way. No fancy posed pictures while wistfully watching a sunset from this blogger, oh no. 

Right, I'm off to book some tickets to the water park. Catch you on the other side.

24 hours of travel....how did I cope?

reeree goes to balie

The day finally arrived, after clearing my debt and booking my first holiday in 3.5 years, it was time to get to Heathrow to head to Bali.

I'm excited for the obvious reasons, I haven't had a holiday for ages, and holidays are generally awesome, I've been working really hard to clear debt, and I'm knackered, and Bali is meant to be pretty amazing. It's certainly the furthest away I've been.

It's also mine and B's first holiday together, and the longest time we'll have spent together, so that's exciting too. 

We arrived at Heathrow in plenty of time, checked our bags in, and went to have lunch at the Heston Blumenthal cafe in terminal 2. I'd been hopeful for the flight, however when I sat down on the first leg (London - Singapore) I was a tad disappointed. The seats were small. B is 6ft4, and has to sit legs akimbo, which is pretty uncomfortable. However, despite being 5ft4ish I felt rather squeezed in too. I'm not ashamed to admit I may have shed a silent tear half way through, due to the pain in my back, and my inability to feel comfortable or relaxed in any position. 13 hours is just such a long time. I turned to B and said we'd look into upgrading a seat option on the way home, or I may not be coming home at all.

We finally made it to Singapore, feeling pretty gross. Luckily a swift transfer to the next plane, and after 2 and a bit hours, we touched down in Bali.

The airport was pretty intense, which was definitely hightened by my tiredness. We'd arranged a car, but there was a sea of men holding up names, that is seemed impossible to find mine. A tannoy shout out later, we'd finally heaved our luggage into a car.

It was 9pm when we arrived, so I couldn't really see much of Bali as we drove to our hotel, and we were pretty zonked, so we ordered room service and had a well-needed shower. I'm super excited to wake up bright and early and explore what Bali has to offer!

Oh and I've bought some preferred seats for the long leg home. 

Achieving two life goals this year

life goal reeree purple hair

At the start of the year I made changes in my life, and set myself some new life goals for the upcoming 12 months. I wanted to be debt free and book a holiday.

I've run a business for over 5 years, and sadly doing so brings with it a certain level of debt. I finally felt ready to really try and clear it. I've not been on holiday for 3.5 years, and gosh I've been envious of everyone who has!

Well this weekend I'm off to Bali. And yup, I cleared my debt last month. 

I just wanted to pause, and take a moment to celebrate my two little achievements. It's been a tough year and I've worked hard. But I made it. Almost feels surreal.

So it's my first holiday in a very long time, and I'm bloody excited! I haven't taken a two week holiday since I was a teenager (as an adult I've only been for a week at a time) and I've never been to anywhere like Bali. 

I've ordered swimsuits, sun dresses and bought a new sun hat. Bali watch out, I'm coming for you.

Kickstart some wearable art with Niki P!

I never thought I'd be someone who wears leggings, but I have certainly become one. I spend £80 on gym leggings, and own two of the the exact same black pair of leggings  because they're not see-through and great for lazy work days. My boyfriend bought me Adidas leggings for my birthday. I'm definitely someone who officially wears leggings.

These awesome leggings were sent to be from Niki P, who is currently crowd funding to bring to life her range of wearable art. These awesome leggings can be yours for a pledge of £45, or for a pledge of £65 you can get a custom tattoo designed for you!

They're thick, and comfortable, definitely what a pair of leggings should be! So if you fancy buying leggings with a story, head on over and kickstart Reasons To Smile, Niki P's latest collection. For a pledge of £10 you can even have a piece named after you!