Travel & Leisure Magazine has concluded its annual survey of the discerning travelers who comprise its readership asking them to name their favorite cities, islands, hotels, resorts, airlines, cruise ships and even rental car agencies.
Bali has topped the poll and is regarded as the world’s best island.
For many years, Bali consistently ranked as the world’s best island in the prestigious poll, slipping momentarily in the 2008 polling to the number two slot. However, the 2009 Travel & Leisure survey has returned Bali to the coveted number 1 spot, followed by Galapagos, which displaced Bali in the 2008 rankings.
Reproduced with the permission of Bali Discovery Tours http://www.balidiscovery.com
Friday terrorists detonated bombs at the Ritz-Carlton and Marriott Hotels in Jakarta. 55 people were injured and 8 killed in the blasts.
Since then, Bali has taken a number of steps to improve security on the island, including:
• Bali’s Governor Made Mangku Pastika, the former Police officer credited with resolving the 2002 and 2003 Bali bombings, immediately convened an emergency coordinating meeting with the Udayana IX Military Command, Bali’s provincial police, local prosecutors and Bali-based intelligence agencies.
• The island’s security status was raise to the highest level of “siaga satu” by the island’s Chief of Police, Inspector General T. Ashikin Husein, putting some 12,000 security personal on duty and at the highest state of readiness.
• Bali’s sea ports and single airport were tightened up with careful checks introduced for both materials and people traveling to the island.
• Within minutes of the blasts in Jakarta, the Bali Hotel Association (BHA) told its members to raise their security levels to “red” – bringing pre-existing security screens and surveillance procedures to their highest level.
• Within hours of the Jakarta attack, members of the BHA met with the Chief of Police to enhance coordination with the security forces. During that meeting, the Chief of Police indicated that no credible threat to Bali’s security had been detected at this time, but, in response to the Jakarta attacks, the island was now on “high alert.”
• Hotel, restaurant and travel agency staff have been briefed by their respective stakeholder organizations to remain calm and focus on the comfort and safety of island visitors, avoiding speculation and rumors in connection with the Jakarta attacks.
• A check of several hotels and the Bali airport do not provide proof of any mass exodus of visitors following the Jakarta bombings.
• The Governor’s office has issued written instructions to mayors and regency heads, ordering heightened security measures and complete cooperation with the police in introducing security checks in every district of the province.
• The regional administration is moving “full ahead” with plans to enhance security measures by a self-imposed August deadlines that will see 33 emergency service units distributed across the island, the installation of 1,000 closed circuit TV and the operation of a crisis center charged with crisis management for Bali.
Reproduced with permission from Bali Discovery Tours. http://www.balidiscovery.com.
A few days ago we posted a video on the rather large pothole in Jalan Raya Ubud right outside the Ubud Market.
Work started today to repair the damage and the heavy machinary was brought in to do the excavating. It turns out that the water running under the road was about 5 metres below the surface.
The work was the centre of attention for locals and tourists, and provided some very interesting moments. Especially when the water pipe was broken.
Watch out for the next video on this monster hole.
The Indonesian central bank, Bank Indonesia, officially launched the new 2,000 Rupiah banknote last week. The banknote, which has a value of approximately US 20 cents, will eventually replace the 1,000 Rupiah note as the smallest note in Indonesia.
With the introduction of the new banknotes, the government plans to reduce production of the Rp. 1,000 notes. They will replace them over time with Rp. 1,000 coins.
The mainly gray-colored note features an image of Prince Antasari on the front. He is a national hero from Banjarmasin in South Kalimantan. On the back is a drawing of a traditional Dayak dance.
It is expected that 1.2 million notes will be on the streets by the end of the year.
In response to reports that beggars and prostitutes were disturbing visitors in the vicinity of Ground Zero and the Bali Bombing Memorial, sweeping raids were conducted in the area on 1 July.
The evening raids netted a total 37 beggars, 11 commercial sex workers, 19 transvestites, 3 people with no identity cards and 2 improperly parked taxis. Most of the arrests were made in the vicinity of the Bali Bombing Monument.
Most of those arrested had their personal details taken for processing on public nuisance complaints. However, the beggars, many of whom were children, were rounded up for eventual return to their home villages.
The raids were made after receiving numerous complaints from local residents of the nuisance caused by the transient street workers.
Article produced with permission of Bali Discovery Tours. http://www.balidiscovery.com/
I have some guests, Nina and Colin from Melbourne, who are spending 14 days in Bali. Last Sunday they asked me to take them to Echo Beach for a Bar-B-Q.
What a great night.
Echo Beach is a popular surf spot at Canggu, about 45 minutes north of Kuta. Every Sunday night they have a Bar-B-Q with ‘all you can eat’ salads and live band.
The atmosphere is great. Fresh sea breezes, good food, good music, happy faces, and lots of cold Bintang. There was a good crowd most of which were Ozzies.
If you are looking for something different to do on a Sunday night, I would recommend it. I am heading back there this Sunday with some other guests.
I didn’t mention the prices. They are very reasonable.
During her Bali visit, she was taken on a walking tour of the rice fields outside Ubud by well know museum owner, Agung Rai.
She writes about her reflections on Bali in the online newspaper, The Huffington Post. If you would like to read her article, it is titled Pay Attention.
So you are planning to visit Bali and trying to decide if you need a Tour Guide. The first question you need to ask yourself is “what do I want to see in Bali?”
If you plan to spend your time in a resort, and only venture out for an occasional meal, then perhaps you don’t need a tour guide. If you are staying in Kuta and plan to party all night and sleep all day, a tour guide might not be important to the success of your holiday either.
However, if you want to take in as much as you can of Bali’s many amazing sights, then you should be seriously considering which tour guide, or driver you intend to use.
There have been some unfortunate cases where visitors to Bali have had unpleasant experiences with their tour guide. This can happen. There are some Bali visitors who suggest hiring a car and doing your own thing.
“After the disaster with our driver, I would suggest hiring a car and seeing what you want to see at your own pace”, said one unhappy visitor. “You will save a little money and not have to worry if you are being cheated.”
Serious consideration should be made before you decide on this option. The roads are terrible. They are generally quite narrow, and mostly full of potholes. The other problem is the traffic. Bali’s roads are full of cars, motorbikes, buses and trucks, without any clear rules.
Although road accidents are not common, trying to understand the rules can be difficult. Years ago when I was in a car and puzzled by people continually pulling in front of us, I asked my driver to explain the rules. He turned to me with a smile on his face and replied “no rules”.
If you decide to drive yourself, you will have the added problem of trying to find the places that you intend to visit. Road signage is poor and if there is a sign, chances are you will not see it because you will be too busy trying to dodge traffic.
Using a good local tour guide or driver can save you a lot of time, and a lot of stress. More importantly, he will know the sights that are worth visiting, and the hidden back roads that will make you trip just that little bit more exciting.
If you are an experienced independent traveller, then hiring your own car is worth considering. If you are in Bali to relax and enjoy yourself, have an expert drive you, and sit back and take in the sights.
Bali is a great place to visit. There is so much to see and do, and the people are extremely friendly. Unfortunately visitors to Bali are the continual target for con men and scammers.
It is well known that there are some money changers that offer high rates and then by slide of hand, short change you a few notes. It is common in many situations where the locals will take advantage of the unsuspecting tourist.
It is no different with drivers and tour guides in Bali. There are some who appear great people on the surface, but are flat out dishonest.
“He was all friendly, nice and helpful initially but all this is nothing but a disguise to con us,” says one dissatisfied tourist. “He lied to us, and to think that we treated him like a friend is really disappointing.”
How do you avoid getting ripped off? One experienced Bali traveller suggests,” in Bali its ‘buyer beware, so the best idea when hiring a driver is to hire him for 1 day and pay him. Then if you like the guy get him for longer.”
If you are hiring a driver that works from the hotel you are staying at, chances are the hotel has done all the necessary background checks. You can usually trust these guys. The hotels reputation is on the line if they do not perform. The problem is that you usually pay a premium price if you use the hotel driver.
The best way to find a good driver is to use the Internet before you leave home, and check their testimonials. The people who are prepared to post their business on the net can ill afford to run a shady operation.
As in any foreign country, the best advice is to be careful. Do not place all your trust in someone you have only known for 2 hours. Make sure you are paying a fair market price, and that your driver does know his way around the Island.
For every dishonest Bali Driver there are many, many good ones. Just don’t let one of the bad ones ruin your holiday.
Foreign tourist arrival to Bali in April 2009 totaled 179,879 representing the best April on record for Bali tourism and 21.94% improvement over April 2008 (147,515).
View cumulatively, the first four months of 2009 saw 645,061 foreign tourists come to Bali, an increase of 8.15% when compared to the same period last year (596,469).
As predicted by balidiscovery.com, April 2009 also saw the historical unseating of Japan by Australia from its top-ranking as the largest source market for Bali. Through the end of the first four months of 2009 Australian arrivals totaled 102,179 – increasing 30.08% as compared to the same period in 2008. Meanwhile, reflecting their troubled national economy, Japanese visitors decreased 7.45% for the first 4 months of 2009.
Similarly, South Korea, which is traditionally Bali #3 source market, declined to a #5 ranking as that nation’s economy faltered and arrivals dipped 5.62% over the first four months of 2009. Taiwan which has long been Bali’s #4 market, is now relegated to the #7 position.
Reproduced with the permission of Bali Discovery Tours. http://www.balidiscovery.com