Wednesday, November 10, 2004

miss cayce's Bali guide: accommodations

One of the best experiences I’ve had in Bali was staying at a homestay in Ubud. It was recommended to me by a woman vendor in the Batubulan terminal, while I was waiting for a bemo to Ubud. When I first arrived at Praety homestay, I was so enamored by the setting. I remember having an instant wonderful, positive feeling about it, which wasn’t replicated when I moved on to other places around Bali, sadly! They have a total of four rooms, centered in a charming courtyard. I had the best room, in my opinion, because I was on the top floor, with my my own personal balcony and daybed. It felt like I was living in a village, instead of being in the heart of Ubud, with all the coconut trees and chickens and surprisingly, quietness. The first night was rather magical because there were gongs off in the distance, where a dance performance was going on. I loved waking up early in the mornings, opening the doors and having my own, private view. I was initially offered 50,000Rp for a night, but managed to bargain it down to 40,000Rp when I brought up the fact that I was by myself and it was low “tourist season”. But I do think 50,000Rp/night is worth it, considering that you are staying with a wonderful, warm family who are devout Hindus and you would have the best breakfast in Bali! You are offered a choice of banana pancakes (absolutely divine!), nasi goreng or omelet, with a huge pyramid mound of fruits with grated coconut, and coffee or tea. There is also free toast and coffee/tea in the afternoon.

Every morning, they would place offerings all over the losmen, including my balcony. Like every Hindu family in Bali, they had their own temple, which was also on the top floor (but not connected to my room).

Definitely a strong recommendation from me. In fact, it’s one of the main reasons why I want to go back to Bali!

Address: Br. Tebesaya No.22, Jl. Sukma, Ubud, Bali.
Phone: (0361) 970224
Ask for Pak Wayung or “Patrick”

Praety homestay is named after their gorgeous 23-year old daughter.

I stayed in Ubud for about five days, and enjoyed every day of it. There’s lots to do in Ubud, which includes cycling and taking art lessons. I never took the latter, even though I had initially wanted to. Mostly because the first couple of days in Ubud for me were to adjust myself to the new surroundings, and getting over the astonishment that I was in fact, travelling by myself, with no concrete plans whatsoever.

Toya Bungkah (Lake Batur)
Lake Batur is home to Dewi Danu, goddess of the crater lake. The waters from the lake are generated by eleven springs. It is the largest lake in Bali, 8 km long and 3 km wide, with villages dotted around its shores.

We were not interested in climbing Mt. Batur, which is the main reason why people stay at least a night in the area. We felt that the guiding price offered was exorbitant – at least 200,000Rp (the cheapest). Most folks climb Mt. Batur in the early morning to catch the sunrise over Bali.

We were there for the lake, and for the opportunity to stay within a crater rim for a couple of nights.

Unfortunately, I have forgotten the name of the place we stayed in, but it was practically by the lake. It’s next to Lakeside cottages. We paid 50,000Rp per night. The breakfast was simply awful and don’t bother bathing in the cold water, because it only gave you stomach cramps (it was especially cold at nights!!) – at least that’s what happened to me!! Being next to the lake was worth it however. There are lots of places away from the lake, but what’s the point of staying in them if you don’t have a lakeside view.

We didn’t swim in Lake Batur, because the public bathing area was dirty – I’m not being overly critical, it did have garbage in it. It’s interesting to walk along the edge of the lake however. We walked all the way to Songan, because we had mistakenly thought that this was where Pura Ulun Danu Bratan was situated. I blame The Rough Guide to Bali and Lombok for placing the picture of the picturesque temple on the lake next to the write-up to Lake Batur. What we found instead was the very similar-sounding Pura Ulun Danu Batur which is very small and unimpressive. The temple we wanted was in the Bedegul area.

I thought Lovina was very disappointing so it’s probably a good idea that I don’t remember the name of the place I stayed either (I know, so far, not very helpful, after the Ubud write-up). I paid 40,000Rp per night, and had direct access to the beach. The beach however had a large amount of trash on it. At one point, we saw a used syringe!! The only thing I liked about Lovina was this nifty temple that had gigantic orang pemalu's guarding it.

Sanur is touted as the more peaceful alternative to Kuta, which it was. But also, it can be rather boring after a while, especially if you’re on your own because most people who stay in Sanur are often couples or in groups. Although, I did have this interesting conversation about Islam and prostitution in Bali with a Turkish expat, while watching the sunrise on a pavilion. The best thing about Sanur is its beaches and the pavilions that dotted along the edges of the beach.

I stayed at Swastika Guesthouse at Jln Danau Tamblingan. Unfortunately, no direct access to the beach but looking at the very impressive hotels that were on the beachside, I figured that I wouldn’t be able to afford a room anyway. It was however very close to the entrance to the beach (which was rather confusing! You had to walk through a café – Bonsai café – to get to the beach). I paid 100,000Rp, after the initial price offer of 120,000Rp. It’s a proper hotel room with a very nice swimming pool. My room had hot water, but no ac, and a nice large balcony overlooking the swimming pool. What I had forgotten was that since it was a hotel, it meant that the rooms were cleaned every day. I had left lots of cash in a bag, in the room and was chagrined to find out when I came back that my belongings were neatly arranged. I hope that the maid was honest because I didn’t take the precaution of counting my cash before I left (but that taught me to be more careful later – which paid off when some sales assistants tried to rip me off in Kuta!).

I would recommend the place because of the pool, the large rooms, and easy accessibility to the beach (just cross the road, and walk towards Bonsai café). But I wouldn’t recommend staying in Sanur for more than two nights, unless you have activities planned.

I initially stayed in Kedin’s Inn which is in Poppies Lane 1, for 40,000Rp/night. It was just a straight, short walk to the beach (you have to cross a street). It had bedbugs however!! And I still have the marks on my left shoulder to prove it. Breakfast was incredibly lame but their restaurant had movies during the day and night, which was pretty cool. I’d never go back to this place however, for the lack of hygiene in the rooms!!

I later stayed at Ayu Beach Inn for 45,000Rp a night (bargained it down from 50,000Rp), which was a much better investment. It’s also on Poppies Lane, and has two small swimming pools. Breakfast was not great – simply, after Praety, I found myself incredibly critical of the breakfasts served elsewhere in Bali. I did like my room at Ayu Beach Inn however – no bedbugs!!! And an incredibly comfortable bed, with clean sheets (there was a queen’s sized bed and a single bed). The room had the strongest fan that I’ve ever had in Bali – even compared to a proper hotel like Swastika! And it had a smallish balcony overlooking the swimming pool. It’s pretty ok, and it’s close to the beach so I’d recommend this place.


At 11:42 AM, Blogger rob said...

Hi miss cayce

I have just returned from a fortnight in Bali which included six nights in the same room at Praety homestay as you stayed in in 2004. (if I read your description correctly - it was the room at the top closest to the gang)

I concur with your thoughts on the breakfasts, but also on what a nice place it is. The breakfast choice in 2009 is between omelette and the most amazing banana pancakes - thick pancakes with a thick layer of freshly grated coconut with palm sugar syrup drizzled on top. yum yum.

I paid 70,000 per night, but definitely worth it, even if the mattress is definitely approaching end of life. But so nice to have a bright, clean and unsmelly cheap room, as well as an aesthetically amazing one.

I was actually recruited by the owner (Wayan/Patrick) while sitting on the bemo waiting to leave for Ubud from Batubulan. I was wary of this strange approach to touting until he showed me his extensive guest book, with lots of positive recommendations in lots of languages, many referring to being recruited at Batubulan, and most commending the breakfasts.



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