My last couple of posts have been about my time in Australia, and now unfortunately my time in OZ has come to an end. But fear not, as I have now begun my adventure exploring Southeast Asia!
This is my first time being in Asia, I’ve never visited this continent before so to say I’m excited is an understatement! Our first stop on our list is Bali.
So, what have I learnt during my first week?
1. When in doubt get Nasi Goreng
This tip might sound a little bit odd, but let me explain myself further. Nasi Goreng is an Asian dish; its made up of fried rice, vegetables, fried egg and chicken. This doesn’t sound very adventurous, but when you’re ordering street food and the person serving you doesn’t speak enough English to explain the rest of the menu to you, it’s an absolute winner! Since being in Bali, we have eaten street food everyday, as it’s definitely the cheapest and tastiest kind of food to get. I was a bit sceptical about trying street food at first due to all the horror stories I’ve heard, but we have been completely fine with all the food we’ve eaten. I would definitely recommend eating the local food rather than the more western type of meals, e.g. pizza, burgers and chips. I ordered a pizza once and it just didn’t taste the same, but that’s my own preference, so others might disagree. Since here my taste buds have been tingled countless times with the amount of chilli that is in the food. Trust me when I say that I am a wimp when it comes to spice, but the spice in the food here isn’t over powering at all, it’s just enough. But if you cannot handle any heat to your food at all, just ask and they will adapt the recipe for you!
2. It’s ok to say no
Both me and my boyfriend are blonde and fair, so it’s easy to see why we get so much attention from the locals. If you walk through a market, or even a location where they sell souvenirs, the sellers will none stop ask you to look at their stalls and ask you to buy the items they are selling. Now there is nothing wrong with this, these people are just trying to make a living. But if you don’t want to buy something, don’t feel bad for saying no. The people are friendly and the majority of them will recognise when you don’t want to buy something. But sometimes, some of them are only being friendly as they want you to buy something. There’s been occasion where the locals have been really nice and friendly towards us, and as soon as we say we don’t want to buy something, their attitude changes and they immediately become disinterested with you. Please don’t think all the locals are like this though, we have met some lovely people; just be aware of scammers that’s all I’m trying to say.
3. To bike? Or not to bike?
As scary as it sounds, the easiest and quickest way to get around is definitely by a motorbike. The traffic is just too ridiculous. We took a taxi from our hotel to the beach which took us under 10 minutes on the bike, but it turned into a 20+ minute taxi ride. Although the taxi still wasn’t that expensive, you can rent a bike for the day for around 60,000 Rp (£3.70 roughly) and half a tank of petrol will also only cost you 10,000 Rp (60p roughly). If the thought of renting a bike really does scare you then of course don’t do it. You can rent an uber for the day for 350,000 Rp. But speaking from personal experience, I had never been on the back of a bike until a week ago, the first time I got on was of course daunting; but now it’s completely fine. When driving the bike, just don’t be stupid and be careful. On the main roads in town, because of how busy the traffic is you don’t usually pick up a lot of speed. We only went up to about 35 mph. Once you get used to it you’re fine. This is just me speaking from my own experience, do what feels right for you!
4. Barter like a bargain hunter
Our first few days in Bali, we found it really difficult to get to grips with the exchange rate and how the currency worked. We are so used to seeing huge numbers and thinking that we’re spending loads, when actually in Asia you are hardly spending anything. So of course, me being me, on more than one occasion I’ve settled on the first price I’ve been given rather than trying to bargain down my price. My boyfriend is much better at doing this than I am, I tend to feel bad for trying to get the price down or can’t figure out the exchange rate off the top of my head. He will ask them a price, then offer them around a third of the price they have given. The seller will usually ask for another offer, if you’re firm and stick to your guns they will usually accept your offer. But sometimes you have to offer a slightly higher price until they eventually accept your price. You just need to remember that these people do this for a living and they will try to charge you more because they think you have money.
5. Always have cash on you
- When I say this I don’t mean carry around your whole budget with you. Just have some cash for necessities. What I do is I’ll take out 1,000,000 Rp (£60) from an ATM, but I’ll take about 100,000 Rp out with me in the day just in case I want to buy anything (I don’t usually end up spending it all). I’ll keep the rest of the money in a safe in my room, or somewhere secure. Hardly anywhere excepts card, and if they do there is usually a 3% surcharge. I find taking cash out is also a helpful way to keep track of what you’re spending. When I was in Australia I made the mistake of paying for everything on card and I ended up over spending my budget. There’s ATMS everywhere and they always give the option to change the language to English. Most of the ATMS are in these little glass pods with air conditioning, which is a nice little touch. They are also great as they act as an extra security measure because you can only fit a person in one pod at a time. No need to worry about anyone looking over your shoulder at your pin!
Thank you for reading, more Asia blogs to follow!