Travel

Bali

I’ll put my hand up, I was a sceptic when it came to Bali.

Typically labelled as the Aussie getaway for all things boozy, cheap and ‘bogan’, I’d been dodging Bali for quite some time, opting for places like Fiji or New Zealand instead. But this year I took the plunge, in desperate need of a holiday and something (dare I say) cheap, I booked myself and my partner on a two-week escape to Bali. Keen to make the most of my time and to ensure myself an experience beyond the typical Aussie piss up, I did my research and decided to leave my trip to the experts at Intro Travel.

Up at, what seemed like, the crack of dawn for our flight. Everything went as you would hope when it comes to flying, without incident. Waiting to disembark at Denpasar as the warm humid climate starts to seep into the plane, I have to refrain from making any sort of animal noises as the crammed aisle reminds me of cattle being herded. We make it off, collect our luggage and make our way through border security; I didn’t even bring a boogie board but I’m suddenly concerned I’ve smuggled drugs in with it.

DSCN0089.JPGFor a bit of relaxation, before we started our 12 day adventure on Balintro, we booked in for a night at a private villa. Based in Seminyak, Nyuh; which is Balinese for coconut, was the perfect place to recoup. Collected at the airport by a member of staff, we needed not think from that moment onward as the staff catered for our every need and were happy to answer any questions. I’d never had food so delicious served to my room from the fresh fish served for dinner to breakfast by the pool; I often fantasize about devouring plate after plate of their French toast.

Sadly, we did have to leave the next day but what ensued over the next 12 days with Balintro completely opened up my eyes to the beauty of Bali and it’s people. Bali, being so close to home and so regularly frequented by Aussie’s it’s not uncommon to have news stories highlighting the thievery, blackmailing and misfortunes that befall holiday goers. It was exactly these types of stories which made me wonder why anyone ever went. But if you get beyond the resort holiday destinations of Seminyak and Kuta, you begin to see the wonders that Bali holds.

Balintro allowed us an insight into Bali that on my own I wouldn’t have even known existed, yet I got to experience and absorb every last morsel of Bali’s splendour. Beyond Kuta to Uluwatu, Canggu, Lovina, the Gili Islands and Ubud our guide, Dave ensured that our adventure was also a culinary delight, meal after meal I indulged in the most delicious fresh seafood; if you’re going to Bali and not lapping up the smorgasbord of seafood available to you, you’re doing it wrong.

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Fifty shades of green- UNESCO World Heritage listed; Jatiluwih Rice Paddies.

Not just a treat for the tastebuds, Bali is a delight for the eyes albeit rubbish that lines the streets, bear in mind this is a third world country, Bali has some amazing landscapes. Unfortunately, despite the advancements in technology, photos just don’t do any justice to  the rice fields panoramas, nor the blue waters surrounding the Gili Islands or the lush rainforests that hug the winding mountain roads.

 

But the real highlights of Bali is the beings that inhabit this small piece of Indonesia; thepeople and the animals. One incredible experience that Balintro allowed us that we otherwise wo18953243_1863829350607316_681821065853015616_o.jpguldn’t have had is an insight into the life of a Balinese family. Atop the mountains of Lovina we were able to visit a local families house and learn about how they make a living from the land and from basket weaving. We got to interact with their kids, who mainly took pride in upstaging us with their basket weaving skills, and sitting down to a Balinese feed (honestly some of the best food I’ve ever tasted).

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And at every stop along the way there were animals; monkeys, snakes, dogs, dolphins, fish, turtles and more monkeys! The cheek of the monkeys created for some entertaining moments along the way. Catching an unsuspecting tourist off guard with a slap before run off with his sunnies and another showcasing his prize; a thong (flip flop) for all to see. Although hilarious to watch misfortune befall others, I kept an eye out for any sudden movements when in the presence of these mischief makers. And then the days spent in and on the water; watching pods of dolphins surface, jump and spin out the water and swimming alongside the fish and sea turtles, all incredible experiences.

Bali, I apologise for my initial opinions and recoiling whenever someone mentioned your name. I’m grateful that you had so much more to offer than I expected; thank you for proving me wrong!

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Working Holiday: Settling In

If you’re just tuning in to my blog and feel as though you’ve walked in mid-conversation, head over to Working Abroad: Getting There and get yourself caught up. This part is 100% specific to London but I’m sure you’ll be able to get a fair idea of what you’ll need to do when you reach your Destination X. If you’re headed elsewhere, just pay no attention to the specifics here.

Regardless of where you are off to though, this part, getting set up is where a company such as The Working Holiday will prove to be your guardian angels. It can be a bit daunting to have to organise your bank account, housing and UK tax file number equivalent when you require at least one to get the other (ie; home address to set up your bank account or vice versa). When going through a working holiday company you can choose to include to have these things taken care of for you which takes a lot of pressure off you. However, if you are set on doing this all by yourself, it is possible, albeit stressful, and a bit fiddly; don’t say I didn’t warn you.

There is no real order to which you should go about getting set upon, however, once you get one item ticked off the list, the ball starts rolling and it’s easier from there. But I’ll just go with my experience and order this the way I did it.


National Insurance Number
10 Days to get this bad boy sorted.
When you get your visa sent back you’ll also receive a number you need to call once you’re in the UK to get your National Insurance Number (NI). I called through on my second day in the UK as you need to set up an appointment at the nearest office – they will find this for you, no need to research and stress out about that. Definitely best to give yourself too much time as opposed to not enough.

Living arrangements
Because earplugs aren’t an option when you need to wake up at 4am
For my first few weeks in London I found myself living in a Hostel whilst I got myself setup. While it’s good for a time, there’s a point when you need to be able to sit in your knickers, eating a pack of chips and bingeing on Orphan Black; and although I’m sure this isn’t banned, it’s most likely frowned upon. I used websites such as Flatmates, to not only search for room vacancies but to advertise my need for one. Some pointers here:

1) As a safety precaution I would recommend not uploading a photo of yourself as it can get the attention of the wrong people.

2) Be wary of adverts looking for Roommates. In Australia we use this word quite loosely often referring to our housemates, that’s generally not the case in places like the UK. When they say roommate they mean a mate with whom you share your room.

3) Some areas where you’ll be able to find ‘decent’ (I use this word lightly) rent for your own room that isn’t too much of a trek to the city centre like Acton Town and Shepherds Bush out West, or Leyton/Leytonstone out North East. These places are awesome as they are along the Piccadilly (navy) and Central (Red) and District (Green) lines, this generally means you won’t need to change trains. I don’t suggest South of London as there aren’t many lines that service South of the Thames and as for North London, the Northern and Bakerloo lines are pretty unreliable.

4) Some landlords may be hesitant to lease to you until you have a job or even a bank account, I find that honesty is the best policy. Also if you’re able to pay a 4-6 weeks in advance they’re all good. Just pretty please make sure you get it all in writing before you hand over that poundage!

Bank Accounts
Shut up and take my money!
I can’t really advise on one particular bank that is better than the others. You’ll stumble upon the same 4 or 5 multiple times whilst walking along popular streets. They all appear to be pretty accessible but I will have to leave you to your own devices when it comes to choosing as I walked into the first bank I saw and ended up setting up my account with them. In saying that, I wasn’t able to set it up on the spot, you will need to make an appointment to open your account and will need to provide documents such as your visa, passport and National Insurance Number etc. When it comes to transferring your money over, do it in one big chunk to avoid paying multiple fees. Otherwise, I put all my money onto my currency card – as my bank did not charge for loading and had a pretty good rate – withdrew it and then cashed it in at the bank.

Get Familiar
After all, when your family and friends visit, you’re supposed to be the expert.
Get on the Hop-on Hop-off bus loops, go (window) shopping at Oxford Street and Harrod’s, soak up the gory history at the Tower of London or the genius of Shakespeare at the Globe Theatre. London has so much on offer and there is a number of great day trips or weekend getaways within reach! Stay tuned for more on “what to do and see, where to go and how to ‘do’ London in a day” – great to pass along to the family when they drop by for a holiday but you need to work.