Our holiday in Bali (check out Part 1 and Part 2) was drawing to an end and I knew the exotic flavours of Nasi Goreng and Mie Goreng are one of the main things I’d miss about Bali. We left Ubud and were on our way back to Kuta, to visit the iconic Uluwatu Temple in Bali and do some shopping.
Grandmas Plus Airport Hotel
Since we loved our stay at Grandmas Plus Airport Hotel on our first day in Bali, we decided it would be the perfect place to end our holiday too. And, I just had to get my hands on their delicious breakfast kopi again.
After checking in and settling in to our room, we headed back to Discovery Shopping Mall for some souvenir shopping and to have our final lunch at Coco Bistro – I was more in love with Nasi Goreng than with my partner at this point!
Is it safe to use Uber in Bali?
Before I get to that, let me tell you about our interesting car ride from Ubud to Kuta. As mentioned before, the local taxi mafia does not like Uber, Grab, Go-jeck, and basically any other standardized metered taxi company. There are sign boards all over Ubud (mostly because it’s tourist-central) banning guests from being picked up by any of these companies, which means, Uber drivers are kinda scared to accept any rides. Our Uber driver from Ubud to Kuta messaged us and told us to act like he was part of the hotel and not to mention he was from Uber. Obviously, we agreed to it because it wasn’t an inconvenience or anything and we definitely preferred Uber to the local taxi guys, who seemed rather boisterous and angry! Once our driver arrived, we all acted normally and headed on our journey. The taxi guy asked us a few questions about our holiday, insisted that he take us around to Tanah Lot Temple and then head to Kuta, but we kindly denied it as we were well aware and prepared for such tourist scams.
About 30 minutes away from our hotel, at a busy street, our Uber driver informs us to hide or “get below the seats”, because the cops might stop us and he’d get in trouble for being an Uber driver. But (luckily), no one stopped us and we reached our hotel shortly afters, with a little relief.
That incident was probably the trailer to what we experienced later that evening.
After our shopping (lots of wooden penises for friends and family back home) was done, we lunched at Coco Bistro for the final Nasi Goreng. 30 delectable, mouthwatering minutes later, our bellies were filled and we bid adieu to the bustling streets of Kuta and signed ourselves up for a Balinese massage at Grandma’s Plus Airport Hotel.
Balinese Massage – my first experience
I’m not a massage person. It feels quite invasive… but also really good. The only time I enjoyed it was at Spa Ceylon in Galle Fort. That massage was just heavenly. But now, back to Bali. Did I mention it was a couples’ massage? Did I also mention, you’re expected to remove all your clothes, wrap yourself in a batik cloth and wear a black cloth-ish underwear? Yeah, that wasn’t weird at all. The massage was ‘okay’ for me, but my partner loved it. He’s more of the massage guy anyway. I was Chandler in that episode where Monica gives him a massage and he’s saying goodbye to his muscles! I developed new aches and pains I didn’t have before the massage. The work done on my legs and shoulders was great though. My partner loved it so much, he even snored and I couldn’t help but giggle. After being asked to turn around – face up, and the masseur getting a good glimpse of my boobs in the process, I had to decline the offer for a chest massage. One hour later, we were showering and getting the massage oils off our bodies in a hurry to make it to our final adventure!
Our last adventure – and quite possibly the scariest, was heading to Uluwatu Temple. We booked an Uber and were on our way, determined to catch the sunset and the Kecak Fire Dance. The Uber ride went off without any issues, thank god! We reached Uluwatu Temple, with plenty of time for the sunset. On entrance, you’re given a sash to tie around your waist. Our prior experience in wearing sarongs back in Sri Lanka helped us in securing our Balinese sarongs too!
We found a good spot on the far corner of the cliff to watch the island sunset, along with a couple of other tourists. Once the sun started to set, my oh my, it was as dramatic, bold and breath-taking. Uluwatu Temple is located on the edge of a cliff, and you can’t really visit the temple but are allowed to walk in the premises. We watched the sunset, took some pictures and then walked along the edge back to the temple premises (while dodging monkeys) to make it for the Kecak Fire Dance.
What we didn’t know was that the Kecak Fire Dance starts just before sunset – which means, we missed it! You either get to watch the sunset OR you get to watch this traditional fire dance. Unfortunately, none of the other guides or blogs on Bali mentioned that bit. With darkness lingering, we decided to head back. Only, the surcharge for Uber was now 3 times the original price. What did we do? We decided to wait till the touristy traffic eases up a bit and then get one. The darker it got, the more monkeys came out of the jungle and paraded the streets. We walked out of the temple premises, well aware that these wild animals could attack us and found the first (and only) restaurant for a beer and coffee.
Horrific Uber Experience in Bali
This was the start of our horror movie in Bali.
We ordered our drinks (which were way over priced) and sipped it slowly while refreshing our Uber app every 5 minutes. Approximately an hour and a half later, we finally got an Uber at an almost normal rate. It was well past 7:30 pm now and the road to Uluwatu is dark – no street lights, no other restaurants, no houses, zilch, nada.
Our Uber driver then texted us and asked us to walk out of the restaurant and towards the road side so that he could pick us up away from the mafia. Again, agreeing to it because we had no other choice, we started our walk. The road was so dark and eerie you couldn’t see anything, and we had to rely on our phone torches for light. About 2 taxi mafia guys rode past us on bikes offering taxi services, but we had to turn them down, because we didn’t want to tell them we got an Uber. I started to feel uncomfortable and plain scared.
At a distance, I saw a phone light – not even the torch light, but the front screen of a phone waving through trees or bushes. I panicked. Who the f could be hiding behind that and shining their phone at us?! Petrified and reluctant to take another step forward, my partner and I decided to walk back to the restaurant. I mean, this was how the young couple in those horror movies die right? By being stupid and walking into the death trap?
As we were walking back, our Uber driver messages us, saying that it was him waving through the trees! We asked him where the car was parked, and he said he had to hide it between the bushes and turn the lights off so he wouldn’t get caught!
There was no way in hell we were walking back to him or getting into the cab with that guy. We cancelled the driver, lodged a complaint, and reluctantly made a deal with the mafia guy, who had been watching us the whole time, to take us back to Kuta. We paid double the fare but reached there in one piece. Hallelujah!
Exhausted and overwhelmed, we half packed and were ready to leave the country the next morning.
What we found out was that, Uber is not illegal in Bali. It’s just the local taxi guys really hated Uber because they charged much cheaper fares than they could.
When getting an Uber in Bali:
a) Don’t tell anyone you got an Uber.
b) If you’re going to a tourist attraction, pay extra and make the driver wait. It’s worth it!
c) Act like the driver was sent from your hotel.
The next morning, after a heavenly breakfast of pastries, fruits, mie goreng and that delicious kopi, we packed our luggage and left to the airport.
Malindo was delayed for 2 hours, but we walked along at our own pace through the duty free, I bought a book (Sun and her Flowers by Rupi Kaur), and we enjoyed the view of the runway from the boarding gate. The flight back was great – amazing food and service as was expected of Malindo Air. Our flight from KL to Colombo was delayed by 6 hours. With the new departure time set for midnight, we were tired but luckily found an airport lounge to shower, rest and eat! At a little close to midnight, we were on the runway again, heading home.