We went on a full day tour today. We were picked up from our hotel at 9am and we got back at about 4pm. Kind of disappointing.
When we first booked the tour, we were told by the front desk that it would be IDR700,000 for two persons. It was only after the fiancée asked about other costs and fees did they inform us that we would need to pay for our entry fees into the temples. It doesn’t sound like much and we thought it was no big deal. I mean, we have a guide, a driver, a vehicle… right? Wrong. We only have a driver and a vehicle. No guide. We’re basically just paying for a taxi for the whole day.
So the itinerary is planned for us but we probably could have gotten a better deal with the driver who drove us from the airport to our hotel on the first day. He told us he is charging only IDR650,000 for the whole day. This tour we got? IDR700,000 for less than 8 hours. Granted, itinerary is planned and we don’t need to think of where to go.
However, since we were paying for a tour, we thought we were getting a guide as well. Instead, what happened was the driver drove us to the ‘attractions’ and basically just waited for us in the car park. The attractions themselves were actually ‘meh’. They were interesting, sure, but since we didn’t have a guide, we couldn’t really appreciate the place and its significance.
First stop: Goa Gajah. The elephant cave. Ticket price of IDR15,000 per person. Now, this was our first stop and only after arriving there were we asked by our driver if we had brought along sarongs. Apparently, we were supposed to be decently dressed with trousers/jeans. I had on a pair of shorts and thus, not decently dressed for a temple visit. Okay… I’ve been to Angkor Wat and there weren’t such rules and regulations… Anyway, I bought one sarong since we were going to be visiting other temples. And here’s where I kind of screwed up. I could have rented one at the entrance of the temple. Instead, I bought one for IDR40,000. The fiancée got mad at me for being a sucker. oh wells. She was trying to haggle with them but I thought since we were going to visit other temples today, I should just buy one for the whole day. Turned out I couldn’t be more wrong. The temple itself was a cave. A very very small cave. Didn’t take a photo inside since no flash allowed. What did we see inside? Some lingas and a statue of the elephant god.
Second stop: Tampak Siring. The Holy Spring Water Temple. Ticket price of IDR15,000 per person. This was actually good. This was where I also got to use my sarong again. There were two pools in this place. The first pool is open to the public for bathing and washing. We saw a few devotees bathing. The next pool is closed. Viewing only. I think this is the main spring water. We saw bubbles in the pool and we thought it was where the spring water is welling out from. Not a bad place.
Third stop: Coffee Plantation. This was unexpected. No ticket price. We didn’t expect to visit the plantation as it was not in our itinerary. However, our driver took us and we were happy we got to see it. So our driver took us around the plantation and he showed us the coffee tree. He also showed us some cocoa trees and the luwak! He said the luwak is where the term kopi luwak came from. Apparently, these animals would eat the coffee cherries and it will digest and ferment the fruit in its stomach, pooping out the coffee beans and these beans are what will be used to make these special coffee. We got to taste a few teas and coffee however, the kopi luwak cost IDR50,000 a cup. We had one cup to try. Both the fiancée and I aren’t coffee connoisseurs so the only thing we could really distinguish was that the coffee was smooth and not sour or acidic. Apart from that, I don’t really find it special.
Fourth Stop: Penelokan. View of Mount Batur and Lake Batur. Ticket price was IDR65,000 for both of us as well as vehicle parking I think. The view was nice. That’s all really. Nothing you could do there. Just admire the view and then off to the next stop.
Fifth stop: Besakih. The largest temple compound in Bali. Ticket price was IDR35,000 for both of us as well as the vehicle. HOWEVER, THIS PLACE IS A FUCKING RIP OFF! Seriously. On the drive to the Besakih, our driver warned us to be wary of the local people as well the guides. At first, we didn’t know what he meant. Heh. When we arrived, we found out why he warned us. The minute we arrived, we were pressured to purchase some offerings for the temple. Okay, I bought one. It cost me IDR10,000. I thought it was cheap at first. I mean, hey, we were going to visit a temple and if I had to purchase some offerings, why not just purchase one right? Anyway, that was just the beginning. We walked to the entrance where we gave our ticket and someone inside the information booth told us that a ceremony was taking place today and that to enter the temples proper, we would need a guide. He then showed us a guestbook where tourists had written their names and the ‘donation’ they made. So apparently, we had to pay for a guide to enter the temples as well as make a donation. The guy at the booth said we should take a look at what other tourists paid and take that into consideration of how much we should pay. The other tourists were paying upwards of IDR700,000! WHAT THE FUCK. No way. I mean, we already paid entry tickets! The fiancée tried to clarify with the guy. She asked:”so this is just an approximate amount? We could pay any amount we want?” The guy said yes. So we paid IDR20,000. He then said:”okay madam. This is the donation? How about the guide fee?”
I think it was at that point that we both got frustrated. We ignored him and said we don’t need the guide. When we reached the temple courtyard, we were kind of harassed by a local. He kept referring to himself as a guardian of the temple and that to enter, we need to pay US$10. When we said we didn’t have that much, he lowered his price, all the while pointing to other tourists and saying “look sir, madam. Other tourists have guides and that is why they can visit the temples. Pay me and I will bring you up to the temples and be your guide” In the end, we put our foot down and just left the place. That was truly a bad experience marring this trip. I could live with the fact we didn’t have a proper tour guide. I could live with the fact that the entrance fees weren’t included in the price of the tour. But this price gouging? We already paid the entrance fee! Might as well have told us upfront that to visit the temple we need to pay upwards of IDR700,00 from the start and we wouldn’t have to waste time even visiting the place. What a load of bull.
Sixth stop: Bukit Jambul. Viewing of rice terrace. Free. This was okay… Stopped for lunch at a small warung. But really, this was just a stop to look at rice terrace fields. Then off to Klungkung.
Final stop: Klungkung. So apparently this is a city. The attraction is the old Court Justice of the Old Kingdom. Nothing much to see here. Again, the fiancée and I thought if we had a proper guide, this would be more interesting. Along the way, while we were in the old Court Justice, the fiancée got interviewed by a few students.
Final thoughts: I wasn’t really impressed by the whole tour. I think it was because I felt cheated. If it was only a driver driving us around and no guide, I feel like the hotel should have let us know beforehand. Their information booklet clearly stated an english speaking guide and a safety driver. Oh well.
Something to take note of in future. Note to self: the fiancée is always right. Especially when it comes to clarifying in advance details of the trip.