Bali: The end of the road…Now to unwind…

When we first spotted the island of Bali from the ferry port on East Java at Banyuwangi, we thought we were nearly there. It’s really very close to Java, about the same distance as the Humber Bridge covers, near my home town of Hull…

Bali seen from Banyuwangi on East Java

The ferry across costs an amazing 60p or so, and we felt a sense of relief and elation at this apparently easy crossing to the final leg of our journey.

Banyuwangi ferry port

One hour and a half later, we were just pulling in to port at Gillimanuk. I have never ever experienced such a slow ferry. I think we did stop several times on the way over, but for most of the route (that can’t have been more than a mile or so) we seemed to keep to an extraordinary 1 mph – it must take some skill to drive a vehicle that slowly for such a long time.

By the time we disembarked, it was nearly dusk. We wandered over to the little bus depot a short walk from the harbour and saw a bus for Denpasar. The thing is, said the driver, we only have seven passengers, and I need 15 to set off…

Now, we’d come across this kind leave-when-youre-full approach to public transport elsewhere, but this was different. In China, Uzbekistan, Vietnam, there tended to be a steady stream of people looking for transport. At Gillimanuk, one new passenger came after one hour. And after two hours, we still only had eight fares.

At that point, the bus driver offered to leave immediately if we’d pay twice the fare. since bus fares are dirt cheap in Indonesia, we kind of wished he’d asked two hours earlier, but we set off on one of the longest, windiest island roads I’d ever experienced. Only about 80 miles, but it took nearly three hours, meaning our arrival in Denpasar was nearer midnight than 11pm, about four hours later than we had hoped.

Our last travel leg proved therefore to be one of the most difficult of all over the 110+ days of the journey.

We spent all the free time we had on Bali checking out the final tea and coffee venues for review.

But we were determined to have a photo taken on the beach at our last stop. So, here we go…

AnitaBeachBali

SimonBeachBali

We managed to find a quiet, mainly-locals beach on the other side of Denpasar from Katu or Seminyak. And we kind of liked this statue of a fisherman standing by the beach. He kind of encapsulated how we’ll be now we’ve settled on east coast Australia, looking out to sea wondering about our next journey…

SeaFarerLookingOut

So, that’s it.

25 long distance bus journeys

22 trains

14 private car journeys

12 mini buses or mashrutkas

10 planes

2 shared taxis

1 ferry

after we left Yorkshire, we made it to Australia…

There will be other posts, but that’s it for now, folks. Our journey is done. Time to unwind off the road for a while.

Head into Denpasar for coffee on Bali

When we finally got to Denpasar (via that snail-paced ferry from Java, and the tortuous bus route along the island’s windy roads) we found ourselves in the middle of Bali’s capital in a resort hotel frequented mainly by Indonesians, and well away from the touristy parts like Kuta or Seminyak.

There are countless coffee shops – probably run by Aussies and New Zealanders – over by the beaches, but we were treated to some quality local coffee culture within a short walk of our hotel in the centre of Denpasar.

Playboy's coffee house in Denpasar

First up, we found the rather dubiously named Playboy’s Coffee House, its image of the bunny rabbit’s head making us wonder what sort of joint we were entering.

The Nuova Simonella coffee machine reassured us, though, as did the house blend advertised, which married some local Aceh and Flores beans with a Yirgacheffe from Ethiopia. So some thought had gone into the coffee, and it showed with the resulting cappuccino, a delightful start to our day in Denpasar.

Coffee in Denpasar at Playboy's

It was quite a late start, mind you. At 10.15am, we were the café’s first customers (they open at 10am) so don’t dash along here for a crack-of-dawn cuppa. But if you are on the beach and fancy a coffee in Denpasar itself, Playboy’s could be the place for you.

You couldn’t find a friendlier pair than Steve and Eky, who run the show, either. The decor and fittings all look pristine and sparklingly clean, as if the place only opened a few days before, and there’s a nice touch, with Eky’s badminton championship medal from 1997 standing on the counter by the wall, showing there’s more to life than coffee…or at least there was all those years ago.

Outside seating at Playboy's Coffee House in Denpasar

There’s good air-conditioning here, or a terrace out the front if you prefer to bathe in the warm air, and a room at the side which is covered by a roof but otherwise open to the front. So, lots of options, and I’m guessing they are more of a nocturnal venue than early morning…

Playboy's for good coffee in Denpasar

Which brings me back to that name: I asked the owners why they had chosen the name Playboy’s. ‘For fun’, they said, and to create a concept for the menu, which does indeed include lots of interesting innuendoes, though we didn’t try the Nutty Naughty, the One Night Stand or the First Fruit.

We stuck to their basic coffee and cake, and were very happy with that for our morning cuppa in Denpasar.

As we walked back towards our hotel, happy to have found good coffee on Bali, we passed by another coffee shop, which drew us in with its announcement that they roast their own coffee.

Golden Honey coffee roastery in Denpasar

Golden Honey is an ‘artisan coffee roastery’ but also specialises in pizza! Again, we were the only customers in there at 11am, and with pizza not really on our minds, we decided to stick to the coffee, but wondered again if this was more of an evening venue, where people come for dinner and then finish their day with a quality coffee.

Golden Honey coffee shop in Denpasar

As you’d expect from a place that roasts their own, the coffee was good, all Indonesian this time, which we also like to see, though I personally preferred the brew they gave us round the corner at Playboy’s (the thing is, it’s always hard when a venue is the second coffee shop to be visited in a short time frame – the joy of having the first caffeine of the day means the 2nd cup has to be extraordinarily special to gain the same effect on the senses…).

Coffee from Bali at Golden Honey coffee roastery in Denpasar

I loved the concept, though: locally roasted, using Indonesian beans – our coffee made even from a Bali crop – and selling bags of the best on the counter. Once again, I couldn’t resist, and we came away with yet another bag of beans, this time from Bali of course.

So, that was our last coffee on the road on an odyssey that began with Loustic in Paris and ended with Golden Honey in Denpasar. Our next coffee would be at Adelaide Airport, when we arrived the next day into Australia.

Poster in Golden Honey coffee shop in Denpasar

But there was still tea to come in Bali. More on that tomorrow…