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krisek Seminyak - A travel report by Krys
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Seminyak,  Indonesia - flag Indonesia -  Bali
17548 readers

krisek's travel reports

How pretty and how lazy can it get? Seminyak. Bali

  9 votes
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Seminyak is one of the three main beach destinations on the western coast of Bali. The other two being Legian and Kuta. It enjoys a reputation for great places to eat and party at night. And it is all true. The beach is also rather nice, including sunsets.

Seminyak Beach
Seminyak Beach
The Denpasar Airport in Bali was compact and it took me just five minutes to reach the counter for the visa on arrival. The polite lady officer at the desk charged me USD 25 and I was promptly issued a visa at the next desk. Then, at the following desk, I was stamped in - issued a leave to remain in Indonesia. Three desks, three people for a process that could really be done by one person at a single desk. Well, I am not hear to judge, of course. Surely Bali is rich enough to allow itself a little over employment.

Immediately after customs, which were unmanned (like in most European countries these days), a line of bureaux de change displayed their exchange rates. All showing exactly the same rates making it hard to decide, which desk should deserve business from me. I scanned through the bored faces of the clerks, their going rates, and decided to move on to the proper arrival hall, where ATM machines offered better much rates. By scanning the rates at the bureaux de change, I got an idea that if I withdrew 200,000 rupiahs from the cash dispenser, I would not give my bank manager a heart attack.

The arrival hall of the international terminal was less aggressive than I expected. I mean there were less aggressive porters and taxi drivers. No-one was pushy. Yes, they would ask a question, if you needed a taxi, but they were not a nuisance.

I landed after sunset. My taxi ride from the airport was short, but did not provide much sightseeing. It was dark, and all I could see were shops and grand entrances to expensive hotels. I spotted some funky water holes, which looked very promising. I mean very, very promising. I could not wait to go out. But perhaps not that night though, as I had plans to fly to Lombok early next morning. But flickering candle lights at some of the places were utterly inviting. What happened next however, changed my mood. The tour operator with whom I booked my flights forgot to bring the tickets. I spend a few hours trying to locate him...

Favourite spots:
Seminyak travelogue picture
In my opinion, Bali has got an image problem. It is recognised as a honeymoon destination. People talk about Bali as a beach holiday. They simply do not realise that in addition to great beaches, Bali offers spectacular scenery, dramatic mountainous landscape and picturesque temples.

I spoke to two couples whom I knew to had travelled to Bali. Both enjoyed their beach holidays. One went for a honeymoon, the other for an engagement holiday. After landing, it became apparent to them that there was more to Bali than just a hotel swimming pool, yet they decided not to venture deeper into the island, not even to explore the famous temples. Some of which were almost immediately next door to their hotels!

What's really great:
One of Bali's most famous temples.
One of Bali's most famous temples.
I was angry with them a little. I told them off properly. The abundance of temples on Bali is unprecedented in Indonesia. Lombok is not bad in this respect, but Bali seems to beat all Indonesian islands. There are so many temples that a short walk off the beach or an odd hotel, guarantees a visit to something special and often spectacular. And everyone is so friendly on the island. They are so keen to hold a tourist hand in discovering their culture and places of worship.

At first sight, Seminyak looked very chaotic to me. I was under the impression that all the great shops, bars, clubs and restaurants were located at very random places and that there was no logic to their placement anywhere. Well, I was right and I was wrong (about this later). I was keen on finding a string of beachfront eateries, bars and clubs. This is what defines a perfect beach spot at an exotic destination, where palms sway to the wind and the gold sand warms up my feet.

Main street in Seminyak, linking it with Legian and Kuta
Main street in Seminyak, linking it with Legian and Kuta
I thought it was illogical at first, because on my very first day, I turned from one of few top end beach bars into a wrong lane. I walked and walked and walked and passed through rather rustic areas and rice fields. And I expected the shopping strips to be there instead. I could not believe where I was! I was so disappointed with Seminyak, which came so highly recommended from some of my acquaintances. But I did find a method and a pattern in this madness. Since many hotels blocked access to the beach, only simple bars could be independent on the beach, and the rest had to belong to the hotels, or simply occupy the lanes leading to the beach and the street running parallel to the coastline.

There were few spectacular sights in Seminyak. I liked the main street with traditional architecture. It was nicely decorated and processions with the temple offerings passed that way. A couple of nice temples, one directly on the beach was nearby. Go and find it. At sunset!

Contiki 18-35 Pool and Bar seen from my room's terrace
Contiki 18-35 Pool and Bar seen from my room's terrace
In Seminyak, I stayed at the Contiki 18-35, which charged $80 for a large double room immediately at the pool. The room was very clean and airy, and the air-conditioning was efficient. The bed was really comfortable and large. The toiletries in the bathroom came from the adjacent spa. The shampoo was incredible!!

I liked the concept of the 18-35 age limit. It meant that there were no children allowed and that music, really nice funky, clubby and chillout, could play until the wee hours of the morning, and no-one complained.

The hotel had a great non-cash system. One would deposit a sum of money at the reception to receive a magnetic card to be used at the bars, restaurants, spa, etc where staff did not have to deal with cash.

The hotel was not directly on the beach, which was a bit of inconvenience, but it was very close to some of the funkiest bars and clubs in town.

Breakfast was fantastic combining low fat international options with high energy Asian ones. Spoiled for choice? Yes!!

Bali's terraces with rice paddies.
Bali's terraces with rice paddies.
The greatest places for eating, drinking, clubbing and shopping were oddly positioned outside the beach. Instead, shopping strips and the mix of eateries, bars and night clubs positioned themselves along narrow and weaving lanes leading from and parallel to the beach/beach hotels. There were three streets in Seminyak area leading towards the beachfront hotels, along which the funky bars, clubs, cafes and boutiques were open. They were: Oberoi, Double Six and parts of Abimanyu and Raya Seminyak. Some of the bars and clubs looked very promising, they had great trendy decor and atmospheric lighting. I thought I ought to check some of the better looking clubs. Nightlife there was unrivalled and the choice for restaurants was excellent. Some of the better ones looked like palaces! The boutiques, the shops, the day clubs, the night clubs, the cafes, the pubs, the juice bars... yeah! I guess Seminyak starts making sense after sunset. The shivering candle lights in all the fun places, eh.

Seminyak Beach
Seminyak Beach
Many places lured customers with happy and crazy hours offering double drinks, etc. My problem was that I could not possibly check all of them out. Oh, yeah, but I would love to! Obsesion Bar, yes it is its correct spelling, was the one I tried. It was completely empty. No customers whatsoever. The DJ was putting superb tunes and about 45 minutes was left of the happy hours. I started with a questionable coconut drink, which did not taste like coconut. It had, among other ingredients, a mix of Havana Club Anejo Reserva and Malibu rums. It was strong, but I decided to switch to mojitos. The tattooed bartender, Made, must have been a star on Bali. His mojito was perfect, it was strong and minty. Sugar was taking a bit too long to dissolve to my liking, but I cannot say it was a flaw. I sat at the bar and the DJ let me copy the excellent Smoma’s ‘Something to Remember’ album. It is a covers album but the chill out versions of the songs were superb.

Ku De Ta in the night
Ku De Ta in the night
The two beach bars, which I visited in Seminyak were the hyper funky Ku De Ta and rather boring Gado-Gado. The former was a combination of a restaurant, a bar, a cafe and perhaps a way of life. It was a very expensive place, though. And I think it was legitimate. The owners wanted to attract only the wealthier crowd and it most definitely worked. The lot that came there to chill, watch the beach, have lunch and drinks looked rather posh. When they were in-taking sunrays vegging on the reclined deck chairs, they did it topless regardless of gender. However, when they stood up and sat down at the table for a meal, they would dress us in cocktail dresses and shirts with cuff-links.

Yet, very bizarrely, the establishment allowed a fat OZ guy, almost completely naked, dripping with sun lotion leaving streaks of white greasy substance on his hairy body, to sit down at one of the tables amongst the slightly overdressed posers, celebrities and new-money riches. I could not take it. And them?

Other recommendations:
Seminyak travelogue picture
Security in Seminyak was tight. After the terrorist attacks in 2002 and 2005, both the owners of the hotels and beach bars, and the government, decided to provide for more security officers, metal detectors and mirrors to check under the cars. Before entering a hotel, a posher restaurant or a waterfront bar, all bags were checked and, if needed, hand-held metal detectors were put in action to detect explosives, etc.

Many hotels also implemented tight rules regarding non-residents visiting hotel guests. The residents were required to pre-register, if at all possible, their guests, who received visitor passes. They were no exceptions from this rule. Bali's east coast and northern beach resorts were more relaxed about this. But the attacks were concentrated on the Kuta-Seminyak stretch.

Published on Thursday October 8th, 2009

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Fri, Oct 09 2009 - 11:58 AM rating by mistybleu

I love reading your reports; they make me want to be in the destination. Nice report

Thu, Oct 08 2009 - 09:59 PM rating by pesu

And again: a superb report with stunning pics. I would love to be there - at the beach and everywhere else, except the 18-35, of course! ;-)

Thu, Oct 08 2009 - 08:03 PM rating by gloriajames

just great!
and i hope i have a good time when i get there in nov.

Thu, Oct 08 2009 - 05:05 PM rating by eirekay

What great insight into further exploration! What a shame that so much is missed by most tourists!

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