By Patrick Heisenberg.
I was recently given the opportunity to travel to Bali to play ‘sixes’ cricket. Sixes cricket contains six players per team, 5 overs per innings and is basically the archetype to t20 cricket.
We won the 2nd division trophy and I managed to crack a few runs and take a few wickets, sure, but the point of this article (well, that might be a bit strong as all articles on ‘Le Gurgler’ are pointless by design) is to tell you about the food in Bali.
Man oh man. Delightful.
Now, let’s start this by acknowledging that you can’t just kick about roaring down any little delicacy from a street vendor. I’m no expert on travelling (I rarely leave the house) or culture (something I think lives in yogurt), but I knew enough to avoid the dreaded ‘Bali Belly’ syndrome.
Here’s some tips on how and where to eat in Bali:
1. Stick to fully established restaurants that have plenty of locals and tourists frequenting the premise. If the locals like it, it must be good, if the tourists are hammering it, it must be suitable to ‘the weak and travelling’.
2. If it sounds, looks, smells or tastes dodgy then DON’T EAT IT. The food is so cheap that you can just order something else. Trust me, it’s not worth jamming down a dodgy looking chicken dish to save yourself $2.97
3. Avoid the delicious looking street vendor ‘satay huts’ like the plague. Some may be OK, some may not be, but the risk is enormous and the means to determine whether any particular vendor is reliable or not is basically are minimal.
4. If it is supposed to be hot, then make sure it is hot. If it is supposed to be cold, ensure it is cold.
Sure, it’s not earth-shattering or ground-breaking stuff, but it got me through alright.
On our ‘last meal’ there we hit a ribs joint in Batubelig called ‘Naughty Nuri’s Warung’. Most of us got the ‘special feast’ which comprised of
- · A full rack of BBQ pork ribs
- · The choice between hand cut potato wedges or hand cut sweet potato and beetroot chips
- · The choice of one of passionfruit cheesecake, crème caramel or chocolate brownies with homemade ice cream
- · A bottle of Bintang beer
I went for the sweet potato and beetroot chips (actually incredible) and the choc brownies with ice cream (the brownie was crumbly and crunchy on the outside and gooey in the middle, the ice-cream was delightful) for my ‘variables’.
And man – the ribs. Oh the ribs. They were just falling off the bone, there was loads of sticky, sweet and smoky home-made BBQ sauce (with a tremendously ‘kicking’ chilli sauce on standby if you wanted to mix it up, which I did) and the portion was fabulous.
So the rack of ribs, the hand cut vegetable chips, an ice-cold Bintang and brownies with home-made ice cream. How much do you think I paid for that?
Before I tell you, I can tell you that a full rack of BBQ pork ribs are $34.95 from Hog’s breath (admittedly with chips and a salad). A bowl of hand-cut fries sets you back around $8 at a restaurant. A bottle of beer costs $6 (minimum). A dessert costs roughly $9 (minimum). So, conservatively, this meal would cost around $58 in Australia.
In Bali, where they don’t dump a bunch of frozen, pre-cut fries in a fryer or scoop ice cream out of a pre-packed tub, they charge the equivalent of:
That’s right. It was 150,000 Indonesian Rupiah, which (on the figures accessed today) is actually less than $14.
A 4-hour massage cost $85. Here massages cost $55 an hour.
NOTE: It is imperative that I do declare one element that may not be as tantalising as the beautifully warm people, the ice-cold beers (that cost $1.70 or less in all nightspots that aren’t ‘westernised’ beyond redemption) and the cheap taxis. It’s the heat.
I spent a massive chunk of the early evening, every evening, in my air-conditioned room at the villa. I ran the A/C 24/7. The outside windows were actually frosted with condensation.
Playing cricket felt like I was doing so in a sauna. Walking more than 9 metres caused me to hail sweat. I’d hold an icy beer to my forehead and see steam actually floating off me.
But if you can get past that then you are set. You can live like a king (or queen), eat heartily and drink heavily and still come home with stacks of bills in your wallet.