Subject: RE: Sumatra, Bali, Thailand - looking for recommendations
Hi there, This may be too late but .... might fill in a few gaps if there's still time...

> Oct 2-3 Depart SF / Arrive Singapore -- ticket already booked using
> frequent flyer miles

We're just putting up the Singapore pages of our site - check it out by the weekend and they should be up - they'll give you some travelogues of others who have gone to Singapore, recommended places to stay, eat and see (as well as lots of sites to look at during your pre-trip research).

> Oct 4-10 Make my way from Singapore to Jakarta (via Sumatra?)

There are so many fascinating parts of the archipelago - I suggest that you read some other travellers' travelogues ( ) and see what area sounds most appealing - then check out the Travel Advisories from the U.S. Embassy in Jakarta

> Oct 11-20 Fly to Bali from Jakarta with friends

Here are my personal thoughts on Bali - sprinkled with a bias against heavily touristed places (so - do bear that in mind - it really depends upon your own preferences).

Although it's a relatively small island, each part is quite different. The north part of the island (around Lovina and Pemuteran) actually has 'black' sand... it's not dirty - just volcanic in origin. There are beautiful white sands on the South and East beaches but ... your personal preferences will dictate where you go.

Unless you like wall to wall people and people fighting over who's going to sell you things on the street .... stay away from Kuta. The place is incredibly crowded and there is very little left of the real Bali. IMHO - tourism has absolutely ruined that part of Bali. We got out as soon as we could.

We went north west to Pemuteran which is a relatively quiet area - it has a nice beach, great snorkelling and diving off the island across the way, Pulau Menjangan. Then we took a bus to Lovina (just a bit east of there) and stayed there for a couple of days. Here the beach is dark sand - but fairly clean and it is not as crowded as the south. The villages along the beach are interesting and the people are very friendly.

On the east coast - Candidasa is a great place to stay if you like diving/snorkelling too. The beach is almost non-existent though ... they made the horrendous mistake of mining the coral reef to get lime to make cement for the tourist accommodation 20 or so years ago ... and the beach literally washed away. There's a wonderful old village nearby, Tenganan, that's worth a long walk to (or pop on a truck or bike that offers a ride).

We just drove through Sanur - the beach looks lovely and it is supposed to be a little less touristy than Kuta. Nusa Penida is mainly full of major Ritz-type resorts.

Definitely our favourite area was Ubud - we stayed in a place about 6 km out of town and walked in a few times through the fields and small villages (some talented artists have set up a small shops along the road to sell their incredibly detailed miniature paintings, etc.)... great place! There's white-water rafting (great fun) and all sorts of things to do around there. Ubud itself is quite busy with tourists but not as bad as elsewhere and there still seems to be a bit of the 'original Bali' feel to it (or at least - what you think it might have been).

> Oct 24 Fly to Bangkok

Oh goodness.. so much to see.... Bangkok could keep you going for at least 3 days, we found the area around Kanchanaburi fascinating (for both history and nature), Ayuthaya is wonderful, the national parks are wonderful for soaking up the environment (sometimes literally ) but make sure you have the proper innoculations, etc. beforehand. We hired a car and did a great short trip into southern Thailand (shall send you my report by separate email) and, as someone else said - the north has it's own charms and delights that would make a quick plane trip to Chiang Mai worth it for you. The travelogues provide a wealth of info. - then you'll just have to choose - assured... you'll want to come back and check out the places that you missed (or didn't have enough time in)!

Sounds like you can make a super trip out of that month - I'm jealous! Have a great time!

Cheers! Judy in Hong Kong