Monday, June 17, 2013

Vacation Part 2: BALI, Island of the Gods ...

Notes of Warning: First of all, picture heavy, so let it load easy first. Secondly, journalized for sharing purposes only, not for showing off. Thirdly, might be boring and long-wordy so read at your own leisure or go ahead scroll for visual effects.  

So after spending 5D4N in Phuket, it wasn't nearly enough. If you ever found yourself feeling down the moment you board the outbound flight home, you know you will miss the place and what it represents. You also know you should return someday. But if you feel happy leaving, there's probably something wrong with you. Hahaha. So if you missed reading Part 1 of this holiday, not a problem, just click HERE.

Four hours transiting in KL before the next adventure with low phone battery, low netbook life, and nothing much to do, what's a partly sunburned lady gotta do but kill time with the conveniently packed DIY manicure?

 Asking two guys' opinions proved to be a little colourful. Tada!

All geared up and ready after a strong dose of coffee, next Destination: Bali!
 
Abiding by the usual trademark ... Hello Bali!

Oh we can never have enough adventure in our lives. There's always something new to discover about a new place. But after that amazing restful I'm-totally-a-tourist few days in Phuket, the next adventure is a bit of an anti-climax and more of a recuperating period, although never any less fun. And if you've been to Bali, you'd know why.

I had only one purpose to be in Bali, and that was to fulfill the wishlist of experiencing Bungee Jumping - the daredevils' game. However, we were told that the bungee jump tour in Seminyak has been cancelled (or put on hold) for the last 3 or 4 months due to a hotel construction happening nearby. Boo. Disappointed, yes, but crushed? No-o way.

Gateway to the Legian beach... a trace of religious influence


This famed island of the gods, a small part of Indonesia, Bali is a much hyped exotic international holiday spot. Like most resort city, Bali also offers the same island tours, snorkeling, diving, elephant rides, and visits to tourism spots. Which, I must add, we decided to forgo since we already did much of that in Phuket.

If you read your wiki right, Bali is a majority Hindu community who observe worship rituals in their everyday lives. These you would practically notice everywhere all around you in Bali. Most of the tourist attractions here are of ancient and unique temples. These hospitable community have a high sense of respect and awe for their places of worship, and they expect no less from visitors.
 
We didn't know there was a temple behind us until a guard told us to 'Be Careful Leaning'..

We arrived a bit late in Bali that day and thanking God for small favors of the wisdom to book a transport in advance with the hotel. Otherwise you would have a massive human traffic jam waiting outside at the airport arrival hall in the form of taxi drivers, van operators, etc. and you might never know how they'll charge. Besides, having your name written on a placard and held up for everyone to see is secretly kind of fun you know.  (Tips: It's always safer to request the hotel/villa or wherever you're staying to arrange transportation to ferry you there. Pay a little more for convenience or if you're lucky, they're complimentary.)

If you do your homework prior to getting here, you'd realize that Bali offers nice hotels and private villas. Some come cheap, some with extra deals, some with impressive views, some with strategic locations, some with well written reviews ... but all come with the right amount of hospitality. It's only a matter or preference. So, hotels over private villas? Obviously the best deal won.

This Suntara Villa Legian is a luxurious cheap (by our standard) villa in Legian, about 10 minutes walk to Legian Beach. We found this via Booking.com and Trip Advisor and per-arranged via the same spots. Sites really help huh?

L-R clockwise from top: Entrance, communal and dining area, 
kitchenette, and private pool

For those who prefer hotel's service like breakfast buffet, dining etc, it's best to just stay in a hotel. This villa offers a chef service with a fee, but we decided nah... we can prepare our own breakfast and dine outside. [Tips: Staying in a villa offers you more privacy and freedom of space and movement. If you travel with kids, it's probably better to stay in a hotel where you have the staff's attention at all times. Here, they practically leave you alone (with phone numbers for easy reach in case of emergency), and only come the next day at noon for housekeeping tasks. WiFi is free and internet connection is awesomely fast.]

(L-R clockwise from top) Overall building outlook, poolview,
master bedroom, and living room view from top.

Although the walkway to the villa is poorly lit (and so is mostly everywhere else at night, as we noticed) and being Malaysians who are normally paranoid about thieves, muggers, snatchers, and whatnots ... our guide who brought us there kept saying 'Di sini aman saja' (it is safe here)... like reading our collective thoughts. I didn't even see a guardhouse nearby. But well hey, the whole time we were in Bali, he was right! Bali is, in their own words, 'AMAN' (peaceful or safe).

The beaches in Bali are relatively longer than in Phuket. Less crowded with tourists, but almost the same activities going on: surfing, sun lounging, mobile markets, etc.

Entrance to Legian Beach... Never Say Maybe?

According to a taxi driver, it is a stretch of beaches than combined Legian, Seminyak, Kuta and Tanah Lot. If you walked the whole stretch on bare feet leisurely, you'd reach the end in perhaps, 45 minutes to 1 hour? We only got to the end of Legian and almost crossing to Kuta  in less than 15 minutes. What a walk! Oh did I tell you? We stayed in Legian, not far from Kuta, where all the hype is. It's a walking distance everywhere man. I can't believe the amount of walking I had on this holiday alone! Amazing energy too! Haha. [Suruhlah I jalan kaki di Kuching, sorry la...]

Barefoot and loving it ...

The walk wasn't without its trials and temptations. Everywhere we went, some locals were ready to intercept you with offers of goodies or services to purchase. Some were less pushy but some were a trifle insistent. When we stopped by and rented the sunbeds (about RM10 each for 4 hours, I think), a few ladies came over immediately. And as usual, we thought it would be a good idea to get a massage while sun lounging (we never learn... sigh) ... But a cheap deal of RM15 per person for an hour, it wasn't a bad service at all. What was bad was this lady selling bracelets and bangles who won't go away. She begged me to buy her bracelets. Uh-huh, begged. Ignoring her didn't work obviously, she sat rooted to the spot even as I closed my eyes. See that white bead bracelets in pic below? Yes, in the end that piece caused me RM30 to take home. Oh well...

Good beach massage by a strong-hand aunty...

The bracelet lady walked away happy with her bounty and went to harass someone else. There were like more than 10 ladies in the same area offering the same goodies, so each time one passed by, we pretended to be asleep or keeping busy conversing with each other. That lady below wasn't so lucky...

Read both their body languages...

Tips when on the beach: Smile, be friendly but try to ignore the mobile sellers, unless you do intend to purchase something from them. If you buy from one, another one will harass you to buy something else from them. They usually target your human compassion, playing on your weakest moment, and score a deal with a sulky look. I don't know how but yes, they literally resort to that. Rent a sunbed nearer to the Legian Beach, it's more private and quieter on that end than in Kuta. Sunbeds costs about the same.

Hair braiding anyone? 

Henna tattoo, hair braiding, meni-pedi, food ... and more offered at the beach. Cool huh, if only my hair was longer.

Then there's swimming and surfing. Some of the locals even offer you surfing crash course with a minimal fee, but on the day we contemplated just that, it rained in the evening. So yeah...

 What's the point of going to the beach if you don't plan to get wet huh...

Some moments are to be cherished forever ... good company, good mood, lovely place... What more can you ask for?

That classic old school moment...

Walking the streets of Bali is an unforgettable experience by itself. If you don't join any holiday tours (like we didn't), the next things to do are sightseeing and shopping for souvenirs. From Legian to Seminyak to Kuta, they basically offer the same tourists bring-home stuffs.

Le guardian angels...

Spas, tattoo parlours, souvenir shops, gift T-shirts, dresses, etc... they're everywhere in Legian. And currency exchange outlets are practically everywhere for that emergency moment. [Tips: Remember to do your souvenir shopping in the daytime because they mostly closed by 5pm or 6pm. Only the malls open at night, but those sell standard items you'd find in your own country too. And if they asked you, try not to tell you're from Malaysia. Apparently this will give them more bargaining power over you, like using their 'Harga Tetangga' they called it. As if calling you to return the favour. It's not a bad thing, it's just that well, neighbors code of conduct stuff that you sometimes kinda have to oblige with.]

An interesting sight: A mobile 'bubur kacang' peddler...

Don't know what to buy for your loved ones at home? There are plenty of 'I Love Bali' teeshirts, household items and decos, replicas of branded stuffs etc. And for the single friends... look what I found! For that brow-raising moment with your mothers... try this!

Oh they're massive bottle openers, with tiny balls ... found abundantly in Bali.

I also discovered an interesting and unique brand in Bali... a whole building dedicated for it. Atticus - the dead bird concept store, as I'd like to put it. Poor mockingbird. The brand, originating from the US, is quite cool. They offer street wear, sport attires and gears, sunglasses, etc... mostly for men though. I wonder why I never saw this anywhere in Malaysia before.

Poor birdie...

All I got which was a statement in itself, was this lovely singlet. And one or two beach dresses besides. I gotta shop too right?

Indeed!
Next on my favourite subject: Food!
This place is mostly memorable to me because of the food. Not just any food -- street food. I heard tell when in Bali, forgo the restaurants in favour of smaller shops by the streets. They're much nicer, cheaper, and you get the same hospitable service. I mean, this Warung Enak was just 5 minutes away from our villa and to think that we almost didn't cross the road to go there because the outer appearance looked unimpressive. They serve a really mean Nasi Campur (mixed rice) which consisted of white rice of the best quality, chicken meat partly shred, curry potato, chopped long beans salad, peanuts, salted vege, hard boiled egg, and the hottest yummiest sambal I've ever tasted. A little bit of everything goes a loooong way for the taste buds.

 Nasi campur...

Bali is also famous for its 'Babi Guling' or suckling pig. They say, you can't leave town without trying this dish. The famous one, as per our taxi driver's recommendation, is near Kuta but they only open in the daytime. So we tried it instead at this small unknown shop not far from where we stayed, and it was equally (I hope) nice.

Nasi babi guling ... also a bit of everything...

The price is almost the same as the mixed rice and their condiments are nearly similar. I don't know what it is about Balinese and long beans but they're an exquisite addition and goes well with any dish. I don't even eat that much of it back home.

Not enough? They're so crispy you must ask for extra...

When evening came, the only eateries open are the restaurants, hotel cafes,and bars. They're not bad either, but a little pricey than our usuals.


 Clockwise from top left: Nasi merah bebek goreng (fried duck), 
lombok ayam nasi merah (chicken dish), seafood basket, and mixed rice hotel version

[Tips: Finding food in Bali could prove to be a challenge for Muslims, but there are available halal spots if you know where to look and they'll post a sign outside too. But for the rest, hey indulge! Opt for street foods as they are cheaper and way nicer. Avoid the mobile food sellers because those stuffs have been everywhere. Unless you see a smoking hot dish, better to eat at a proper shop or eateries.]

Nightlife in Bali is nothing much compared to Phuket. Kuta is the center of it all so if you want to get there, you can walk for about 10 to 15 minutes if you know your way. Or you could hail a cab (there are a lot of taxis in Bali going around every other minute and they're not that expensive) and tell them where you want to go. Better yet, ask them to recommend the best hangout bars in town. Some taxi drivers are known to be really friendly and tourist-oriented... when they're not trying to sell you a tour or something.

This is one of the sights we passed by in Kuta... a dance club with dancers doing their hip moves calling for patrons.


The reggae club we went to wasn't bad except I didn't know half of their songs, and the vocalist plus band members weren't much to look at. We ended up finishing our drinks, getting bored and started checking our phones for nothing...

 Anti socials...

On our last evening in Bali, we decided to revisit the club we went to on the first night. The band was average only, and while there were one or two eye candies up there on the stage, they lose out in the talent department. We had fun nonetheless cracking up jokes among ourselves and observed the other patrons having fun.

 Here's to the last evening in Bali...

Someone is apparently promoting he was single that night... however mommy and daddy didn't approve much. Hahaha

 
 Break for advertisement...

On our way back, taking the long route home to enjoy the night scenery, we passed by the Bali Bombing Memorial, a stone's throw away from the club. If you remember, the tragedy which occurred on 12 October 2002 was the deadliest act of terrorism in the history of Indonesia. The memorial was dedicated on 12 October 2004, the second anniversary of the attack. On its wall are names of victims and it's sad to note some of them are half locals and half tourists, and some are quite young too.

 
 The Bali Bombing Memorial...

Across the road from the Memorial, according to the taxi driver who drove us home that night, is the ground zero... where the most famous and popular club back then stood. Now it held nothing.

 
The bombing site across it...

Okay. This trip is rapidly closing up and heading towards the end. Sadly I didn't get to try the famous Kopi Luak, not because there weren't any, but because all those walking kept me thirsty for colder beverages. And taking coffee at night recently proved a bad move, so yeah. However I did try Bali Kopi -- at least la kan -- unfortunately I didn't like it much because it was a little too bitter and too tangy for my preference.

Bali Kopi... looks nice but I think I like my own local white coffee better...

To wrap things up... Remember when you leave Bali, you have to pay service fee to the government of Indonesia. This will be collected at the airport before you check in for your flights. It's only Rp150,000 (do your own conversion). Nothing is free people. Be a good tourist and don't question anybody.

 Pelayanan Jasa Penumpang...

So then. How have you all been doing thus far? You all doing okay? Feeling attractive? Good! Feeling like you need a holiday? Yes? Great! Feeling a little envious? Oh don't be, because I'm here to give you a push in the right direction. No matter how many reviews you read, you will never know until you experience it yourself. And no matter how many times you say you want to go on a holiday, it will never happen unless you do something about it.

Remember, planning is essential. The company you join with is crucial. Go with people you love and enjoy hanging around with. And there cannot be too many decision makers in one trip alone. Whatever it is, keep your finance in good order and don't spend more than you can afford. So start filling in that piggy bank now, or start a new fund. Who knows, the next trip might be just around the corners.

The end.

24 comments:

  1. Great place for a honeymoon. Wink! Wink! LOL!!! I would prefer cooler places...and less happening ones - just relax and laze around. Old people like that lah! Hehehehehe!!!

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  2. The bombing memorial site is kinda sad to look at...rest in peace to all the victims...

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  3. Oh! You know this Suituapui too! He lives in the kitchen chomping food and not by the beach! LOL

    My eyes went big at the bottle openers. Makes nice gifts!

    Your bali photos are so nice and fun!!!

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  4. Awesome!! Thank you for all the tips given, now I can wait to embark my own Balinese adventure! Hahahahah thought its such a shame you guys didnt went to the temples, I heard Tanah Lot is quite a view especially during sunset. And uluwatu as well.

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  5. And I'm partly relief to heard its very safe over there. Hehe. Awesome post btw :)

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  6. The evening my friends and I reached Bali, the next day was Silence Day O.o but we had fun at the pool together.. whole day cos cannot go out of our villa O.o

    anyways, we didn't do much at Bali.. just sightseeing and eat. Nothing much.

    Your blog post reminds me i haven't posted up my Bali trip too. haha.

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  7. I'd love to visit Bali!! So beautiful there~
    But my hubby is not interested in this place, sob sob!

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  8. What a write up!! I so wanna go back now...

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  9. Tia: Jeles? Meh la ekot next time... ;P

    suituapui: agree with you totally! which is why we chose to stay in Legian area, more private and quite. =)

    Adi Herman: Yes it is, like watching and thinking 'that cudve been anybody...'

    Twilight Man: Yes following his food blog too, always makes me hungry. Haha. Yes the deeper we ventured the bigger the bottle openers were. hahaha seriously freaking us out (me la esp). =}

    Alyssa Jaren: no we didnt visit any temple, not really into those and well, just prefered not to. But yes Tanah Lot sunset is allegedly awesome except it drizzled on the evening we planned to catch the sunset, and so we missed it. :-( Hey have fun on your upcoming trip!



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  10. hiddendreamez: Yes safe, every local we asked told us that. We walked at night also safe, but just in case ur alone, just be careful anyway. It cud be dark on the walkways. Have fun!

    ahlost: we also reached at night, so 1 day lost. sedih kan? pool also nice what, since we pay for it, might as well utilise it right? Hey do blog abt ur trip! must be super fun! =))

    Hayley: awww... perhaps you can whisper to ur hubby at the right time. besides it's cheaper to go there.

    Cyrildason: huhuhu me too!

    Ez Vina: makan nya lagi nyamannnnnn... cayalah...

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  11. hi there, first visit here. Informative n interesting post. Make me wan to visit bali.. (start saving $$$) - Emi

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  12. I love love love your review about Bali. Cannot wait to experience it myself.. THank you for the recommendation on places to go.

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  13. Anonymous: thanks for visiting. :) Good luck saving!

    Dee Loner: thanks babe. :p Enjoy ur upcoming trip! i still wanna go... huhuhu

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  14. Enjoyed reading this post about your trip to Bali & Phuket...esp the travelling tips...come in handy. Will put these places in my 2014 travelling list.

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  15. woootsss.. love it!! isit very expensive travelling to bali?? I love the bf is awesome t!! mayb i should hunt for one next week! hehehe!

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  16. Dayung Rais: good to be of help. hope u'll enjoy the trip as much as i did dayung. have fun!

    yienyien: it's cheaper traveling to Bali if compared to Phuket. Food is cheaper too. Plan ahead sure you'll be fine. The bf tee u need to ask from the seller, they normally just display the 'gf is awesome'. mine i asked a few sellers baru ada stok. smallest size is S and that's american size. haha

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  17. Ya true, lots of pictures and words wakakaa. I've always wanted to go Bali. Paradise o kan sana.

    And the coffee haha must have kan. Considering this blog's name :D jk.

    Happy Tuesday, Coffee Girl!

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  18. Rasa services tax kat Indonesia nie kat Bali rasa saya kena paling mahal.Tempat memang best. Saya memang bukan kaki tepi pantai, tapi Bali memang lain macamla. Syurga duniala katakan. Hari-hari pesta.

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  19. Armstrong: hahaha mesti kau tingok gambar saja kan? ya kofi must have, betul. Ko pegi la ke sana one fine day. paradise betul. sabah pun kalah. :p

    Mohd Shafid: Ya service tax dia tinggi, masuk hidden cost sudah, but usually they will print it terang-terang. Bali memang tempat relax dan unwind. :p

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  20. Aw, what a wonderful and thorough write-up! I visited Bali once a few years ago and this post really brought me back! Especially your picture of babi guling. Now I wish I could eat it again...

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  21. Yes, I agree with you that Bali is the best place for vacation in Indonesia. When you visit to the island, you will find the traditional ornaments throughout the city. I love the island so much.

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  22. fizz: haha ya i dedicated some time to share them. good things must share ma... Thanks for visiting!

    srisahara: hey welcome! thanks for visiting. Yes Bali is a total holiday relaxing spot.

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