That 352-page novel, followed by the movie ––Eat, Pray, Love. Elizabeth Gilbert is to blame for my unrelenting lewdness to Bali. ❤️
For ages I have tried to bridle my earnestness away from referencing the book, and quite obviously I always come out futile. Book-withdrawal syndrome is harsh. What made it oh so appealing to us romantic fools is the storyline that gyrates around a woman in mid-life crisis who ditched every thing she has: career, marriage and close friends, just to covet that forever missing meaning of life. What more when in the end, it ascribed an esoteric journey of finding her one great LOVE. Brave, rad. It was soooo what we all yearn.
So this is NOT a book nor a movie review. Julia Roberts has nothing to do with this post. But love? You can safely say that. Be ready, for this is uprightly a yawn-athon of a read. But you can gawk on my dalliance with traveling, on my abiding crusade with discovering the world and my ever concordant luck to experiencing it all ––beside the love of my life, for this is THE honeymoon version 2.0.
Snippets of what you should know…
Point of Compass
Denpasar City is the capital of Bali which is located at the Southern part of the island. There are 4 areas that are highly developed for tourism purposes: Kuta, Legian, Nusa Dua and Sanur. The rest of the region are devoted to agricultural industry and other income generating sectors like garments and crafts.
From the center to its eastern side, mountain ranges constitute the land. This includes known active volcanoes like Mount Agung, also called as the “mother mountain” because it has the highest peak with more than 3,000 meters in height. These natural resources contribute greatly to the productive agricultural economy of the country. The ashes emitted by these volcanoes mainly fertilize the surrounding land making it more suitable for farming.
Exactly 8 degrees south of the globe’s equatorial region, their climate all year round is even. Their high season is during the months of July and August, while the months of December until March has the largest amount of rainfall. Experts say that over the past years, Bali became one of the most unpredictable weather patterns in Asia. Well, every country in the globe has this same phenomenon these days, global warming is keenly making us feel its wrath.
Unexpectedly modern and world-class, I was honestly awed on my first few steps after disembarking the plane by Bali’s international airport. How they managed to seamlessly combine traditional and contemporary design is way beyond me. I deem that it’s wonderful and so f*ckin’ genius! 😜 (Pardon my french). Something we rarely see in similar leading-edge airports in the world.
Internationally known as Denpasar or Ngurah Rai International Airport, it is the 3rd busiest travel hub in all of Indonesia, with a reported 40,000 flights each year. Like other primary airports in its neighbouring countries, it was named after Ngurah Rai – a Balinese local hero during the Indonesian Revolution against the Dutch in 1946.
To get a rudimentary understanding on the elemental things about Bali, or Indonesia in general, you might want to check the blog I published in 2012, Pit Stop: BATAM. I was given the prospect of checking out the tiny town of Riau, Indonesia, and in this article you can read about the simple things you need to have & learn before hitting Indo borders. The post is pretty much unequivocal in narrating the basic immigration requirements, exchange rate and cultural information.
But contrary to what I have written about the Immigration people in Batam, our Bali experience with immigration checkpoint was nothing but pleasant and unremarkable. Primarily because we look like a couple of uninteresting tourists conspiring for an astonishing holiday, nothing more. Another considerable difference between these two cities is perhaps the predominant religion of their natives. While Batam has a good number of Buddhists, almost 85% of Balinese adhere to Hinduism, followed by Muslims and Christians.
Where to Stay
Of course we stayed in Kuta! As exhibited by my previous posts, I have this pathologic feat of dousing every travel adventure with only legit local receptivity. So, Kuta being the most famous area and the center of tourist life in Bali, it was the choosing part of what hotel to book that boggled the itinerary I created.
Okay, so Kuta is the “it place”. I’ve learned that it was the first to be developed by the Indonesian government as an apical attraction for foreign visitors. In time it was transformed into an endless expanse of restaurants boasting of international cuisines (including Jamie Oliver, yasss!), shopping alleys parading famous clothing brands esp. beach wears, and a leisurely booming surfing beach that most Australians check out. 3 up to 4 star hotels are incredibly cheap, most of them have their very own pool and recreational areas so guests wouldn’t have to wander far to kill time.
The one we have chosen was so centrally located that we only have to step off the hotel lobby if we want to buy some stuff from a convenience store or to hunt for a place to eat.
For a moment I have also considered Legian, I was attracted by how it is often illustrated as having the most extravagant night life in all of Bali. Scattered in every corner are bars, clubs and lounges with perky party atmosphere and truly modern in style. The rooftop bars with spectacular night view of the lively city are the real deal and those bistros with blaring EDM’s, illuminated by the most colorful lights you will ever lay your eyes on. Beach parties are also actively creating a buzz these days, a literal embodiment of party til dawn.
For some bizarre reasons that only the travel gods could explain, I don’t remember much of how each meal time went by during those 4 glorious days. It is so odd having found only 2 food photos, both in my phone and camera, not even in my Twitter! Could you believe that? Whether there were no striking tastes that hit my palate or we were too captivated with touring that hunger wasn’t much of a priority –– I could not produce a convincing justification to rationalize this tragic circumstance.
But still, I ought to share whatever I have I suppose. So here goes.
From Tegalalang Rice Terraces, before we went to Ubud Palace, our tour guide brought us to this famous rib shack located just a few minutes away by car. While on the way, he was cordial enough to point to us all the famous restaurants in the area. Too bad I didn’t have the courage to ask the name of the place, it could have been cool to relate everything here in the blog. Anyway, all I remember was driving along a busy road filled with specialty restaurants on both sides. Almost all are crowded with parked shuttle buses or private cars, so it must be sorta popular as travel agencies bring in tourists everyday to dine.
Some minutes later, an appetizing aroma starts wafting inside our air conditioned car. Next thing we know, we are being led inside this well ventilated dining space full of happy people, heartily eating lunch. We each had half a rack of ribs because it is what they are famous for. Yizzz, falling off the bone goodness, juicy & tasty, and glaringly cheap! We paid 450,000 IDR (S$47.00) for 2 people. Also available are grilled chicken marinated in a blend of special sauce, and pork satays that we didn’t get to try.
This is the part where I’m expected to reveal the restaurant’s name. . . Really so sorry, but I have no memory of what it’s called, AT ALL. Resorted to Googling, read Trip Advisor over and over, but not a single photo exists of how the place looks like. My demented braincells are still suffering from my own vile cusses up to now. Shame.
This second set of meal was the dinner we had on our last night in Bali. We just randomly went inside a bar and grill restaurant along Legian area because we gotta deal with our hunger that has never ceased bugging us. We were in the middle of souvenir shopping by the way. So we ordered Pork satays, mixed greens (spinach I think, can’t recall) and fish steak with veggies. Total cost is around $11.
Never dare to miss. . .
But first, UBUD.
The paramount factor that shackled my heart completely to Bali is none other than Ubud. While I have always dreamed of lodging in at a serene villa at the remotest and most amicable part of Ubud, I decided to stay in Kuta for this particular trip because my main purpose is to submerge myself first of what it’s like to be in the midst of their top tourism area. Figured there would be hefty of opportunities to come back, and I pledge to fulfill my Ubud specter as many times in this lifetime.
Collectively enamoured, negative write-ups online from some travel writers about their disappointing trip to Ubud didn’t undulate me for one bit. I decided to still plan every aspect of our Honeymoon around it with the hopes of achieving the confounding feeling it can give us. Truth be told, we were overwhelmed, all thanks to my untainted determination. (Self efficacy on point, jeez.)
Ubud Royal Palace
While it still befuddles me how Ubud Palace differs from usual worship places in Bali, I know for sure that this temple is important to Balinese. Don’t know if our timing was off, but during our visit, some of the areas with interesting structures within the compound are inaccessible to guests. Inside were just a few small houses, kinda like relics bearing their signature building design and that’s it.
Crowded, noisy and sweltering. This facade of the temple is almost never empty due to the continuous flux of tourists taking photos. Over all, it was something I would not normally go to. If only this was not the designated pick up point agreed upon by our driver and us, we wouldn’t be milling around for so long.
Shop, shop, shop at Ubud Art Market
If you are into arts and crafts, Ubud Art Market should be included in your ultimate bucketlist. The craftmanship in every painting hanging on their galleries are all laudable. Wow. My arts exposure may be at a limited state, but it doesn’t take a pro to understand their love for brush strokes and flambouyant colors. If only I could purchase all the paintings I liked!
Loaded with some Rupiah, we were in for some bargain hunting. As there’s too much stuff being sold in this market, you could be easily fooled by some local sellers offering their products at a ridiculously high price. When our driver dropped us off, he warned us not to be easily swayed by friendly sales talk. He said that it is normal for vendors to offer their price at super high rate and that you should be alert and persuasive with your haggling skills.
True enough, when I saw this really cute shawl from a woman in a corner stall, I was offered IDR 100,000 for 1 piece. So I let my husband negotiate, and we agreed to just paying IDR 50,000 instead. From 0 to 50% discount, real quick. Haggle sister, haggle all the way.
The super cold, intensified by the pleasing slush of water tempted me to strip off my clothes and try skinny dipping once and for all. But of course, I have it all well-played in my head, lol. One, I don’t have the capacity both emotionally and physiologically (haha, seriously man). Two, I would be in the middle of a malevolent divorce battle by now because my husband could never ever tolerate such a forward act from me. Come on.
Tegunungan waterfalls is like a hidden gem, an unassumingly congenial sight to a place unbeknownst to foreign people. On the way, I almost strained my neck in my pursuit to locate the site as I was too excited to take a peep. In my 3 decades plus of existence, this is the first time ever that I have seen a waterfalls in real life. Groundbreaking! >insert sarcasm< So just imagine how psyched I was when I ran down the itinerary of our tour and realize that an enchanting waterfalls awaits my domineering presence.😊
As we went down the rocky, steep path, we could already feel the water mist in the air. Refreshing, inviting, peaceful. The area right below the falls is crowded with people basking in the clean water. A little over the right, there is a headlong staircase that can take you directly at the top of the waterfalls. An entrance fee of 20,000 IDR is needed to pass through. Since we were only allowed to stay for 30mins max, we decided not to go up as the climbing alone could eat up a lot of time. As for me, I already saw what I came for, so the idea of not seeing the top didn’t bother me at that time.
Tegalalang Rice Terraces
In the Philippines, the Ifugao Rice Terraces has been included in Wonders of the World back in the day. Its location on the mountainous Northern part of Luzon makes it quite difficult to go to, as it requires 8-10 hours of high-skilled driving. So to make my point short, this is another first in my list.
Tegalalang Rice Terraces is nestled in the middle of a bustling business district. Stoked and jumpy, we were able to go down the rice paddies. The temperature is unbelievably low, kinda like walking along Baguio streets on a summer day.
There is a cafe and few snack nooks overlooking this revitalizing view. It’s relaxing to enjoy some warm coffee on a chilly afternoon and be this close to such greeneries. I vow to come back and experience it all over again. Count on that.
Two overseas trips in a row in a span of 2 weeks made us both so out of our elements and utterly unhinged. And so, during my transfer of photos from GoPro to Mac, somewhere, somehow, a large batch of pictures that include Ubud, Tegalalang and Tegunungan, were carelessly deleted by me. At first I didn’t realize that I made such a gruesome mistake, until I started uploading in Facebook.
It was one of those moments where you don’t know whether you should start crying or just go hurt, spank or strangle yourself. But subjecting my too tired physique to such level of torture won’t bring back the missing photos. The recovery steps I have learned online didn’t help either. So after downloading a dozen of apps to help me with this issue, it came to me that maybe it’s better to just give up, forgive yourself, move on and book another flight instead. Haha. See what I did there? Sharp. ✌🏼
Taman Ayun Temple
Subtle rainfall kicked off our 2nd day of tour. Lucky for us, it stopped as soon as we arrived to Taman Ayun Temple. As I had no idea what awaits us, we let our tour guide do the explaining all along.
The grounds of Taman Ayun according to him is holy for Balinese, so he requested us to observe proper decorum and to at least lower down our voice, silence is observed within the compound. The cute structures behind us are made of nipa, and they believe that their gods reside inside each of those, so there is a need for them to take good care of the surroundings.
Our guide explained that temples such as this should always be surrounded by water. They believe that the water cleanses the elements that circulate, making the center pure and holy.
The grounds were a bit wet while we were there, but nevertheless, it was peaceful. After a few minutes of explanation and walking, we left the place and headed to our next destination.
Coffee production is a huge industry in Bali, particularly in the Kintamani region which is located at the north eastern part. They are able to grow Robusta and Arabica coffee, thanks to their land rich with volcanic materials.
We visited a tiny coffee plantation situated in a mountainous area. We were greeted by this very young lady who introduced us to the different types of coffee that surround the plantation. There was also a brief discussion on some of the spices that they grow alongside coffee like cinnamon and star anise.
It was the coffee tasting session that awakens my almost snoozing consciousness. For a coffee person clinging to about 3-4 cups per day for functional reasons, I could think of nothing else to describe what I felt but frantic. We were given the chance to have a taste on the different types they produce. Of course there’s both Arabica and Robusta, and other spice-infused variety like ginger, ginseng, nut meg & cardamon. My favorite was hazelnut!
The highlight is actually LUWAK — internationally known as CIVET coffee, a type derived from a cat’s poop. It doesn’t gross me as much as I have previously tried a similar one in the Philippines called Alamid. So this kind of feline feeds on coffee beans and as soon the thing hits their stomach, some sort of enzymatic reaction occurs. Once they defecate, the beans are still intact but now bears a distinct flavor that coffee enthusiasts find amazing.
In this tour, coffee tasting is relatively free, except of course if you’d like to try Luwak for 200,000 IDR a cup. How’s that for a shit? Haha. Well, both Luwak and Alamid coffee are famous for their good taste and high price, and I liked it so I finished the whole cup. My husband, who cannot stand coffee smell in real life, was so supportive to my coffee fascination. Paying extra actually made me adamant to give it a pass, but he was the one to push me because according to him, we are not in Bali everyday. Good point. There was a little shop selling coffee varieties and all sorts of coffee-derived products within the plantation. Price is okay, so we were able to bring home some goodies for friends.
Ulun Danu Beratan Temple
I have been musing over long enough on what should I write when I reach this part, and that woohoo says it all. Ulun Danu Beratan is the face that represents Bali as an enchantress, ad campaigns always include a photo of this in their cover spread. So as a mere traveler mixed with a drop of bandwagoner, yes I was looking forward to take that obligatory tourist shot and to include this photo in my portfolio.
On the shores of Lake Beratan, this water temple is an important place of worship dedicated to Shiva, a principal deity in Hinduism. There are many smaller temples within the vicinity, there was even an on-going ceremony in one of them during our visit. What for? I wasn’t exactly aware.
The temperature was really low, sweater weather as I regard it and the whole place was actually foggy. The view overlooking the lake was so wonderful and eerily quiet. Despite the exhausting tour, I didn’t mind the walking. My heart was beaming with such joy.
One last look on that beauty! #ILYSB❤️
Jatiluwih Rice Terraces
As smitten as I was with Tegalalang Rice Terraces, Jatiluwih is so spellbinding that I consider it as the mother of all rice terraces in Bali. Ever since Julia Roberts was seen biking in the middle of rice fields in the movie, tourism in this area of Bali has skyrocketed.
The drive towards the heart of it all wasn’t easy. There were even parts of the climb where we had to stop as only 1 vehicle could fit on the narrow road. But you can always focus your sight on the scenery outside and make yourself perfectly at ease. It was like a free therapy, oohh those greens, and the symmetrically arranged rice paddies layer per layer. Thanks to the OC Balinese farmers who were behind these man-made wonders!
A scene from Eat Pray Love. ❤️
Though inappropriately dressed, we ignored the painstaking trek down the rice paddies and breathe in all the fresh air our lungs could take in! My super thin sandals were full of mud after, and we were both freezing slightly because of the gloomy weather. But I wouldn’t trade any second we have spent amongst those budding rice grains.
The buffet lunch we had in the cafeteria on top of one of the small hills comprised of both native Indo and western cuisine. The pizza was a score, as well as the rice noodles paired with sweet and spicy chicken. And as I cap off our lunch with a mug of cappuccino, there was a humbling moment where my content level was a solid 100%. It was not an easy life before I got here, it wasn’t as if my future was served on a silver platter when I was born, but to feel alive and not alone at that moment was more than I could have asked for.
I remember it as a secret temple. Secret because I don’t think it was as popular as the other Hindu worship places we’ve been to, and also because the location was so obscure it puzzled me on what it takes for believers to come here each time.
Locally known as Pura Luhur Batukaru, it is located at one of the slopes of Mt. Batukaru in Central Bali. It is made up of several shrines and the area is surrounded with a vast forest perfect for nature lovers to see. The temples are dedicated to Hindu god Mahadeva, believed to be the protector of water, air and plants.
At the far end of this gorgeous moss-covered steps is a massive freshwater reservoir where farmers from nearby villages rely to sustain water in their farmlands. I have fallen completely in love to Batukaru once I laid my eyes on this sight. For the love of all holy, it was so serene and gloriously beguiling! I could do some glamping and stay here forever for all I care.
As the compound is located at the base of the second highest peak in Bali, freshwater sources such as these could be seen in one corner. Pilgrims believe that the water is miraculous and could heal all minor aches in the body. My husband was so willing to try as he was starting to have migraine at that point. He told me he felt refreshed after washing his face, and that the water is unlike anything he has used before. Hmmm. I will pretend for 1 second that I’m not a woman of science and that what he experienced wasn’t something psychologic. ✌🏼my love.😜
There were restricted areas in the compound where non-pilgrims are not allowed to step into. We were also asked not to make noise when we went into the square where those shrines were erected. Our guide told us that it is their way of paying respect to the Hindu gods residing in the place.
Tanah Lot Temple
A rather pertinent way of wrapping up a day tour is none other than a ravishing view of the sunset. That is, if the giant fireball didn’t shy away from displaying his splendor and power that day, because for all we know sunset requires the presence of the sun and a scarce appearance of thick clouds. And for us not so lucky people who happen to be there on that fateful plight, the only consolation we could use is the fact that at least there was no heavy rain. Can you feel the tinge of bitterness in this plethora of words? Move along now.
So Tanah Lot is known for it’s blazing sunsets, that fiery burst of yellow, orange, red and pink in the sky as the night begins to conquer the earth. It is also a giant rock formation found by the shore of Indonesian sea and houses the Pura Tanah Lot, another pilgrimage temple for Hindus.
Of all the temple hopping we did, Tanah Lot has got to be the grandest. Aside from having multiple shrines, all of them were widely dispersed too, so you have to at least spend more than an hour to see and visit them all.
This is the main rock formation that tourists are here for. To get there, you would have to go down from the elevated grounds. Another possible problem you could encounter is the sea tide. In this aspect we were alright for we were able to go down and walk on the rocky pavement towards the shrine. We went as near as possible but opted not to get inside. As always, there was a mob scene of fellow travelers armed with their cameras.
Just as we were to head back to our car, rain started pouring down. The closest thing to sunset we have seen was some rays of sunlight peeping from the dark, pudgy clouds. So much for chasing sunsets, but this experience is still middling as it should be.
Contrary to what readers may think, I wasn’t paid to feature this international airport transfer service. I was just impressed on how reliable they were and that booking thru Sun Transfers saved us from some serious airport flub-ups. Unlike previous travel posts to other cities where I boast of choosing cheaper transportation, my planning time for Bali was a bit hampered.
It was Google who introduced me to this website when I was searching for transfer options. Since I didn’t go further in my research, I couldn’t confirm whether there are public transport choices like buses from Ngurah Rai. Pretty sure there are existing mass transits, you just need to check.
This site was informative, and I was mollified to know that they are available to almost all major cities in the world. You can select what vehicle you need depending on the number of passengers and payment is secured and encrypted. They accept Visa, Mastercard and other major bank cards. Confirmation is almost instant, they would email you the voucher, print, and show it to the driver designated to fetch you when you arrive.
We paid S$32 for a 2-way transfer from airport to our hotel in Kuta and vice versa. I think this is already economical as we were spared from dealing with airport people. We all know that tourists are vulnerable and are easy targets of taxi scams in most cities.
To check their rates and if they offer services to your next destination, please click on the link below.
Aside from one of the fastest to revert back to me after my email inquiring about their package rates, Bali Golden Tour also quoted me with the lowest price. Another great thing is the ease of navigation in their website. I was able to determine the package I needed to book just by one scroll.
So we booked 2 day tours: the Ubud Tour, and the Jatiluwih and Tanah Lot whole day package. They were both all inclusive, meaning lunch and private transportation are included. Bottled water was also provided for free, and a very reliable tour guide cum driver who assisted us both days!
As the tour usually starts by picking you up early from your hotel, I emailed their customer service and requested if time adjustment is possible. Surprisingly, I was granted with my appeal to pick us at 10 am instead of 8. I think not all travel agencies are considerate enough like Golden Bali Tour. Payment is made after every tour in cash, this will ensure that your tour is legit and that this isn’t another internet scam who will fool you and run away with your money.
This is him, Mr. Komang Agus, who commented that me and my husband are good singers because we were shamelessly singing inside the SUV during the trip. He was also very well trained and as a way of thank you for his patience and friendly attitude, I promised that I will feature him on my blog so other travelers could request Golden Bali Tour to have him as their guide. You can contact Komang at +62 87861835890 via WatsApp and you can directly deal with him in case you have future plans of going to Bali.
For a more detailed information on the available package tours they offer, please visit their website through the link below. Enjoy!
Bali Night Life
For the 4 nights we stayed in Bali, we made sure to leave no alley remains unexplored along Kuta and Legian. It was so fun and it paved the way to another bonding opportunity for me and my husband in our “pormang at home” clothes, meaning pambahay at tsinelas (common clothing worn at home).
Anyway, teeming with curious tourists like us, both Kuta and Legian are never short of things to offer. Since the party semblance is always associated with booze, babes and beat, it is inevitable that illegal substances could always pop up in the scene. We were warned about it by Mr. Komang, apparently some men could approach you offering purple pills or “mushroom” as they call it. It elicits the same effect as ecstasy, a common drug used by party animals in famous super clubs, even concerts and music festivals. The secret is to ignore anybody who will waylay you on your stroll. They will leave you alone if you sport an uninterested face.
Hard Rock Cafe is the most prominent hotel and bar along Kuta with its giant guitar icon displayed in front. It was also a favorite photo corner for passers by.
Quite staunchly, this quest was more for me than for us, because I cipher that I will travel back to Bali and gouge out the remaining bits I haven’t experienced and seen. My wanderlusting loot bag isn’t even half full when we boarded the plane, and I surmise to make it crammed with memories, no matter how long it takes.
In a world full of 8’s, Bali is my glistening 9!
I entertain the theory that plausibly I was a Balinese in my past life. You know that sort of love you feel to something but could not fathom the reason behind? It’s the kind that flows within your veins, it thrives skin-deep, affixed at the zenith of your being. Creepy, stalkerish, I know. Lol.Or, this love may not be solely confined to Bali, maybe it is my love for airport hassles, packing bags and discovering a new place that’s fluidly surging within me. After all, that is how a gypsy soul works:
But always home.❤️