I am honoured to be invited to Bali by my friends, Phili and 5cups. It has been quite a while since we last met and they invited me over because they are leaving Bali soon after 5 years.
It was a last minute trip so the airfare is pretty high in my opinion. I flew Jetstar to Bali and Air Asia Indonesia out.
However 7 hours before my flight, Jetstar rescheduled my flight twice within 3 hours and finally cancelled it. So I am stuck and I called Jetstar to rebook me into the remaining flight to Bali. I am glad that I called early and the flight to Bali is almost full.
I took a taxi to the airport.
Upon reaching the check-in counter, it is a scene of chaos. Passengers are lost about where to check-in. There are at least 6 flights from Jetstar that is almost departing at the same time. The Jetstar staff are rude too to passengers. I always view Jetstar as one of the best budget airline here but today’s incident proof otherwise.
I am fortunate that I do not have any bags to check-in. So I do a self-check-in and quickly get my boarding pass.
The flight leaves on time and it reaches Bali without any incident.
My last visit to Bali is 2007. I remembered the airport then is an old building that is like situated just by the roadside. The old airport is also messy and it looks like a building during the Vietnam War era.
When I first step into the airport, I was like “Wow!”.
The floor is carpeted, the ceilings are high and everything is new.
I remembered the Indonesian Government has built a new airport in Bali for some diplomatic event but I never expect it to be this nice.
It is about a 7 mins slow walk to the immigration counter. The immigration area is really wide and spacious.
Immigration clearance is fast and I am out of the terminal in 20 mins.
Now this is the strange part.
The airport will require you to walk pass the duty free shop before you can exit the terminal.
There is also no clear signage to direct visitors on where is the exit. I am actually lost and have to ask for directions.
Before you enter the duty free shop, there is a SIM card booth by Telekom Indonesia on your right. The cost of getting a SIM card is IDR200,000 for voice only. IDR250,000 for 3GB of data and IDR350,000 for 8GB of data.
To me this is very expensive. I was told later that getting outside the airport will be much cheaper even in touristy places like Kuta. Places in Ubud will be even cheaper.
Once you exit the duty free shop, there will be many drivers (or “touts”) that will offer you their service. They are not aggressive but friendly. If you do not need their service, just a simple “no” will do.
Phili and 5cups came and we quickly left the airport and we head to Beachwalk in Kuta.
We have lunch Nanny’s Pavilion. We ordered some chickens, pastas and some bake rice. It is delicious and the price is reasonable.
In 2007, I remembered the beach is pretty nice place to take a stroll. The beach is wide and clean.
It is dirty and unsightly. I can’t imagine the beach has decayed to this state. It is sad. I wonder why the local government is not doing anything to improve it.
I went back to Beachwalk for some window shopping.
Beachwalk is a non-air-conditioned mall however the place is still very cooling. It is a typical mall which you have all the major labels there.
After some time, we left and proceed to our next destination; Uluwatu.
One thing I noticed about Bali is sights is that they are usually far from each other. It usually will take at least an hour drive from one place to another.
The entrance to Uluwatu is IDR20,000 for each adult. In all temples in Bali, you will need to be appropriately dress. So the counter will provide you with a sarong to wrap yourself up if you are exposing too much.
Uluwatu usually has many monkeys but today, there are very few. This may be due to the hot and humid weather. The temple is located by the cliff and you can have a good view of the ocean.
If you are game enough, you can walk all the way up to the cliff. However do be careful. If you fall down the cliff, I guess your survival rate is as close as zero.
After enjoying a cool coconut juice, we go to our next destination, Dreamland Beach.
On our way there, we witness a procession. I have forgotten the name. As it is approaching Nyepi which means Day of Silence, Balinese from all walks of life come to celebrate it.
According to Wiki,
“Nyepi is a Balinese “Day of Silence” that is commemorated every Isakawarsa (Saka new year) according to the Balinese calendar (in 2015, it falls on March 21). It is a Hindu celebration mainly celebrated in Bali, Indonesia. Nyepi, a public holiday in Indonesia, is a day of silence, fasting and meditation for the Balinese. The day following Nyepi is also celebrated as New Year’s Day. On this day, the youth of Bali practice the ceremony of Omed-omedan or ‘The Kissing Ritual’ to celebrate the new year. The same day celebrated in India as ugadi.
Observed from 6 a.m. until 6 a.m. the next morning, Nyepi is a day reserved for self-reflection, and as such, anything that might interfere with that purpose is restricted. The main restrictions are no lighting fires (and lights must be kept low); no working; no entertainment or pleasure; no traveling; and, for some, no talking or eating at all. The effect of these prohibitions is that Bali’s usually bustling streets and roads are empty, there is little or no noise from TVs and radios, and few signs of activity are seen even inside homes. The only people to be seen outdoors are the Pecalang, traditional security men who patrol the streets to ensure the prohibitions are being followed.
Although Nyepi is primarily a Hindu holiday, non-Hindu residents of Bali observe the day of silence as well, out of respect for their fellow citizens. Even tourists are not exempt; although free to do as they wish inside their hotels, no one is allowed onto the beaches or streets, and the only airport in Bali remains closed for the entire day. The only exceptions granted are for emergency vehicles carrying those with life-threatening conditions and women about to give birth.
On the day after Nyepi, known as Ngembak Geni, social activity picks up again quickly, as families and friends gather to ask forgiveness from one another, and to perform certain religious rituals together.”
Balinese carry their offerings and also the things needed for the ritual or celebration and march their way to the temple. I am quite impressed that they can walk such journey in such hot and humid day.
After the procession passed us, we proceed to Dreamland Beach.
To access to Dreamland beach, we have to park our car in a parking lot and take a complimentary shuttle to the entrance of the beach.
After walking pass the row of shops, we finally reach the beach.
The beach is not impressive but it is much better than Kuta. At the least there isn’t too much trash. The beach is not wide but deep enough. Beach umbrella and sun deck is readily available.
After staying for 10 mins, we left the beach using the same complimentary shuttle. The ride is about 3 mins only.
We decided to go to another beach; Pandawa beach.
It is like another 30 min drive before we reach.
Pandawa beach also do not impress me but it is long and wide which is good. However there are just too many beach umbrellas and sun decks. It make the whole beach look very cramp and crowded.
The sun decks are put shoulder to shoulder and there is no way that the people walking behind the sun deck to have access to the beach easily.
After taking a few snaps, we left.
Phili and 5cups put me up in a place called Villa Vinayaga in Ubud. It is a different from the website. It is not as classy as shown in the website and I suspect they are both different villas!
The villa looks alright. The kitchen is in the open. I mean there is no lock for it but all the rooms can be lock.
There is a guard during night time and there is a rice field just in front of the villa.
There are 3 other villas around it and only one has a pool.
The room is spacious but there are ants and insects in the room. I wonder is this normal for a villa. The shower place is in the open where you literally shower (or do your business) under the stars.
The sunset looks pretty nice too!
Phili and 5cups brought me to Warung Bintang for dinner. I was recommended to try the pork ribs. I also ordered satay.
The pork ribs is indeed good but as for the satay, the peanut sauce is a little bland. I am expecting the sauce to be spicy but overall, it is still nice. I would say the satay meat is well grilled.
There is also a live band singing.
The staff are friendly and they try to communicate with you using their limited English.
After dinner, we head our way to a supermarket. I just bought some local stuff and went back to get some sleep.
A beautiful morning.
I thought it would rain as it is the raining season.
I saw farmers tending to their rice fields and I decided to walk up the road to see what is around.
There are many rice fields but I heard due to development of more properties, the number of rice fields available is dwindling. This is sad.
There are also some villas along the way. I noticed about something Bali transportation. In Bali, you either hire a driver and a car, a taxi is available in your area or you rent a motorcycle to go around.
The walk up the road is very refreshing; rice fields, farmers and the cool weather.
After 15 mins of walk, I return to the villa.
5cups have work to do and Phili has her fitness regime.
So Phili rode her scooter and drop me off at Monkey forest.
There are several entrances to Monkey forest actually. I paid IDR30,000 for the entrance fee.
As the name implies, it is a forest with lots of monkeys.
The monkeys roam freely in the forest and you can buy bananas to feed them.
Some visitors tempt the monkeys and allow them to crawl up to their body (like up to the shoulder) to take the food.
I personally find this dangerous as the monkeys are not vaccinated. So if you got scratch by the monkeys, you have a very real chance of getting disease like rabies.
Some monkeys can get aggressive so do not be too close to them or provoke them.
You can often see monkeys fighting and chasing each other which is pretty amusing.
There is a temple in the compound but it is off limits to visitors.
I find the Monkey forest is worth visiting and I can easily spend a few hours there. It is a good place to escape the heat too.
Soon it is time to leave and meet up with Phili.
Phili brought me to a place called Bisma.
We have lunch at a place called Umah Pizza.
We ordered two Nasi Georeng, 2 fruit juice, a bottle of water and banana caramel.
I would say the food is delicious and priced reasonably. The spiciness of the Nasi Georeng is just nice. It is simply yummy.
After lunch, we took a stroll along the road. The street is filled with restaurants and hotels. I felt this street is a little hippie; very cozy and intimate.
5cups comes to join us and we visited Goa Garjah.
Go Garjah is an elephant temple and it received very few visitors.
At the top of the hill, a priest offer to bless us and after the blessing, he lift up the mat that is laid on the altar and showed some cash. He wants us to give him money for the blessing but we just ignore him and walk away.
We wanted to watch sunset so we went to Indus Restaurant. We ordered some beverage and have a chat.
By then it is just too late. So we went to Toro Sushi for dinner.
This place seems to be popular and though their menu is quite limited but the food is decent. I heard that the main chef is has worked Florida.
After dinner, we went back to rest.
My last day in Bali. How time flies.
5cups is kind enough to drive me up to Kintamani to see Mount Batur.
We leave our place at 0620hrs and since it is still early, there is very little traffic. The weather is cool and we just wind down our window to enjoy the breeze.
After passing by rice fields after rice fields, we reach Tegallalang Rice Terrace. It is not the biggest rice terrace in Bali but it will give you an idea how it looks like.
After an hour and a half, we finally reach the crater rim of Mount Batur.
The sight is awesome.
This is truly a highlight of this trip.
We went to several viewpoints but unfortunately my camera sensor is tainted so the pictures appear to have many dirt on it. What a let down.
After staying for about 30 mins, we make our way back to Ubud.
Along the way, we saw several Ogoh-ogoh where the Balinese use it as part of the procession. You can see that they are pretty good at it. They can paint the sculpture very life like and the design they have is astonishing.
After taking a break, Phili and 5cups brought me to see a villa in another side of Ubud.
It is a very lovely villa.
It has two rooms and a pool. There is even a cabana. Again, you shower under the stars.
We then travel to Sanur to have lunch and it is nearer to the airport.
We have lunch at Luthu’s Coffee Shop. I again ordered Nasi Georeng but it is not as good as the one I have in Umah Pizza.
The restaurant is just by the beach but strange is that it has dogs in it and sometimes the dogs fight!
Overall the food is still good and value for money.
Phili and 5cups brought me to view a guest house. They recommended this guest house if I will to bring my family to Bali.
There are about 9 rooms in this guest house and the rooms I have visited is very nicely decorated. It has a common kitchen where you can cook your meals if you want to.
I was told that breakfast is provided.
The whole place looks very intimate and cozy. As it is Nyepi, the guest house is closed but I am fortunate and honoured to be able to visit it.
It is a place worth considering.
After the visit, we called for a cab to bring me to the airport. It is a blue bird taxi and I am surprised that the driver agree to go by the meter.
There isn’t any traffic jam so I reach the airport within 30 mins and the fare comes up to IDR94,000.
Again I am impressed by the airport and the departure hall is very spacious and offer good variety of food.
One strange thing is that there are no trolleys at the alighting point but they are inside the departure hall!
Check-in is fast with Air Asia Indonesia and the boarding gate is very spacious too. It feel relaxing and not confined.
Bali is a nice place to visit. However I must say that beaches that I saw are not impressive and I have not visited many places in Bali. I was told that there is one beach that is very nice but you will need to pay an entrance fee to get in.
In terms of nature, Bali has a lot to offer. You can trek, view mountains or volcanoes or go river rafting.
However you must prepare to shell a lot of money if you will to take part in any of the activities. I personally do not understand why it cost so much. It is just like milking every single tourist dollar they can find.
Almost every part of Bali seems to have tourist or at the least the place I have been to.
Therefore you will never feel alone in Bali but whether does it suit you will depends on your preference.
I will not come to Bali for the beaches but for nature and relaxation. I will just book a room in a resort, do some day trips and spend my time in the resort to chill out.
So maybe next time, Bali!