Friday, March 7, 2014

Journey to Bali 2014

** Photo credits to : Christie Chang, Eric Lim, Dave GohDaniel Lim, Antoinette Chia, outsources.

My 2014 annual trip to Bali with the family of Calanthe went pretty smooth as planned, thanks also to our good Bali agent, Madam Made (pronounced as Ma-deh, not the past tense of "make") for helping and providing guidance to us throughout the 5 Days 4 Nights Bali Trip. If you need an agent there like her, do not hesitate to let me know.

Indonesian language is quite similar to Bahasa Malaysia. At there, we call the man (either young elder man or old man) as "bapak" while old lady as "ibu" and young elder lady as "kakak". For example, we call Mr.Ali as "Bapak Ali", or thank you uncle as "terima kasih bapak". Examples of the common language you will hear or use at there are :

          Can - Bisa
          I don't understand - Saya tidak mengerti
          Good afternoon - Selamat siang
          Eat lunch - Makan siang
          Car - Mobil
          Police - Polisi

We first arrived at the Batik factory and later silver jewellery factory. The work of Bali batik has got my attention and curious as it is seriously very fine that the tone is perfectly coloured despite no batik wax is being applied on some areas. We stayed less than 15 minutes in both factories respectively as our main target of the day is to sapu (grab) all the souvenirs HAHA.

Sukawati is the place where you can get the cheapest souvenirs in Bali, provided that if you know to bargain. You must bargain, don't be afraid. The businessmen there have a secret communication within themselves : The colour of plastic bag determines what kind of customer are you. 

If you are given black+white plastic bag, congratulation you're being "chopped". So when you go to other stalls and they see the black+white plastic bag, they will offer you at high price to "chop" you again. If you receive such plastic, clever bit put inside your bag lah! Other colour plastic is okay, it means you know to bargain and they think you might know the price no-play-play haha.
Hello do you want Bali owls? Kindly drop by Joe's Design & Calanthe Art Cafe @ Jonker Street for variety of owls.
Hello do you want Bali owls? Kindly drop by Joe's Design & Calanthe Art Cafe @ Jonker Street for variety of owls.
Hello do you want Bali owls? Kindly drop by Joe's Design & Calanthe Art Cafe @ Jonker Street for variety of owls.
Hello do you want Bali owls? Kindly drop by Joe's Design & Calanthe Art Cafe @ Jonker Street for variety of owls.

The In Da Lodge, our homestay throughout the trip is located at the Ubud area. It is operated by a foreign couple and can only accommodate total maximum of 32 persons, which means we "pao" (包, reserve) the whole villa haha. You may consider In Da Lodge when you visit Bali as it has a very good environment with low rate per night. I'm not sure what's the rate per night but we got RM35 per night (inclusive breakfast) for each person as we come in a big group. The room photos at their website may not attractive to you, but they are all clean and tidy.

Ubud area is quite a good and convenient place to stay as you can travel around with a rented motorbike (Rp50,000 per day, approximately RM20). Most of the people there ride motorbike more than driving car. In Ubud area, you don't have to wear helmet while riding. Yes YOU DON'T HAVE TO! The polisi  wouldn't catch and summon you ;) 2nd time reminder : Only within Ubud area itself. Trust me, it is very very fun to loiter around Ubud with no helmet on haha. However, you have to wear helmet if you want to go from one area to another area, for example from Ubud to Tegalalang (Tegalalang is the place having nice padi field scenery [Terasering]. You can go for souvenir hunting along the way from Ubud to Tegalalang). Countless handmade souvenir shops, 卖手工艺品的店比比皆是。
At Bali, you can see women with a basket (either hand-crafted works, foods, etc) on their heads everywhere. Most or 80% of the Balinese are Hindus, while the rest comprise of Buddhist, Christian, Catholic, Muslim, and others. According to the Bali masseuse of mine, the difference of worshipping between Hindus and Buddhists is that Hindus clasp and pray near their forehead while Buddhists clasp and pray near their chests.

Talking about worship, one of the spots is none other than Besakih Temple, the mother of temple. Temple is consider a holy or sacred place, therefore everybody has to wear sarung regardless you are a girl/boy or you wear long pants if you want to enter the temple. You may rent the sarung nearby or around the temple @ Rp20,000 (approximately RM6) if you do not have any with you. However, you can also bring and wear your own sarung for cost savings purpose. Some temples borrow the sarung for free (perhaps it has been counted in the price of entrance fee???)
Ok I know this is so funny but who cares, everyone wears like this over there haha. He just never fail to be my all-time-guardian :)
For beach lover, Candidasa beach is definitely a right choice for you. Although it is not a main spot in our list of Tour to East Bali but we stopped by there for few minutes to enjoy the awesome views :)
We are given few choices of activities such as cycling (RM100), rafting (RM100), full tour, etc. If you choose cycling, it is the downhill Bali countryside cycling whereby you can enjoy the beautiful scenery view of some tourist attractions along the journey. It is a nice experience yet quite tiring and HOT (apply sunblock lah if you scare dark, like me).

Haha! I go for more adventurous activity — Rafting ! We brought along the GoPro camera to capture the rafting journey and experience. They will give you a plastic bag to put all the valuable goods (eg. money, spectacles, hp) and put inside a safety bag. For me, rafting is not frightening at all, still in my acceptable level (I am a scare-die-person). It is fun when the wave comes. You shall try at least once, but do take care while playing. Try not to go for rafting if it is raining because you might be disallowed to play as the wave is strong (dangerous).
If the rafting activity starts at morning, you will reach your hotel at around 2pm after having lunch (included in the rafting package). We then had our shower, sat on the motorbike, loitered around Ubud again! The sunset especially at the paddy field of Bukit Cinta is so beautiful. Yes, it is a place suitable for couple, like the name itself, so romantic :) Couple or of course, non-couple also can go around with motorbike or walk at there.

Some people might worry that the volcano erupts at the time they visit Bali as Indonesia has the most active volcanoes (127) in the world. However, this can not be an issue because Bali is so big! You may consider to make the Kintamani Mount Batur as one of the spots in your to-go-list. The last eruption of this Kintamani volcano was 1999-2000. The cold temperature there is as half as the Cameron Highlands of Malaysia.

There are few restaurants there for you to fill your stomach. We had our buffet lunch at Grand Puncak Sari Restaurant, a halal restaurant at Kintamani with nice and peaceful environment. Looking out from the windows, one can enjoy the volcano view of Kintamani.

Time for some drinks! "Coffee time is any time"~ For coffee lovers, you must go to OKA Agriculture Bali! Do you know what is the most expensive and rarest coffee in the world? It's Luwak Coffee. Luwak coffee is created when coffee cherries are eaten by the civet cat, passed through the digestive tract, and then excreted, essentially as processed beans. The beans are washed thoroughly, sun-dried, and lightly roasted. We were given a FREE sample to try the available drink : Coconut coffee, Balinese coffee, Ginseng coffee, lemon grass tea, ginger tea, cocoa, and rosella tea

Luwak coffee is the exception, you have to pay Rp50,000 (approximately RM15) for each cup of trying. Yes, small cup (as shown below) because it is the expensive coffee!
"Coffee makes everything better!" It kept us awake from yawning and sleeping in the bus along the journey to Uluwatu Temple (Pura Luhur Uluwatu) 乌鲁瓦图寺. Please take note that you shall keep a very close grip on all your belongings such as sunglasses (or even your power glasses), watch, hp, necklace or anything you hold on hand and can be easily snatched by the monkeys there. If you have something taken, they usually be induced to exchange it for some fruits with the helps of locals or temple priests @ Rp10,000-50,000 (and not guaranteed you can get back).
The above Uluwatu Lover Cliff  断命崖 / 清人崖 is named after the story of a couple at ancient times jumping down the cliff when they couldn't receive the blessings from the girl's family due to the difference of their status level. Looking down the cliff at Uluwatu, you can enjoy the amazing waves. The beauty of the natural view is not a joke.

The weather was hot that day, I could barely open my eyes while waiting for the Kecak Dance drama to begin.
Kecak Dance is the Balinese dances and music drama. The name "Kecak" comes from the words "cak-cak-cak" shouted by the performers during the show. It does not use any musical instruments, but accompanied by 70 males chorus. The Kecak dance describes about the monkey helping the Prince Rama against evil king Ravana in the Ramayana epic. Entrance fee is about Rp100,000 per person (approximately RM30) and the show starts at 6pm. 
In the midst of watching the Kecak dance drama, you can enjoy the sunset view at Uluwatu in the meanwhile. It is one of the best locations to view sunset in Bali.

Down back from the Uluwatu hill, you can head to enjoy a seafood dinner at Jimbaran beach! Eating seafood on the beach in Jimbaran is one famous visitor's itinerary when coming to Bali. At the same time, you can see the plane taking off and landing as the beach is near to the Ngurah Rai Airport. The combination of atmosphere and good foods make this a memorable and delightful place to spend an evening or night. Just for your information, Jimbaran was the site of a terrorist bombing in 2005.

Do you feel hungry? Yes this is the section you are waiting for! 
Bali Food Recommendation Section
(sorry for those vegetarian people and Muslims for the mention of meat and pork as below)

1. Pork rib @ Naughty Nuri's Warung, Ubud. This places in the highest rank of Bali food recommendation. 100% of my friends who went Bali like the pork rib there. This is the only food in the must-eat-list I missed out as we went to Warung Jangga Ulam to dine with Bapak Dewa. However the pork rib with rice there is superb too!! There's nothing to be sad of, I will eat it (Naughty Nuri's Warung's) the next time I visit Bali.
2. Crispy duck @ Bebek Bengil, Ubud. It is crispy on the outside with plenty of moist duck meat under the skin. For my personal favour, it tastes better than smoked duck.
3. Avocado drink. Avocado drink comes with chocolate syrup. It is a drink that you must try if you go Bali. It is available at most of the restaurants or café, but some do not offer this drink. For me, this drink tastes a bit like kiwi fruit haha. Hard to describe, it differs between man's favour. 
4. Bali fruit tea. It is widely available in Bali @ around Rp5,000 each. It tastes simply fresh, I like it seriously much. You can even get it in a normal food stall.
5. Bebek betutu / ayam betutu. Not only the chicken, but the kangkung vegetables are also very very spicy but the spice just tasted special and nice. If you would like to ask for some chili in Bali, it is "cabai potong" (Indonesia language).
6. Babi guling. Personally I don't hate it, but it doesn't attract me much. However, some people like it! Not harm to give it a try as you wouldn't go Bali often.
7. Sate lilit. This Indonesian satay is made with pork mince and then moulded around sugar cane stick. The satay is normally eaten with cubed rice cake or with a bowl of steamed rice as a main/side dish for lunch, dinner, midnight snack, snack or appetizer in parties or social occasions.
After a nice dinner, you shall not forget to relax at Bali by going to the spa/massage or going to enjoy the live Jazz performance by the Balinese. We had our entice massage (120 minutes @ Rp150,000) at Three Point, Ubud. The massage is relaxing and awesome. This is super cheap (you couldn't get it in Malaysia) and the service offered by them just worth more than the price. If you wish to try spa, mind to know that girl has to take off everything while man will only leave with underpants. It is the same in every spa/massage shop.
Another day before leaving, we enjoy our Ubud night at the Jazz Café. Their high level of performance is like "the sky and the land" as compared to the local style of Malaysia. Haha! Balinese sleeps early, so the normal café would usually close the latest at 11pm, except for bar or maybe the café in city, Kuta?

Before I end my post, please note that one has to reserve Rp150,000 to pay at airport before you're allowed to proceed with the boarding procedure. It is kind like service tax you are compulsory to pay. All in all I had so much fun in Bali ! If you ask me once again to Bali, I would say YES !