Tuesday, August 25, 2015

4 Days in Bali

Another country off the bucket list!
This was our last family trip before Mel went to New Zealand for her studies. I'll be leaving in less than 2 days, and we'll be at two opposite sides of the world. We will have summer holidays at different time of the year and our next complete family trip would most probably be 3 years later. 

We started searching for hotels and villas months before the trip but we were very indecisive..we only booked our accommodation about a week before we flew. 

I started planning our trip's itinerary early because we were only at Bali for 4 full days and there are too many exciting places to visit (although Bali is a small island). 

I read a lot of blogs and inquired several travel agencies to decide on which destinations to scrap off my itinerary. I'm so excited to share this blog post and hope that it would help someone to plan their Bali trip better.

Our flight arrived from Brunei to Denpasar at late evening and our hotel's representative picked us up on time to The Bene Hotel, Kuta.

Kuta - Bali
Jalan Benesari
Kuta 80361, Bali, Indonesia
+62 (361) 846 9500

We arrived at the hotel around midnight and there was a miscommunication regarding our rooms. We booked the family suite with two extra beds. The email was vague regarding the extra bed charges and my dad thought it was complimentary. However, the receptionist charged us the fees and my dad was really unhappy..

Luckily, it was resolved and they provided the extra beds without any charges. They even gave us two extra complimentary breakfast!

Despite the miscommunication, the staff were very welcoming, friendly and polite. The rooms are very spacious and comfortable. We wanted to book a villa initially but most of the reviews complaint about mosquitoes at night and dirty pools, which depends on the maintenance. Most villas can only accommodate 3-4 people per room but we have 6 people for this trip..so it would cost a lot more by booking 2 or 3 rooms for 4 nights.

I booked a local tour guide cum driver through Gede Bali Driver. I found him via Tripadvisor and his reviews are excellent, with a reasonable price.

Mr. Gede Dwijendra
+62 817 976 2648

Mr. Gede answered my questions via whatsapp promptly and gave me some suggestions on my itinerary. He then assigned Mr. Komang as our driver for the full 4 days. He agreed to picked us up at our hotel the next day at 9am sharp. 

The first floor rooms have direct access to the swimming pool. Imagine waking up everyday, go out to the balcony and dip into the pool!! 
They have a wide variety of breakfast choices and they change their menu everyday, with the exception of the egg station but I won't complain. I love eggs..with cheese. and mushrooms. 

Day 1

First destination: Tanjong Benoa, Nusa Dua for water sports!

Zooka Dive & Watersports 
Jl. Segara Lor No.19 (Depan Konco), 
Tanjong Benoa, Nusa Dua, Bali
Tel: (0361) 771990, 773184

They have a wide range of activities ; banana boat, diving, water ski, snorkelling - just to name a few but they are quite pricey as well so we only selected a few of the rides to try.

Water slide donut      : USD 35 for once/person
Jet ski/Wave runner   : USD 35 for 15 mins/person
Parasailing adventure: USD 50 for 5 mins/person

My first parasailing adventure! I am grateful that it was a fine day :) it was quite scary initially but halfway through, we were enjoying the magnificent view and felt relaxed!

After the whole morning under the scorching sun, we were supposed to head to Puja Mandela; where there's 5 religions in 1 place. The Ibny Baitullah Mosque for Muslims, Maria, the Mother of all Nations Catholic Church for Roman Catholics, Budhina Guna Buddhist Vihara (temple) for Buddhists, Prayer Hill Protestant Church for Protestants and Pura Jagat Natha (Jagat Natha Temple) for Hindus. How cool is that right? Peace and harmony among religions.

Unfortunately, we did not manage to there because we went to The Mulia Resort & Villa instead T___T
It was a last minute addition to our itinerary as our friend highly recommended us to take a look at the largest resort in Bali (?)

A wide selection at The Mulia Deli. It's affordable too. We got ourselves some double scoop ice-cream. So refreshing!!

Blueberry cream cheese and mango; Macadamia nuts and coconut!

We then went to Dreamland beach (I love the name )
Before going, I don't get why people would visit a beach while going overseas for vacation. Probably because Caucasians don't get to enjoy the sun as often as Asians do..so they usually visit countries with equatorial climate during summer. 

Surprisingly though, I like Dreamland beach. It's super hot, yes..but the waves are huge and it's windy.

They said Dreamland beach is a stretch of white sands..but..is it?? Looks brown to me o___o
Great beach, if you love surfing. 
It was so hot that I felt my skin burning..and I'll probably be 10 times tanner :(

We were so hungry and finally got to have lunch around 2pm. Our driver, Komang dropped us at a local Balinese restaurant around the area. 

Ulam Balinese & Sea Food Restaurant
Jalan Pantai Mengiat No. 14, 
P.O. Box. 117, Nusa Dua 80363
+62-361-771590, 773776, 771902

Gado-Gado; Rp 33.975 (SGD $3.40)

One thing that confuses me is the way they write their amount. It's "." instead of "," so initially I thought it was $33 dollars and 975 cents =_= 

 Urapan; Rp 15.975 (SGD $1.60)

 Nasi Goreng "Nusa Dua"; Rp 99.950 (SGD $10)

Satay Ayam "Istimewa"; Rp 64.975 (SGD $6.50)

The food was nice; it has a tinge of sweetness in almost all the food I've tried. The portion is big too! I couldn't finish the Gado-Gado myself!

Love the ambience as well..the interior looks and feels very Balinese. One downside of it is that we sat really close to the kitchen and the smoke was slightly uncomfortable for me.

After our late lunch, we set off to Uluwatu Temple. Admission fee: Rp 30.000/person (SGD $3)
We had to go to Uluwatu Temple first because I was having my menstruation during my Bali trip. Most of the temples do not allow women to enter during menstruation, so it's wiser to check the dates before you plan your Bali trip. 
Uluwatu Temple allows menstruating women to enter till certain areas of the temple. The main temple sits on a 70m high cliff, protruding above Indonesian Ocean. It heads east, unlike other Balinese temples which face west or south. Due to its unique location, we have to walk a long stone stairway to reach (which I didn't because I was forbidden). 

I roamed around the area with my grandma while the others headed up. 

You can also watch the Kecak and Fire Dance inside Uluwatu Temple from 6pm - 7pm. The performance is on everyday and it costs about Rp 100.000/person (SGD $10). We didn't go for it because we wanted to watch the sunset instead.

We followed our driver's suggestion to watch the sunset in Uluwatu but decided to enjoy the view in Jimbaran Bay instead. However, it took 30 minutes to reach Jimbaran Bay and we've missed the sunset already :(

Before coming to Bali, I've read about how Jimbaran is a rip off for tourists. They charged super expensive for simple seafood. Like a plate of chicken wings with fried noodles and fish would cost like $50? Most people complained that they weren't even full after paying so much for the dinner. 
The restaurant that most people recommended is Lia Cafe..but unfortunately, my driver had no idea where was that :[ we didn't manage to get a sim card yet at that time and couldn't search the address for him. Please note down the addresses of the restaurants that you wanna go next time!

Nevertheless, the place he brought us to was affordable and my family was really happy!!
My sister, L and I treated our family this meal because it was Father's Day! 

Jimbaran Bay has a stretch of restaurants along the beach, so you can just enter any of the restaurants and try out. The most popular one among the area we were dropped off is Menega Cafe. We had to wait about 1 hour just to get seats! Probably another hour for the food to be served? So, we opted for nearby restaurants instead. 

Pandan Sari Cafe
Jl. Bukit Permai, Jimbaran,
Kuta, Bali

We ordered two of this and the meat was super fresh! I love the sauce too!!
 'Bawal' fish grilled with Balinese sauce; Rp 100.000/kg (SGD $10)

 Clams grilled with Balinese sauce; Rp 50.000/kg (SGD $5)

We ordered black pepper and chilli crab, 1.5kg in total and it was so so good!!
Crabs; Rp 200.000/kg (SGD $20)

We ordered two of these too! We halved it to 500g of grilled squid with Balinese sauce and deep fried squid. Personally, I prefer the deep fried one :D
 Squid; Rp 100.000/kg (SGD $10)

The seafood there is really affordable and tasty. They sell Jumbo prawns and King prawns as well for about Rp 250.000/kg (SGD $25), lobster for about Rp 450.000/kg (SGD $45) and oysters for Rp 80.000/kg (SGD $8).

All items are included with plain rice, vegetables, sauce and fresh fruits as desserts. We spent about $83 on everything (incl. beverages). Not that bad right? There's 6 of us and we were really full!! Would love to try Menega Cafe and Lia Cafe next time if I have the chance.

It's super romantic. Breezy wind and candlelight dinner ♥ 
Halfway eating, a group of singers performed and we had free music throughout! hehehe
I'm sure someone requested them to sing but since it's open air..everyone get to enjoy it. 
BUT please bring some insect repellants or wear long pants to protect yourselves. The experience was horrible; there were soooo many mosquitoes!

Day 2

We had our second day free as Komang suggested us to shift our 2nd day itinerary to the 4th day as the places we wanted to go were pretty much the same direction as the 4th day's. 

Had our breakfast at the hotel and head out to Seminyak Square for some local shopping.
It was such a bad day for us..
Grandma fell down from a stair step that she missed and fractured her wrist. Her wrist was also displaced and she had a transient loss of consciousness. We rushed her to a nearby clinic and they advised us to go a private hospital. She opted for reduction because she didn't want to go under anaesthesia and surgery.
We felt really bad because she must be so exhausted that she missed the step. It wasn't a pleasant holiday for her :(

Grandma felt better with her cast on and we went for late lunch/early dinner around 4:30pm.

Babi Guling Candra
Jl. Teuku Umar 140, Denpasar, Bali
+62-361-9940098, 225559

Babi Guling is also known as suckling pig, a renowned dish in Bali. The pig is stuffed and infused with spices and herbs and then spit-roasted. Not a fan of pig but it's one of the must try dishes in Bali. The best places to have it would be Babi Guling Pak Malen in Seminyak and Babi Guling Ibu Oka in Ubud. However, we were all very hungry so we resorted to have it in Babi Guling Candra..

Babi Guling Spesial; Rp 40.000 (SGD $4)

 Sate Campur; Rp 40.000 (SGD $4)

Ayam bakar; Rp 45.000 (SGD $4.50)

It wasn't that bad but I didn't really like it. L said it was probably one of the most spicy dish he has ever tasted though. Recommended for spicy food lovers.

We headed back to the hotel and helped grandma to settle and rest for the day. 
We brought our swimming suit but didn't think we would have the time because our itinerary was pretty packed. Since we had some spare time, we went for a short swim..

At night, we went to BeachWalk Shopping Centre, just opposite of Kuta Beach. Took us around 10 minutes to walk there. The streets were dark but it's relatively safe (according to our driver). Balinese are nice people (:

Then, we slept in early because we had to wake up around 3am for dolphin sight-seeing :D

Day 3

Komang picked us up at 3:30am. No breakfast for us :(

Went to Lovina beach which is about 2.5 hours ride from Kuta. The roads were very hilly and bumpy. With an empty stomach, I felt super dizzy and nearly threw up..

Arrived Lovina around 6am..

They charged us Rp 200.000/person (SGD $20/person)
Each boat can only bring 4 person max. so my mum & grandma chose to stay on shore. 

So many boats!! Well, to be honest, I kinda expected too much out of this dolphin tour. The boats chased around the dolphins whenever they see them..and this happened for 1-2 hours. Poor dolphins :(
They could have made it more eco-tourism though; explaining more about dolphins or about why dolphins only appear in lovina and not other seas? The sunrise was great though. 

Around 7:30am, I could feel the temperature rising (it was really cold around 6am! Remember to bring a jacket for it!) and we went back onshore. 

The water is so clear. I'm amazed, since there's so many boats. I would've imagined the water being brownish black.

Once we reached the shore, people started flocking towards you and sell stuff to you. They won't give up and pester you to buy, offering cheaper prices..but DON'T buy. We found similar items with much cheaper prices at Ubud market and the waterfall place..
Dad bought this carved dolphin which cost around $16. So not worth it.

Lovina's sand! Chromatic black sand!!

Next stop, Banjar Hot Spring!
Admission fee: Rp 10.000/person (SGD $1)
It was my mistake not to research on it properly.. I imagined it to be like my Taiwan Yang Ming Shan's experience..but it's not! It's an open air, natural hot spring in which the sulfuric water is of volcanic origin and has an agreeable warm temperature of 37 degrees. I heard it's the best temperature for people with rheumatic diseases. 

Don't forget your swimsuit if you wanna dip into the water!
They provide public toilets which you have to pay like Rp 20.000 and they charge for a cubicle to store your valuables.
The toilets are old, wet and dark..but they have a cleaner to maintain the toilet hygiene. 

The weather was quite chilly in the morning so it's actually quite cold.

Had our breakfast in the restaurant inside Banjar hot spring. 

Restoran Komala Tirta
Banjar, Singarajam Bali

Soto Ayam; Rp 20.000 (SGD $2)

 Mi Goreng; Rp 60.000 (SGD $6)

 Ham & cheese omelette; Rp 35.000 (SGD $3.50)

 Sate ayam; Rp 37.500 (SGF $3.80)

Nasi Goreng Special; Rp 35.000 (SGD $3.50)

The food was just ok..I find it a bit too salty for my liking. There was literally noone there for breakfast as most of the people who swim at the hot springs are usually locals. I love the environment though! Very picnic feel!

We also went to Gitgit Waterfall on the 3rd day.
Admission fee: Rp 10.000/person (SGD $1)

There's actually 3-4 waterfalls inside Gitgit Waterfall but we only managed to see this ^
It's the largest and tallest waterfall among all! I saw pictures of the twin waterfall though..looks amazing!! People actually went in and swim. We just stood there and took pictures on a rock though. I could feel the cold water splashing at my back...it was so cool. Love it! 

All the waterfalls are actually quite far apart..and the main reason we didn't visit all of them was because grandma was tired. The steps to the waterfall are quite steep and rocky. 

There are a lot of vendors selling local stuff - knitted singlets, blankets, paintings, carved items - just to name a few. And then there were young children following you whenever you go, using pitiful tone to beg you buy their stuff T______T
I hate it when they do this! They were chasing us using barefoot..and they were merely 5 years old I think :(

L bought this flower hair clip from the girl and she kept bargaining the price (with her cute voice)..we bought a hair clip for $4 and it was of really bad quality. HK is probably selling them at $2 for 5.


Ulun Danu Bratan Temple

Admission fee: Rp 30.000/person (SGD $3)

Ulun Danu has a large area of grass at the back of the temple. The scenery is magnificent! Looked like we were at New Zealand xD

According to my parents, Ulun Danu is the prettiest temple they've been to for the entire trip. We skipped Taman Ayun Temple so we didn't take it into account. Since we had so many places to go to, we can only choose between Ulun Danu, Taman Ayun and Jatiluwih..Komang suggested Jatiluwih because we could have our late lunch there and we did.

Jatiluwih admission fee: Rp 15.000/person (SGD $1.50)

Padi Bali
Jl. Jatiluwih Penebel, Tabanan

 Spring rolls; Rp 20.000 (SGD $2)

 Curry with rice; Rp 38.000 (SGD $3.80)

Satay; Rp 38.000 (SGD $3.80)

 Nasi campur; Rp 38.000 (SGD $3.80)

Mi Goreng; Rp 38.000 (SGD $3.80)

Their spring rolls are one of the best spring rolls I've ever eaten, seriously!! Dad really love their curry as well..It's probably the best meal we've had in Bali (although it's not very famous)..
Komang said this restaurant isn't the usual one that he would bring tourists to though..it's because most of the restaurants closed already at the time we arrived at Jatiluwih.

By the way, Jatiluwih is REALLY far away and it took us probably 1.5 hours to reach there! It's situated on a mountain so the roads are super bumpy as well!!! However, we did not regret it! The food was worth the visit :p

We couldn't see much of the rice terraces as they've already harvested it (gotta know the harvest seasons too next time!)
There's actually alot of paddy fields and rice terraces in Bali. I wanted to go Tegalalang and Pacung initially but Komang suggested Jatiluwih as it was named as a cultural landscape by UNESCO.

Quickly headed over to Tanah Lot Temple as it will take another 1.5 - 2 hours to reach!

Admission fee: Rp 30.000/person (SGD $3)

When we reached Tanah Lot, the sun had already set..and people were leaving the temple already. BIGGEST REGRET EVER :(
We literally paid the entrance fee for nothing as well :/
I was looking forward to Tanah Lot!! It's the only sea temple as it's situated on top of the sea..must must must visit here again! There are a lot of stalls outside Tanah Lot as well. Shouldn't miss that too! hehehe

Dinner at Hog Wild - our BEST meal in Bali!

Jl. Batubelig No. 41, Kuta Utara
Kabupaten Badung, Bali, Indonesia

 Caesars Salad; Rp 52.000 (SGD $5.20)

Chicken BBQ; Rp 55.000 (SGD $5.50)

Pork Ribs BBQ; Rp 119.000 ($11.90)

Gourmet Italian; Rp 79.000 (SGD $7.90)

Porn Corn; Rp 15.000 (SGD $1.50)

Everything is so nice here!!! We had to queue for a while before getting the seats. It's one of the must trys in Bali. It used to be called Naughty Nuri's..but they changed their name to Hog Wild for the Kuta's branch. They have a branch in Ubud and it's still known to be Naughty Nuri's. 

Dad and L said it's probably their best pork rib ever. The meat was so tender and juicy!! Even better than Tony Roma's. Cheaper too!! I love their corn!! I actually saw a lot along Kuta streets and regretted that I didn't try them T______T

Day 4

Our last day to tour around Bali!
After breakfast, Komang picked us up at 9am. We went to Tohpati village for batik shopping. You get to see how they make batik as well! Handmade Bali batik are expensive..but we managed to get some bags and purses for quite a good price. I would really recommend you guys to visit Tohpati village! I chose this among the other cultural villages (eg. Celuk village for silver & gold crafting, and Mas village for wood carvings). There's no entrance fee for it. So you can just do some window shopping.

Tampak siring, also known as the holy spring temple, is a place to purify ourselves from the bad influences in life. The water showers sourced from the springs at this temple. The water that comes out from the shower is believed to eliminate all kinds of disease, including adverse effects in human's lives.

Admission fee: Rp 30.000/person (SGD $3)

Basically, water rise from the springs below..without any pumps. The pond is never dry.

Please bring extra clothes and a hair band if you wish to soak into the water. We wanted to but there was some miscommunication between Gede and I. I thought he would instruct someone to prepare the clothes for us..

We had no choice but to pat some of the water showers at the side only.

We had our lunch near Kintamani, where Mount Batur, an active volcano is situated. We had a buffet lunch while enjoying the panorama. It was such a fine day.
Admission fee: Rp 31.000/person (SGD $3.10)

We had to pay just to enter Kintamani..it would probably be more worth it if we actually hike the mountain. I heard you can see the milky way if you're lucky at night!! To hike, we actually have to wake up at 2-3am. It's similar to the Lovina tour but I don't think my family can endure it. Hence, I opted for the dolphin tour only. 

Rumah Makan Tepi Danau
Jl. Raya Penelokan, Kintamani, Bangli, Bali

The buffet lunch costed about Rp 100.000/person (SGD $10) but it was the worst meal we ever had in Bali :X

The food was very salty..and some were bland. Choose the restaurants with ala carte menu instead!!

Coffee plantation~

No admission fee :D

It's an ecotourism destination and there's a guide assigned to bring us around the plantation.

Bali is known for Luwak coffee, the most expensive coffee in the world.

Basically, they feed the luwak (aka mongoose) with the coffee beans and harvest their poops (which is the coffee nuts covered in faeces). Disgusting, right? I have no idea why is it so expensive..

Left: clean coffee beans
Right: coffee beans with Luwak's faeces

 The plantation also has other variety of coffee and tea planted.

We paid USD $5 for a small cup of Luwak coffee. However, they provided a range of coffee and tea for us to try and compare with the Luwak coffee, which are:

Lemon tea, ginger tea, ginger coffee, ginseng coffee, chocolate coffee, pure coca, vanilla coffee and pure bali coffee

It's actually worth it as you can try different coffee and tea for just $5. We shared everything among 6 of us. My favourites are lemon tea and ginger tea! Ginseng coffee was not too bad too, to my surprise. Choco and vanilla coffee were too sweet and they tasted weird with coffee. Pure bali coffee was seriously bitter. So does luwak coffee. Probably because I'm not so much of a coffee person.

We went to Ubud market after the coffee plantation but it was rather late and we couldn't do much shopping. Ubud market is a great place for local souvenirs but you MUST bargain for the price. I bought a dress for $12 in a store up front but found the EXACT same dress in another store that's selling for about $6. Double the price!!

Dinner at I Made Joni.

Teges Kanginan, Ubud 80571, Bali

Chicken Sate; Rp 70.000 (SGD $7)

Ayam Kampong Special; Rp 96.000 (SGD $9.60)

Crispy duck; Rp 97.000 (SGD $9.70)

Smoked duck; Rp 125.000 (SGD $12.50)

Smoked fish; Rp 125.000 (SGD $12.50)

I didn't take a picture of the fish because I'm too hungry when it arrived xD
You can definitely get better restaurants around Ubud, especially on bebek (duck)..it's one of Bali's specialty dishes. The food here is just OK but the price is relatively higher compared to most restaurants in Bali. The reviews from TripAdvisors were generally negative, commenting on how dirty the toilets were and how slow & arrogant the waitresses/waiters were. Probably because we went there after the peak hour, I found it still acceptable..but I still won't go for the second time. There's definitely a better place I can try bebek!!

Went home and walked around Kuta area again. Saw the Minions McFlurry!! It's banana oreo and it's freaking cheap! I think $0.80 only??? or $1...limited edition!!

Also tried the foot massage at Kimberley Spa just outside of The Bene Hotel. Costed Rp 50.000 (SGD $5) for one hour. YES! It's that cheap..I had to pay $25 for an hour foot massage in Brunei. 

Our flight was 8am in the morning on the next day. Komang picked us up at 4:30am and we had our breakfast in the airport. 

I truly enjoyed my Bali trip but there's just so many more places to go!! Hopefully, my second visit would be sometime soon (: