16-19 January 2014
Oh Bali, Bali, Bali. I don’t know where to begin. Going to Bali is definitely one of the most memorable travel experience I ever had, because of a lot of factors, but mostly it’s because this is my first solo travel destination. I have wanted to travel solo for a very long time, but mostly I can only travel alone during the ride but will have friends joining me in my destination. This time, it really is just me, and my ever reliable driver. 😀
Due to unfortunate circumstances that happened last year (I won’t bore you with the details), I had the chance to really push through with this plan. I was first encouraged to go to Bali by Babe, who went there for a solo trip as well. Having heard that it was safe to travel alone, I’ve been toying with the idea for quite some time. Then when my roommate announced that she will be going for a solo trip to Bali as well, I was even more encouraged, enough for me to book my plane tickets the week after! After that initial step, I put off booking the hotel and arranging for the driver because I still wanted to finish the Christmas holidays. Anyways, I forgot to mention that another reason why this is one of the most memorable trips is because I went on my 30th birthday! Yup, I traveled solo on my birthday. 🙂
Booking for my accommodation was a breeze. Initially, I considered going to Pop! Hotel based on Babe’s recommendations, but in the end I booked for Tanaya Bed & Breakfast where my roommate (and some other friends) stayed before. Tanaya Bed & Breakfast is located along Legian Rd, which is a popular street lined with shops selling souvenir items, jewelries, surfing items, restaurants, bars and people offering tattoos, piercing and mushrooms (if you know what I mean). While walking along the road, shop owners will really talk to you and engage you to buy their items. Considering that I look Indonesian/Malaysian, they talk to me in their local language so I just shake my head and continue walking. On a side note, even when I’m in Batam or Malaysia, they automatically talk to me in Malay. Anyways, the hotel location is convenient, and if you get familiar enough with the roads you can find shortcuts going to the beach. The staff was very nice and accomodating as well. Breakfast is included in their hotel fee, although you have to note that they have a designated breakfast per day so you don’t have any choices, well except for the juices and coffee/tea. I stayed in their Superior Twin Room, with 2 single beds, cable TV (with a lot of english channels), free 2 bottles of mineral water (per day), and a personal toilet (which was located outside opposite the room). At first I was confused as to why they said the toilet is outside, so I thought it was shared bathroom, but it was really my personal toilet, just not inside my room. The sink is shared by two rooms which is okay with me.
Going around in Bali, especially if you want to go to the tourist spots such as the temples and beaches, it is recommended to hire a personal driver. Of course, there are a lot of drivers who will offer you their services on the spot but I chose to go with the one that my friends already hired and recommend. Babe had a different driver but his rate was a bit more expensive than the one I hired. Thus, I would like to introduce you to my driver, Budi. His rate per day is 40USD regardless of how many people there are, of course you have to tell him beforehand so he can arrange the vehicle to use. He uses a Toyota MPV, and I had it all to myself! haha. Airport transfers can be arranged as well, for 15USD one way. He was basically my tour guide/driver and companion for 3 days of 4 days stay, and for the other day he asked a friend to accompany me as it is his day off. During our email conversations I gave him a list of the places I want to visit for 2 days, of course I patterned my itinerary from that of Babe‘s. haha.. Listed below is said IT.
Batukaru Temple, Jatiluwih Rice Terraces, Lake Bratan Temple, Taman Ayun Temple and Tanah Lot
Ubud Market, Padang Padang Beach, Uluwatu Temple, Kecak Dance
Technically, Day 1 was the day of my Birthday. I took the 12:25 pm flight to Denpasar via TigerAir. I reached Ngurah Rai International Airport around 3pm (no time difference) and had to queue for at least 40 minutes before I got out and met with Budi (who was waiting for me for an hour!). He just sent me to my hotel and made arrangements for the tour the next day. After checking-in at my hotel, I rested and changed clothes for a planned night out in celebration of my birthday. I searched for a beach-side restaurant/bar near Legian and found Crystal Palace located in Seminyak. Since googlemaps said that it would be a 40-min walk there from my hotel, I decided to do that while walking along the beach shore. Well, needless to say it took me around an hour to reach the area, and I wasn’t able to find the resto. Instead, I settled for the first one I saw along the beachside called The Champlung, and it so happens that this one has a live acoustic band doing sound-check so I was sold. haha. I loved the bean bag chairs sprawled along the shore facing the beach with the band at the side. I swear, when I go back to Bali, I would bring my future partner here to enjoy the scene. Oh yeah the food is nice as well, I don’t think there was a local cuisine in the menu though I’m not so sure. The food I ordered was delish (haha nevermind that I forgot what it’s called). And the cocktail drinks are dirt cheap! Of course that is with SG prices as my point of comparison. All in all I paid around 250000 IDR (~$27) for 2 cocktail drinks, one milkshake and my chicken-with-very-nice-sauce meal.
3 hours and 2 cocktail drinks after, I was set to go back to my hotel. After my meal I transferred to one of the bean bag chairs and requested the band to sing Use Somebody (Kings of Leon). I also requested If I Ain’t Got You but then they wanted me to sing it coz it’s a girl’s song (I was hoping for a Maroon 5 version from them haha) so I declined. I realized that walking back for another hour at that time was not a possibility, so I asked one of the waiters if it was easy to get a cab or motorbike ride from there. He said I can get a cab but he offered to take me to my hotel using his own motorbike. I guess at first I felt safe but during the ride I was kind of scared haha. But turned out it was really safe, so I gave him 100000IDR for his services (I later found out that normal bike rides would only cost me 20k to 50k IDR but I didn’t mind since the guy took me back safely).
Day Tour Part 1 – Bali Temples and Rice Terraces
I arranged with Budi to come to my hotel around 8:30 am and he came just in time. Based on the itinerary, the places are located on the northern part of Bali. First stop is Batukaru Temple, which was 2 hours away from Legian. I wouldn’t bother so much with the history and all about the temples, so I will just post the photos I took. One thing I learned from visiting temples, which is similar to the rules in Thailand, shorts are not allowed, so sarong cover-ups are available at the entrance. Another thing, pregnant women, as well as those having their periods are not allowed, also for people who just recently had a relative pass away. Since Budi has a relative who just recently died, he wasn’t able to accompany me inside the temple premises, thus no one to take photos of me. haha. 😀
I have to admit, this is the first Rice Terraces I have ever been to. I haven’t had the chance to visit our country’s very own Banaue Rice Terraces ( shame shame ). According to Budi, these rice terraces supplies the rice for Bali only. It was so wide and spread out along the area, I can only imagine how huge Banuae Rice Terraces would be.
Also called Lake Bratan water temple as it is in the middle of the lake, with the familiar pagoda-like tiered roof, is one major Shivanite and water temple in Bali. Within the premises is a landscaped tourist park or some sort for wandering tourists. Souvenir shops can be found outside the gates. After Bratan temple, Budi took me to a restaurant opposite the Bratan temple complex for lunch.
Taman Ayun Temple is among one of the famous temples for tourists in Bali. Initially I didn’t include this in my itinerary but Buti said it’s along the way so I agreed to include it. The Bali architecture that has been prominent in their temples can be seen again here. Taman Ayun translates to ‘beautiful garden’ which is evident in the beautiful garden landscape surrounding the temple.
Pura Tanah Lot is a temple situated in the sea. It is said to be a holy place to worship the Balinese sea gods. Presently, it’s one of the major tourist attractions in Bali. There’s an entrance fee, like almost all the temples in Bali, and upon entering you will pass by a lot of stalls selling souvenir items.
Tanah Lot was my last stop for the day, but it was still quite early so I asked Budi to drop me off in the Starbucks behind Hard Rock Cafe in Kuta. I had every intention of catching the sunset from the beach this time as I was not able to catch it the day before because it was cloudy. After chilling for a while inside SB, and leeching with their WIFI, I walked toward Kuta beach and settled myself in the sand while watching for the sun to set. It’s not that I haven’t seen sunsets from the beach before, I was just longing for it recently. It was a very nice cap to my already wonderful day.
After the sunset I began my journey back to my hotel (a bit melodramatic aye. haha). It was quite a long walk but it was nice because I got to look around the shops and see the restaurants so I would know where to have dinner after I have my shower. I was to have a new driver the next day because it was Budi’s off day and I arranged for him to pick me around 9am. One thing I liked about this trip, I own my time, and I was able to really rest. Two thumbs up and more!
Day Tour Part 2 – UBUD Market, Padang Padang Beach and Uluwatu (Kacek Dance)
Initially I was planning to spend a whole day in UBUD before going to Legian for my check-in, but I scraped the idea because I don’t want to be pressured into going to a lot of places in a short span of time. If you are not yet aware, the ‘Love’ part of the movie ‘Eat, Pray, Love’ (Julia Roberts) was shot in Ubud, Bali. Thus, this place became famous among tourists in recent years. I told Babe that if I were to return to Bali, I would concentrate on this place, of course, hopefully with her. Hehe..
Anyways, UBUD is almost 2 hours away from Legian, so I had a lot of Zzzzzzs on the way there. UBUD Market is famous for souvenir items, but a lot more expensive compared to the stores in Tanah Lot. We got there early and I was able to look around for about an hour but when I came out, the parking lot was crowded, that’s how famous it was for tourists. I wasn’t able to buy anything except the pashmina scarf (at least i hope it’s really pashmina) because felt that everything was overpriced, plus I can get similar items around my hotel area. Anyways, after the market we left to have lunch at the famous Ibu Oka Babi Guling.
This deserved a separate heading on it’s own because this restaurant is famous among tourists. The Babi Guling (or Suckling Pig) is a famous delicacy in Bali, and trying it is a must. However, for me it’s not a very unique concept since suckling pig (Lechon baboy) is also a famous delicacy in my country. It would only differ on the way it was presented or prepared. I liked the sauce that was placed on top of the rice, and the taste is still uniquely Bali.
Padang Padang Beach
After lunch was another long journey to Padang Padang Beach. Of course the choice of beach was influenced by Babe. I would’ve tried surfing here too if I knew how but I haven’t really tried before so Babe discouraged me since this beach is not for beginners. Anyways, I was kind of disappointed because I thought the beach would be cleaner than Kuta beach, although it is definitely cleaner and the water is clear, there were still trashes floating along the water. I guess I didn’t enjoy it much because this is when I felt strongly that I was alone. haha. My driver (Budi’s friend) gave me an hour to swim around, while he wait for me carrying my bag, but after a while I got tired so I asked to leave.
After the beach we went straight to Uluwatu Temple. Uluwatu temple is another Balinese sea temple located south of Jimbaran and west of Nusa Dua. It’s one of the famous tourists attractions in Bali, mostly because of the famed “Kecak Dance” which takes place in the mini amphitheater within the temple premises. Be aware though of the monkeys, because they can snatch away anything they can reach such as slippers, shades and phones. I’ve read from forums that this practice seem to be a twisted way for the locals to extort money from tourists, although I don’t think it is. Just be cautious and beware that the monkeys are roaming freely. Thankfully, my driver accompanied me the whole time, and before entering he took a tree branch so he can shoo the monkeys away from me. The famed temple is situated in a cliff, although it is not allowed to enter, and all you can do is admire it from far. We had a lot of time to kill so I asked if we could rest in one of the sanctuaries and while lying down, my driver was chatting with another driver whose tourists turned out to be Filipinos. Anyways, we roamed around the premises until it’s time for the Kecak Dance.
Kecak dance is a form of Balinese dance that depicts the story of Ramayana. My friend said that this is actually a hindu ritual, wherein the male chorus really goes into a trance while performing. I’ve always been fascinated by cultural shows, and the kecak dance didn’t disappoint.
To cap off the loooong day, my driver took me to a seafood restaurant in Jimbaran. The restaurant is situated near the beach, and I would have chosen the beach chairs had it not been drizzling. Upon entering they will ask what you want to have, and I just chose more than half a kilo of squid to be grilled. One thing about these restaurants, they take care of drivers by giving them free meals, since they get customers because of them (I didn’t even know that this was part of the itinerary, but I tried anyway since I was hungry by that time). I also ordered Mojito while waiting for my food (again, why is it that cocktails here are damn cheap, haha). It was a very nice place, and the food was nice. It’s just a bummer that I was eating there alone. haha.
The last day of my stay I didn’t have anything planned. Well, I was considering going for surfing classes in Kuta but lo and behold, I woke up late. haha. I realized how much I missed staying in my own room because of this experience. I decided to just take my time before I check out of the hotel, and that I would just wing it, nothing much to do but try to do some shopping. haha. Before I left for Bali, I bought this Pandora bracelet from Changi Airport, and I had this idea of collecting charms from the places I’ve been to, so in short, I went to a Pandora shop in Bali to buy my charm! There is this posh place near Kuta beach called The Beachwalk, which is more like Ayala Town Center, with posh brands and restaurants, and also a resort next to it. And yes this is where I found my charm. 🙂 I already arranged for Budi to pick me up from the hotel at 4:30pm for my 6:50pm flight so I just took my sweet time walking back.
Another note, I wasn’t aware that there was a terminal fee in Ngura Rai International Airport, so I was grateful to have a few thousand ringgit left (which was supposed to be for my dinner). Anyways, it made sense since the airport looked newly renovated. The terminal fee is 150000 IDR.
Okay, that’s about it. One item off my bucket list. Oh two items, another would be wearing a bikini in a public beach (which I have no way of taking a photo of) hahaha.. 😀 I hope I can do this again, and I also hope I could go back to Bali. There’s a lot of things that can be done. And yeah, it would be cheaper to go with someone too. hahaha.
Til my next adventure! OOOhhhhhh I’m going to Korea next month! haha.