Sweet Bali High

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.

Day 1

Batukaru Temple, Jatiluwih Rice Terraces, Lake Bratan Temple, Taman Ayun Temple and Tanah Lot

Day 2

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.

my birthday dinner view from the restaurant

my birthday dinner view from the restaurant

the acoustic band set-up

the acoustic band set-up (oops i only now realized it’s too small)

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).

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Batam in a nutshell

Last Sunday, which was also Easter Sunday, my sister and I had a chance to visit Batam, Indonesia for a day tour. Prior to this, I purchased a deal from Groupon for the said day trip. The deal already included the 2-way ferry, land transfers, day tour, lunch, one flying fox ride and 60 min massage. I was actually looking forward to the massage. Anyway, since my sister came from a long vacation from NZ and she decided to stay here for a short time before going back home, we were planning for a nice quick getaway. I suggested Bintan first, but we don’t have time for an overnight trip so we just went for a one day trip to Batam. The idea was sold to her the moment I said that we could get to Batam in only 1 hour via ferry (she liked the idea of visiting another country and having a new stamp in her passport). So anyway, after all the booking and confirmation, we were good to go.

Sunday morning, we went to Harbourfront Centre near Sentosa where we boarded a ferry which took us to Sekupang Ferry Terminal in Batam. The ferry ride is around 1 hour. From there, we met the tour guide and we were directed to the van to take us to the first stop, the Polo Ralph Lauren. While on the way there, we were informed by our tour guide some trivia about Batam and Indonesia as a whole. I learned that Indonesia has the 3rd largest population in the world with China and India on the first two slot, and that Batam is bigger if compared with Singapore in size, but SG’s population is definitely larger than Batam population. Also, if PH has 7k plus islands, Batam has 17k plus islands. Another thing is that never to keep the money from ID (rupiah) because it expires after the government changes it’s leaders. So basically, it becomes useless if you keep it, unless you plan to return in less than a year. So arriving at the polo shop, we just went around and have a look. The prices are still a little expensive, and we were converting to peso all the while. After the shop, we were taken to Maha Vihara Duta Maitreya Buddhist Temple for our second stop.

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