Yes I am back from my first ever trip to Bali, second trip to Indonesia (1st was Batam). Well, since I’ve indicated “first” in my entry title, it simply means that I will be going Bali again. It could be next month, next year or next next year. It doesn’t matter how long later but I’m pretty certain I will return.
I shall begin with the financials (as usual).
My ticket was bought last November, 4 months ago, during a Tigerair promotion and it was only $224 for 2 tickets without check-in baggage. It was a pretty impulsive and random decision but it eventually turned out pretty well. For my Hotel, I’ve booked Amadea Resorts & Villa – Seminyak which cost $321 for 3 nights. Averaging everything out, it was SGD $272.50 for return tickets and 3 night hotel stay per pax on a twin sharing basis.
As Bali is a very popular tourist destination, there are many airlines which flies the Singapore – Bali route. The more popular airlines are Singapore Airlines (SIA), KLM (Dutch), Tigerair, Air Asia, Jet Star & Garuda. At any point in the day, I’m sure you can catch a flight to Bali. FYI – my Tigerair flight was almost full.
*Disclaimers: most photos are taken using iPhone 5 so the resolution could be slightly poorer.
Still-in-renovation Ngurah Rai International Denpasar Airport
My Tigerair flight experience was pretty normal. During departure, there was an expected delay of about 30-45 mins due to the late arrival of the Tiger Mandala aircraft. When we were returning to Singapore from Bali, the flight was delayed close to an hour. However, the fault lies with the still-in-renovation Bali airport, and not Tigerair.
Choosing your hotel location
Bali is very huge, contrary to most that think it was just another island. Their economy depends heavily on tourism and a huge percentage of their population works in the tourism sector too. If you are a beach and sunshine lover, most tourists stay in Kuta area as it has the most popular and crowded beach. It seems like almost every other building is a hotel or resort D: Near Kuta, there is Legian, which is also crowded, but slightly pricier. If you’re feeling rich and prefer to chill and relax at a very nice resort, you would have to consider Nusa Dua – the most luxurious Beach area in Bali. For myself, being a not-so-rich & not-a-fan-of-big-crowds, Seminyak was the place to stay. It has countless food options and shopping available. It also seems like the themed restaurants has become increasingly popular in Bali too.
Amadea Resort & Villa – Seminyak is a relatively smaller establishment (in comparison with the bigger brands), with a huge emphasis on customer service. The staff are well-trained; polite & courteous and they never fail to make you feel comfortable. Upon checking in, they automatically upgraded our rooms (garden to pool view & slightly larger room size). On the second and third day, we had towel animals (I love the dog and the donkey) greeting us when we reach home, together with a handwritten note. These are the small and insignificant things that makes a difference. From the main road, there’s quite a bit of walking (3 minutes) from the Concierge to the rooms. However, they have buggy available to ferry you to and fro. Most of the time, we choose to walk instead.
Airport Transfer to Hotel
Usually, it would be good if you can get your hotel to arrange an airport transfer for you. The price wouldn’t be too much a difference if you were to hire a taxi instead. If you choose to get a taxi, DO NOT ACCEPT ANY OFFER FROM THE TOUTING DRIVERS right outside the arrival hall. Their prices are usually marked up. Thanks to my local ex-colleauge who picked us up at the airport, she suggested that (upon exiting the arrival hall), turn left and proceed to the Taxi Counter. The Taxi Counter is managed by Blue Bird Taxi if I’m not wrong,provides a more reliable rate. It was an approximately 20-30 minutes taxi ride to Seminyak. (I do not know the price of the ride as we didn’t pay for it T_T but generally, taxis are rather inexpensive in Bali.)
Highlight of the trip – White Water Rafting
This activity had been arranged by my Balinese friend prior to our arrival. She was so good at it that she managed to negotiate to a price of more than 70% cheaper than the published price of $75 USD. The price is inclusive of pickup&return from our resort! The journey was about 2 hours long and it involves winding road up and down the mountains. The river we went to was Telaga Waja River @ Karangasem City. I was able to borrow a GoPro for this trip thus we were able to film part of our adventure. Will do up a video when I’m free but I’ll share the pictures first. I was able to take these photos using those waterproof pouches. Apparently iPhone is quite easy to swipe despite being very stressful (in case I fall off the boat).
Rest Stop along the way – Beautiful Hill Terraces
My lucky bears – Paddy & Duffy
Anyway, if you are wondering why it is called white water rafting. The “White” refers to the colour of the gushing water as seen in my pictures.
This was a dam that we couldn’t fall from because it was too steep. We had to evacuate the boat and walk down.
GET WET Waterfall – there were a couple along the way.
There was a rest stop along the way with overpriced drinks but we were not thirsty enough to get any.
The highlight of the adventure – 4m drop & the confident faces. I refuse to upload our own shots as it was utterly embarrassing. 4 people with totally different facial expressions; 3 hanging on to the string tightly with their mouths gaped.
At the end, we had to climb like X00 number of flights up a very steep mountain. It took me forever and it was kind of embarrassing to see a senior citizen climbing up faster than me D:
Oh, we also paid 250,000 R (negotiated from 300,000) for the photos package. The photos were not a lot as there were only a few photo spots. However, the 4m drop photos was really hilarious. Aside, the boatman guide was really nice and always volunteering to help us take photographs using my protected phone camera. We ended up with a lot more photos than the other boats because of the awesome waterproof pouch!
Do not even dream about staying dry in this activity. You will get wet either from the splashes of the ripples, the random waterfalls which you will “accidentally” go under and especially from the splashes of other boats.
As the waters were quite rough, we didn’t have to paddle a lot or rather the boatman knew we were lazy and didn’t ask us to paddle 70% of the time. After the 4m drop, there was like 10 more mins of rafting but the boatman didn’t return us our paddles and just paddled away alone. Well, he eventually got quite a big tip from my friend =p
This is the only paddling center which gives you a certificate (or so my friend says). You can take a look at their brochure or facebook.
Not really sure if they are still active there but you can try facebook messaging them.
Anyway, the driver ended up clinching another deal with us by offering 12 hours of driving service at 500,000R which was relatively cheap according to my friend. Another alternative apart from renting a driver is to just approach any taxi and get them to run the meter for the whole day. I had a friend who have tried it and she said that she only ended up paying $50-60 for a full day of hire which is quite reasonable too!
Attractions we visited – Garuda Wisnu Kencana (GWK) Cultural Park & Uluwatu temple + Jimbaran Beach
Usually, people visit Uluwatu during sunset as you will be able to watch the traditional Kecak dance and enjoy the magnificent view of the sunset. However, before heading down to Uluwatu temple, you can also consider visiting Garuda Wisnu Kencana (GWC) Cultural Park which is situated down south too. This park is similar to Sagrada Famalia of Barcelona as it is a fee-paying still-in-construction attraction.
When it is completed, the 230-hectors park (which used to be a limestone quarry) is supposed to house a 146m Vishnu riding Garuda statue (the icon of Bali). The project was launched back in 1993 and it still remains uncompleted today. In the official website, there was no mention of the expected completion date.To date, only “Vishnu’s head – 23 metres “, “garuda’s head – 12 metres” and the “hands” are completed. Despite its unfinished status, GWK Cultural Park is home to many events, such as weddings, corporate functions and even concerts! Apparently it is also a popular place for couples to do their photoshoot – chargeable.
Park entrance tickets are chargeable at 80,000/person for non-Indonesians. This is a fairly steep price in comparison to the cost of other things in Bali. You can also watch dance performances at the amphitheater at certain times each day.
On our visit there, the sun was so hot that we kind of entered and exit the place within an hour. We did not managed to find the “hands”. I was pretty amazed at the size of the current parts of statue. If the entire 146m copper and brass stature was to be completed, it would certainly be a great achievement. However, judging from the progress of the last 20 years, the goal of completion seems really far away. Nevertheless, I enjoy the vastness of the entire area. If the weather had been slightly better, we would have probably taken more photos and enjoy the simple pleasure of just walking around. Hot Sun + No Wind + Humid Weather + Visiting the attraction at noon = in and out strategy. Furthermore, the 80,000R for entrance may deter me from visiting this place again. Not until the entire statue is completed.
This is what the entire statue is supposed to look like when it is completed.
Before reading up about this place, I thought that the separation of the “head” and the “Garuda’s head” was due to a legend whereby many years ago, the status was complete. Due to natural disaster/work of God, the statues were separated and only some parts were undamaged and as we see it today. Maybe many years down the road if they are still unable to complete their masterpiece, they can promote this self-invented ‘legend’ to wow the visitors.
Anyway, I found this really good video which showcases better photos of the place.
Uluwatu Temple is one of the larger and more important temples of Bali. Adequately represented by its name, “Ulu” which means land’s end & “Watu” which means rock; this temple is indeed hanging by the rocky cliff and at a location only accessible by never-ending mountain roads. It is rated as one of the top attractions in Bali. After my visit, I can’t help but agree with it. I can’t recall the entrance fees but it was 100,000R for the Kecak dance performance. The only regret that I have is that the Kecak dance is usually performed before sunset.
(1) Watch the dance and the beautiful sunset becomes nothing but a backdrop.
(2) Watch the beautiful sunset and the dance becomes nothing but a music accompaniment.
It was such a tough decision for many as many people were seen scrambling away from the on-going performance to the sides in order to take that perfect sunset photo.
Photo taken while waiting for the performance to start. Slightly before 6pm.
The Kecak dance which starts at 6pm is accompanied by male-only archapello. It depicts the Hindu story of Rama & Sita whereby Sita was kidnapped by Rahwana. Monkey-like Varana later rescued Sita. Sita is reunited with Rama. (The dance ends here but the story continues with Rama not believing that Sita is still a virgin. Sita went through a trial by fire to prove her purity and Rama lives his life in regret after that.) Alright take my summary with a pinch of salt. There seem to be a couple of versions out there.
Full House Performance.
The Choir boys =p
3 female dances – green one depicts Rama, yellow one in pants is the messenger, yellow one with tight skirt is Siti.
Sun is setting but the performance is still far from ending.
Fun Fact: Choreography of the dramatic Kecak dance had been designed in 1930s by a German, solely for the entertainment of foreigners. Its origins lies with it being part of Sang Hyang trance dance.
Anyways, the dancers, especially the monkey-like Varana and the demon took efforts to interact with the audience which makes the show funny and interesting. They were even disturbing the tourists who were distracted by the sunset!To be honest, I didn’t really understand the story of the Kecak dance back then. I didn’t even know that the girl in green was supposed to represent Rama. I was kind of distracted by the sunset as well and controlled myself badly to not get out of my seat. There were many tourists who couldn’t control their temptation and got out of their seats, disrupted the performance, just to take that perfect shot of the sunset. It was a very rude behaviour 🙁 but the sunset was really really tempting. As a result of my obedience and good manners, I did not manage to take a good photo of the sunset. I HAVE TO VISIT THAT PLACE AGAIN.
My only two photos of the sunset taken with the GoPro. By this time, the sky was pretty dark already.
After the performance, you are able to take photos with the performers, provided that you can squeeze to them. It was, very very crowded. We climbed up the steps, attempting to visit the temple but sadly it was close. You should tour the temple before the kecak dance.
*BEWARE & STAY CLEAR OF THE MONKEYS. I’ve heard countless stories of spectacles, slippers, cameras, etc being stolen or snatched away by the very naughty monkeys. I kept my distance as far as possible and so should you.
After the visit to Uluwatu, most tours will proceed to Jimbaran for a seafood dinner. There are countless restaurants and your driver would most probably drive you to one that they can earn some commission from. For us, we were driven to Blue Marlin restaurant.
The restaurants are all lined up in one line along the beach and unless the weather does not permit, your tables and chairs will be lined up along the beach. They have arranged it in such a way that you will face the beach when you sit.
It is pretty refreshing to see and hear the crashing of waves on to the shore while enjoying the seriously-not-delicious dinner. Even the rice was dry. Nevertheless, it could be a pretty romantic candlelight dinner under a star-filled sky.
There were Balinese dance performance too. However, the stage was poorly positioned and you would have to strain your neck in order to watch their performance. Nobody went to take photos with the dancers after their performances ended. It was kind of upsetting for them but I was halfway through my dinner and kind of lazy to get out of my comfy position.
According to my Balinese friend, the dance that night was a level 1 dance. When they are young, their parents will send them to learn Balinese dance as it would help to straighten your posture as the back has to be very straight. I was pretty impressed with the scary eye expressions that the dancers can emit. Apparently, this was part of their dance practice too! They have to go through training sessions relating to their eyeballs. Look diagonally up, look diagonally down, leftwards, rightwards and so on.. Everyone would learn the different levels of the same choreography and to me it sounds like a good potential for mass dance. Since everyone knows the same steps.. ha.
As you can see, the food doesn’t look appealing at all. The fries was cold and the lobster was dry and probably not fresh as it was difficult to get the meat out. The conclusion is, do not have any expectations at all, because whatever expectations you have, it will be disappointing. We paid about $20+ each for this seafood step which is a little pricey given the standard.
Disappointed, but I’ll still recommend going down as the concept of Alfresco Beach Dining is pretty interesting. Perhaps you can try some other restaurant but Blue Marlin and let me know. However, I’ve read some reviews saying that the quality is all about the same =/
After dinner, we went back to Seminyak beach to set off the fireworks that had been pre-bought by my friend. Setting off fireworks is only popular during the festive seasons and it is usually played by young children =/ This is my third time setting off fireworks and it was the biggest that I’ve ever ‘played’ with! The previously two times were done in Korea.
I love the waves!
(Will upload the video soon. It was about 8 shots per rocket. We had 2 rockets.)
Bali Bombing memorial – Legian
A memorial was built to remember the Bali Bombings of October 2002. It had been twelve years and Bali has introduced a lot of measures everywhere in order to increase the security of this island. Most, if not all restaurants/hotels employ security officers to check the vehicles, conduct bag check or even security scan your bags when you enter. With such a bad scar in their history, safety is something that they cannot compromise and these measures actually made me feel more safe in Bali. Sometimes, these officers do get in your way as we are unable to pass off as fake hotel guests anymore to cut through the hotel for shortcut :/
A trip to Bali isn’t complete if you have not set foot at Kuta Beach. This is the most crowded place in Bali and where all the action happens. Almost every other building in this area is a hotel/guesthouse/resort. The waves at Kuta beach is really strong and you can see people surfing or learning to surf. After watching the learning to surf people, I gave up my thought of ‘learning to surf’. It looks terribly hard..
And here’s my favourite sunset shot.
Follow my… dog steps?
We walked pass the famous Ku De Ta as well. Maybe next time i’ll enter.
Dream Wedding Destination – Infinity Chapel @ CONRAD, Bali
Photo I got off the internet
I’ve been wanting to visit this place since forever and when my friend told me she had it all arranged for.. The original plan (before I visited Bali) was to sneak in as a hotel guest and fumble my way till I find the chapel. The truth is – that wouldn’t exactly work as there are security guards on the outside (okay, usually they don’t question) and the all-so-friendly concierge might ask if you need any help.
Well, thankfully there was Plan B – we were there as official guests to inspect the place and it was potentially going to be a wedding venue of our choice. TO BE HONEST I THINK THE GUY HOSTING US SAW US THROUGH. But he still maintained his professional and entertained us anyway. Sadly, we were there on a FRIDAY and they had FIVE WEDDINGS that day. There can be a maximum of 3 weddings a day at the infinity chapel, 1 at the courtyard and 1 at the main ballroom and they have several function rooms which could be used as well.
The events/sales rep told us that he could bring us to see the infinity chapel, but we could only view it from afar. True to his words, there was indeed a wedding ceremony going on at that time and the bride and groom were taking photos. Initially, I sneakily took a few photos (how am i supposed to admit that this place was part of my itinerary) and then he went on to share with us how couples tried to take their wedding photos at the chapel without paying the wedding package charges.. It was a big No-No. If you want to do it officially, you can rent the exterior for 1,000USD for a 2 hours slot. If you want to enter the chapel, the solemnization package prices start from 3,500 USD. (Yes I have the brochure with me. It’s gonna stay on my wall, awaiting the right time whereby I can use it appropriately.)
When I asked how many Singaporeans actually do fly here for their ceremony, he said that it was surprisingly low last year with only 3-5 occurrences.
Gagagagaggagagagagagagagagagagaga. Now that I have strike off this random venue off my list of to go places, the only remaining wedding venue I would love to visit would be St Laguna Chapel @ Guam.
I’m still secretly happy that I visited this place even though it is of no significance to me yet. I really love the concept of ‘infinity’ and it just looks so prettttttttttttttttttty.
Hotel Inspection Visit – The Stones by Marriott Autograph
Once again, because of my friend’s friend, we were very lucky to be given the opportunity to visit a luxury 5-star hotel in Bali. Under the name of ‘inspection’, we were given a welcome popsicle & tour of the rooms.
I applaud Bali’s effort in energy conservation. Even in their 5 star hotels, there was no air conditioning in the hotel lobby. Despite the terrible heat, no air conditioning in hotel lobbies seemed to be the norm.
This is their ‘welcome tray’ which consists of magic towels and Popsicles which were really delicious! You use the tongs to put the white circular thing into the water and poof! it expands into a towel which you can refresh yourself with!
The rooms were very well themed with grey and earth brown (stones themed). If you’re staying on the first floor, you will have a ‘private’ Jacuzzi at the balcony. I was a little embarrass in taking photos as I know I will hardly ever be their potential customer ($_$) :/
View from one of their suites. The pool looks really pretty and there are even hammocks in the area!
Food & Drinks in Bali
(1) Potato Head
It follows the same concept of Ku De Ta but it is of a slightly lower grade as they do not enforce proper attire and footwear. I love the exterior design of this place. Those small boxes that you see are actually traditional window frames!
The best spot in the restaurant is the day bed. However, there’s a minimum spending required. There’s also this pool which you can actually enter. When we were there for dinner, it was probably too early to see anyone inside =p
There’s this green grass patch in the middle. Apparently during the weekends, there are movie screenings.
Potato head is definitely a great place for hangout when you’re at Bali. Watching the waves crashing to the shore without getting your feet dirty in the sand is a great feeling. To top it off, the music is quite good too!
(2) Anomali Coffee
This is my friend’s favourite place and we went there twice! The drinks were really great. I’ve tried Irish Banana Coffee and Orange Honey Kiss which are both equally delicious!
I love the overall deco of the location as they were trying to design it as a warehouse-theme. Seems like themed cafes found its way to Bali too!
The chocolate pie tastes delicious too!
(3) Random Vintage Restaurant – The Bistrot
This vintage-themed cafe was situated near our resort at Seminyak. Apparently the owner is an angmoh and loves collecting everything vintage. From sewing machines to televisions to typewriters, he has it all! Food was averaged priced and the food was kind of average too. Nothing too nice or terrible.
(4) A&W @ Discovery Shopping Mall
A trip to indonesia would not be complete until you make a visit to A&W – the fast food loved greatly by all Singaporeans. Once again, the root beer float and waffle did not disappoint us. The waffle has a light flavour which have a texture whereby it is crispy on the outside and soft on the inside. When you eat the hot waffle with the cold ice cream topped with generous serving of chocolate sauce, it is so heavenly =p
Do NOT forget your A&W treat when you are in Bali.
(5) Bebek Bengil – Dirty Duck Diner
This restaurant is situated in the atas area of Nusa Dua. There’s another branch situated in Ubud which is located near the rice fields. The entrance of the guarded area looks somewhat similar to Sentosa Cove so I’m wondering if the designers got their inspiration from here. Despite the grand setting of this place, the prices were still reasonably priced. We ended up spending approx $20-30 per person.
Yes this was our dining pavilion. Everything was good except for the mosquito bites T_T
Left: Satay sticks (interesting taste). Right: Super huge coconut vs Samsung S4
And this was the crispy duck. Pretty decent taste but it was a little hard to bite the meat.
Walked around the area after we were done with lunch and this was the beach behind the restaurant. The waves looked calmer as compared to the western coast.
(6) Seminyak Square – The Braga Cafe & Resto
Indonesian food which was not bad.
Taitai (Rich man’s husband) Relaxing Day Out – Manicure + Pedicure + Body Massage + Body Scrub
On our last night, we were frantically trying to find a manicure + pedicure place. There was one near the Bistrot Cafe but it was slightly pricey and we had to wait. Using our guess-timation, we recalled a place we walked pass the night before while walking back from Seminyak beach. In he end, the sun was so scorching that we hailed a cab instead. He didn’t know where this Esthetic Day Spa was and wanted to bring us to the bigger outlets at Sunset Road. Instead, we asked him to go to the Seminyak Beach entrance with the big carpark and then retraced our route last night until we found it. (That was our first and only experience in Bali without our Balinese friend with us.)
Unlike the usual manicure places I’ve visited, they did not have the nail palette where you can see the colours that they have. I had to choose from the collection they had as seen below. They also didn’t ask for your colour choice until the end, where I just randomly take my pick. There was no testing out too =( They didn’t even have the machine to dry your nails.. I guess the service was pretty average but I can’t complain much as this place wasn’t solely a mani pedi shop. Most of the staff were probably trained in all the above services which could result in them knowing how to do everything but being an expert at none. I guess if I’m going to do my nails again, I’ll find a place which only does nails.
Anyway, they didn’t allow us to bargain and they were charging a high price (like 20-25 sgd) for my friend to remove her gelish. In the end, my friend didn’t do her nails =/
For our massage, we took a taxi out to Sunset Road (a really long road which has everything). First choice massage wasn’t available and we went to second choice place – Cozy. The experience is rather unique.
First you had to register with the forever busy reception, telling them what service you will like and what is your music preference (Something rather insignificant to me – I can’t even remember what I chose). Then, you take a sit at the side. Someone will come over asking you for your name. Then, another counter (the cashier) will call your name and collect the payment. Then, you sit down again. Then, they will call out your name and you will meet your masseuse (we chose female). They will bring you up to your cubicle. Provide you with a disposable undie, show you your locker (underneath the bed) and ask you to get changed. I had to ask for a shower cap as I didn’t want my hair to get dirty. After you are done, they will lock the locker for you and give you the key. She will show you the time on her watch before she begins. Then, the massage begins. I chose a 1.5 hours package with body scrub. Compared to the massages I have done in Thailand and Batam, their massage was slightly more on the relaxing side. There were hardly any presses which made me feel like screaming or uncomfortable. It was so comfortable that I didn’t really feel that there was a massage? I don’t know how to describe it. It is like I went for a massage but I don’t feel any aftermath? During the body scrub, there were times where she disappeared after applying some lotion on my skin. I was trying hard not to fall asleep. Then towards the end, she will show you the time again (which I can’t really recall what time I stared at previously) and give you a robe to wear over. Also, they will ask you for a drink of your choice. Off you go to the toilet to take a shower. I kind of like their body foam but they were charging $6 for 250ml bottle. After the bath, you return back to your cubicle and there will be your drink waiting for you.
Anyway, it was decent experience but I guess I would want to try another company in future..
I ordered an Avocado Milkshake which was only about $3-4. It’s kind of cool how Avocado milkshakes in Bali comes with the chocolate topping. I guess they really like their food sweet.
Places yet to Visit – Waterbom Bali
An attraction which we left out deliberately because we didn’t have enough time (rather spend them on R&R) and that we do not have enough courage to challenge the crazy rides. I hope to visit it the next time I return and that it would not be just another “say only”. Sighs, the older we grow, the more scaredy-cat we get..
I ended off my Bali trip by watching You Who Came from the Stars episode 20 at the still-in-renovation Bali airport. I also bought the Go Go Franks Prata Hotdog Set which cost 100,000R. After buying, I realised that it was kind of expensive. HA. but I had some money to clear anyway.
I AM AWAITING FOR MY NEXT TRIP TO BALI.
Before that, I have another two upcoming trips planned.. $$__________$$