Yes…SILENCE was exactly what I needed. And no…I haven’t been lazy. Maybe even a little tired of routine. The work and the business only sucked me deeper into a rut which I was fighting to get out of. Then came what felt like a toxic reaction – I became everything I’m not. I needed a change so badly or I’d be so burnt out that I’ll actually evaporate.
So I started creative scrapbooking again. Yeah moments to myself, with myself. I went into a scrapbook frenzy and became totally obsessed with it all over again. Seriously therapeutic ok... I began to stay home more often - away from people, away from work, away from routine, away from deadlines, away from everything I know, even away from everyone I love.
Strange....I never liked silence or felt the need to be alone. But it felt so good to just take a moment...a bit of 'ME' time...to not do anything particularly important for a change. Like go take a long long long bath...Especially since I never quite got the chance to enjoy our house since we moved in, I was content being home. And I felt safe....even after the landslide.
I did do an awful lot in 4 months. Apart from my scrapbook projects, I started returning to the gym, enjoying fitball and pilates classes, more frequent body jam classes, taught my own weekly pole classes, watched loads of TV and of course, traveled.
A much needed getaway and what a perfect place to be, Bali. The perfect place to 'heal'...we planned this months ago, way before I knew how much I was gonna need it. God loves me.
So we spent 5 days there end of Feb-early March with some of our resort staff - Mike our butler, Lah our Resident Manager and Andy our Reservations Supervisor.
Although we’ve been to Bali many times, it was the first for them. It may be downright cliche to say this but Bali IS magical. Even though it rained a little, it was so super hot during that time of the year!Despite the heat, being there rendered me cool, like a cucumber. I did come back outta my shell after this trip. How? Dunno. I guess I was glad to get away from it all.
Now I must say the trip would not have been perfect if not for my thoughtful girlfriend, Angie's (you know, the voice on your maxis voicemail...) meticulously devised 'MUST-DO MUST-SEE MUST-GO' list. So accurately detailed and with such heartfelt effort that it can only come from genuine love for the island and its people. You'll see what I mean.
Because I suddenly feel like Oprah and just wanna do something nice for people hence shall bestow upon you this very valuable piece of Angie's goodness. You'll find Angie's very own better-than-lonely-planet list for all your hassle-free travels in Bali. You'll thank me now and thank her later and love her for doing it and love me for posting it:)
Through Angie, we found Putu our tour driver, who then took us to all the right places suggested by Angie; the best Babi Guling lunch, a fantastic dinner at Dirty Duck (oooh the best ever pork ribs!!), the best Balinese souvenirs - peanuts, the most spectacular spot to watch the KECAK dance at sunset - Uluwatu, and some of the most stunning resorts in Asia.
Resorts and beautiful architecture are our thing, so we went around exploring and have collectively recommended the following to stay - ranking them for most stunning design, spectacular location, great service and that special X factor : Bvlgari Resort Ubud, Kayu Manis Ubud and Pita Maha Ubud.
I will post here soon a contact if you need a reliable driver. Trustworthy drivers are hard to find in Bali as most are just looking forward to rip you off.... so beware.
Bahasa Indonesia express lesson by Angie :
Tips: Speak Bahasa Baku & roll your Rrrrs and they’ll understand you better, eg, terrrima kaseeh, apa khabarrrr, harrrga berrrapa etc. If asking price ‘around how much, how far etc, they’ll say 'kurang lebih’ as opposed to our lebih kurang.
Car is 'Mobil' or 'Transport'. If flag down tax,i Blue Bird is reliable, pakai meter is ‘pa kay Agor’.
Mineral Water is always called Aqua in Indonesia. When asking for sauce or kuah, say bumbu. Wanna buy mosquito repellent, ask for Autan.
Bisa = Boleh (can) Nggak bisa = tidak boleh (can't). Ask Bisa kurang? (lower price?), if their answer is Harga Pas it means best price liao, then cannot bargain. You can always quote a price and give YOUR harga pas. Bebek = Duck - you'll need this when dining at Dirty Duck:) Chilli = Chabek (our cabai)
Price for driver + car : from Seminyak straight to Ubud, 1 way, 1 car is Rp 200,000. If sight see, book for whole day Rp 350,000 per car (RM 116) is fair price.
Tipping – Balinese earn very little, cost of living is high. If service is good, please feel free to give tips. Tip more for driver as petrol is high.
Massage while staying in Kuta
Bella Treatment Hair & Spa – 1 hr body massage Rp 70,000. Ask for Usni (tomboy girl), Angie's regular masseur, she’s good.
Rose Garden – Special rates for families of SQ crew. 50% off menu price. 2 hour body, crystal / salt scrub massage + 40 minute foot reflexology, 1 pax Rp 200,000 after discount.
FREE pick-up & hantar balik, call 0361 759185, owner Mr. Benz speaks Mandarin, say SQ Family.
Food while staying in Kuta
Many cafes, look at menu price. Try local bottled chilli sauce Sambal Asli ABC (ah bay say), Angie's favourite. Ask for Sambal Mentah which is onions, garlic, chilli mix, very nice.
Stalls on Kuta beach cheap & good. Nasi Campur approx Rp 7,000. Bakmie Goreng (fried maggie noodles around same price, very yummy)
Bintang Beer – small bottle at beach shouldn’t be more than Rp 15,000. I always pay Rp 12,000 max.
Mineral Water (Aqua) - small bottle Rp 5,000 on Kuta Beach.
Recommended cafes / restaurants
Piggy’s Bar – opposite Barong Hotel. Open 24 hours. Try the English Burger. Angie's husband Steven apparently eats it 2-3 times a day! Price : approx Rp 25,000 – Rp35,000 per person. Live Band & Karaoke in evenings. Can play all your country & Rock & Roll requests.
Warung Jegeg Bulan – opposite Barong Hotel, turn left at hotel walk 2 minutes to nearest Circle K 24 hr convenience store , and it’s next door. Look for Komang for anything Bali, very good friend of ours, say Mahday Angie & sister Jaclynn. Price : reasonable.
While here, you might like to check out Tunjung Bali Inn, just behind Jegeg Bulan. This is the el-cheapo (no A/C, Rp100,000) place Angie and friends always stay. Can ask to view rooms, new block.
Tekor Bali Beachside Restaurant & Bar – In Legian, Blue Ocean Beach, more classy beach, many top class handsome football players usually play there in evenings. Must hire transport, send and wait & send back hotel. Go for sunset drinks. Try the YUMMY Ikan Tekor Bali, 1 whole Red Snapper (1/2kg) cooked in herbs, served with black soya sauce. Ask for sambal mentah and other sauces (bumbu which is kuah). Price : Rp 69,000 per fish.
Segara Seafood Café (Jimbaran) – phone number 0361 705978, or call Putu (our friend & waiter at the café) at 085737531469. Quote Mahday Angie. Ask for FREE pick-up from hotel and FREE hantar balik to hotel. This is where people come to watch sunset, tables on beach, strolling band expect tip, Rp 10,000 is ok, very nice atmosphere, very nasty mosquitoes, bring OFF mosquito repellent spray. You can buy local mosquito repellent at 24hr convenient store (remember, Autan). Here, you choose your seafood, they weigh, then grill / barbeque for you. Rice & kangkong goreng free flow. Before order, agree on 25% off food bill. Quote Mahday Angie price. Must try – the big lala (if fresh, check first) BBQ. Very good. Price – approx. Rp 150,000 per pax. (Crabs, prawns, lala, fish, octopus, all bbq + drinks) This is still the best restaurant in Jimbaran. So, if going to Uluwatu Temple, include this restaurant on way back from temple.
Price list guide – Prawns 1kg Rp 19,500, King Crab 1kg Rp 17,500, Red Snapper 1kg Rp 12,000, Octopus 1kg 12,000, Lala 1 Kg Rp 8,000 all before discount. Aqua 1 bottle Rp 8,000, Big Bintang Beer 1 bottle Rp 30,000
Sightseeing / Tours
Drivers can design tours for you too. Also, on your way to Ubud, if you’d like to visit any other sights, eg, Mount Batur Volcano, Waterfalls, other temples or places of interest, ask your driver.
Uluwatu Temple – Must see. Get there by 5pm. Entrance fee is Rp 3,000 /pax including sarong and sash. IMPORTANT : NO SUNGLASSES, CAPS or anything shiny on hair etc, monkeys grab them, bring umbrella. Tell driver you wanna see Kecak show, he'll guide you thru temple and help you buy ticket first before temple tour.
Fee for Kecak is Rp 50,000 / pax. Showtime is 6pm sharp. Try and get to seats by 5.15pm latest. Sit lowest tier FACING the 2 column doorway / sunset. Do not move up even if asked by temple staff. Read the synopsis so understand Kecak better. Watch for real tears from main actress. Very emotional, spiritual, sacred and mystical performance.
Show is approx 2 hours. Can take pictures with dancers, free at end of show. Give Hanuman, the white monkey god a kiss from Angie. ☺ Enjoy the show!
Pura Luhur Tanah Lot (Temple) – Entrance fee is Rp 10,000 / pax. Most people go for sunset. But can actually go anytime.
Ulundanu Bratan Temple (Temple in the lake) – Beautiful temple but a bit far.
There are a million other temples to visit, speak to Putu and decide.
Shopping in Kuta
Roadside stalls – Tee-shirt approx. Rp 20,000 or less. Men’s board shorts.
Known as the Art, Culture Centre of Bali. This is a place to relax, less hectic compared to Kuta, more picturesque. Temperature is much cooler. Go for long walks, explore surrounding rice fields, nature trails. Ubud is also my personal favorite.
Before departing Kuta to Ubud, tell driver to take you to buy ‘Pis Gor’ (Pisang Goreng), near Jalan Kartika Plaza and Tuban. 1 pisang Rp 500. Buy plenty as you’ll regret if not enough. DELICIOUS! Buy some for driver too lah.
Tell driver you want to go lunch at Nasi Ayam Kedewatan Ibu Mangku, before checking into hotel Adi Cottages (Angie's choice of accomodation). Adi Cottages - Jln. Monkey Forest, Ubud 0361 975231 www.adicottagesubud.com (Receptionist: Nana. Manager: John). Breakfast included, refer menu. Tea / coffee / internet available all day at lounge next to reception.
Ask driver to help buy Kacang Cap Putri Bali, Payangan (0361 7472434) – The best garlic roasted kacang in Bali! Angie and me need 6kg each please.
Massage while staying in Ubud
Verona Spa – turn left at Adi Cottages, walk few steps and will see sign, walk to end of lorong. If kena lousy masseuse, immediately ask for change. Rooms open to rice fields, so don’t be surprised if you’re showering or soaking in rose bath and there are old farmers chasing ducks. (Hahahhhhaa!!! Angie is so funny) They’re not bothered to even look at you, naked or otherwise. You’ll get disposable panty. Price : Sorry I lupa liao, check menu.
Sedona Spa – Sister spa to Verona, can ask them to call transport take you there & hantar balik FREE. It’s a bit further but at least you get to head up towards Campuhan.
Plenty of other spas to choose from.
Food in Ubud
Babi Guling Ibu Oka – MUST TRY, best in Bali! (That's where I lunched, fabulous!)
Open 11am – 5pm Jln. Tegal Sari. Opposite Ubud palace. Located in Ubud’s central banjar. 15min walk from hotel. Turn right at Adi, walk along Monkey Forest Road, all the way, past football field, straight until reach cross junction, it’s just behind the big community hall.
Price per plate – Rp 30,000. Must eat with Chilli & Fried Onion, served in container at every table.
Bebek Bengil or Dirty Duck Diner – MUST TRY! Oh my god the PORK RIBS, one plate sure not enough. Phone: 0361- 975 489 for FREE transport to & from restaurant.
Book table / bale (private hut), right at the end, next to padi fields. Go lunch time, not so many mosquitoes, can see ducks while eating their poor cousins.
I recommend only the signature dish of Bebek Bengil. Crispy duck marinated in herbs & spices for 36 hrs. Rp 70,000 per plate. Portion of half a mini duck is quite small. Served with rice & vegetables, sambal mentah & sauces do ask for more if not enough.
Drinks – try the non-alcoholic, refreshing Sweet & Sour Duck.
Made’s Warung – along Monkey Forest Road. Nice ambience, lovely garden and rice field view, deep inside restaurant. Price : approx Rp 20,000 for Nasi Campur
Café Lotus – Must visit for photos! Ubud has many great places for a drink or snack, but one of the most pleasant is Cafe Lotus, located on Jl. Raya Ubud. Cafe Lotus sits in front of Pura Saraswati and looks out over the tranquil lotus pond. Beautiful. Food is so-so. Drink – Arak Madu (arak, water, honey, lemon) for Rp 16,000.
Murni’s Warung – Angie's favourite for evening drinks / dinner because of the ambience.
Located at Campuhan. (0361) 975233. Call them for FREE transport to & fro hotel. Book table at lowest level, say hi to resident gecko (steve’s buddy) behind big picture on wall.
Food – Bebek Betutu Rp 160,000 for 2 persons. Balinese specialty, marinated smoked duck that falls off bone. Served with rice & veggie. Ask for sambal mentah. Ayam Betutu also quite nice, much cheaper.
Tip: Can ask Murni’s transport pick u in front of Ubud Palace after Balinese Dance performance.
Balinese Dance in Ubud
Watch Legong & Kraton Dance at Ubud Palace. You’ll be approached by ticket sellers on the streets. Price is fixed at Rp 80,000 per pax. Worth it! Showtime is 7.30pm. Go early if want good seats. If rain, show will be moved to opposite hall.
Sacred Monkey Forest Sanctuary - http://www.monkeyforestubud.com
Entrance fee Rp 10,000. IMPORTANT: where there are monkeys, there should be NO SUNGLASSES, Caps, etc. Ensure camera strap around wrist, anything they can cabut from you. Umbrella is good weapon.
READ THIS : Angie's friend witnessed a monkey ‘pon-pon’ a Japanese girl’s ‘nen-nen’ & then ran away. ☺
However, don’t let this deter u from going. As long as you’re aware of your surroundings and walk in groups, you’ll enjoy it. It’s a beautiful, mystical forest with some sacred temples inside. Makes for a lovely, ½ hour non-strenuous walk.
NURAH RAI BALI AIRPORT
Upon arrival at airport, you might have locals in uniform come help you with luggage, say NO, they’re porters and will ask for payment. Get your own trolley.
IMPORTANT: If flying with Air Asia, have your Air Asia booking form with you, or else you will not be allowed to enter airport entrance.
TIPS: If u are wearing sport shoes (which I don’t recommend, slippers or sandals will do), airport security will ask u to take off your shoes, remove your belt etc. Security is very tight. However, you can still have your bottle of water with you at 1st checkpoint, but before you get into departure gate, you’ll have to throw away or drink your water. Angie almost had to drink her chilli sauce ☺(Hahahhaaha!!! Silly..)
Lastly, please open your hearts & mind to the Balinese people, traditions, culture, food etc and you’ll have an amazing, most pleasant experience.