Stumble Into Indonesia's Unseen Places
Submitted by indohoyindohoy on 30 December 2008 • Itinerary
Tags: Amed beach, Bali, beach, Campuhan, culinary trip, Dreamland Beach, Geger Beach, Jimbaran beach, Kuta, Lovina beach, new years eve, Padang-padang beach, party, Sanur beach, snorkeling, swim, Tulamben beach, Ubud
December 2008 – January 2009
Whipped your ass for the whole year, now go pack your holiday gears for the end of year party in Bali! Now THAT’s the kind of life most Indonesian middle upper workers are having these days. And we, Mumun, Bondy, Edo, and I were experiencing exactly that at the change of year 2008 to 2009. And we had loads of fun in Bali!
Indohoys are not really the party goers but they say that the NYE in Bali is where the ultimate parties happen in Indonesia. So hell yeah, we gotta get some of that at least once in our life time (Mumun butting in green, yeah!).
I bet a lot of you have heard of Bali and are more familiar with it more than the country it’s in, Indonesia. Some foreigners even think that Indonesia is in or near Bali. Gosh, that is so dead wrong, people..! We, non-Balinese Indonesians, find that quite offending a li’l bit, but seeing the fact that Bali is the most prepared and welcome place for foreigners of all exotic places in Indonesia, we understand the misconception. (Yet, ignorance is a waste in the case of Indonesia, hence we have Indohoy. But I’m nodding in acceptance.) Bali-bombing has been something that gave Indonesia a bad name in the international eyes. Well I honestly think that’s crap. I have experiences of working in the media, and I know how media just loooooves to exaggerate. So, forget the past and move on, take a vacation in Bali. Read on and you’ll know why.
Being an island, Bali offers a lot of seafood places and I really recommend you to indulge yourself on the fresh fishes, squids, crabs, oysters, oh just everything that you could!
This beach is most known for its seafood diners that light up the area each night. Rows of restaurants and tables on the beach lit by torches really make this area alive. I heard that the bombing which took place in 2005 at exactly Nyoman Café quite made a setback of business here, but when exactly we were there everything was already back to normal. It’s always lovely to dine on the beach while listening to the sound of waves and musicians playing at other tables.
What’s also unique about this place is that you get to choose your own dinner, as in choose the exact fish/crab/squid/oyster that you want them to cook for you. So, first you choose in which café you wanna eat, then choose the dinner victims (fishes to fry, crabs to boil, squids to stir fry, etc), then you sit at one of the tables, wait for the waiters to serve you, and just enjoy one of most exotic dinners you could ever have… ? Ooh why is my stomach growling right now? Oh, and yours too..!
Dinner is quite cheap for a candle light dinner by the beach. For 6 people I think we spend about Rp150-200 thousand. This is also depending on the area where you eat, more prominent areas are to the north of the market like area on the south.
Others Bali isn’t really known for its food. But it’s surely known for the roasted pork that even Anthony Bourdain loved. However, we didn’t try it at all. What I did have that’s originally from Bali were mixed rice, betutu chicken, and fish satay. We did love the small warung near Kerobokan jail that provided such delicacy. It fulfilled my curiosity.
Mumun got to try a dish called lawar, a mixture of veggies and chicken, although usually the famous lawar uses pork instead of chicken. We bought it at Kembang Matahari street, Sumerta, Denpasar.
Where else to stay If you’re not as lucky as we were, you might have to go find a hotel or hostel. The most known area for providing so many choices of hostels is called Poppies Lane.
There are 2 Poppies Lane. The original one is located further down from the Bali Bombing monument. While Poppies Lane 2 is located near the monument. Both lanes provide hostels, restaurants, cafes, clothing stores, used-books stores, even salons and tattoo parlors are all provided at Poppies area. It’s a backpacker territory.
Your very own Hard Rock Hotel is located on Kuta Beach street, facing the Kuta beach, obviously. This spot has sort of became the landmark of Kuta, as well as the Kuta beach McDonald’s. It’s so likely that people would make these spots as their rendezvous points or just a mark when telling directions to go somewhere. Not to mention a must-photo spot for the Indonesians. In the Kuta and Legian are you can see so many hotels scattered around. This applies to a lot of other areas in Bali.
The easiest way: take the plane As an internationally known place for holidays, obviously Bali has its own international airport called Ngurah Rai. Nothing fancy, don’t expect anything like Singapore’s Changi Airport or Bangkok’s Svarnabhumi. But quite traditional. You also take flights to this airport if you’re flying from other provinces in Indonesia. The challenging way, for you big towners From Jakarta: Jakarta-Surabaya-Banyuwangi-Denpasar An alternative way to get there, and of course cheaper, is like what Mumun and I did on December 2008. Mind you, we left from Jakarta. – Jakarta – Surabaya We took the night train from Gambir Station at 6pm, arrived at Surabaya’s train station Pasar Turi at about 7am the next day. Surabaya is the capital city of East Java, the closest province on Java from Bali, and it’s only 2/3 way to Denpasar, the capital city of Bali.
To really cut down budget, we took business class, which only provided fan, and the seats were non-reclining. Mumun initiatively slept on newspapers ‘mattress’ on the floor and so I slept on the seat with my legs out stretched. Wow, she’s one adventurous girl! And apparently there are many other passengers who sleep like her.
Experience from childhood traveling, people! It’s a great lesson I learned and a great way to sleep. Night trains have bearable temperatures and business class is a great way to really see the middle class of Indonesians.
The ticket on a high season like this was Rp 200,000 / pax, and you can rent a pillow for Rp 3,000 – just wait for the pillow man to walk your way carrying a pile of rectangular pillows and rent as many as you’d need for a comfy sleep. Since it was a low budget journey, we pre-booked the train ticket from Surabaya-Denpasar in Jakarta and only available no sooner than 1 month from the travel date. You’re saying ‘Huh? Is there a bridge over the strait?’. No, we’re not that developed yet… it’s a package the national and only train company (PJKA) offers. Tickets are worth Rp 125,000 per pax. – Surabaya – Banyuwangi
The first lag of the trip was from Surabaya to Katapang Port, where ferries head to and from Bali (it’s near Banyuwangi, the furthest east town of East Java). BUT.. (oh Lord it’s tiring even only explaining this route.. but hey it’s fun to experience..!!) the train to Banyuwangi does not leave from Pasar Turi station. We had to take angkot (minibus public transportation) to another station called Gubeng.
How did we get to Gubeng station? Simple. We took the angkot C from across the station, and then continued with angkot N. Well I wish it was that simple.. haha.. It was actually confusing because we asked around and we got a number of different answers. So we just trusted our instinct and put the answers together, sorta. We crossed the street from Pasar Turi’s main gate, took angkot with the C code and hoped to get some kind of inspiration on the way. I think that angkot O was the right one, but took ages to wait for.
While I was absent-mindedly waiting for a sign from God on where we should hop off, Mumun actively asked a girl in the angkot for direction. Luckily she was friendly enough and very very helpful. She has the typical pretty Javanese girl manners. Very polite and seems naïve. And very lucky for us, she was actually heading to Gubeng station to work! So we just hopped off where she did, and took another angkot with the N code which was only a few minutes drive from Gubeng. The whole way from Pasar Turi to Gubeng only took about half an hour time and cost about Rp 9,000 for the three of us.
Warning: huge backpacks (and probably huge Caucasian bodies) might be a hassle to carry in angkot, so try to hop in empty one, sit in front by the driver, or near the open door at the back side. If you’re not in the mood for any difficulties, you could always take a cab down to Gubeng. Some say it’d cost about Rp 30,000 but I’m not really sure. After a simple breakfast of rice + tempe (aka fermented soybean patty) + chilli condiment at one of the station’s eateries, which cost only Rp 8,500, we got on our train at about 9am. – Banyuwangi – Denpasar
The train departed at 9am from Surabaya’s Gubeng station and arrived at Banyuwangi at 3pm. Phewh..!! My butt felt flat after sitting soooo many hours on trains.
As soon as we hopped off the train, we directly went to the station’s parking lot where a PJKA bus is waiting for passengers. Showed our tickets to the bus staff (they wear uniforms), hopped on, waited until the bus is full, and a 5 minutes drive to the harbor followed.
You can actually walk to the port but I think going on the bus eliminates the counting procedures for the officers. Better get on it! And don’t run to get a seat like most of the people you’ll see, everyone will get a seat, just be patient.
There was only one bus to transport all of the passengers. While waiting for everyone getting picked up, I just had to have my very late lunch at the harbor. A Rp 4,000 worth of box of rice and fried noodle with fried egg shreds were enough for me. Anything to keep a headache away..!! Don’t talk to her or even SMS if she’s hungry!
The ferry trip was only about an hour. While waiting for cars and busses to dock, you can be entertained by the kids that catches coins you throw in the water. To prevent loss of coins if placed in their pants, they store the coins in their mouth. And take up their challenges if you will!
We arrived at Gilimanuk harbour, Bali, at about 7pm. Playing movie charade on the ferry dock was extremely fun, especially after hours and hours sitting on trains, we were so easily amused.. haha. We hopped on the bus directly after the ferry docked. We were afraid that we’d miss the bus, but luckily the driver was showing us the way from ferry to bus. In this kinda situation, asking for direction is highly suggested. The bus then took us to a counter, still in the harbor area, where some staff checked our IDs. I take it that Bali is taking more precautious procedures, considering the bombings. From there, our 5 hours trip to Denpasar bus station was all good. I thought Bondy was supposed to pick us up, but he couldn’t because he only had a motorcycle and it was raining where he was at, Kerobokan. Our options were to take the angkot, the ojek, or taxi. Considering that it was midnight and better not get wet from the rain, we took a taxi – after having our Rp 8,000 worth of midnite supper (fried noodle + mineral water) at one of the eateries in the station. The fee to Kerobokan was Rp 70,000, the driver didn’t wanna use the argometer. Haggling is necessary! Taking ojek wouldn’t be so much cheaper anyway because there were two of us, which means we’d have to take two ojeks. The way back to Jakarta
The lowest price for air-conditioned bus that we could get around peak season like that was Rp 150,000 /pax from Denpasar, Bali to Surabaya, East Java. We left Denpasar at about 6.30 pm from their only bus station with tickets pre-booked a day before.
We were kinda doomed when the bus was broken (I forgot what was wrong) at a rural part somewhere, and the passengers had to wait sitting around the road. Mumun, Edo and I even fell asleep at a warung bench across the street. Be alarmed, this situation is not surprising in Indonesia but not common either. Your luck plays a part here.
A healthy bus of the same coach line came about 2 hours later from Denpasar as the replacement. So tired and bored, I slept all the way and next thing I knew we were crossing the Bali strait and arrived at Bungurasih bus station, Surabaya, at 7am. – Surabaya-Jakarta
We’ve bought the train ticket back to Jakarta about a month prior the trip for Rp 200,000. It departed from Sby at 5pm and arrived in Jakarta the next morning, Gambir station, or you could also hop off at Jatinegara station, Jakarta.
– A quick visit to Malang
We feel so lucky to have friends scattered in various cities. Before arriving at Surabaya, Edo had been contacting our college friends who now live in Surabaya and are originally from there (we went to college in Bandung, by the way). Tiva and Riski, wife & hubby, picked us up at the station. They took us home and we had a fun updating conversation and taking turns showering.
Then we all went to meet Nanang on our way to Malang. Not knowing that he was gonna be abducted by us, Nanang merely prepared any money whatsoever. We kinda forced him to park his motorcycle somewhere, joined us in Tiva’s car, and headed for Malang.
Malang is a highland town about an hour drive from Surabaya. This is possible on weekdays, or quiet weekends. It can reach up to 2 hours because of jams especially in the Porong point. It’s still got old preserved dutch buildings and areas which makes it feel relaxing and cool. Fahrur, another college friend of ours who had gone back living in Malang met up with us and then another updating lunch took place.
The old restaurant & pastry shop called Toko Oen is best known for its ice cream, and off we went there. Nina, yup, another college friend of ours met us there for a scoop or two. The ice cream has a different taste as the usual dairy ice cream. It is said to have the same taste as it was in the colonial days. Doesn’t mean it was made then hehehe…
It was almost 4 already, so we had to rush back to Surabaya for our train. The trip back to Surabaya was quite thrilling because of the sudden rain. We had to rush and yet had to be careful so the car tires didn’t slip. And finally we got at the station just about time, err.. about a few minutes early (or maybe it was the train that was late.. haha.. typical Indonesian). Thank God for that!
Arriving in Jakarta the next day, my mood suddenly dropped again. My my, when can I actually move out of this city and live in Ubud…? 😛 I actually enjoyed a long sleep. But it didn’t erase the wanting for another trip ASAP.
Bus or other means of transportation is quite tricky in Bali. It’s much more convenient if you rent cars, bikes, or motorbikes. They’re everywhere. We rented a small city car for about Rp 150,000 / day.
The money Since Bali is a well established tourism destination, money changers are basically scattered around the popular places. But if you tend to go to more uncommon places as we did, then bringing cash is the way to go, because money changers are rare.
After eating by lake Batur, Kintamani, we discussed our next destination which was Amed beach and how to get there. For the next 4 hours or so, we were on the road again – Mumun behind the wheel, me behind the map, and Bondy behind us in the backseat (talk about emancipation!). It could’ve been easier and faster to get to Amed if only the street signs were a little bit clearer and if there were more people in the street to ask around. Fair enough Vir, we did have that map that was way too general. Unfortunately this part of Bali is not merely as crowded as Kuta, more over it was already dark. So we got ourselves making some wrong turns before finally arrived at Amed exactly at midnight. It was a 5 hours drive from Batur to Amed because we asked a lot and the road is no highway. But I will recommend driving yourself in Bali to anyone. It’s a great scenery treat, and asking for direction is always an adventure. Not to mention talking to people with different dialect gives you a true feeling of traveling and Balinese in uncommon tourism areas are really friendly. And take note, it’s much more polite if you get out of the car and ask, rather than just rolling down you window and shout. We weren’t sure whether we should spend the night at a very low-priced yet decent motel – which we doubted to exist – or just sleep in the car somewhere. And we did the latter because most of the motels or hostels were already quiet and nobody was at the front desk. The only one that was still full of life at the terrace was packed with drunk guys playing guitars and offbeat singing, and a room wasn’t the only thing they offered us, but also arak (Balinese traditional alcoholic drink). Actually it seemed kinda fun to me, but we decided to just save our Rp 150,000 and parked the car near a beach beside a motel, and slept.
The only problem with that, to me, was in the next morning when I had to do #2. But hey, be friendly and nice to the locals, and they’ll let you use their (doorless!) bathroom 😉
My friend Onet informed us about Amed. Apparently, not so many Indonesians have heard of this site, which is great, cos that makes it still quiet and peaceful (well, you know, Indonesians tend to travel in groups and make a lot of noise which would be so much fun for them but not really for others. I know cos I’m one of them sometimes 😛 ). Many of the lodges were run or owned by foreign people, mostly European. And it was true, the morning was quite but still had some life in it.
After enjoying the morning beach view from a higher ground, witnessing fishing boats coming back to the shore, and socializing a little with some local kids, we decided to get some breakfast and start snorkeling right away. The food at Sama Sama café was relatively cheap, with a jaffle for only about Rp 12,000.
We snorkeled at the beach by the café. They also rent out snorkeling apparels but we got our own, except Mumun had to rent a snorkel because hers was broken (she got it at Carrefour at Denpasar, just a day before that!!). The snorkel rubber seal was missing. Many of the cafes here actually face the water so you can put your stuff in whatever venue you’re in and walk to ocean.
The view underwater was amazing to me, I loooooved the variation of colors and shapes of the fishes. Some were with yellow stripes, some were with transparent fin, some were bigger, some were smaller, some were like painting palettes with colors dissolving into each other, and all were seen just a few meters from the shore line. It was a great variation considering the small bay and the distance from the shore.
The corals were quite hurting our feet, so it was a bit of a torture when walking to the other part of beach. (Gosh, I really should’ve bought a pair of water boots!) Nonetheless, the beauty that we saw underwater in the second spot was even more astonishing and was worth the feet pain 😀
Ever seen a ship wreck? This is the place, especially if you dive. It’s only 25 minutes drive westward from Amed. It’s known for the USS Liberty ship wreck which sank in the 1960s and fortunately took no lives. It’s sinking deeper and deeper now, and it’s about 20 meters from shore. You might wanna check this out for more details http://www.bidp-balidiving.com/eng/location-tulamben-liberty-wreck/ . Visitors are not allowed diving and snorkeling at Tulamben without hiring a guide. They will definitely approach you before you can even say ‘excuse me’. After negotiating, we got a deal with a guide named Made. Each of us had to pay about Rp 30,000 for his service, Rp 50,000 for a life-jacket rent, and Rp 10,000 for a snorkel rent. That is after we haggled off the offered price. Then Made went swimming with us to the shipwreck spot which wasn’t visible from the beach. (They most probably would charge you foreign visitors more than they charged us, but they’re also usually looking for more than just business; they like to befriended with you lot. Especially when you love to party at the beach…!)
He also offered some arak which turned out to be great quality said Keta, our Balinese friend that tried it. Made claims that the area provides the best kind for about Rp 15,000 per bottle.
The water was crystal clear, the clearest sea water I’ve ever seen, it was breathtaking. And literally I was also almost out of breath because 20 meters felt so far away, added to all the energy I’ve put out while snorkeling in Amed. But Mumun was the champion, she didn’t need a life jacket, she was swimming like a healthy fish, after all the driving all night and day long. I started to doubt if she’s really a human, she might be partly fish. Teehee.. I think I’m a banana. A fish, mistakenly or not, bit my hand when I offered a banana to them. Feeding the fish is an activity you can do, and our guide professionally provided everything.
The shipwreck was waaaay down in the water, about maybe 10 meters below us, visited closely by divers. I have to say that I was a bit disappointed because I expected something huge right in my face as how my friend Indra, back in Jakarta, had described his own experience when snorkeling at the exact same spot. Here’s where subjectivity and exaggeration take important roles in story telling 😛
Done snorkeling for an hour, we rested a while on the beach. I uttered my astonishment on how clear the water is, and how big the size of the fishes are (well, nothing beats the fish size that Mumun has seen at Bunaken, North Sulawesi). Too bad the fishes aren’t so diverse.
Made said that if you wanna see more diversity, you should go diving and get closer to the shipwreck. Well, lucky you, divers! (Made said diving apparels are for rent there for US $30.)
Our friend Edo was coming to join us in the trip. Our meeting point was at Lovina beach, northwest part of the island.
We drove the whole 1,5 hours to Lovina. It was easy to navigate, just take the main road all the way. The drive was basically following the coastline. There are some great views on this ride.
To reach Lovina beach, we had to go through Singaraja town. It’s the old Bali capital in the Dutch colony era. It’s quiet and doesn’t seem to have many interesting things going on except the beach. Lovina is most known as the beach to spot dolphins. Just hire a boat (and the boatman, of course) in the very early morning for about Rp 150,000 and wait for the dolphins to show. Unfortunately we were there in the afternoon, plus it was drizzling, and we were too tired to go for dolphins anyway.
As soon as we met Edo, we had our late lunch at Warung BU, on Jalan Lovina Raya (also known as Jalan Seririt Singaraja), more or less 500 meters from the gate to Lovina beach area. My Rp 26,500 was really worth the fried rice + pepes tuna + hot tea.
Then, satisfying our need for some rest and relaxing time, we decided to just hang around and have some drink at one of the cafes by the beach called Illy Cafe. I was curious how arak tastes like, and so I ordered a glass of arak mixed with honey, which cost Rp 12,000. It was.. warm inside my throat and tummy, and really fit the cool weather ? Coffees there cost Rp 25,000, liquor coffee Rp 50,000, Aqua (the most notable bottled mineral water brand) Rp 6,000. Before it got too dark, we decided to take off and head back to the south.
Ah, this is living. I fell in love with Ubud for its tranquility, cool weather, artsy environment, the green green grass, the rice paddies, oh just about everything…!
Unlike the widely known image of Bali, Ubud is nowhere near a beach. It’s a highland located in the central of the island and has very cool weather. The atmosphere is so relaxing and peaceful, and it’s only a small town – Bondy’s even sure it’s actually a village – yet I saw so many chill cafes, restaurants, and home-stays along the narrow roads. Many of which are European, so there’s a cure for homesickness for you European lads there.
I can sooo imagine myself chilling out at one of the cafes on the side of a road with my laptop or notebook writing away my imaginative stories.. Yup, the ambiance for me is really conducive for creative works. I’m thinking of moving there someday… ? Hahaha… I don’t think you would be working though
– Antonio Blanco Museum; not an ordinary museum
I read that there are quite many of art museums in Ubud. Antonio Blanco is one of the lot. Ubud is such a small town, we didn’t even need a map to find Antonio Blanco Museum. Just drive down the main road and you’ll find the signs. Here in the museum complex, discrimination is applied. Local visitors only have to pay Rp 30,000 / pax to get in, while foreign visitors Rp 50,000. Positive thinking, the museum management has a good intention to keep the locals be more interested and familiar with their own arts and culture. Blanco himself was a Spanish artist who got married with a genuine Balinese woman named Nyi Ronji. The museum is now managed by his eldest son who also paints.
The whole museum complex includes a huge garden where some exotic species of birds are preserved and a café where visitors can unwind and read some info on Bali’s other tourist destinations in a provided directory computer. I got to hold a Brazilian parrot and Hornbill on my hand, yeah! The nice frill was when we just got in the entrance, a Balinese lady served us glasses of iced tea complete with the straws and jasmine flowers on the side. Loved it!! (You really get the feeling of being welcomed in one’s house. At that point, the whole 30,000 was already worth it)
Just a walk to a door from the terrace café, there is the painting room of Blanco Jr. In there, visitors can get free guidance of how Blanco used to work from some female staff dressed in traditional Balinese clothes. The paintings are for sale, but of course only the copies with certificates.
Blanco’s paintings in the museum aren’t allowed to be photographed. They are mostly of topless or naked Balinese women in very expressive strokes of paints and unique modified frames. I can see the passion of this man through his works. Very impressive! He also had many international and modern muse. Michael Jackson to name just one.
– Spending the night at Ubud
We were lucky that I have a friend, Onet, who now lives in Ubud with her Belgian husband. The hubby was at a business trip, so we could spend a night at her house while being good companions for her who was 2 months pregnant and living alone in the comfy single-bedroom house exactly in the middle of rice paddies.
I had never imagined before, how I would love being in a house surrounded by paddies like that. Open the front door, and what you see is all greenhhh…!! Plus it was raining in the morning when I woke up, so just imagine the cold weather. Very refreshing! I needed my jacket to sit out in the porch and covered my legs with a sarong, while the others were still sleeping soundly inside the house at 7 in the morning…Hey! That’s totally normal for the holidays.
– The famous Nasi Ayam Kedewatan (Kedewatan Chicken Rice)
We took the words of Onet who’s lived in Bali for 5 years at that time, about what good food to have. It’s the chicken rice (or some say it’s mixed rice [nasi campur] ) on Kedewatan street. Hence it’s called Nasi Ayam Kedewatan. Onet drew us the map to get there and voila! Lunch was served.
The restaurant isn’t very big with optional seats with chairs or just on the floor. It has a temple in the back and has a humble setting. The cherry on top for me was we were eating beside a table full of Balinese wearing traditional clothes. Really felt far from Jakarta!
We had the chicken rice at the Ibu Mangku restaurant because it was Onet’s recommendation. But you could choose other places there as well.
– Campuhan River and Murni’s Café
Campuhan river is quite famous in Ubud. An Indonesian top rock band, Slank, even released a song about contemplating on the Campuhan riverside. Unfortunately we failed to find where the best spot of the river was. But I think you could enjoy the atmosphere of the river while chilling out at Warung Murni (Murni’s café) that’s built right beside the river, near the bridge.
– Ubud’s road and Monkey Forest Our visit to Ubud was on our 2nd night day in Bali before we continued to Kintamani the next day. On the 6th day of our total 7 days in Bali, we went back there again because we just loved it so much! But this time was a day trip only.
– Ubud Market
Our main goal was to shop at the Ubud market and chill out at some street café or restaurant. So our first stop was that, the Ubud market. Mumun, Edo, and I purchased some goods for ourselves and some souvenirs for people back home, such as Balinese cloths, accessories, blouses, etc, while Bondy was out and about with his folding bike around Ubud area.
The prices were negotiable, but don’t even start to haggle if you don’t even mean to buy the stuff once the seller agrees to your request. They’d be so annoyed and grumble. I guess it wouldn’t really matter much if you don’t even understand a word they’re saying. But being nice always helps.
– Cafes and Fish Satay
Then.. hunger struck. I get cranky when my growling stomach doesn’t get food immediately. It’s true! So I strongly persuaded Mumun and Edo to find a place where we could eat ASAP. We walked a bit to the Monkey Forest Avenue, which was very nice with the paving blocks and all.
It turned out that in this area there weren’t many cafes with cheap food (oh we were so broke!). Most of the cafes and restaurants were selling western food for western tourists with western prices (we all know the average foreign tourists, especially the westerners.. and the Japs… have much more than the locals do).
Finally! We got to the end of a road, after walking quite a distance from where we parked our car. It was a local Balinese café selling various kinds of food, including local food with reasonable price. Phew! Was I happy or what. I think we actually spent 20,000 per person, very reasonable! Then Bondy came and joined us for dinner. He told us when biking around he actually went past the real monkey forest, based of which the area is named, and saw some monkeys playing about. Good thing he didn’t pick a fight a monkey again, like what he did in Pangandaran, West Java 😛
Later on, we stopped by a street seller by the BCA ATM near the huge Arjuna statue (on a T-intersection of Ubud, Gianyar, and Denpasar ) and got ourselves a lot of sticks of fish sate to munch on in the car. The fish sate in this venue only sells starting in the late afternoon. They cost about 1000 (not sure, can’t remember, doesn’t matter, extremely cheap) per stick. It tastes more than what it’s worth.
Fish satay is quite popular in Bali. You could have it in your Nasi Campur package, or have them separately. Onet also told us that you can get fish satay at a corner near Campuhan brigde or at the Senggol Market of Gianyar.
– The Balinese traditional house Mumun and I had to use the toilet after the meal. It was at the back of the café, which was the house of the café owner. We got interested in the house because it was so original. And lucky for us, the old man who owns the house was very kind and gave us a tour around the outdoor part of the house. From this wise man we found out that a traditional Balinese house must have an area for praying purpose. And there are quite a lot of rules in arranging which shrine facing where etc etc. The main thing is that each house has a temple, and each family has one main temple and everyone has to be there when there is a large celebration. And that means OFTEN! But with this they keep their traditional roots strong. From this tour as well, we concluded that Balinese are such peace lovers. The people do not keep grudges, not to mention revenge, specifically about the Bali bombing thing. They don’t see why they should hold grudges, instead they pray for better future and peacefulness. And you can feel that through the owner’s explanation about the way of living of the Balinese. They also believe strongly in Karma. Too bad I left my camera at the table, so I only captured the images of the home shrines in my mind. Can we do telepathy?
Kintamani is a highland at the center part of the island. I didn’t know it was that cold, I had to put on my jacket. Not thick enough, and I was wearing shorts. That’s what happens sometimes when traveling spontaneously, you’re not always ready with the right apparel. But that’s also the beauty of traveling, right? 😉
Nonetheless, Kintamani is a tranquil place with lovely sceneries of mountains, paddies, and lake. We were going for this popular spot to view an open cemetery, where dead people were placed under trees yet they don’t stink.. Trunyan, but failed to reach the place before dark.
So we were happy enough with having dinner at this resto/lodge called Resto Apung (literally means Floating Restaurant) which has huts to dine in by the Lake Batur, and bungalows as well.The stray dogs were everywhere, some even resting under our hut. Oh, and they’re everywhere in Bali, too.
This is the town near Ngurah Rai airport where everybody goes. It’s more known for its huge white sand beach. It has a killing view, and even my parents were one of the many couples that visited this spot on their honeymoon. We’re talking ages ago!
Until now Kuta still has that magic that attracts tourists with its sunset, surfing pipes (according to season surely), and of course the more and more developed infrastructures along the beach.
Cafes, clubs, hotels, motels, hostels, surfing shops, cheapo clothing shops, 24-hr mini markets, Hard Rock Café, McDonald’s, all of these are there in the Kuta area, many of which face the ocean view.
Tanning and crowds on beach
Just laying back and tanning on the beach is of course an option. Warning: there will be lots of sellers that offer making braids, temporary tattoos, selling ethnic accessories like bracelets, necklaces, even massages and nail polishing service. When you’re in the mood for tranquility, these offers can be such annoyance ‘cos they can hardly accept a ‘no’.
Mumun ook the offer of a foot/leg massage for Rp 30,000 (it may cost more for foreign tourists), and it turned out that the woman doesn’t have the proper skill in massaging. She rubbed Mumun’s leg downwards instead of upwards as how it’s supposed to be. So, be careful. (It killed our curiosity for sure, thus we can inform you. But she did use the right rock to scrub and great smelling lotion. I’ll give her credit for that.)
The crowded beach would be a cool thing to have when you are really into watching various kinds of people passing by or just sit around waiting for sunset. And I guess because we were there exactly on the last day of 2008, the beach was packed with all sorts of people – foreign tourists Personal Display of Affection-ing with locals, small towners in full clothes, little children dipping their feet at the shoreline, some commercial booth playing music for people to dance to, and of course the more tourists, the more sellers. (Don’t forget that line of drunken Supermans running around, complete with capes!)
We ourselves weren’t feeling comfortable in such chaotic atmosphere. That wasn’t what we were looking for, although I did manage to have some time laying down on the sand and just enjoying the sound of waves – it was hard work to finally eliminate the noise of the crowd, believe me.
Nonetheless, we could not stand being amongst the herd for more than an hour, even when it meant we didn’t get to see sunset. So we took off to find a decent budget restaurant for dinner at Poppies Lane 2.
New Year’s Eve
Vira and moi decided that Vira was to write about the trip while I add in the filling holes. For some reason she forgot to write about the main event which was New Years Eve!!!! Oh silly Virly….
Olraite… we had a decent Indonesian dinner after Kuta, in the first right vain of Poppies Lane 2 from the Bali Bombing monument, which was what we could afford and yet we recommend (the venue is a wooded kinda look, beside the second-hand book shop).
We then decided to walk around Kuta and check out the ambience growing to the anticipated second. We walked down Kuta to turn in to the Kuta beach gates. While strolling along following the crowd, our new neighbor from where we were staying noticed us and said Hi. It was the highlight of my night because it felt like we were locals and greeted in the land of Gods. We weren’t merely strangers like most of the people there.
We stupidly didn’t prepare much money, hence we needed to go to the ATM. Standing in line was bad enough considering half of the ATM was broken or probably empty. But standing in line, just staying at one spot for about half an hour made me realize how much people was celebrating NYE in this corner of the world. It was a stream of people constantly flowing to Kuta without any breaks of space. It reduced my wanting to celebrate, especially since I don’t celebrate it anyways. But … a holiday in Bali is a holiday in Bali woohoo! So we enjoyed that moment, however it didn’t interest us more to visit the beach.
We unbelievably rendezvoused with my friend, Nina, amongst the flood of humans and constant noise of trumpets, speakers and flashes of blitz. We decided to go back to the Kuta road and pick a venue to hang until midnight. Sliding in to Poppies Lane was impossible even for humans. I couldn’t believe it. No one would give way, thus JAMMED (Duh!). Even people can’t pass which I found to be illogic but true. So we took Poppies Lane2. After a long debate on which place to hang, and Nina had small assistance, we picked Bounty Café. No specific reason for choosing the place other than because they charged nothing for entry (cheapos!).
The scene wasn’t too good, the music was almost lame, but at least they gave out free whistles to make some noise. And it was filled with high school kids trying their luck with girls and booze hahahaha… After the countdown, we decided to find a better place to spend the night.
We wanted to just chill at the beach or something, but the outdoor Kuta was just too crowded and it was drizzling. The roads were blocked for vehicles, however motorcycles chiseled their way in. As if there weren’t too many people jam-packed already. Bars after bars try to compete with one another by having sexy dancers in front, loud music on speakers, etc.
But what I loved about it was everyone was either drunk or happy, in other words, happy! Even the Balinese that just got off work were sitting on the side-walks having their famous arak and they didn’t hesitate to share. And on stupid trust to these friendly people, we took a sip. This was also one of my fave moment. We’re still alive to tell it right? Not long after 2009 entered, we went to check out a gay bar, out of curiosity, at Dhyanapura street a.k.a Camplung Tanduk street, Seminyak, 45 minutes of walking from Bounty (thanks to Nina, that said it was only 10 minutes! Made my feet sore). We were too tired to enter the bar, so we just had our midnight food at a café near it called Baku Dapa.
Sorry about that Vir, I had to call Nina’s bluff. Satisfied me though ? The food was yum! Anyways, I took an extra stroll around this street, saw lots of cute gay couples, and drag queens on tables, dancing. Different to the Kuta where you could tell who was not from Bali, the drunk, and the penniless, this street was still hyped and everyone looked great. You gotta give the gays credit for that. Then we headed home by about 4 am. So we did the ultimate party to which wasn’t my kind of gig but I can tell my grandchildren and call other people’s bluff about it. I can definitely say it was memorable with great company, good and bad. But the real party for me was the trips besides this moment.
It is a coastal town in southeast Bali, only about 30 minutes drive from the airport. It’s known to be a tourist destination, but the more quiet one than Kuta, and there are quite a lot of resorts there. We didn’t go to Sanur on this trip. You could google about it or take a look at this website http://www.baliblog.com/travel-tips/sanur-bali.html
Tanah Lot is known for this very cool temple on top of a cliff which makes beautiful silhouette when the sun sets. The cliff is extended quite far from the land, above water. There’s a hollow part on the bottom of the cliff, that’s why this site is called Batu Bolong (translation: hollow rock), hence the temple is called Pura Batu Bolong (pura=temple) (Hey there’s one also in Lombok near Senggigi. Literal names are quite common). Again, we didn’t go there on our trip, but I’ll leave you with this site about Tanah Lot http://tanahlot.net/home/content/view/520/121/ . Kerobokan – where we stayed This is where we stayed. Room rent was only Rp 100,000 for a week (!), thanks to Bondy. He lives at a rent room whose owner also owns another building of rent rooms next to Bondy’s.
The location is near Kerobokan Jail, Kerobokan. It’s only a few minutes of driving or motor riding from Legian or Seminyak, two other shopping and beach spots. There’s not really much to see at Kerobokan, though. There are mostly just regular houses and small shops.
You want shopping? They’ve got rows and rows of stores selling clothes, jewelries, footwear, surfing apparels, even dog’s accessories. Tattoo parlors, car and motorcycles rentals, cafes and some hotels are also easy to find in these areas. Price range is sooo wide. You can even get wholesale.
The Seminyak beach is where I got my temporary tattoo for Rp 30,000. It was unfortunately kinda smeared because of my sweaty skin after biking. So you better be all dry when getting a temporary tattoo and about an hour after. This kind of service is available at other beaches as well.
The day after new year’s eve, we went to Dreamland beach, Uluwatu, high on the southernmost of peninsula of the island. It was a precious discovery less than a decade ago, but now it’s too crowded (or maybe because it was January 1st where everyone was vacationing in Bali just like we were), and the beautiful beach view is somewhat ruined by the building constructions in progress. People still do come here to surf though, cos it does provide great waves and pipes and all. I’m hoping when the resort or whatever it is they’re building is done, everything will look beautiful again, hence suits the name. For the time being, I personally do not recommend much effort for it.
You wonder how to get there? Well, if you are from Kuta, just take the main road of Uluwatu (Jalan Uluwatu) to the Uluwatu direction. The unguarded entrance will be on your right, and you’ll see big statues of Hanoman (monkey-like creature from the puppetry) and Garuda Wisnu Kencana (a huge prehistoric bird ridden by a knight: Wisnu).
These are also quite known beaches for surfing. Uluwatu beach is only about 3 km away from Dreamland. Padangpadang and Bluepoint bays are near there as well, but it’s kinda confusing where to take right and left turns. If you’re not going with a local, I think you better ask direction to local people that you see on the streets. It is actually quite common for the locals.
Actually we were going to Padangpadang because our friends Adiena and her hubby Ricky recommended us to go there, they said it’s beautiful. But too bad only Mumun and Keta (by Keta’s motorcycle) that got there, while Igoy and I (by Igoy’s motorcycle) was lost and got to Uluwatu beach, and then on our next try to find Padangpadang we got to Bluepoint bay and had a jaffle there. In these three places, the beaches are all way down there where you have to take the long stairs to get to. Igoy and I enjoyed the sunset at Bluepoint as well as Mumun and Keta enjoyed the sunset at Padangpadang.
Padangpadang beach is a small isolated beach surrounded by a narrow cliff. Keta didn’t know about it but we kinda adventured a bit. You have to take a few steep stairs down to get to the actual sandy beach. It has crystal waters, white sand, and waves breaking in the distance. There were only 6 people including Keta and me that afternoon. Sorry guys… we didn’t bring a camera. But holler, and me or Keta will take you there.
Warning: make sure your motorcycle is in good shape if you’re taking it to this area because the road is going up and down like crazy.
This is also a beach that we knew from a friend who’s lived a couple of years in Bali, Febi, my college friend. Geger beach is quite near from Nusa Dua, a bit more to the south. Mostly foreigners go here to surf and tan. When I got here, I couldn’t help from humming, “What a wonderful world..” I always find something new and interesting when traveling Indonesia, probably because the country is so biiiigg… 😀
We parked our car at the parking area, Febi and Keju their motorcyle, but don’t expect a smooth asphalt road here. The driveway is pretty bumpy and narrow. And public access is actually less common then the private ones. We got out of the car, got our beach amenities ready, walked down the stone stairs to a spread out area full of beauty.. the white sand beach, light blue ocean, people relaxing on the beach chairs, people tanning topless on canoes, and some surfers walk about carrying their surfboards.. Life is a beach…!
Febi, Keju, Desy, and Angky, these four lucky bastards, took us – Mumun, Edo, and me – to a more desolated inlet, to which we had to walk past a coral cliff through the water. I was kinda worried with Febi and Angky’s baby, Kafka, being carried through this difficult route, but apparently they’re familiar with Geger already. Yeah so would I, if only I’d been living in this paradise island like themselves. (Oh Envy, please go away..)
And too much fun is balanced with tragedy. My phone tested the waters a bit and got drunk, but was worth it!