Stumble Into Indonesia's Unseen Places
Submitted by indohoyindohoy on 17 March 2011 • Itinerary
10 days in Bali is enough to give me a headache on choosing where to start on the writing. There are so many interesting things to tell..! Oh my god! No wonder people keep coming back to this little island of the gods! So I decided to break my trip story in several entries, starting with one of my (and almost everybody’s) favorite, Ubud, along with Gianyar, a district in which Ubud is located. Here we go!
BALI SAFARI AND MARINE PARK, Gianyar
Truthfully, the first reason I was eager to go to Bali Safari and Marine Park was their Bali Agung theatre show, which just opened late in 2010. I could go there in time for the show only, but I’d still have to pay for the park’s entrance fee. So I thought, why not enjoy the whole park while I was at it?
> All about animals
The park’s main attraction is the animals. You can see animals lazing around and doing their thing from a jungle safari car, or walking between sections, and join the audience at the Animal Show, Piranha Feeding (hold on, be patient, we’ll get to that soon), and Elephant Show.
I wasn’t one of the kids who could stand a long lecture in class, but the ranger’s explanation in a Safari Journey car did not bore me one bit. She inserted jokes that have probably been told over and over again, but they got us all laughing. Plus, I was interested about the animal facts. I mean, did you know that the red cows’ blood is considered sacred in Africa? Did you know that tigers sleep up to 20 hours because they eat so much meat? And did you know that gibbons are monogamous faithful animals? Hence we should never mess with somebody else’s monkey 😀
The Animal Showwas held at 11 AM on the Hanuman Stage, where visitors gather round and rangers show off some animals (orangutan, python, eagle, binturong, etc). At the nearby Marine animals section, I saw the feeding of piranhas!A ranger prepared plucked headless chicken, which then a tourist volunteered to dip it in the aquarium (with the chicken attached to a string of course, not with his bare hand!). And then Zap!, the chicken was left torn with holes in a matter of seconds. It was like watching a thriller movie! *screeching violins in the background*
The Elephant show is basically a play starred by humans and – guess who – elephants, with a message that humans should always consider harmony with nature in anything they do in everyday life. I was pretty amazed with how cooperative the elephants were, and thought that it’s so cute when they put leis around some visitors’ necks!
Interactions with animals include elephant and camel riding. An extra fee is required, but I think it’s only IDR 30,000 / pax. And then taking pictures with orangutan or tiger is IDR 50,000 / shoot. While feeding the animals with provided food is IDR 10,000 / bundle of carrots or bananas.
For complete schedule and fares you can check out this page .
> Bali Agung Show
Other than going back with a time machine, I think there’s no better way of learning history than watching a contemporary musical theatre. The colorful and specially designed wardrobes, arts and props, lighting, compositions of traditional music, and the massive number of cast that include live ducks and elephants, all result in one interesting, educative, and highly artistic show.
There was a little moment where I felt kinda sleepy (I think it was a combination of calm romantic sequence with less upbeat music and my tummy being full after lunch), but overall I think it was great. It’s about time that Indonesia has this kind of show depicting history for tourists (and locals as well) to enjoy. I curse my schools for not applying this way of learning history and instead made me snore in class. * dramatic mode: on *
This is the only picture I’ve got
because you’re not allowed to bring a camera inside the theatre.
Don’t worry, they have a deposit counter.
The story itself depicted a fragment of Bali’s King Sri Jaya Pangus era in the 12th century, his affair with fertility goddess from Batur Lake, from which a child was born (who later became a (notorious) king), and found out by his Chinese descendant wife, then resulted in a commotion. Mumun just had to comment on this: Now that sounds like another episode of Melrose place. Dramaaaaa!
I so recommend you to see this one-hour show. 2:30 – 3:30 PM four times a week (check the schedule here).
> Fun Zone & Waterpark
I wanted to catch the 4.30 PM shuttle bus to Kuta. So, after the theatre show and then a brief chat with the park’s general manager and one of the stage directors, I only had half an hour left in the park. Astrid, the Public Relations officer who hosted me for the whole day (yes, it was actually a business trip, I was writing about this park for an Indonesian magazine *wide grin and peace sign*) insisted that we could check out and try some rides at the Fun Zone. Yay, free rides!
We rode the Spinning Coaster and Flume Ride, and there was nobody else but us and the operators. Most of the visitors had gone because the park closes at 5 pm. I was excited cos it’s been years since my last time going on rides in an amusement park! I didn’t even care that I might get wet sliding down the Flume Ride and had no spare clothes. Lucky the splash wasn’t bad, though. And the slide was enough to get my adrenaline going, I probably should’ve ridden it before watching the Bali Agung Show 😀
But I like Spinning Coaster more. It’s like a regular roller coaster but it spins your seats 360 degrees horizontally, and at the top you can see beautiful view of the east coast of Bali, and Mount Agung would be visible on a good weather. My picture here doesn’t do it justice at all, but you get the idea.
We didn’t have time for other rides, and I wasn’t prepared for Waterpark. If you want to experience from A to Z here, I don’t think one day would do. But for me it was enough. And though it was quite touristy, I think it was a good option of attraction in Bali especially those who come with family. There are also restaurants (read under “Eat”) and lodging within the park.
Bali Safari & Marine Park
Jl. Bypass Prof. Dr. Ida Bagus Mantra, Km. 19,8
(Golden Line of Bali)
Gianyar 80551, Bali – Indonesia
Tel. +62 361 950 000 Fax. +62 361 950 555
BALI CLASSIC CENTER (BCC), Ubud
My initial intention when heading to Ubud was to meet Roy, an Indohoy reader, and Ibu Murni (the owner of the famous Murni’s Warung). Thanks to my lack of driving skill, I had to hire a car and the driver named Pak Made. He was the one who suggested me to visit the BCC, where I could see and learn about Balinese cultures in a glance. The first thing I asked him was, of course, “How much do I have to pay?” It was only IDR 50,000, quite surprising considering the various performances and presentations they offered on a large area (I think) privately owned by a local. (Psst..! If you go there in a group of 10 or more, you’ll get a discount!)
I was flattered to be welcomed by a Balinese dance, only to be watched by me and only me in a hall full of chairs. There was no other tourist there at that time. I felt very much like a VIP! And then Ngurah, the tour guide, walked me around the site, where we stopped at some huts to watch the presentations. After each presentation, Ngurah offered to take a picture of me with the dancer or whoever was performing, with my own camera (you can see one example under “In Brief” tab). This screams “touristy” super out loud. Though I had no problem with that, eventually I had to politely turn down being photographed because after a while it just felt too much. I don’t know how models can do it.
These presentations include a barong dance, a puppet show, a process of making coconut milk, pounding rice, a display of ogoh-ogoh (the ‘dolls’ they make for Nyepi or the Day of Silence celebration), and an exotic Balinese girl taught me how to make a coconut leaf tray for the Hindu offerings. Boy, was it frustrating! I got the leaves torn when trying to stick them together with short pieces of palm leaf rib that function as staples. The girl did it so easy, and Ngurah said that Balinese girls start making these banten (offerings) since early age, taught by their mothers and grandmas. Okay, no wonder she’s so good at it. Making the leaf trays to them are probably like flicking the buttons on a TV remote control to me.. 😛
And then there were dances performed on the open-air stage, including the Old Man dance and the Clown, which extremely expressive masks sort of freaked me out, and then also the Barong dance. Ngurah said that the Old Man and the Clown were performed by the same person, a 20something talented Balinese dancer that’s been performing all over the world. Awesome!
Toward the end of the tour, the smiling guide Ngurah showed me miniatures of Balinese traditional ceremonies, like the Ngaben (cremation of the dead) and tooth cutting (more about it here). There’s also a hall where kids (or maybe grown ups too, I’m not sure) can learn the traditional Balinese painting, sculpting, and many other artsy skills for extra fee.
If you don’t mind doing it the touristy way, I recommend you to stop by at BCC and get to know the Balinese cultures in a glance. It’s enough to get you started on knowing the real Bali. Ngurah told me lots and lots of things about the cultures, I hope I can memorize it all and later write them out in our Snapshots or Blog section.
My last visit to Bali before this trip was in the New Year’s holiday of 2009, and since then I’ve been curious about this restaurant (‘warung’ is such a humble term for it). And now I made it there!
Located at the side of Campuan river, Murni’s is unlike other buildings where the 1st floor is at the top with 2nd – 4th floors are downstairs.It goes way back when Ibu Murni (Ibu = ma’am, mother, mrs.) first opened this warung on the street side, and then business grew bigger and bigger and there was no way to go but down.
A section of cakes and pastries welcomed me in the entrance of the 1st floor. Tempting, but too bad I just had lunch. My intention was to have a drink or two while enjoying the river ambience. Though I could have that on each level, I chose the 4th floor cos that’s the one nearest to the river. I did check on the 2nd and 3rd floors but the buildings weren’t as open as the 4th floor, if I’m not mistaken they’ve got more walls and everything.
For the next hour, a coconut drink accompanied my meditative moment there. And by meditative, I meant enjoying the river view and sounds while pondering.. and.. making some calls and arranging my schedule for the next days.. D’oh! I had to learn the hard way the inconvenience of mixing business trip and Indohoy quests!
Although I only ordered that one coconut drink, you should know that Murni’s serve various kinds of meals and drinks other than cakes and pastries. Having a big meal there will be my agenda on the next Bali trip, whenever that is.
If you’re planning to go there,here’smore info and the maps on how to get there. And if I might add, the prices aren’t so budget, for example the coconut drink was IDR 25,000. I could get it for a lower price in real warungs, but who else could give me the cozy ambience by the river like the Murni’s did?
I Made Joni Restaurant
Apparently, Bali (or Ubud?) is quite big on duck (translates to ‘bebek’ in Indonesian) cooking, other than pork. I had heard of Bebek Bengil and Bebek Tepi Sawah and was suggested by my friends to have meals there. For some reason I wanted something more up to date, so I chose the Bebek Tepi Sawah because they said it’s newer. Well guess what, I ended up having lunch at another place mentioned by Pak Made, that is I Made Joni! (no no, I didn’t make Joni, God did. You should read it like this: “Ee mah-day Joe-nee”)
Choosing I Made Joni, which was located on the same street with Bebek Tepi Sawah, was merely based on the fact that it’s got limitless view of the green paddy fields. Whereas from Bebek Tepi Sawah I could see houses being built on the fields. I knew that because I went to check out the view first before deciding where to eat. Picky? Who, me? Nah…!
The food that I had, crispy fried duck, was.. um, okay. I personally have tasted better duck cooking even in Jakarta. But boy, did I love the matah chili condiment! It’s made of shallots, garlic, chili, and olive oil. Simple and fresh, with the right amount of spiciness for me.
Matah chili is a Balinese specialty, not exclusive to I Made Joni restaurant. But wherever you eat duck with this chili condiment, you should try dipping the duck meat into the condiment, eat it together with a pinch of rice with your bare hand. That is the way to eat Indonesian traditional food..!
I was one of the first people that got to the restaurant that day, having lunch a little before noon. But the service was a little bit slow. My food came out when more people arrived in groups. And then when it drizzled, I had to move table to keep my food dry. But the waiters and waitresses were busy doing other things, probably serving other guests, so I had to move all of my stuff, plate, tea cup, and a bowl of crackers by myself. For a restaurant that charged IDR 110,000 for a cup of tea plus a portion of crispy duck dish, letting guests to move table without helping is a no no. So instead of I Made Joni Restaurant, perhaps I should have made Joni work faster. Heehee..
Tsavo Lion Restaurant
This restaurant in the Bali Safari and Marine Park serves international food, and it’s not exclusive for the park’s visitors. If you eat there during the day, you’d see tsavo lions lazing around outside the restaurant. Fret not, big cats are nocturnal, they’re not aggressive during the day, especially when they’ve been fed enough.
Astrid told me that at night these lions are back in their cage, so you wouldn’t see them while having dinner. But how come I’ve seen its promotion items with pictures of a couple having dinner with a lion standing outside the window? Hm, promotion can be deceiving – believe me, I’ve been on the persuading end – but who knows, they might have special nights with the lions out of their cages?? Better check with the management.
To & from Bali Safari and Marine Park
If you’re not driving, you could take the free shuttle bus provided at several times to and from several points in Bali. You could also have them arrange pick ups to your hotels. Details are here.
Car & driver hire
There are lots and lots of car rental service in Bali, but on this trip I had it arranged by Mr. Putu, +628123800003. If you have your international driver’s license, you can rent the car only. Make sure you’re clear whether the rate includes gas or not.