Tagged: bali

Seminyak/Kuta, Bali, Indonesia

 I stayed in Seminyak for my last three nights in Indonesia to be closer to the airport. I was planning to completely avoid the Seminyak/Kuta area, which is incredibly touristy, but I ended up having a great time there (in a Western way.) I stayed at M Boutique Hostel and spent most of my time hanging out there by the pool. There’s a cheap take-out local food spot right next door, and a cheap Warung down the road.

There’s not much to do in Seminyak and Kuta. There are tons of expensive western hotels, restaurants, bars, clubs, yoga studios, etc, but all of that is out of a backpackers price range. Seminyak and Kuta is where Australians come for vacation to treat themselves. Also, I never made it to the beach but I’ve only heard negative things in comparison to other beaches.

I traveled to Seminyak with the two NZ girls, the Canadian boy and a British guy who an NZ knew before from traveling. We all stayed in the 43 bed dorm that was actually nice because it was modern and compartment style. The hostel wasn’t full but there were a handful of people there that were a lot of fun.

The first night there we went to a local fancy restaurant for dinner. I had mixed vegetables with seafood and it came in a thick gravy. I was really excited to have large shrimp for the first time in a while but they were overcooked and rubbery. 

The next day I went to Potato Head day club with a group of people from the hostel. The bar has a large grassy lawn surrounded by tables to the backside and a pool towards the front that overlooks the beach.  

We relaxed in the pool and each had a Japanese Bloody Mary, a Bloody Mary served with ginger, wasabi and soy sauce. I only had one drink there because it was quite expensive ($12 for a drink) but there’s no entrance fee and you can stay without buying anything at all. 

  

We grabbed local food on the way home then lounged by our pool. That night I went next door and picked up rice, sautéed veggies and 3 pieces of chicken for less than a dollar. Eight of us then grabbed cabs and we rode the 20 minutes ito Kuta, where the nightlife is. We had planned to go to Sky Garden for free drinks but there ended up being a cover charge and no free drinks so we decided to go to Alleycats instead for cheap double doubles (red bull and vodka for $1.50 each.)

The next day we all lounged by the pool and around the hostel. One guy ordered in a massive amount of KFC and we all snacked on fried chicken.

Later that night seven of us headed back to Alleycats. This time I stuck to gin and tonics; the red bull vodkas were too much of me the night before. When the bar closed around 1am we all headed back and did some night swimming. The next afternoon I left Indonesia and flew to Malaysia Borneo. I had to pay 300,000 rp to immigration because I overstayed my visa for one day. But luckily they forgot to charge me the country exit fee so I saved 200,000 rp. 

Ubud, Bali, Indonesia

 I got off the shuttle bus in Ubud and decided to walk the 35 minutes to my hostel. The town is lovely but reminds me of the Hamptons (in a tropical setting) and not Asia. The narrow street Hanonan (one of the main streets) has hippie chic clothing and jewelry stores, spas, vegetarian restaurants and coffee shops, wooden decor and jewelry shops, and yoga and tourist shops. The street was full of white Westerners and the only locals work at the shops, or harass tourists on the street about taxi’s and hotels.

I turned the corner onto Jl. Raya Ubud, the Main Street in Ubud, and was shocked to see a Dairy Queen, Starbucks, Polo Store, etc, intertwined into the locals stores. Ubud is very much a western paradise and not Asian at all. Nevertheless it is nice and has incredible food, and yoga places/ spas galore. 
I stayed at In Da Lodge hostel which is just off the main road at the far end. The hostel is also hippie chic with brick walls, gray shutters and copper metal accents. There’s a bar/restaurant lounge area and a pool area with bean bag chairs to lounge. I stayed there with my two New Zealand friends that I met in Gili.
After checking in I headed back to town to Dewa Warung, a local restaurant written about in Lonely Planet but was also recommended to me. The local restaurant has sturdy long wooden communal tables and looks much nicer than local places I am used to. Everything in Ubud is nicer for westerners. I had my first watermelon juice in a long time, along with tofu in tomato sauce.  

 On my way back I stopped for a wax and a foot massage. The woman opened a tall foil sheet next to one of the beds to curtain me from the street window. She then heated the wax on the stove and applied the wax with a spatula. As for the massage I slept through the whole thing.

We went to go to the famous Kecak Ramayana and Fire Dance show that night. The performance is 100+ men choir singing without instrumental accompaniment. There’s a story line about a monkey army going into battle, and someone dies, but even with the scene description we had no idea what was going on. The choir chanted the same tone over and over and then there were the actors- a few men monkeys and a few traditionally dressed girls. At the end of the play there was the fire scene- a man/horse kicked around lite embers for a good ten minutes while the men chanted. The horse has something to do with trance.

 The next morning the NZ girls and I went to Dewa for lunch, then walked through the market to shop. I had wanted to buy a sarong but they were all cheap feeling and had print on only one side. I ended up being one thin cover-up dress but nothing else. All the merchants were incredible aggressive and grabby- I couldn’t wait to get out of there.

Then we went to Monkey Forest, a sanctuary in the town. The forest is pretty small but pretty. There are loose monkeys everywhere. We saw a mom and dad money sleeping holding their child. We also saw a newborn which had patchy hair.  

 Walking home along Monkey forest street we stopped at L.O.L. for happy hour, 2 for 1 mojitos. I tried the watermelon and the mango and both were delicious.   For dinner we went to Rouge Sushi which was not what I expect from a sushi restaurant. The interior looked like a club lounge, then there was a live jazz band, and they serve Japanese food but no saki. But the sushi was quality and the music was good. I had a super deluxe sashimi.

After we went to CP Lounge. We did a rainbow shot round, played pool and smoked chocolate shisha.   

In the morning I hired a motorbike to take me to some temples. After negotiating with three drivers I finally got one for a decent price- more than I wanted to pay but not outrageous. The driver had a million excuses for needing more money: he gets tired driving, it’s so far, he gets hot, etc. I replied that if he gets tired driving three hours then he shouldn’t be a taxi driver.
First we drove almost two hours north to Pura Besakih, the mother temple. It’s considered the number one temple in Bali. The temple is about 600m up hill from the parking lot. I was harassed at the bottom to get a guide,which I refused (I already bought an entrance ticket.) On my walk up a local stopped and offered me and ride saying he was on his way up. At the top he said he would be my guide and when I told him no he started yelling at me to give him money for the ride. I lost my temper and yelled back. I always forget that locals in tourist areas are never being genuinely nice, they always want money.  

 The temple is on the side of Mount Agung and has a nice view of the surrounding mountains. The temples are wooden and stone and the roofs have multiple tiers. I was told that without a guide I wouldn’t be able to enter the temple; however, I could see inside from the outside so it was not a problem.  

      The next temple we went to was Tirta Empul, the Holy Water Temple. I ended up never paying for a ticket because I couldn’t find the booth. The temple was a lot smaller than I expected. The main attraction is the Holy Spring, which is holy water and used for purification. Locals bathe in the pool, as do some tourists. I wish I knew about the bathing before as I would have worn a bathing suit, or brought a change of clothes.        
 

After that temple we drove back to Ubud through the Ubud Rice Terraces. I did a very late lunch at Warung Biah Biah. I got traditional Indonesian small plates- one coconut chicken and one water spinach. Both were cold and not that great. The restaurant was crowded though so it surprised me that the food was bad. After I stopped into Tukies Coconut Cafe for a fresh coconut.

Later I went to Borneo 8 for dinner with some new people from my hostel. I had sautéed water spinach with broccoli. The portions were small and the shrimp was almost non-existent, and it wasn’t cheap compared to the other local place I’ve found and loved. Then later we went back to CP Lounge.
The next day I went back to Dewa for a third time for lunch. I had a nice chat with the couple sitting at my table, a young Argentina guy and his husband from New Zealand. After lunch I had the worst massage of my life. The lady obviously had no training and just rubbed different parts of my body for two minutes at a time. After the dreadful expletive I walked around for a few hours. 

      

  had been planning to gift shop when I set out for the day; however, the real stores are expensive and not unique, and the market is a nightmare. I ended up just buying the hand carved buffalo skull I had wanted for myself, which I’m having shipped home.  

 The next day was one of the NZ girls bday’s. We started the day buy having a local lunch at Ayu Warung where I had the tofu curry. We then went to Lily Spa for massages. I had a Balinese massage and shared a bungalow with a male Canadian friend of ours. They definitely thought we were a couple. After the massage I had a Balinese coffee shot at Atman Cafe. I was served a small plate with a shot of coffee, a glass of ice, a shot of simple syrup that tasted like dulce, and a teaspoon with a bit of sea salt. I mixed all the ingredients in the cup and finished by drinking the dulce straight. It was delicious.  

 At 9pm a group of us went to dinner at Taco Casa, a Mexican restaurant everyone raves about. I had the shrimp fajitas and a carafe of sangria. The food was by no means authentic but fresh and delicious, although the shrimps weren’t jumbo and they were overcooked. After dinner we all headed to CP lounge for a night of stage dancing. It was my third time there and the first night it was packed.

The next morning we checked out. I went for a last lunch at Dewa and got the avocado salad and my tofu dish for the last time. I then went to pay for my carved horse skull (my decor treat for myself) and had it shipped home. We spent the rest of the early afternoon by the pool before taking a taxi to Seminyak. 

  

Lovina, Bali, Indonesia

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Two weeks ago I met a German man, his Balinese wife, and her Balinese brother on my overnight snorkel trip in Komodo. The couple mentioned that I could stay with them if I came to Lovina, so that is what brought me here. However, since I made a last minute decision to come a day early I checked into a hotel for one night.

I stayed at Ray Beach Inn, 2km out of the town center. Since I saved money by only doing 2 dives instead of 5, I decided to pay $15 and treat myself to a guesthouse with a pool. I checked in, grabbed some local food nearby, picked up 2 kilos of mangostines, and spent the rest of the time lounging. I was the only guest and loved having the entire pool area to myself.

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For lunch I went to Banyualit Hotel across the street and had fish coconut satay, and sautéed water spinach. The hotel was more of a fancy resort, but empty as well. I ate in the back of the restaurant in a large yard area that was fancy but still very green.

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Later on I ordered a pizza from my hotel and ate it in bed while I watched a movie. I expected the pizza to be bad but it was terrible. I got vegetarian and it was topped with peas and carrots. I gave the staff 100,000 rp and he said he would bring me my 50,000 rp change. He never came back so when I finished my movie I went to go find him. He pocketed my money and thought it was okay to just not give me my change.

The next morning I checked out and got a motorbike ride to the large dolphin statue in Central Lovina. The statue is grand and sits on the beach marking Dolphin Beach. Around the statue are restaurants, bars and shops, and the beach is lined with hotels. This is the main tourist area. The beach is not very nice. The “sand” is dark tiny pebbles and it’s covered in trash. Not the picturesque beach I picture when picture Bali.

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The Balinese brother, who I was friendly with on the snorkel trip, picked me up on his motorbike. We went and grabbed lunch at the local restaurant his aunt works at, then he drove me to his sisters house. The house is incredible. It’s typical Balinese architecture made mostly of wood. It has a square thatched roof, and a wrap-around porch with large wooden pillars. In the back is an infinity pool and there are large bean bag chairs to lounge on. I had my own room with a large window that opens out onto the pool.

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That afternoon the brother picked me up to take me to a cockfight- by my request. The arena was nearby and had standing room for maybe 200 people. I was the only woman there to watch. It was full of local dirty sweaty men screaming, pointing and betting. Everyone was there to gamble and I have no idea how people were able to keep track of their bets.

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The cockfighting was quick. First men hold up a bunch of cocks in a circle. Then somehow two and picked to fight. The two are placed in the circle in the middle (the court.) They fight until one falls, then the owners lift them up and try to make them both stand. If one chicken can’t stand on both feet then it’s the loser and gets killed off to the side (if it’s not already dead.) If both chickens can walk on both feet then they will fight again, again until one falls. If they are both still alive then they will get placed under a wicker basket and will fight in here until one dies. The shortest fight I saw was a few seconds and the longest was 30 seconds. I was fine with it all until we saw a white cock fight and then I was really able to see all the blood. The cocks are trained to fight, and all the dead cocks are eaten so at least the meat is not a waste.

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After we saw enough fighting we drove around central Lovina and walked along the beach. We ran into one of the brothers friends who was just sitting on the sand, and some other friends kids came up to us with a cup of hermit crabs and a fish. After chilling we went to sports bar near the statue for happy hour. We played pool and drank Bintang’s and snacked on peanuts with fried garlic.

After the bar we went back to his aunt’s restaurant for some mei gorang (fried noodles.) I then went back to his sisters house to find out she bought me dinner, so I ate again. It would have been rude not to. She brought me traditional Warung food- white rice topped with chicken, an egg, vegetables, liver and a broth soup on the side. I gave her the liver but at the rest. After dinner we all relaxed on the porch listening to music and drinking beers.

The next morning I woke up to fresh French bread and a French coffee press; truly a good start to the day. After eating breakfast on the deck the brother picked me up and we drove 15 minutes into Singaraja, the local city. We stopped at the local notary/lawyer office, which looked like the DMV. Afterwards he took me to an incredible waterfall area. It’s 5 waterfalls, one after another, but we just went to two. The waterfalls were through lush greenery. We were the only people there- it’s not a major tourist spot. We swam near the rocks to be near the big fall which was so powerful I got churned like in the ocean.

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After playing in the falls for a while we drove to his grandmothers’ house. In a village nearby, through a gate, sits four house structures where a bunch of family lives together. I met two grandmothers (married to the grandfather at the same time,) an uncle, an aunt and a bunch of neices and nephews. We went into the kitchen (traditional style of a separate room outdoors,) and ate the leftover lunch that was sitting out under plastic baskets. [Food is never refrigerated here.] First we filled our bowls with rice. Then added cooked sprouts, green vegetable and chillies, and mixed that. Then topped that with fried pork, fish sausage (handmade in a banana leaf,) fried tempeh, and fried tofu. As usual the food was delicious. We are on a mat outside.

Later than evening my gracious Balinese host made an incredible dinner for me. Fresh fish topped with sautéed carrots and peppers, fried potatoes and a tomato cucumber salad. It was much more than I expected and a treat. For dessert we enjoyed melon, oranges and papaya. [The whole time I was there she kept the house stocked with papaya, dragon fruit and mangostines for me.]

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After dinner the German and I sat around listening to music and drank gin and tonics and peach wine.

The next morning I woke-up and to my French breakfast. Just as I finished the wife brought back lunch, so again I ate again. It would be rude not to. This time I had a bowl of rice, added chicken soup, fried chicken, and spicy eggplant.

I then walked into town but most things were already closed because it was Balinese New Years Eve.. (Next post)

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