Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Taking in Bali's Best

KLM now flies to Bali on their transit flights from Amsterdam so there are more available options on international airlines if you’re not interested in budget. Food served on KLM is a decent beef meal with appetizer and dessert. Newspapers are also available on their return flights. All in all, not too shabby for a short 2h flight to Bali and only costs S$200 return.

Arriving in Bali
Passing through immigration at Bali International requires a lot of patience as the queue for non-visa foreigners takes about 30-40mins to clear whilst that for visa foreigners take even longer. Tax is also applicable for visa entry foreigners. The airport is pretty run down and the air seems tense due to security concerns. Keep a close look out for your hotel name and sign as there are dozens of drivers picking up guests at the entrance. Our driver from Villa Ixora picked us up at the airport and a 30min drive later, we arrived right at the doorstep of our hotel room (no checking in on the spot but welcome drinks are served instead). Ixora is pretty off the main stretch of hotels and restaurants in Seminyak but if you enjoy the peace and quiet, this place is for you. The establishment is run by a German couple (hubby is German and wife Madame Julia is Indon-Chinese. She runs a bakery, ice cream shop and caters for all sorts of parties in the Seminyak area). Titin is your go-to person for just about everything; travel, food, transport, advice.

Breakfast @ Ixora, room in Ixora and pool

As our friends were staying at Villa Kecapi, the Kecapi owners so kindly brought us out to eat. Most eateries were closed as it was Bali’s New Year the previous day (15-16 March) so dining options were limited. Hu’u, the Living Room were all closed for the night so we wound up eating at an American diner, SoHo. Food was cheap and in big portions but nonetheless, typical American fare.

Kecapi sitting area and private pool

Exploring Kuta
Surfing and the Bali Beach Boys are synonymous with Kuta Beach. We were booked to take up a half day surfing course with Bali Learn to Surf, Bali’s first professional surfing school located @ Hard Rock Hotel, Kuta. Be sure to inform the school how many people are actually surfing so they can provide a big enough transport to ferry you in. Travelling from Seminyak to Kuta takes around 40mins and surfing costs 390,000rupiah per person. A short 10-15min prep course is conducted in the Hard Rock Hotel pool before heading onto Kuta Beach proper to hit the waves. Surfing is seriously tough and you take a good beating if the waves are strong. Much face-planting, skin exfoliating and mud throwing later, the waves got too big for us amateurs to surf.

Besides surfing, a lot of tourists enjoy Indonesia for its traditional massages. I no longer recall the name of the shop next to MacDs in Kuta offering massage but for 65,000rupiah, you get the best foot, hand and back massage ever! I have never been to a better massage joint than this. Do tip your masseuse though as they only take part of what you’re paying the joint. Kuta Square is where you can get all your Roxy, Quiksilver, Billabong, Volcom, Ripcurl kicks.

Dinner was at the famous Made’s Warung Kuta, long established Indonesian and Balinese food joint. There’s another Made’s Warung in Seminyak apparently. Recommended food here include Babi Guling (order 1 day in advance), Nasi Campur and pork ribs.

Dinner time @ Made's Warung, Kuta

Bali wonders: Dreamland Beach, Uluwatu , Tanah Lot
Hiring a driver for the day will set you back 450,000rupiah inclusive of petrol. A half day tour with driver will cost 300,000rupiah. Msg me for the contact of our fantastic driver, Wayan (awesome and polite fella)!

Dreamy skies at Dreamland beach

Dreamland beach is located in the New Kuta development. This is a 1h ride from Seminyak and entry by car costs 15,000rupiah. The beach is some distance from the carpark but its pristine blue water and white sands makes this a worthwhile trip. Although globalization and development is obvious, surfers will definitely enjoy the excellent waves here (not for amateurs though).

Enjoying the blue skies of Dreamland

15min from Dreamland Beach is Padang Padang Beach. Another long white sandy beach, this is home to the Ripcurl Surfing competition. Uluwatu is approximately 30min from Padang Padang beach and is home to the temple that faces the Indian Ocean. Entry costs 3,000rupiah per pax and it is HIGHLY advisable not to carry any sunglasses, caps, water bottles or bags into the temple. The monkeys here will snatch just about anything (Marlboro ciggies too) and require much coaxing if they are to ever return your belongings. 1 monkey actually attacked this Causasian lady who was nonchalantly holding her sunglasses.

Magnificent cliffs @ Uluwatu and its temple structures

A 1.5h ride will take you past Canggu towards Tanah Lot for sunset. Tanah Lot is a popular destination for tourists but in my opinion, is overrated. Entry per person costs 10,000rupiah and entry for the car itself is also 10,000rupiah. A pasar malam (bazaar) flanks the street down to the Tanah Lot beach with straw wares and shell products. The best attraction of Tanah Lot would be when bats fly out en masse at sunset.

Sunset @ Tanah Lot

There are many drinking holes in Bali thanks to the high Expat population. Ku De Ta is a super stylish restaurant/bar in Seminyak. Security at Ku De Ta is extremely tight with checks at the gates and 2 police vehicles stationed outside. Getting a table for dinner here requires a 1.5-2h wait or just be satisfied with the tables or daybeds around the bar area. Drinks here are approximately 105,000rupiah and above. Recommended drinks are the Berry Bellini and Piña Colada. Their roving magician (this dude is amazingly fast) goes from table to table on Fridays and Saturdays..

Idyllic Seminyak
If you have a spare day in Bali and just want to have a quiet afternoon, your driver can take you around for 300,000rupiah half day car use and petrol. If he ever takes you to Arum Spa (don't bother going there), turn around immediately. This pretty expensive spa will set you back 150,000rupiah for a 1h back massage which involves aromatherapy oils. Other massage joints in the Kuta region only charge 80,000-100,000rupiah for the simplest foot, hand and back massage.

Krishna (somewhat like pasar oleh oleh in Bintan) in Seminyak sells food products and local touristy products. Krishna is not really worth going to in my opinion unless you want to pick up some local foods. Surf factory outlets sell past season surf wear at about 50% sg prices but quality and design is pretty questionable. Furthermore, the prices are not necessarily cheap. A Roxy skirt will still set you back about S$45-50.

**IMPT TO NOTE** do not spend all your rupiah in Bali as you need 150,000rupiah per pax for airport tax!

I’m still suffering from Bali withdrawals at the moment and will definitely be back. Next time round, it's either Sanur or Nusa Dua!

End off with a majestic view @ Uluwatu Temple

Other attractions not visited:
  • Ubud: 1.5h from Seminyak by car. Arts and cultural hub of Bali
  • Lake Bratan: close to 2h from Seminyak and further up north from Ubud
  • Bali Zoo and Bali Safari & Marine Park: 40min from Seminyak
  • The Oberoi, Hu’u, the Living Room: all in the Seminyak area for dining

Hotel: Villa Ixora, Seminyak
Hotel Review: 4* joint with all the amenities and services you could ask for in a 5* hotel. Rooms are big and clean and villas come with attached private pool. Service is impeccable and although location is some distance from the main Seminyak stretch, the tranquility makes up for it.
Weather: 32-36c
Posted by fongie on 3/24/2010 05:00:00 PM in , , , , ,