Monday, August 4, 2008

My Bali Story (err.. yes, finally)

The Hotel
It’s called the Abian Biu Residence. A small boutique hotel with only 10 rooms located in the serene area of Kerobokan near Seminyak perfect for un-happening couple like us who prefer peace and quiet. Our room – the Kamajaya Ratih (which means the Goddess of Love as told by our nifty tour guide) was decorated modestly yet amicably with a sizeable bed with canopy, colourful stained glass decorating the large windows and the door to the outdoor bath. Huge, rustic handcrafted doors fixed at the entrance as well as to the terrace added more charm to the room (although hubby didn’t really fancy it. But that’s what makes it Balinese, right?). The outdoor bath was amazing (i initially thought it would be creepy!) and finally, it has a kitchenette as well as a separate dressing area.
The hotel carries the elements of Oriental-Javanese in its concept which was very ideal for yours truly given her roots are a mix of the two clan (as you can clearly make out from the combo of slightly slit eyes, somewhat fair skin and the unmistakably broad nose.. hehehe). We were also told by the tour guide that the name Abian Biu translates Perkebunan Pisang (Banana farm) in bahasa (told you he was nifty!) Though there are no banana trees in sight, i believe the Heliconia (it belongs to the banana tree family,right??) being its signature decoration validates the name.
The staffs were friendly and accommodating, hospitality was superb! The hotel also has a Spa and we couldn’t be any happier to get the free 30 minutes foot massage included in the package!
However, only if you plan to sign up for tours (that provides pickup from the hotel) or that you plan to stay put (ie. you do not expect to get around on foot) that we would recommend you to stay at this hotel as it is situated rather distant from town and that it will take some familiarity of the place for people to find it. Even for the locals.

Abian Biu Residence
(i was shocked to learn the name of the tea we were drinking after half way! :D)
The Tours
An arrangement (and negotiations) had been done 2 weeks prior to the trip via internet (don’t you just love what technology can do for you!) and Bali Star Island was responsible for presenting Bali at its best to us for the next 3 days.
Day 1 – Uluwatu Tour

Sunset and Kecak Dance at Uluwatu Temple, Seafood Dinner at Jimbaran
It was a half day tour which starts at 4.30pm. As our flight from KUL-DPS landed around 2pm, we had just enough time before the tour. The journey from our hotel to the Uluwatu Temple took about an hour, in which our tour guide had utilised to enlighten us about the island. The Hindu Temple is located right on the edge of the sea cliff overlooking the magnificent Indian Ocean. It is one of the 6 biggest temples in Bali and one of the great places to view the sunset. We saw the fascinating Kecak dance performance here at the temple that tells the story of Ramayana. Very unique indeed.
The power supply went out just as the Kecak performance was ending. The event happened due to the rationing of power supply in conjunction with the recent petrol price hike in Indonesia. Different parts of the region will be subjected to the power cut-off for a few hours every single day.
The tour then include a seafood dinner at Jimbaran Beach where we were seated right on the beach with the view of the sea front to end the evening. Having your meal in company with the sound of the wave and the sight of airplanes ascending & descending from the nearby airport was heaven especially for those into beaches and aircrafts :) There was also a local ensemble going from one table to another, putting together songs for you and your companion. A very romantic place if you wish to watch sunset too!

Day 2 – Kintamani Tour

Tegalalang Rice Terrace, Ubud & Kintamani
We started the tour at 9.30am. We stopped by to see some batik making and silver work at Batubulan and then proceeded to Ubud to see the Rice Terrace at Tegalalang en route to Kintamani. Luck was not on our side as the paddies were yet to be sowed at the time therefore, as much as the view was extraordinary, the terraces were patchy with brown soil. 

Kintamani, a hilly countryside offers a spectacular view of the volcanic Mount Batur and Lake Batur. The cool climate contributes to the lush greens and abundant fruit orchard which can be seen along the way to the plateau.It was simply breathtaking!
The brilliant landscape and the fresh, cool breeze brushing our bare skin made it possible for us to protest the buffet spread peacefully (luckily we weren’t that hungry). You can also spot the biggest mountain in Bali, Mount Agung in the background - a volcano now remains inactive after killing about 2000 people of the island when erupted in the early 80s.

Mas Joko (bersarong) kelihatan berposing di Tampak Siring @ Tirta Empul & Goa Gajah bersama isterinya, Neng Baizura hehe..
After the sucky lunch but a splendid panorama later, we stopped by at Tampak Siring aka Tirta Empul a holy spring water temple. Here, a big water source (which was so cool by the way) can be found which is believed to cure all kinds of illness and being used for cleansing and purification purposes by the local people. A palace founded by the first president of Indonesia can be spotted just on the hill next to the temple. 

There’s a myth to the existence of the spring water, but my memory is a bit rusty now. So i better not try too hard here for afraid that i might change history. Hehehe. However, the guide did tell us that they believe if one spots a white eel in the pool where the water source is, it will bring prosperity to the person but he also said that he had been there a hundred times but never once saw it. Haha! Perhaps next time, Ketut! (By the way, Ketut is a nickname to a fourth child, or eighth, and so forth).

Next we visited Goa Gajah (Elephant Cave) in Gianyar, originally a dwelling for Hindu priests. Hundreds years prior to that, a Buddhist temple was erected nearby in the eighth century but was later destroyed by a massive earthquake (the rubbles are still kept here). A small cave shaped like the capital letter T with a massive stone carving at the entrance is situated at a steep river valley. Bathing pools can be found close by, filled with water from spouts held by six female figures (one of which was actually stolen as what was conveyed to us). While the true history of the name remain uncertain, some say the name of the cave originates from the statue of Ganesha, part of the statue being an elephant. The tour did not include the visit to Tanah Lot but how can you go to Bali and miss the chance to see the Tanah Lot Temple. I heard the sunset there is gorgeous too. And so, we requested to extend the tour to Tanah Lot for the sunset.

Sunset and dinner at Tanah Lot
Before reaching Tanah Lot, we spent about an hour in a painting gallery in Ubud looking at the various art collection produced by local and foreign artists. I loved it, though we didn’t purchase any piece.
We finally arrived at Tanah Lot before 6pm. The place was flooded with tourists and the sea water was rising then. The guide led us to a restaurant nearby to enjoy the beautiful sunset where we had another round of seafood dinner (and had suffered mild diarrhoea (for me) and not so mild one for him).

Day 3 - Bali Rafting and Ubud Tour

White water rafting at Ayung River

Besides the scenic view of Lake & Mount Batur at Kintamani, another highlight on the trip has got to be the white water rafting adventure! We were told to be ready for pick up at 8.15am. But after 45 minutes of waiting, i knew the driver must have had trouble finding our remote hotel. But the van arrived as we were about to get the front desk to contact the rafting company. We joined a nice older couple from Singapore, Peter and Joanne (who thought we were Filipinos by the way) on the journey for the rafting experience. We were joined by another couple from the States and a guide in one raft. It was a 3-hour rapid love affair with the river and i enjoyed every second of it! Except the part where we need to climb the never-ending steps of hell get to the restaurant after the rafting ended. Phew! Well i guess every love affair comes with a hefty price, ey ;) The water level was measured at 3 and that was good enough of a rapid for me.

Ubud Art Market, Puri Saren (Ubud Palace)
We skipped the Monkey Forest as we were drained from the rafting. So we went to the Ubud Art Market for souvenirs that's just opposite the Ubud Palace aka Puri Saren where we next visit. There was a preparation for a royalty cremation in progress. The body, as we were informed has been kept more than a month as they were waiting for a good day for the ceremony to be held. The body will be laid in a cow-like figure (the riding animal of Lord Siva the Destroyer that represents death) made of wood before burning with an 11-tiered structure properly made of carved wood (which i am not too sure what it symbolises but for a commoner, a 5-tiered structure are normally prepared for this sad occasion).
The tour ended about 5.30pm and we wrapped the day with a 90 minutes body massage at the hotel spa at night followed by dinner from Mc Donald’s.

The Villa

Villa Victoria
We checked out from Abian Biu Residence and moved to Villa Victoria on the fourth day. We decided to experience the Villa as it was the popular mode of stay when you travel to Bali. Since staying at the villa is pricey, it’s only wise to stay in and chill to make every cent/second worth. Hehe. The place was introduced by a friend of mine, Harry (bukan nama sebenar) who went in May and said that it was beyond doubt a whole new experience and we thought we ought to try it! The villa was very private, stunningly done and of course, very comfy. The design was a mix of traditional Balinese and modern, with a private swimming pool, an open-air kitchen and rest area, a huge bath, a plasma TV complete with the DVD player and a very comfy bed that puts me to sleep every few minutes, no kidding! I had to stay away from the bed to prevent myself from dozing off! My fellow traveller really enjoyed the dip and spent hours in the pool. There was a food delivery guide provided by the villa that enabled us to order in Mid Eastern food from Queen’s Tandoor (something like our D’Tandoor) for dinner besides Mc Donald’s (again) the next day. The food was good (at last!).

The extend - Kuta on Day 5

Kuta Beach
We woke up rather behind schedule the next day and decided to take one last plunge before breakfast. I had started packing and it was heartbreaking that we only had a couple of hours before leaving. And then while having breakfast he said to me “why don’t we stay another day?” So that’s how it was decided. Since we travelled on concession tickets, the extension was not a problem. We visited Kuta at about 5pm, and saw the sunset (yup, another one) by the beach. We plan to look for a nasi padang restaurant but we changed our mind as soon as we got to the place. It looked pretty unconvincing and we didn’t want to risk having diarrhoea again. Not much shopping were done at Kuta. We were merely checking out the much talked about place that was very crowded and didn’t quite fancy it (like i said, we are an un-happening pair). But we did purchase quite a number of DVDs that we watched back at the villa as they cost only RM4 per piece! We took the flight at 2.30pm the next day and i get to try out the nasi kedewataan (plain rice served with veggie, fried chicken, fried anchovies and peanuts with a special extra hot sauce) at the airport before leaving Bali. Very yummy!
[Useful Tip: Be sure to search as many alternative and choices possible for place of stay and the tour packages. I highly recommend booking online as you can get very good prices and discounts too ;)].
p.s: Thanks Harry for the tip-off on the villa. We really loved it there!


peachy said...

wah bestnye pi cuti cuti pantai..beach holidays top my destination list! hehe..

btw, emil ckp dia feel cheated mamil x p zufa nye aqiqah :p

AZRA said...

haha.. ckp kat emil, sorry. Bukan x nak p, tapi tak jumpa jalan nak p..

nways, x dpt aku nak dgr cita cuti2 italy ko! :(


wah! must go there nnt. it's obviously much more 2 xplore in bali bile bc your lengthy entry. best best!

mummy+son+dotter said...

the scenery is so breathtaking!! i shud seek for ur advice if i ever wana go to bali! hehehe.. bley ke? :P

n ur stories... i can feel as if m there while reading it. why dont u try to write a novel sementara stil tanam anggur ni? :)

AZRA said...

i loved it there! except the makan part.. if it werent for the tours, surely we wud hv gotten a good nasi padang place. but it's ok. u can't win them all, can u?

Mum+son+dotter, of course u can askme stuff about Bali.. (tak bole apa pulak, kan.. hehe). But am no expert.

Well, the 6 day tale was a long one, i know. Hehe.. but a novel?? hmm.. i don't know. That involves creative writing.. i don't know if i cud pull that one off modestly, if not nicely. Though it did cross my mind a few occasions.. maybe it will remain quixotic.. but who knows? maybe one day.. we'll see :D

pure_evs said...

wow.... love the detailed Bali story... Keep it up babes! (since we hardly see each other now to give each other updates) we can blog about it lah huh!

Lady Q said...

thx babe.. yeah i need updates from u too! I'm on msn now.. hurry get online!

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