Bali, Indonesia 2008

Bali | 15.03.08

Day 1 – Arrival in Denpasar airport after a 2.5 hours flight from Singapore. Then off with a cab to our hotel La Taverna in Sanur for the 5D4N trip. With our little Jojo on board with us, plus no. 2 in the tummy, we had to take things a little slower. After checking in and experiencing the warmth and hospitality of the hotel staff, we headed to the beach restaurant for dinner. No time to explore other options. Food was mainly western since this was an Italian themed menu. As it was Saturday, there was a live band playing dedications going around to every table. Food and atmosphere was nice but food rather pricey. Actually found out later that ALL food is pricey in this touristy island.

Bali | 16.03.08

Today after a hearty breakfast at hotel, we requested for a room change to the first floor. The hotel staff were very accommodating and both rooms were big and nicely decorated in Balinese style. Found out that La Taverna was the first hotel in Sanur and has a history of about 50 years. The concierge Encik Erik also gave us some recommendations on where we could go, which was pretty much in line with what I had planned.

So we booked for a driver to bring us around in his mini-bus for 1.5 days at US$100. After settling this, we took a short walk to have a look see at Sanur town. It was a blistering hot walk and very soon I was pretty much done. There’s really nothing to see and shop in this part of town since I was not much into souvenirs.

There’s a more shady walkway through the tree-lined avenue along the beach but we didn’t manage to try that out. Around mid-afternoon, we were introduced to our driver who then took us southwestwards to the temple overlooking the Uluwatu cliffs. The sights was amazing!

The sheer cliff walls and the thunderous blue waves crashing against them. It was also near sunset so the sky was bathed in hues of blue and orange. Nice breeze too. This is a place worth visiting although have to be careful of the monkeys.

Then we headed to Jimbaran Beach for the over-stated seafood dinner by the beach. While the food was ok, the price was too expensive for me. The views of the sunset over the horizon was hard to forget though.

Bali | 17.03.08

Today’s schedule was packed. Right after breakfast, we hopped onto the chartered mini-bus and headed north towards Ubud. There was so much said in the books about the arts & craft of Bali, I had to see it for myself. In the order of Batubulan (stone), Celuk (silver) and Mas (wood), we stopped to look at some of the many family businesses.

Bought a batik shirt for Joel and a silver cross pendent for myself. While the wood carvings were really nice, there was really no room for us to buy any back. The prices were not much of a bargain. Being the traditional Balinese though, they are rather superstitious to insist on you buying something if you are their first customer, willing to cut their prices a bit more than the usual.Have to be brave to just walk out if the prices just don’t cut it.

After that we headed north to Gunung Datur to see a live volcano and the views. It was a spectacular sight since we could see the whole panoramic scene spread before us without having to climb all the way to the top. There was a crater lake and lava fields but we did not make it down there.

After that, Joel took a nap so we missed the infamous Elephant Safari Park but headed for two historical sights – Pura Tirta Empul (water palace) & Gunung Kawi. At the latter site, we had to climb down a flight of 200+ steep steps with no railings to reach into a valley where the attraction was 10 huge stone carvings etched into the valley walls dated 11th century.Don’t know what they were for but it was quite out the world being there, like in an Indiana Jones movie.

Towards evening, we went to Ubud to shop around before going to Petulu to see a white herons sanctuary where apparently thousands of white herons roost there every night. We waited for about an hour and saw steady streams of herons but I was kinda expecting to see this ‘cover the sky’ flock. Nah. Dinner was at Bebik Bengill in Ubud, great ambience and food at good prices.

Bali | 18.03.08

What’s a vacation without a little R&R? So today we decided to take it easy since the only other place I wanted to see Jatiluwih was a 3 hours drive away just for some paddy field terrace and we agreed that it wasn’t worth the trip.

In the morning we took a soak in the beach strewn with little bits of coral. There were little fishes in the water wherever we went. The sand was burning hot by the time we got out.

After that we explored a bit more of Sanur but very soon got too tired. With the recommendations of the our driver, we went to this massage parlor just down the road to have a full body massage, wrap and rose petal bath for 1.5 hrs. I also opted for the first pedicure in my whole life. The whole treatment for Theo and myself cost us about S$50 – 60, which was cheap!

The only cheap thing thus to boast about. Later in the evening after taking a nap, we hired a driver to bring us into Kuta town to have a taste of the night scene and to check out the bomb sight in 2002. It was definitely more happening here than in Sanur and there’s a Hard Rock Cafe too where we didn’t hesitate to pick up some memorabilia.

Bali | 19.03.08

This morning I wanted to check out the local market to see if there was any souvenirs I could get for my colleagues. Sadly the experience was quite sour. I ended up being the first customer in two shops and was somehow ‘persuaded’ to buy something from the shop, things I didn’t really need/want at prices I didn’t agree with but felt too obliged to buy.

So at the end, we just went back to the hotel to lick our ‘wounds’. In conclusion, Bali is an island very much linked to it Hindu heritage. The people are generally friendly, in my opinion, being at least 80% employed in the tourism industry. As such, the place is too pricey and commercialised to be enjoyable.

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