Sunday, October 30, 2011

Bali Bali Bali; baci baci baci!

Hi guys! I just returned from a week-long holiday in Bali, it was totally relaxing and I feel so refreshed and prepared right now to take on whatever challenges life throws me next. I didn't read or watch Eat Pray Love, but honestly I really loved Bali, everything was inexpensive (do try to bargain down the already-affordable prices) and if I ever get my own apartment in the future, I'd go back to Bali and ship back all the cool furniture/decor. They have awesome carved wood decorations, kitschy mosaic decorations, beautiful dollhouses and carved birdcages which I saw a Caucasian man carrying at the airport. Ok, enough words - deluge of photos!
My carry-on and my Rilakkuma! XD I brought just a tiny haversack and this Fila bag.
We stayed in this Green Garden Hotel in Kuta for 2 nights. I didn't really like Kuta - too frenetic and too close to the airport, and too commercialised.
Kuta beach - the black sand was so hot!
We got a 4 hour spa package at Febri's Spa which is at Febri's Hotel (still affordable but you could get cheaper options at non-hotel places) and got manicures and pedicures. Beware that couple's packages where you're in the same room means you'll be seeing each other naked and you'll be in the same bath or showering together, so don't opt for that if you're not comfy! Otherwise, you could request for a separate room (if they allow it). Service is really good, the manicurists were really eager to practise their nail art. They don't use salon-brand polishes (instead they use local brand or Revlon), but it's fine with me because it's pretty cheap.
Then we moved to Ubud (further away from the airport, less commercialised and more cultural area) and stayed at Tegal Sari for a night.
It's so cool they have an open-air gym area. All the hotels we stayed at had beautiful pools, but they're all too small for proper swimming. I swam every day though. Isn't that a beautiful lotus flower? It was open when I saw it at around 9 am in the morning and took this photo, but by the time we finished breakfast and went there for a swim at 10 am, it had closed!
Looking for Eat Pray Love-type inner peace? Look no further... (no I didn't do any of that energy psychology thing, too gimmicky).
We had lunch at a restaurant called The Pond. And it overlooks... a pond. If you notice, the fountain is made up of statues of little boys peeing into the pond. Disturbing much? :P
We passed by lots of pretty shops and an open field where kids were playing. I found it so interesting that stores for 'modern' brands like Billabong and Crocs had traditional rooftops. And everywhere, in front of stores, restaurants, hotels and even on the cruise ship we went on, there were offerings put out for the spirits. Apparently almost all Balinese are Hindu and they are obviously very religious.
We went to the Monkey Forest and visited the Temple of the Dead inside. The monkeys are kinda scary though. If you buy bananas and give them to the monkeys, they might follow you and lift up your clothes to look for more. We witnessed monkeys pouncing on tourists, and saw a little boy crying because he was bitten by a monkey. Poor thing, but a park ranger said there was a clinic at the forest for such cases. We also saw lots of mother monkeys with babies, like the second photo.
We made our way to the Ubud Palace where there is a Balinese dance performance every Monday at 7.30pm.
Don't you think it's interesting they don't allow women in temples if they're having their period?
We went to a compound overlooking a beautiful lotus pond which is shared by a Starbucks and a restaurant called Cafe Lotus. Cafe Lotus was very popular and fully booked, it really requires reservations for dinner because people dine and watch the Balinese dance at the stage in the middle of the pond. It costs US$10 to watch the dance in the middle of the pond so if you have dinner at Cafe Lotus or buy a drink at Starbucks, you can watch from afar and save some money.

Balinese dance is very interesting, it is very grounded and I noticed lots of the dancers have flat feet, I wonder if it's a consequence of the groundedness of the dancing. They also emphasise on facial expressions and eye movements which are honestly quite creepy, they could glare very pointedly in one direction and suddenly look elsewhere. The dance was accompanied by a gamelan (a mini-orchestra) with drums, bamboo xylophones and a bamboo flute. I found the pitch of the bamboo flute a little off compared to the xylophones, like they're not in tune, so it was a little jarring. I wonder if it's the nature of the instruments that causes it, maybe it's not possible to tune their instruments like Western musical instruments.
We spent 2 nights at a villa in Ubud called Agung Khalia. It's beautiful and right next to paddy fields. We had our own pool and napped at the platform next to the pool.
We saw an ox which was very reluctant to cross the ditch. Its owner whacked it noisily with a stick of leaves, poor thing! I like the sound of the bell tied around its neck, it's a dull sound with very little resonance and sounds very meditative, like a monk striking a wooden semantron.
We had drinks and played with pool toys. Pretty awesome.
This kitty is so cute!
We went white water rafting at Telaga Waja river (it's level 3/4 with a 4 metre drop - awesome!) and climbed up a million stairs after to get this scenery.
We stayed at Amadea Resort in Seminyak (near Kuta, but more expensive and upmarket) for 2 nights. It's pretty and all, but it seems all its rooms are designed for romantic getaways. My room had a glass window at the shower, while one of the other rooms had a bathroom door with a glass panel running vertically down, so you can see into the bathroom. Seriously. So you can see we got housekeeping to tape up a curtain to give us some privacy. The hilarious thing was, right after I finished showering and exited the bathroom, the curtain totally fell off because the tape wasn't sticky enough. Lol!
We visited Tanah Lot, a 'floating' temple because of the moat around it at high tide. It was low tide when we were there so we made a donation and got blessed with holy water.
We went on a cruise to the Nusa Lembongan island. It was pretty expensive to me, but we noticed Caucasians paid more than we Asians did, so you know, you gotta haggle a little. It was fun, we went snorkelling, banana boating, kayaking and snorkelling. Also went on water slides and got a ride on the glass bottomed boat (what a snooze). Then we went to the island and got a village tour where I bought a handmade shawl (we saw them making it using a loom and all) for US$6.50. One takes about 2 weeks or more to make, and the one I chose had quite intricate details (you can't tell from the photo, but there are faint floral designs on the pink part of the cloth, so it isn't just plain pink). So gorgeous.

I liked the village tour, it was quite informative. There are like 7,000 people on the island and they harvest seaweed for a living. We saw the village cemetery, the graves have umbrellas over them. Apparently they bury the dead, and when the family gets enough money, they'll dig up the bodies again and hold elaborate ceremonies before cremating them. One cremation costs about 100 million rupiah because they slaughter lots of animals, and as it's so expensive, families who can't afford it will wait and they'll gather about 20-30 bodies for cremation all at one go with the same ceremony.

One creepy thing though, they say black magic used to be performed on the island, but hey, Bali is full of such mysticism and that makes it all the more interesting.
All in all, a really enjoyable and relaxing trip! Everyone says 7 days is a lot for Bali, but it's really not. I had so much fun, and at night we drank and played Saboteur. (Oh and Bali peanuts are good, get the deshelled ones in the plastic packets. There are also those fried with garlic, look for 'bawang putih' in the ingredients.) I also bought some handmade soap and other interesting things in Bali. It was a super affordable journey, including airfare and hotel accommodation, I think I spent only about 700 USD? Awesome, right? And the people are so nice.

I'll be doing a mini-giveaway soon with some stuff I purchased from Bali! Stay tuned~


Yumeko said...

wow tat looks so much fun!!

Anonymous said...

Bali looks amazing I wanna go some day!! Looked like you had a fab time!


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