Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Birthday Trip to Bali | Things to do when in Bali




Image from Google

Holaaaa~ I am finally back from all my travelling and yes, I am determined to update my blog as promised on my travelventures. First up, this post will be on my trip to Bali. It was a birthday gift to me, and I chose Bali as I've always wanted to visit for the longest time ever.

Bali is a popular choice of holiday destination for not only Asians but westerners as well. It's pristine beaches and all day round relax ambience makes it a perfect place for many to de-stress and chill while they watch the world go by. Bali is also popular for its natural scenery and night life scene. And it is relatively cheap to fly to and spend your long weekends living like a King with the low rupiah rate [Sgd to Indonesian rupiah (idr) is approx S$1: Idr 9700].



Day 1 - 9th January
We booked our flights with AirAsia for S$398 in total for 2 of us and jetted off in the morning of 9th January (which is my actual birthday btw)... Oh yes, I've heard that taxi from the Ngurah Rai airport charges a surcharge and some operators are quite sly. Be sure to always take BlueBird taxi as they are the most reliable, and they run by meter. Airport taxis are monopolized by one company (not quite sure which, but some say Koperasi Jasa Angkutan Taxi Ngurah Rai Bali) and BlueBirds are not allowed to pick up passengers from the airport, they are only allowed to drop off and leave. So we tried something crazy; we walked out to the main road with our luggage. I wouldn't suggest doing that as there's no smooth pavement at all, and it is quite messy. Walked for nearly 1 hr into the nearby town, and we got one of the shop owners to ring a cab for us. I've realized too, that the Sim card that was sold at this town/near airport are ridiculously expensive!!!! If my memory didn't fail me, one standard sim card cost Idr 250k (approx S$25)!! We figured that we could try our chances somewhere in the heart of town and we were right, a sim card with ample data (we didn't finish using the data at all, bought 1 card to hotspot among the 2 of us) only cost us Idr 65k in the city.........
Walked till we finally reached the nearest town

The cab ride to our villa was about 30min, and it cost us Idr70k. We found our villa on Agoda, though it is slightly further out from the city, it only cost us S$128 in total for 3 nights, and its a decent 1 bedroom villa with our own private pool. Name of our villa is Karana Villa and it is located at Jl. Padang Kartika, Denpasar Bar., Kota Denpasar, Bali, Indonesia. It is a small compound (approx 5 villas altogether), with a very young manager on site with 3 helpers, all of whom live on site. Very helpful chaps, and efficient too. Here's how our villa looks like....



Straight after checking in, we changed and set off to Ayana Resort, Rock Bar. And why head there? Only for the amazing view! Ayana Resort is a 5 star resort and I believe it is a popular wedding destination too. They definitely do live up their name for having amazing views, even the resort grounds is beeeeeaaaautiful.



Prices at Rock Bar are no doubt more expensive than most bars in Bali, almost comparable to singapore prices. We were there with an indonesian pricing mindset, so it didn't appeal to us. However, the service was really good. Everyone sat outside near the rock falls, and they provided umbrellas to shield us from the piercing scorching sun. View was super good, and the breeze was shiok! We ordered an assortment of tapas to share, a bottle of Smirnoff green apple and a cocktail for Idr 442k. If you convert it to Sgd, this small "teabreak" cost us $44. I guess I paid for the view and service. 


Black umbrella provided to guests at Rock Bar



After finishing our high tea, we set off for Jimbaran beach in a bid to catch our sunset dinner. Though Ayana and Jimbaran beach are pretty close by, the heavy traffic and our cab driver constantly trying to take a longer route resulted in the fare amounting to Idr 50k. During the ride, we said that we were going to Jimbaran beach for dinner, but he kept telling us that to go this other restaurant called Jimbaran Seafood for the besttttt seafood experience. I've read online that cab drivers try to bring you elsewhere so that they get a commission whenever they bring a customer over, and they would wait there for you to finish your meal and then open a price and send you back to your hotel. I insisted that I wanted to go Jimbaran Beach and he acted blur and said where Jimbaran beach? Which part Jimbaran beach, tell me exactly where. -.- Oh please, I am sure he knows exactly where the seafood operators are at...... Thankfully we had help from Google Map and located a restaurant along the stretch, so we guided him towards it. Anyway, he wasn't pleased when he dropped us off at our destination and still insisted that he could bring us to the place he knows for good seafood. whatever, buzz off.

Various seafood operators

Popular restaurant

The thing with Jimbaran seafood dinner is that EVERYONE is selling the same thing. Everyone sells the same experience (dining on the beach), same seafood (bbq seafood), only difference is price. You can pick and choose your own catch but it may cost more, depending on the weight of it. There are the more famous places like Menega Cafe, but we chose this place called Rame.



The set that we ordered was pretty decent so we went ahead with Rame. Cost us Idr 367k for this plate of seafood, a big bucket of rice, soft drinks and 3-4 bottles of beer. I would say the food is quite average, some of the food are slightly charred, but the ambience is fantastic. I'd definitely recommend coming here for a dinner experience.



I've always been a beach-y person, and I liked everything to be associated with the water and/or sand. Seafood dinner by the beach was one of those things that I dig. Besides, it was my birthday that day, so this is my celebratory kind of dinner. With toes wriggling in the sand, watching the sun set and the sky turn from light blue to crimson and dark, and random people going from table to table to sing for you. When night falls, and the tide came in, you could see diners chasing after their slippers that are washed away by the waves. hahaa such a great experience to be dining there. But be careful of the stalls who try to cheat your money. Always ask for the price first before going in. If this stall isn't suitable, there's plenty! Did I mention that every sight is so instagram-worthy?


Our table right infront of the beach



As the sun starts the set, the sky turned crimson colour and photos are just so pretty!




Compare this photo and the first one from this section. Same malay lady, but totally different atmosphere with the sun setting



High tide at night, even washes up right next to your feet

Dinner ended on a high note, Lots of people and music by night fall, and we even got ourselves a huge corn for only S$1! Called it an early night as we had to wake up early for our Sunrise Mount Batur climb the next day.


Expenses for the day:
Flight (Air Asia) : $398
Villa Accom (3D2N): $128
Taxi fares (total for the day): Idr 370k
F&B: Idr 893k
Sim Card: Idr 65k


Day 2 - 10th Jan
Highlight of our trip: Mount Batur Hike. There are plenty of packages available online, with the choice of customization. Some climb Mount Batur, and head to the hot springs or coffee plantation after the climb. For us, we wanted to do the Mount Batur climb and white water rafting afterwards. Thanks to Ivy Goh who was there previously, she passed me her contact for the Batur climb. Mr Nyoman (If you'd like Mr Nyoman's contact, feel free to contact me), arranged for the 2 of us to do Mount Batur climb, together with white water rafting at River Ayung (and lunch provided), complete with transfers to and fro, for USD138 (approx Idr 1.9mil) altogether. Operators doing Mount Batur calculate prices in Usd, and then based on their conversion rate, you can choose to pay them in Idr or stick to Usd. We figured it was quite a catch and everything could be completed within the day, plus they ferried us from hotel to mountain, then mountain to river, and river to hotel. But, bear in mind, it is no easy feat. After climbing the mountain, your legs would be dead sore and then you'll have to row and raft for the next 3hrs..... *Not for the faint heart.


Our driver picked us up at 130am and we set off towards the mountain. Over at the base, there's plenty of other climbers there already, and we all had pancakes and coffee for breakfast. About 330am, we started our climb with a group. All climbers MUST be accompanied by a mountain guide, so it is essential for tourists who want to climb Mount Batur to buy a package like what we did. The tour package will include the mountain guide and you will most likely be sharing the mountain guide with several others. Mountain guide:climbers - 2:10. But everyone is climbing up at the same time, so don't worry that you're left behind. There will definitely be others behind you, and the mountain guides all work together. This climb was exhausting, but boy was the view exhilarating!!!! We arrived up the mountain pretty early, and everyone had their cameras all whipped out already. The sun slowly broke the surface and it was such a beautiful sight.




Check out the amount of climbers, all crowding at the meeting point to take photos





After phototaking, our guide went to make breakfast for us all. The backpack that they carried with them contains our breakfast, which they single-handedly carried up the mountain, while assisting the weaker climbers up. I spoke with my guide and found out that she's a mother of two. She wakes up early in the morning to do this mountain guide job then goes back to her home and off to work. The guides are paid a standard amount from the guide association, so even though tours charge high rate, the guides don't get a single cent from them. We tipped her a little after finishing our descent as she was really sweet and helpful :)

Next stop; River Ayung for white water rafting! We arrived slightly late due to Mount Batur climb but still in time to join the group for rafting. We made 2 friends from our mountain climb and they were keen to join us for our river rafting. So i contacted Mr Nyoman and he made arrangements to get them on the schedule for rafting. Got to the raft shop, collected our gear, took an entire plastic bag of water (they provided it for free!) and hopped onto the truck that brought us to the starting point of rafting. Upon reaching the forested area, we had to climb DOWN to the river point, and it felt like Mount Batur all over again..........


Once everyone was loaded into the raft, we set off for our 2.5hrs-3hrs rafting experience. The two china guys behind us were freaking hilarious!!! They were absolute clowns, though they tried their best at rafting but most of the time, they tried to make each other fall over the raft. Along the way, we would stop at nice waterfalls to take photos or to swim with the currents , but with water around, our photo turned out like this.....


Rafting was fun, but tiring since everyone had to paddle. Occasionally when you spot other rafters in the area, you can't resist to splash tons of water at them and it soon resulted in a water war. It was a good 3hrs under the sun and we got so burnt. Our reward? A sumptuous spread of indonesian cuisine. Yummmmmmy! It was a buffet selection of 5 dishes and I'm positive everyone had 2 - 3 servings.... The rafting shop also had showers for customers to utilize, but they're cold.... By the time we finished our lunch, our driver was already on standby to send us back to our hotel. It was a long drive back since Ayung is quite far out from Denpasar.

Went back home to shower and changed, left to explore Seminyak! One of my uni mates had recommended Seminyak for cafes and nice food, so we decided to follow suit. But first, a full body massage is required to ease those muscles from half day of extreme exercise. Chanced upon a decent massage parlour in Seminyak, with the price of Idr 180k for full body massage for 2, so no further hesitation required. Window shopped around for awhile before deciding on a western restaurant, Rumours, for dinner.



Ordered Scallop pasta and steak and surprisingly, the food was sooooo delish!!! The amount of scallops given was generous too!



Our total bill (incl beers) amounted to Idr 217k, which only cost approx S$22! Super worth it to be paying that price and walking out with satisfied tummies. 


Expenses for the day:
Mount Batur + Rafting: Idr 1.9mil
Taxi: Idr114k
F&B: Idr217k
Massage: Idr180k


Day 3 - 11th Jan
Both of us are adrenaline junkies, and we especially like to visit theme parks, water parks in particular.  Waterbom is a world class water theme park, filled with exciting slides and rides. Moreover, it has been voted #1 water theme park in Asia, as per Trip Advisor. We previously saw videos and photos of the park, and made it a point to visit when we're there. Entrance tickets for both of us cost Idr 863k, which is approx S$45 each. Slightly pricey but we figured its quite a norm price for all water theme parks around the world.

Image from Google
 One bad thing about Waterbom is that, it is superrrrrrrrr crowded!!! By the time we reached to the top to begin our ride, we were completely dried... But the rides were pretty exciting. I even got stuck in the Pipeline ride, y'know those where you stand in a cubicle and fear for your life as they count down..... But in my opinion, that was the most horrific ride, and another cubicle tube-like ride from a higher drop...
Pipeline. Image from Google


Lazy river for lazy people like us



We spent about half a day there (9am-2pm), didn't stay too long as we had a whole day of activities planned. Next, we headed to Kuta beach for surfing. Once you step onto the beach, you'll see plenty of surfboards for rental and everyone will be touting for business. The sand was extremely burning hot, so we settled for a reasonably priced surfboard rental operator. We thought we could do it by ourselves and didn't get the school lesson. #actpro Rented 2 surfboards for 1hr each at Idr 60k in total, so cheap it only cost S$6 for 2 surfboards. What we did was simply mimicking others! We stayed close to those newbie surfers with a surf instructor beside them and we learnt from what they were doing. I know, super cheapo but hey we saved alot. Plus both of us can wakeboard and I can flowride, so we figured it should be somewhat similar....  Surfing was TIRING, like exhausting! 30min in to surfing and we were sooooo pumped out.


there she goes.........




By the end of 1hr, we both managed to stand and surf for a short distance. #missionaccomplished  No more sports for the day, we had enough... Our next stop of the day is Potato Head!!!!! I was so excited to go Potato head cause I heard so so so much about it. It's a really cool chillax pool club, with swim up pool bar, accompanied by great views by the beach side. 








We ordered 2 drinks (Idr 230k), and relaxed by the pool while watching sunset. you'll find lots of foreigners present here, most of them are here for the same reason as us.... 




Didn't stay here for too long as we wanted to grab dinner before heading home. Left shortly after the sun set and headed out for our din din! Since Babi Guling was highly recommended by our peers, we went on a hunt and managed to chance upon a little cafe somewhere in Kuta. 



Decent meal of goreng, guling and drinks, and it cost us Idr 178k (approx S$18). Since we had to digest the food in our tummies, we went for a walk at the various night markets. I have no idea how we ended up there, but we just roamed around Kuta area. Did majority of my shopping here, and stuff are super cheap!! My favourite buy is a floral romper for only S$6!! But then again, with the price that you are paying, don't expect high quality clothes.. 


Expenses for the day:
Activities: Idr 940k
F&B: Idr 460k
Shopping: Idr 280k




Day 4 - 12th Jan
This was the end of our trip, but since our flight was not until mid afternoon, we decided to leave the water sports to the morning of this day. There are various water sports outlets in Bali, but majority of the sports operate at Tanjong Benoa Beach. I've also read that it is best to do water sports in the morning as the tides are favourable. Plus, we only had the morning to do the remaining of our activities. I did some research online for water sports, Tanjong Benoa has the cheaper options. My advice is: know the rough pricing of the water sports you intend to do and go down to the beach to source for deals. At the same time, don't get "chopped" by operators there as they REALLY know how to chop tourists. 

While doing my research, I came across Aditya Water Sports and I believe they have 2 outlets on 2 different beaches. When I arrived at Tanjong Benoa, lots of operators began touting. Their prices are absurd! For 2-3 activities, prices can go up to millions (Idr)! I had a rough idea of which sports I wanted to do and the prices as well, so I took that as a gauge for haggling. We wandered from operator to operator and I chanced upon Aditya Water Sports stall. Initially, they opened their price for us to do 3 water sports. Thankfully, with my great negotiation skills and ample research on hand, I managed to haggle to a lower price than advertised online since we drove there ourselves. p.s. their online prices include a 2 way land transfer. We had Banana boat, flying fish and Parasailing for 2 pax at Idr 650k (approx S$67). I remember my brother & his wife went Bali previously and they paid for an "alacarte" price for 2 different water sports, both of which added up together is more than what I paid for for the 2 of us this time.


In my opinion, banana boat is only average, not quite worth the amount spent. They'd bring you for 2 rounds and the guy in charge will sit upfront, constantly bouncing and try to make the ride more fun or even tip the whole banana boat over.... But, flying fish was fun!!! You'll lie flat on this inflatable float and the staff will hop onboard by standing right above you. Once the boat moves and pulls you above sea level, the staff will move from left to right to tilt the fish for more movement. And yes, he literally climbs across you.... It's quite scary to see them moving around without any harness, and we are quite high above sea level..... #welltrained

Image from Google
It was my first time at parasailing; I've always wanted to give it a try. Trust me, the view is sooooo good, its really exhilarating. But it only lasted for like 5-10min.... And while you're up in the sky, you can clearly see soooo many parasailers within the area too. hahahaa! They'd give you a blue and red (pink) glove to wear on each hand. When you're about to descend, they'll raise a coloured flag and shout through the loudhailer for you to pull on either the left/right side, whichever side that corresponds to the colour. E.g. blue flag raised: pull left side, red flag raised: pull right side. I've heard previously that you'd have to be of a certain weight category (something like below 55kg), if not you'll not be allowed to fly solo. However, I didn't encounter that at all during my visit, I flew solo!
Waiting for my turn to go at Parasailing
When we were done with our water sports activities, it was nearly time for us to return back to our villa, pack up and leave for the airport. Along the way, we got stopped by "traffic police". This is damn ridiculous, they only stop foreigners. And we were riding, so he requested to see our international license. Long story cut short, we weren't allowed to leave if we didn't pay him some fee so he wouldn't report us. Cost us Idr 500k to be on our way, so we wouldn't be late... Thinking back, we shouldn't have paid him anything, just let him report us.... #lessonlearnt  Tsk tsk. Anyway, we managed to stop by some surf brands and did some last min shopping before heading back.

Oh yes, at the beginning of our 3rd day, we figured that paying for taxi is amounting to at least 1/4 or more of our expenses, so we decided to rent a scooter. Our villa manager managed to get a scooter rental from his contacts, and it only cost us Idr 120k for 2 days. We pumped a full tank of petrol amounting to Idr 50k, and at the end of the 2 days, it was only half used. We could have saved even more if we rented a scooter from the beginning, but then again, it takes great riding skills to be able to ride the crazy traffic at Bali.


Expenses for the day:
Activities: Idr 650k
F&B: Idr 250k
Transport (Bike, petrol, toll, police fine): Idr 638k
Taxi to airport: Idr 100k
Shopping: Idr 300k


*********************************

Nonetheless, it was a great trip to Bali, and I wouldn't mind going back again to explore the other places which I didn't visit. So all in all, we spent a total of Idr 7.5mil, which is equivalent to S$1,337 for 2 person, over a span of 3d2n. Not too bad considering flights already cost like S$200 each...


Stay tuned for more!

xoxo,
Chye



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