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Bali Trip Report, 2nd June - 10th June 2006

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Bali Trip Report, 2nd June - 10th June 2006

2.6. – 3.6. Flight and Arrival

Our flights were all with Malaysia Airlines, this flight LHR – KL was a 747-400 seat configuration 3-4-3, (12 hrs); I have to say their service is quite exceptional! The seats are huge (34” = a lot of leg room), each seat has its own entertainment system & screen and you have a choice of approx 30 films (mixture of genres, new and “classics”, eg King Kong, Firewall, Godfather, Joe Black, Pianist, animated, etc), 10 general TV channels (Friends, Planet Earth etc), radio and text news, flight information and approx. 50 games. The food was very tasty and drinks are free, including alc.

We had to catch our connecting flight from KL to Denpesar leaving at 9.50am so we had plenty of time and had a bite to eat at the airport. Our flight to Bali took 3 hours on A 330-300 (2-4-2), no TV but again plenty of leg room. We had a nice view of the islands surrounding Singapore and also when passing Java we saw Mt. Merapi puffing out several black clouds! Quite scary actually…

3.6. Bali Tropic Resort & Spa

Arrived on time and in sunshine, we didn’t experience any problems with luggage or customs, the queues weren’t too bad and in half an hour we were out of the airport. The staff from Bali Tropic Resort & Spa was already waiting for us, we were escorted to the taxi and taken to Tanjung Benoa (Nusa Dua).

This was our home for the first 3 nights. We received a free upgrade from deluxe room to Royal suite! Amazing room with four-poster large bed, TV, large bath and shower room. Rooms/blocks are mainly made of wood/stone/slate, with lots of water features. The Hotel Spa is average/good, although expensive. The hotel has a jungle feel, the gardens are very lush and well looked after, everyone is always smiling and polite. When we arrived we were so shattered we only managed to go to the beach where we fell asleep for a few hours – luckily in the shade… We went for walk on the beach but returned back after a little while, some people said that the beach here is better than the Caribbean beaches … NO WAY! The staff are doing what they can to make the beach area look nice but when closer to the water the beach becomes quite rough (coral) underfoot and it’s quite painful to walk on. However we expected this plus we went to Bali to see other things. We wanted to go out for dinner but ended up staying at the hotel as we were really feeling the jet leg and wanted an early night. The dinner at our hotel was very good and quite cheap, at least considering it was in a hotel (approx Rp 150,000 ($15) for 2 + non-alc. drinks).

Weather – sunny all day.

4.6. Nusa Dua, Uluwatu, Kecak dance

Our second day in Bali was supposed to be relaxing so that we can prepare for all the forthcoming traveling, we had breakfast – quite nice selection, but then we caught the exploring bug and walked to the local part of Nusa Dua village (note not the enclosed purpose-built tourist part). About 4km all the way through, too far for the 1st day!

After, we arranged a trip with our hotel to Uluwatu Temple & to see the Kecak dance for the same evening, a driver & guide for 4hrs (RP 300,000 ($30)), much too expensive in hindsight. Uluwatu is very nice; the setting is quite spectacular, there are a lot of monkeys that are quite aggressive and you really have to look after your things, people were getting their sunglasses stolen! 3 monkeys jumped on my husband and tried to steal his rucksack, luckily he thought it funny…!

Although it felt slightly like “ok all tourist come here and watch the dance”, the Kecak dance was actually quite impressive and interesting, but bear in mind you need to get there early to get the seats with the best views (i.e. no tourists in background (it’s a ¾ full, small amphitheatre), and backdrop of Uluwatu temple & sunset). We had our dinner at the hotel again, we were heading for Jimbaran Bay but ended up too tired!

Weather – sunny all day

5.6. Dean, Kuta, Bird Park, Ubud, Batur

On Monday after breakfast we had our first trip with Dean (Dean – Driver with Distinction) we started by driving to Kuta first and looked around the beach and the town, the memorial is touching.

Our next stop was the Bali Bird Park, we stayed for the bird show as well, not really worth it in hindsight but good for a few hours, especially with children (which we don’t have!).

On traveling towards Ubud we stopped for a break at a local village. The people were indescribably friendly and welcoming, and that includes the village men who were holding a cockfight on the main street. The children in this village, and as it turns out in all villages outside normal tourist runs, were incredibly curious and sweet, peeking over walls at the white people :-) (by the way, that’s meant in only the most positive of ways!). Throughout our stay in Bali we really did find everyone to be happy and kind, a cliché which in other countries hadn’t turned out to be true.

The traditional villages were very picturesque, with the bamboo sticks alongside roads hanging with offerings, and women with offerings balanced on their head. On the way to Ubud we passed shops at Tegallalang village (Ceking), which had absolutely lovely wooden carvings and are also very cheap, on account of the fact that no major tour operators take tourists there. We promised ourselves we would return on our very last day stop before leaving Bali, and I’ll just mention we had to buy a new suitcase and were 13kg over-weight on the flight home :-).

We stopped for lunch at Kampung Café, nr Ubud - Japanese restaurant, fantastic setting with views over rice fields, and the food was nicely presented and was so tasty and quite cheap! ~Rp170,000 ($17) for 3 people (Dean included, our offer) with non-alc. drinks. 10/10, with no hesitation. Sit downstairs, and they have traditional Japanese seating.

After lunch we moved onto Ubud, where there were further rice fields, but not as nice as the ones near Amed. We headed to Batur lake and the volcano, where we were very lucky apparently as the volcanoes are usually hidden in the mist and clouds but we had a clear view that day. The temple Puru Ulun Danu Batur at the top was completely empty apart from us (Dean provided sarongs). On our way back to our hotel we stopped at Gunung Kawi Tampaksiring temple, some local people were using the public baths there at that time so it was a bit embarrassing for us with cameras to be viewing the temple but they seemed quite amused by our shyness ;-)

We had dinner in Nusa Dua village, very nice but unfortunately can’t remember name. ~Rp130,000 ($13) for 2 with non-alc. Drinks.

Weather – sunny all day.

6.6. Ulun Ubud Resort & Spa, Ubud, Monkey Forest

In the morning after breakfast we were transferred to Ulun Ubud Resort & Spa, received complimentary drink of rice wine, was it rosé? Husband loved it but it’s strong! We had to wait 2 hours before our room was ready but it was worth it, the room was quite beautiful (Mattahari Suite # 302) with amazing views. The only let down is the bathroom, which is plastic and about 20 years old, but after all you don’t really spend that much time in there do you... The hotel seemed very empty, apparently they were almost full but at times it felt kind of spooky as if there were no other guests, we saw probably two other people at the lobby but that was it.

We had our lunch @ Ulun Ubud (just sandwiches) for convenience and then we took the free shuttle (0800-2300, flexible, Ubud area) Ulun Ubud provide to the Monkey forest - this is quite an amazing experience, all of a sudden you feel like you could be deep in a jungle in Borneo or Cambodia with the temples almost fully buried underneath the trees, the monkeys were quite calm but cheeky. If you go there, in the middle is a pathway and steps leading down to temples by a stream in a valley, definitely worth a look. There were lots of babies (monkey versions) and they were amusing.

From there we walked to Ubud town, there were performances on the stages in the ‘Town Hall’ and also in the Royal Palace. We went to look inside the Royal Palace as well, the contrast of old temple-style buildings with air-conditioning units and fish tanks on the outside is, erm, interesting. The Lotus Temple is right next door where we had a dinner at the Lotus Café, which overlooks the Temple and has shows 19:30 every Tue, Thurs, Sat & Sun @ RP50,000 ($5) for a front row table or just to watch, with a reservation required for after 6pm. BTW no beef is served due to the proximity to the temple, but the food was very nice (special spring rolls! Yum!) and cost under RP200,000 ($20) for 2 with alc. drinks).

It was such a nice evening and we wanted to walk back, well it was an adventure it took us round about 45 minutes to reach Ulun Ubud and it felt like being in the gym after a while as the pavements have high steps! Judging from the Hotel Staff’s reactions we were lucky to have escaped without being eaten by wild dogs, but more of danger for us seemed to be the pavement which has parts broken, leading to 1m drop down into the drainage system!

Weather – sunny all day.

7.6. Jatiluwih, Bratan, Git-Git,

For no extra charge we had our breakfast served on our balcony - really, it was bliss, the views, the morning sun... However we’ve experienced better breakfasts so that was a big disappointment especially we had a long trip ahead of us with Dean.

First we went to see Pura Taman Auyn in Mengwi – a very nice temple, we were the only visitors there, again! After we drove through rice fields at Jatiluwih, we stopped at Bedugul market but only bought presents for Dean’s best friends – wild monkeys on the road to Lake Bratan. They were very tame and let us feed them from our hands, and learn quick too! If you see them there standing at the side of the road, arms and legs outspread, it’s my husband’s doing, sorry! This was much better than buying over-priced bananas at Ubud Monkey Forest!

Then we drove to Bratan lake and Pura Ulun Danu Bratan, which was nice but touristy. Dean took us to a little local eatery called “Strawberry Stop”, it didn’t look the best I have to admit but the food was so nice and unbelievable cheap! (Rp 70,000 ($7) for 3 people). And we ate the best strawberry pancakes of our lives!! Then we continued to a view point in the hills above Lake Buyan where we rested and had a coffee, which was a nice cool area. On to Git-Git waterfall, which from the parking area was 1 km down steps (fine) and 1km back up steps (not fine!). Worth a visit, when we were there we saw precisely 2 other tourists the whole time.

On the way back to our hotel we witnessed 2 village temple ceremonies! Everybody was dressed in lovely dresses and the temples were decorated beautifully, the kids found us very funny, we took pictures and they happily posed for them and then we showed them the photos and they were laughing so much. It was a great experience, especially as it wasn’t “set-up” for tourists.

We went for a dinner in Ubud @ Café Wayan – amazing restaurant, beautiful setting, gorgeous food, incense and music. It has traditional Japanese or Western seating, and is “expensive” at Rp260,000 ($26) for 2 but well worth a visit.

Weather – sunny all day.

8.6. Padang Bai, Amed, Tirtagangga

After our not so nice breakfast, we set our third day with Dean – we visited a temple called Pura Kehen where again we were the only visitors apart from two local dogs. We drove through Klungkung on the way to Padang Bai where we stopped and went to spend few hours at the “Blue Lagoon”. This is a secluded cove, accessible only by foot over a hill, with a white-ish beach, 2 very cheap restaurants and maybe 5 other tourists! After we had our sun-bathing and Dean finished his Nap Time, we drove to Amed where on the way there are amazing vistas of mountains and rice fields, near Culik. We drove through Candidasa, on the road from here to Amed you can view the volcano Mt. Agung. We stopped at the Royal Gardens / Public Baths at Tirtagangga which have the most disgusting toilets I’ve used in my life! Otherwise a nice place!

In Amed we stopped by to be showed around the Anda Amed Resort, it is really lovely resort, they are expanding the resort, will also add spa. The infinity pool was amazing and has got nice sea views. The rooms are huge with a massive bed and the bathroom is gorgeous. We wished we could have stayed there…

Before sunset we stopped at the local Café Wayan in Amed (opposite a local warung) – it had only 5 tables and at under Rp 50,000 ($5) for 3 people you’d find it hard to complain, but I had the best Mie Goreng ever and my husband (& Dean) had the Chicken Curry, and also claims it was the best he ever had! Don’t be put off by the fact it’s a local eatery, it really was good and we would have gone back had we been staying in the area. We waited for the sunset near Amed on a view point overlooking the sea and the volcano in the background.

Weather – cloudy/rain in Ubud, sunny elsewhere.

9.6. Taro Elephants, Tegallalang (shopping), Tanah Lot, Jimbaran Bay

On our forth and last trip we took it a bit more leisurely, it was raining heavily in the early morning but it was quite beautiful to have breakfast again on the terrace with the rain. After half an hour it brightened up and we sunbathed for an hour or so by the pool. We met with Dean around 11am and we started off with the Elephant safari in Taro, this was supposed to be one of the highlights but well before the end of the 30 min ride around the man made park and pool we had had enough and felt uneasy. There was nothing to actually base our feelings on, and the riders/carers/staff do have a relationship with their elephants, but the elephants chained individually just didn’t look happy. They didn’t seem to be mis-treated at all but we left shortly after the “show” started as it reminded us of a circus. My friend visited a wild elephant camp in Sri Lanka and that was a totally different experience and environment. For the ride at Taro the published price was Rp 660,000 ($66) per person.

We wanted to do some shopping and Dean took us to Tegallalang, oh my god, we saw so many fantastic wood carvings at outstanding value! We were running around like crazy (not helped by the rain!), not knowing what to chose and buy first! Most of the 1m-high wooden masks were around Rp 20,000 ($2) opening-price, to give an idea of the values. We couldn’t believe the prices and this did unfortunately lead to some confusion, with my husband bargaining down a poor lady who was selling 4 incense stick packs from Rp 12,000 ($1.20) to Rp 10,000 ($1)… He says he thought it was Rp 100,000 ($10)... We bought lots… buying another suitcase at the Galleria Shopping Centre in Kuta, and also having Ulun Ubud package the larger carvings in order to get our spree home. I’m glad Dean took us there on our last day as I fear we would have to ship a large container back to the UK!!! ;-)

Lunch at Kampung Café again as we loved it so much the first time and then avoided the bad weather in Ubud by heading to Tanahlot where it was sunny and hot. Tanahlot is quite pretty, although crowded. We stayed for the sunset and headed to Jimbaran Bay for lobster and seafood dinner at “Jimbaran Bay Café, Bumbu Bali”. “Yummy” but also hugely expensive at Rp 890,000 ($89) although that included lobster, prawns, and squid.

10.6. Leaving Bali for KL :-(

On our last day we decided we had had enough of our Ulun Ubud breakfast and caught a shuttle to Ubud to have breakfast in Casa Luna – brilliant, plus tasty pancakes. Final shopping in Ubud and then we packed and set off for the airport for our flight to KL. :-(

Dean

Thank you Whinnie for recommending Dean to us, he made our trip absolutely unforgettable, he was so much fun to be with. He’s a very good driver and safe. He is very knowledgeable about Bali. He even bought us the fruit he couldn’t believe we have never eaten before ;-) There is simply too much to praise Dean’s service for, suffice to say he’s become a friend.

Bali - Go there! That’s it.

Many thanks for all the help from all members, specially Jade_du, we had a fantastic time.

If you have any questions please feel free to ask.

Katerina

Bali
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1. Re: Bali Trip Report, 2nd June - 10th June 2006

Did you put them in the Bali Overview? Click on the top left, so you could submit the photos of the hotels as well.

Looking forward to read your hotel review

Asia
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2. Re: Bali Trip Report, 2nd June - 10th June 2006

Hi Katerina!

Am glad that you had a great trip!

Dean brought us to Kampung Cafe and we liked it very much as well.

I laughed out loud when I read about the extra suitcase. I normally go to Bali with a very empty suitcase and come back with it full! This time we came back with a box of Jenggala Ceramics - not only all mine. I had a list from friends as well! I have to say that they packed the stuff really well and nothing got broken even though I had checked it in. I didn't buy much much this time. In fact, I was pretty restrained....I did check out quite a few villas though and my husband is all villa-ed out! ;-P

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3. Re: Bali Trip Report, 2nd June - 10th June 2006

Hi

Ersano, I will add reviews of all hotels soon and also attach photos soon.

Jade_du, thanks, we had a fantastic time! Only wishing we stayed longer... ;-(

We love travelling so we don't go twice to the same place but I feel that Bali just might be that one exception we will be happy to make ... ;-) hopefuly we'll get to visit Bali in the near future again, there is something about that little island... and next time I'll be taking an extra empty suitcase or two... ;-) I'm glad you liked Kampung cafe, it's in a brilliant location don't you think and the food... yummy! Me & my husband researched all Indonesian restaurants in London and are going soon as we loved the food so much.

Anyway I will read your posts carefully because if/when we go next time to Bali we would definitely go for a private villa.

Take care.

Katerina

Singapore
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4. Re: Bali Trip Report, 2nd June - 10th June 2006

Hi Katerina,

Thank you for sharing so much details about your Bali Trip!

We will be going to Bali this Thursday, staying 2nights at Nusa Dua and 3 nights at Ubud.

Your report is so helpful! I will definitely want to check out Kampung Cafe... Japanese food in Ubud! WOW!

Could you kindly put us in touch with Dean, the driver and guide you had too? He sounds absolutely wonderful! How do I contact him? I hope he will be available since it is very short notice!

Cheers, Lily

Asia
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5. Re: Bali Trip Report, 2nd June - 10th June 2006

Hi,

His webspages are:

http://www.balisbestdriver.com/

Mobile : 081 8344 807

Dean is very good. Have a blast. :-)

Asia
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6. Re: Bali Trip Report, 2nd June - 10th June 2006

Hi!

Sorry, I forgot another page:

http://balidean.blogspot.com/

In any case, if he's not free to drive you around, he will recommend a driver, Putu, to you. Nice chap and very friendly as well.

Czech Republic...
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7. Re: Bali Trip Report, 2nd June - 10th June 2006

Hi Lily,

website and contacts for Dean are as Jade_du supplied.

You can also email him on baliwithdean@dps.centrin.net.id and I'm sure he will do his best to accommodate you.

AAAhhhh I am sooooo jealous, Bali is just amazing... I think we prefered Ubud and next time we go I think we go straight there and skip Nusa Dua although it's a good experience to see the south as well and there are things to do, definitely go and see Uluwatu and the dance - although touristy we enjoyed it. Just make sure you get there early enough to allow for exploring the temple and see the monkeys before the dance.

Have a great time! And share your trip report when you get back (I love reading those... ;-)

Happy Bali holidays.

K.

Bali
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8. Re: Bali Trip Report, 2nd June - 10th June 2006

Hi Kacenka, you definetely have to return to Indonesia for the real Indonesian food. Have tried the Indonesian restaurant at London when I was visiting a friend who lived there, nothing like the real one, not even that close, own by a Malay actually. But it was years ago, so it might be improved by now. Good luck anyway, I'd love to go back for the Oxford Street

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9. Re: Bali Trip Report, 2nd June - 10th June 2006

Hi Ersano,

I know... I don't expect the food to be the same as in Bali, but until I'll be able to return to Bali restaurants in the UK will just have to do for now :-( ...at least a little reminder of our wonderful time...

You don't want to go to London now! - it's been soooo hot too hot in fact - 32 degrees! ...almost like Bali ;-)

Have a nice day.

K.

Bali
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10. Re: Bali Trip Report, 2nd June - 10th June 2006

I'd love 32 degrees all the time, it's normal for an Indonesian like me. Even the evening during summer was too cold for me, so I went out with a sleeveless shirt and shorts but always prepare a pullover just in case I won't be back till late :-)

Now you really make me want to go to 32 degrees at London.

Do you cook? I could mail you some Indonesian recipes if you want, just get the ingredients from the China Town. My e-mail is ersano@telkom.net