Indonesia: Bali Tour Part 1

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Last January, during my month long vacation in Asia, I visited the beautiful Island of Bali in Indonesia. At that time, I longed to be away, somewhere quite and serene, so I chose Bali. From the Philippines we travelled to Kuala Lumpur in Malaysia and stayed there for 3 days before flying to Bali through Malindo Air. The travel was short, it was less than 2 hours that sadly, I was not able to finish the Wonderwoman movie that I was watching on the plane. I also have to mention that I had a very pleasant experience flying with Malindo Air. The flight attendants were very friendly and made sure we are comfortable. I remembered not getting in-flight meal since it was just a short trip, but good news, we got a complimentary meal and it was my favorite Indian food, Chicken Curry and Biryani Rice. Everything went smoothly from take off to landing and we did not have any issue with the immigration.

I did not arrange airport pick up from our hotel so we hailed a taxi. It helped that my best friend Marnelli have been there already because she was able to give me tips and tricks on how to haggle for overpriced fees that taxi drivers are charging on tourists. From 500k Rp, I was able to haggle it down to 300k Rp. The trip from Ngurah Rai Airport (DPS) to our hotel was supposed to be an hour, but because of the traffic it took us an hour and a half. It was already 9PM when we arrived in Ubud so we were not able to see its beauty until the following day.

Since I am travelling with my mom and sister I got us a villa in Suly Resorts and Spa. If you are in Bali, get a villa for an ultimate Balinese vacation feel. And, If you are flying from the Philippines, have your money exchanged to USD or CAD because there are no money changer that exchange from PHP to IDR. It was a good thing that I was carrying CAD with me because I was able to use it there.

I woke up from the sound of birds chirping, went out to the balcony and was amazed by what saw. We were surrounded by rice fields and traditional Balinese styled villas overlooking the resort garden and swimming pool. Before heading out for our tour, we enjoyed a delicious Balinese breakfast that I wish I could eat everyday.

To make the trip convenient for my mother, I got us a private car tour with a kind Balinese man named Musin, he is our tour guide/driver. He charged us 700k Rp per day for the tour. All tourist spots in Bali have entrance fee, so I am going to write that down as well for reference.

As we all know Indonesia have the biggest Muslim population in Southeast Asia with 87% of it’s total population, but in Bali 84% of the population are Hindus and wherever you go, you will see how devoted they are to their god and their faith. You will see a lot of temple and Hindu god statues in my photos, but most of it will be on the part 2 of my blog.

For now, here comes the first part of my Bali travel blog!

 

1. Pura Taman Ayun or The Royal Family Temple

Pura Taman Ayun Temple is considered as the ‘mother temple’ of Mengwi kingdom located in the Village of Mengwi, Badung Regency. Taman Ayun’s literal translation is ‘beautiful garden’, and sure enough, the garden indeed have a beautiful landscape, lush greenery and huge lotus and fish ponds. 

The wantilan or cockfighting pavilion. 

The Barong. It is a lion-like creature and is said to be the king of the spirits, leader of the hosts of good, and enemy of Rangda, the demon queen and mother of all spirit guarders in the mythological traditions of Bali.

Behind me is the Main Sanctum, it is the most sacred area of the temple called ‘Utama Mandala’. The Pagoda-like structure is called Meru Tower, they are always positioned in the innermost sanctum of a Balinese temple. Each Meru Tower is dedicated to specific Hindu gods or a deified ancestor.

Entrance Fee: 20,000 Rp / person

 

2. Sangeh Monkey Forest

The Monkey Forest is the sanctuary of Balinese grey long-tailed macaques called Macaca fascicularis. It is a six hectares of forestland with giant nutmeg trees and an estimated of more or less 750 monkeys.

Monkey’s scare the shit out of me and I can’t bring myself to get near them even if the tour guide reassured me that they are harmless. If they come near me, I turn to stone. I can’t move. Lol.

 

My sister is scared too so it’s just my mom who got to touch and play with them.

This is the closest I can be with the monkey. He surely liked my mom’s hair!

 

It was a good experience being surrounded by hundreds of monkeys. It was the first time that all my senses are at its peak and the adrenaline rush is just overwhelming.

Entrance Fee: 40,000 Rp / person

 

3. Jatiluwih Rice Terraces

Jatiluwih is a region in the Penebel District of the Tabanan Regency popular for its stunning and breathtaking rice terraces. The uphill journey to get to this beautiful highland of rice haven was very long and to my surprise even looking at rice terraces have entrance and parking fee. Good thing, there was a lot of restaurants in the area where we had our lunch, but before we could finish our meal, it started to rain so hard. The advantage of travelling on January is that there are not a lot of people travelling so you get to enjoy the view taking pictures without too many photo bombers, but rain is also your constant companion. Unfortunately this is the only decent shot that I got from this beautiful rice terraces. We have to stop the tour because the rain did not stop. We spent the rest of the day in our villa praying for a good weather on the coming days.

Entrance Fee: 40,000 Rp / person
Parking Fee: 5,000 Rp / car

 

4. Hidden Garden Luwak Coffee

For the ultimate Bali experience, Musin took us to Hidden Garden to try the Kopi Luwak or the Civet Coffee. I love coffee and I am willing to try different coffee flavour to satisfy my coffee desires but Civet Coffee is the only coffee that I can’t force myself to drink, other than the fact that it is really expensive. For the sake of everyone who are not familiar what Civet Coffee is, let me tell you what I know. FYI, I didn’t know about Civet Coffee until I watched the movie Bucket List starred by Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman where Nicholson told his associates that he only drink the most expensive coffee in the world which is the Kopi Luwak and he explained the process of how it is obtained and everyone got nauseous. I got nauseous too, but I got curious as well so I did my research. 

Luwak is an Asian Palm Civet or in short called Civet Cat, they eat coffee berries, but part of these coffee berries are not digested so it ends up being defecated by the Luwak. Coffee producers then collect their feces; they clean, roast and ground it and voila, you now have your Kopi Luwak. It is believed that the Luwak stomach has acids and enzymes that ferments the coffee beans reducing its bitter taste and producing good flavour and aroma. Because of its rarity and unusual process, the Civet Coffee has become the most expensive coffee in the world.

Our friend here is sleeping. Must be very tired working so hard. Sadly, producers now put them in the cage and feed them with coffee berries so they can easily collect their feces. Wild belongs in the wild, but business owners don’t understand that.

In action, roasting coffee beans.

We got to try different coffee and tea that Hidden Garden are offering, but Kopi Luwak is not one of them so if you want to try you really have to buy it. My mom who is an ultimate coffee lover tried it, I did get to sip but for some reason the idea that it comes from cat feces is not something that I can shake off. 

After enjoying the free coffee and tea,  the way to the exit is through their store (very classic). We were able to buy 2 packs of overpriced coffee (not Luwak) and my mom got Rosella Tea.

Although it is popularly known that Civet Coffee is from Indonesia, Philippines also produce this type of coffee and we call it Kape Alamid or Kape Musang.

Entrance Fee: Free with coffee and tea tasting except Luwak coffee

 

5. Dewa Putu Toris Art Gallery

I am an art lover who can’t afford art. Art museums are heaven to me, so the moment I stepped inside Dewa Putu Toris Art Gallery my pupils dilated and stayed that way until I found my way out. The Oh’s and Ah have been spoken more than I could count. It’s tormenting to see art you cannot bring home. I was ready to haggle but even at half the price it is still costly, so I saved my energy for art appreciation only. We were not allowed to take pictures inside the gallery so all my shots were taken outside.

Men in action.

Here are some of the arts displayed outside. They’re pretty but not as good as the ones inside. In the end, I asked Musin to go to a souvenir shop that sells art. I was able to get one, small enough to fit my luggage but not the coveted authentic Balinese art.

Entrance Fee: Free

 

6. Terrace River Pool Swing

Bali trip is not complete without a ride in the deadly swing, where if worse comes to worse you will be thrown into the rice field and become rice. Lol. My strange humour make me laugh. 

I being the lets-do-this-for-the-gram type of person took the challenge even if I am already dying inside before I could even hop on that swing. My mom and I did it, she wasn’t even screaming like I did. She even said “wow” the moment she was thrown in the air, how could someone say wow to that? I wish I could pretend and say wow too, but nah. I only stopped screaming when I felt my throat is already dry and I can no longer make a sound.

This is one of a kind experience, but not again! Lol.

Entrance Fee: Free
Extreme Swing: 150,000 Rp / person

 

That’s it for the Part 1 of my adventure in Bali. Stay tuned for my Part 2!