Wednesday, June 11, 2014

A Glimpse of Bali: Part 1

About two weeks ago, I took my little family and parents for a short trip to Bali. As it's been a while since my husband and I had our overseas getaway (and I was yearning for one!) plus the air ticket from Kuala Lumpur to Bali was cheaper than the air ticket from Kuala Lumpur to Surabaya at the time of booking; we agreed to go to Bali for sightseeing before going to my home town. I asked my parents to join us as well so they can have a short holiday with their only grandchild in Bali and they didn't mind. Moreover, my parents could be a huge help in babysitting Naomi during the whole trip.

After much waits, the day for us to fly to Bali finally arrived! This was going to be my husband's and Naomi's first visit to Bali. My parents and I had visited Bali several times but the last time I went to Bali was close to 5 years ago so I was sure Bali must have changed a lot. My grand plan for our Bali holiday this time around was to make the whole trip as free and easy as possible, considering the facts that I was almost 5 months pregnant and we had a very active toddler in our pack. While my plan was to make the trip to be less hectic, I hoped to check out some must-see tourist attractions for my husband and taste some famous Bali cuisines as well.


Departing from KLIA 2, we touched down in Bali at around 7.30pm. My parents who flew to Bali straight from my home town already arrived at Ngurah Rai International Airport a couple hours before we landed. Naomi refused to be carried by my parents when she first saw them in the airport but once we were in the cab, she was okay with my parents and could play with her grandparents whom she had not seen in 6 months.

Welcome drink from the hotel upon check-in.

The taxi fare from the airport to our hotel was so expensive, especially since our hotel's location turned out to be located just nearby the airport. I felt kind of cheated but this is what happened if you're not familiar with the area you are travelling at and desperately needed that taxi ride somehow.


We rented a car and a driver to take us around Bali. As planned, the driver arrived to our hotel at around 9am and shortly after our breakfast at the hotel, I discussed with him some places in Bali that I wanted to visit. For day 1, the driver suggested some tourist spots which routes were not too far apart from each other and can be completed in 10 hours or so.

Just woke up: Naomi's first morning in Bali.

Here are some places that we visited on our first day in Bali. Some of these places I've gone before but I went back there to show my husband Bali's important and famous tourist spots.

When we first hit the road that morning, my husband was so fascinated with the amount of pura (or Balinese Hindhu temples) and the overall surroundings in Bali. He kept taking pictures of them from the car. It was also happened to be Kuningan Day in Bali so we got to see Balinese people wore their traditional clothes and their offerings at the pura around the villages and cities. After a while, my husband stopped taking pictures of pura because he realized pura is literally everywhere in Bali and only took pictures of those big pura at the tourist destinations.

The first tourist destination we visited in Bali was Pura Taman Ayun. It is one of the most important temples in Bali and welcomes visitors.

My husband at Taman Ayun Royal Temple.

18 weeks pregnant in Bali.

This temple is part of a network of directional temples to protect Bali from evil spirits and it owns beautiful garden terraces with courtyards. During our visit to this temple, we saw quite a bit of Balinese people making offerings and prayers to celebrate Kuningan Day. Quite special, indeed.

Beautiful scenery at Pura Taman Ayun.

To enter this premise, local visitors need to pay Rp. 10.000 per pax and foreigners have to pay Rp 15.000 per pax. My parents decided to skip visiting this pura because Naomi was napping in the car so I had a quick look of this temple with my husband.

Next, we drove to the north and arrived to another famous tourist attraction and major water temple in Bali, Pura Ulun Danu Bratan, located on the shores of Lake Bratan in the mountains near Bedugul.

The tranquil and scenic lake temple in Bedugul.

When I set foot at this place, I realized that I'd visited this lake temple back in 2009, not long after I organized a geothermal site visit around Bedugul area. Then, I led an impromptu mini tour with some of overseas conference delegates because our site visit ended earlier than planned and we had rented the bus for a day. I recall I helped a delegate from India bargaining a souvenir for his wife in the market around this temple.

Hello from Bedugul.

5 years later, I think the surroundings of Ulun Danu Bratan, Bedugul has changed, in a better way. There is now a huge park and kid's playground not far from the lake temples. Naomi was so happy when we took a stroll around the park and decided to let her come out from the stroller and roam around the park. She was so hyper when she played at the park until two American tourists noticed us and began talking to us about how cute and active Naomi is. The Caucasian middle-aged lady ended asking my permission to take a picture of Naomi and I happily obliged.

"Naomi, why are you so happy?"

My Mom loved to make Naomi sit on top of animals figures in the park, some were creepy looking, and asked us to take photo of them.

Naomi sat on a giant lizard statue.

Soon after we explored the parks around the lake temple, we called our visit in Bedugul a day. If I remember correctly, I think the entrance fee to this temple was around Rp. 10.000 per pax.

After the Bedugul visit, our driver drove back to the southern part of Bali to reach our next destination but on our way to the next tourist spot, we dropped by a very crowded local restaurant for a quick lunch.

Our culinary tour in Bali began here.

The four of us had Nasi Babi Guling Bali (Suckling Pig with Rice), one of Bali's famous dishes. However, I personally didn't really enjoy this cuisine that much (maybe because I don't really eat pork?).

Nasi Babi Guling Bali.

To continue our trip in Bali, we're off to check out a Hindu Temple set on a large offshore rock surrounded by seawater, Tanah Lot. In the afternoon when we visited Tanah Lot, it was scorching hot and as one of Bali's most sacred temples and important landmarks, this worship place was just crammed with tourists and local people who were busy making offerings and prayers at the temple. The area leading to Tanah Lot is very commercialized as Tanah Lot is one of the most visited and photographed temple in Bali. I don't know how much the entrance fee for Tanah Lot because my parents took care of it. By the way, my Mom and I really enjoyed walking through a set of Balinese souvenir shops on the way to the main temple and had our shopping spree there.

The souvenir market in Tanah Lot.

I must say that Tanah Lot is not a stroller-friendly place; hence my Dad, who'd seen Tanah Lot temple before, had to skip checking out this temple because there were so many steps to reach to the main temple and Naomi was napping again in her stroller.

Before reaching the main Tanah Lot Temple.

The famous Tanah Lot Temple in the background.

After we gave a real quick tour to my husband at Tanah Lot Temple and took some pictures of it, we left this place and had some some cold drinks at the nearby restaurant on the mainland cliff tops just near the exit of the main temple attraction. My advice for you is to find restaurants that don't nest next to the exit because they ridiculously jack up the price of all the food and drinks. One single fresh green coconut or a cup of hot (instant) coffee can easily cost Rp 10.000 more expensive if you have them from some restaurants next to the temple's exit. Walk further down to find some other restaurants which serve similar stuff and you'd save money!

Our last destination before we finalized our first sightseeing day in Bali was Kuta Beach. My Mom and I thought my husband's first trip to Bali would not complete without visiting Kuta, so we opted to have a quick visit to Kuta Beach for its sunset. We didn't really take a stroll at the Kuta Square because by evening, we were drop dead tired. I guess only Naomi who was not so tired from the trip because she napped twice that day.

Beautiful evening at Kuta Beach, Bali.

Also, I must say that Naomi was actually the one who enjoyed the beach the most because she played with the sand, waves and water to her heart's content. The rests of us mostly just sat in a rented mat, enjoyed the beach view and took turn in accompanying Naomi playing water by the beach. My Dad chatted with the guy who rented the sand mat for Rp 10.000/piece. He said he's been renting mats in Kuta Beach since the days where a rented mat for tourists cost only Rp 500/piece.

Naomi and Grandpa at Kuta Beach.

Albeit the aftermath of visiting a beach is always very messy, I was so glad that I went to Kuta Beach to entertain Naomi because her happy expressions at the beach were priceless!

Naomi running away from the waves.

On another note, we learned that the water at Kuta Beach was so much colder than the water at Port Dickson or Langkawi beaches, although the weather in Bali was relatively hot that evening.

To conclude our first full-day in Bali, we initially planned to go to Jimbaran for dinner but ended up cancelling the plan because we're so exhausted and lazy to go out again. We chose to go back to the hotel and had a dinner at the hotel's restaurant, which cost an arm and a leg! The food was so expensive and 20% of tax and service charge in total was imposed for dining at the hotel.

Accommodation: Kana Kuta Hotel, Bali (booked via Agoda)
Car Rental: Puri Bali Rent Car. Car rental was Rp 400.000/day for Bedugul Route, including driver for 10 hours and petrol. Driver Overtime cost Rp. 35.000/hour.

To be continued...

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