For as long as I can remember I have wanted to visit Bali. All I could see was images of lush green settings, monkeys, swings, rice fields, temples, massages and pools with floating breakfasts. Well, I finally made it there. It was definitely a dream come true.
Here is how the dream starts…..
Every time I travel I learn something new. I traveled on Qatar Airways for my trip to Kenya. The best service, comfort, entertainment and food in the industry. Remind me next time I’m planning trips to leave Philippine Airlines alone. Just in the boarding process I knew I had fucked up. It was a million people. They were shoving and pushing to board as if we were going to miss the flight. Issa no next go round, but I’ll deal with it this time, obviously. The flight wasn’t the worst, but it could be due to the glass of wine and one melatonin I had right after taking off. It gets me every time. Remind me to never take an offer to move closer. You know those seats in the front with lots of legroom on the 3x3x3 planes? Well the agent asked me if I wanted to get closer. Sure. I also asked if it was the seat that you can’t really move in she said no, #lies. My hips are not made for that seat, but what it did do was allow me to keep my feet elevated above my heart the whole flight.
Overall, I wasn’t impressed with Philippine Airlines. I thought the passengers were somewhat rude. Also, never in my life have I seen passengers stand up as soon as the plane hit the ground. I mean like stand up and open overhead bins, ready to go! The flight attendant had no control. I made my way through immigration and customs. I found a place to store my backpack and get cash. Did you know that when traveling you should always complete a pin transaction first? If you were to run your card as credit it flags the bank of potential fraud. Someone getting your exact pin is much harder. Close to the airport is Resorts World. You can catch a air conditioned bus to an area with hotels, restaurants, shopping and the casino for free. I grabbed some sushi and gyoza soup for lunch and sat in Starbucks for a while before venturing out. The interesting thing about Starbucks is they only really sold tea and fraps.
Airport chronicles – while waiting for my flight, this older lady named Minga sat next to me because she wanted help posting to Facebook. She needed to let her family know she was here and then headed to Hong Kong, then Switzerland with a final destination of Germany. She was very sweet, but clueless about technology. Just like people, airlines can redeem themselves. Upon boarding the last leg of my flight to Indonesia, I was warmly greeted by the flight attendant. She showed me my seat and told me to have a wonderful vacation. The overall feel on board was different as well. The food was even better. I love me some avocados, so when I was given some ice cream to try I was delighted.
I made it in around 2am and my driver picked me up and took me to b Hotel and Spa. I was greeted warmly and I was taken to my room. It’s very cute and I love the shower. My view is right down to the pool. I know it sounds crazy but I ordered room service. I had a turkey club and fries. I’ll be working out all of July. I’m glad a built in a day of rest because I didn’t awake until about 1 pm. I got up and settled into my room and prepared to go explore a little.
My first stop was the Upside Down Museum. It’s actually really neat. All the furniture is placed on the wall or ceilings. The best thing about this place as a solo traveler, for a tip an employee will accompany you and tell you how to pose to get the best results. Once they take the photos they are flipped for you. I would recommend a visit. Next I went to Kuta so I could catch the sunset and do a little shopping at the Kuta Arts Market. It’s basically wooden stalls with people selling overpriced items. Since Rita taught me how to negotiate last week in Kenya I was ready to go toe to toe to get some deals. I purchased a few items. I made my way over to The Stadium Bar at 5:53 pm. I could tell the server wanted to be like happy hour is over, but I got my buy two get one free cocktails. I headed back to the hotel to get ready because I was going to meet Richard, one of my colleagues, for a drink or five. He suggested a place called Red Carpet Champagne Lounge. Great place in the middle of action with clubs and restaurants nearby. I really enjoyed the samples of their food that they give out while drinking. He left and I stayed out a little bit longer before retreating back to the hotel.
My agenda today consist of Bali Swing, Ulun Danu Bratan Temple, local lunch and Ayana Rock Bar. My driver Agung, through Discover Bali Driver, was waiting for me in the lobby. Upon getting in the car he gifted me a handmade purse. We started our journey through the city and continued for some time. I was impressed and unimpressed with Bali Swing all at the same time. The cost was $35 and includes lunch. The vegetarian lunch was excellent. There are 15 swing/nest options. I found that I enjoyed the bed swing the most and could have stayed there the entire time. What I will say is don’t go there solo. I left my Tre (my tripod) at the hotel and this is probably the one time that it would have been beneficial because Agung didn’t go in with me. You can purchase a photographer package for 175,000 rupiah (or $12) or they say an employee will use your camera to take photos. #lies. It was difficult to find someone and when you did, they would take one and leave. Moral of the story is buy the package.
Next we made our way up the mountain to Ulun Danu Bratan Temple. There are many temples and it is situated on a lake. The temperature was very cool in this area due to the elevation. Afterwards we struck out on our journey to Ayana Rock Bar. Two hours that is. I just read an article last night about not planning your excursions and going with the flow. I’m caught in the juxtaposition of wanting to do nothing and see everything with a schedule. I could have skipped Ayana Rock Bar and so should you unless you are staying at the resort.
Agung stopped at Starbucks for me and that was a lifesaver. I made it back to the hotel and took a little time to rest. I went to dinner at Los Gringos because I really wanted some Mexican food and they had a special. 99K for unlimited salad, tacos, quesadilla’s, burritos and enchiladas. Also 150K for unlimited margaritas and Pina coladas. I found the quesadilla’s and Pina coladas to be the best options after my sample round. I’m not huge on buffets or all you can eat, but I was hungry and wanted Mexican. I caught a Grab back to the hotel and rested for the night.
Agung picked me up this morning to head to Ubud. It’s only 15 miles, but according to Waze it will take an hour to get there due to the traffic and slow roads in general. According to my schedule I will be visiting the Sacred Monkey Forest, Tirta Empul Holy Water Temple, and a coffee/tea plantation before checking into Artotel. Evidently at monkey forest there is a gangsta monkey to take a picture with. In the way to Ubud, Agung suggested riding ATV’s to the rice fields. At first I was like I don’t know, but then my senses kicked in and I was like why not. It took the dry package, because I didn’t want to get dirty. Not a mistake; so much fun. Thankfully I had on shorts and tennis shoes and applied sunscreen this morning.
What a busy day I have had. We arrived in Ubud and went to the Sacred Monkey Forest. It’s a nice attraction you can tell it’s there home and we are just guests. They pay no attention to the people. Also, there is a cremation area within the forest. Families bring the deceased to have them cremated and perform rituals. I wasn’t able to find that meme-able monkey. However, a breastfeeding monkey might make you cry. Afterwards I stopped for lunch at a local spot Agung recommended. Then I went coffee and tea tasting. There was a very nice variety, but I feel in love with the avocado coffee. It already has a creamy consistency and is sweetened. I purchased a bag to bring home. Just a heads up… I will never go tea/coffee tasting at a place that makes coffee from Luwak’s. I am not per se an animal rights activist, but that’s just not right and I found out afterwards. We finally made our way to the water temple. I had every intention of getting in, but the water was just so cold. I finally made it to Artotel. Such a cute place. It feels very green and modern. I settled in my spacious room and I took a walk out to town and grabbed dinner and drinks for the room.
I had a great breakfast at Full Circle, adjacent to the hotel. I selected the Breakfast Butty sandwich with watermelon juice. Today seemed a little boring. Like I could have slept in and explored Ubud. I saw a traditional Balinese dance, batik and silver making, art gallery visit, butterfly park and Elephant Cave Temple. I skipped Tegenungan Waterfall because I didn’t want to get muddy. Typical me. I cut the day short and hung by the pool to drink and read. I accidentally took a nap after the pool and woke up around 9. I got up and went on the hunt for some sushi. I found a great little place and I had three different types of sushi while lounging in the patio. It seems as though everything shuts down around 11pm and the streets are dead. I walked back to my hotel and it seemed relatively safe.
Agung suggested that we leave at 5 am this morning. I wasn’t very happy about the idea of getting up at 4 am, but I did it and we made our way towards Lempuyang Temple referred to as heaven’s gate. I watched several episodes of Mr. Iglesias on Netflix (good watch for educators) while we drove up the steep mountain towards the volcano. We arrived shortly after 7. Ladies are required to cover their shoulders and both genders wear sarongs. Listen, I thought I was climbing the steps and hills to heaven. Upon arrival at the top I got in the cue and was advised I was at the 2 hour mark. I’m not a huge picture taker and I just couldn’t understand why it would take so long. Sigh. After about 2.5 hours it was my turn. The guy takes your phone and says pose 1, pose 2, pose 3, and pose 4. I would say within that you get about 20 or so shots. And I was done. I still couldn’t comprehend why four poses at about a minute took so long. The line behind me was insane. However, when got my phone back and saw the pictures, I realized it was all worth it in the end.
Here is the funny thing about the experience. I’ve viewed pictures before from Lempuyang Temple and I thought you walk up the steps and there is water in front of you. I guess I thought that the person is on the other side of the water taking the pictures. That’s all in my creative mind. In actuality there is no water. You give your phone to the volunteer, he places a reflective mirror below your flash and walahh! On the way back we stopped at Tirta Ganga Water Village to see Koi fish in the pond. It’s a very calming and relaxing place. I had a bite to eat, chicken satay with rice and an iced coffee. We headed back to Ubud before noon so I could get some pool time.
I made a reservation at Room 4 Dessert based off the recommendation of a colleague. The pastry chef/owner is an expat from New York. He rocketed to fame with his avant-garde desserts, but moved to Bali and uses fresh cocoa and vanilla along with other fruits and vegetables local to Bali. To properly describe this experience it should be a blog of its own. But I will give you the “quick and dirty”. I was greeted by Josh from Boston. He took me through the garden and point out the many items they have planted and use in the restaurant. They use a seed to table concept. Afterwards I was seated at the bar with a gin and tonic. Josh described my first seven tastings and each server brought out a new one providing more information. I was then moved to the second tasting of dessert like items that can be paired with drinks. This was my favorite. By the end of this I was done and couldn’t go for the last seven. Overall, I would give this place a 10, especially of you looking for a place to celebrate a special occasion. The service is top notch, variety of tasting, good music and mood.
This morning Agung dropped me off at Ubud Art Market where I did a little shopping, walked around town and grabbed some Starbucks before heading to Tegalalang Rice Fields. Also, it was hot as hell today. Agung knows me so well by know. He was like we can walk along the terrace and take pictures in the nest and what not. I sat at one of the restaurants and had a beer and we just leisurely walked around. We stopped for lunch in the area before by 2 hour massage and flower bath at Ubud Orchid Spa. I highly recommend this place. She began with a full body massage. At one point she standing on the table using her foot on my back. Afterwards, she applied some type of body scrub and allows it to stay on body with sheet covering about 10 minutes both sides. Then she scrubs the body with a milk substance. I took a shower then soaked in my flower bath. When I left that place I thought I had a new body.
I had breakfast delivered to my room this morning. One last Breakfast Butty from Full Circle. Agung picked me up around noon and we headed to Dash Hotel in Seminyak. I absolutely love this hotel of all of them. It’s very funky with silhouettes, spray paint and decals. The room is spacious and includes a balcony and garden tub. I’ve been carrying around a bath bomb from Lush and a facial from Sephora that I will make sues of tomorrow night. After settled in I walked around to explore Seminyak. I was actually looking for the “I love Bali” sign. The street art work is plenty and lots of eating options.
I found a pair of sunglasses that I negotiated down to $7 since I broke mine. Richard suggested that we meet at KU DE TA for drinks and to watch the sunset. Great ocean view, drinks and sunset. Well after many drinks I headed back to the hotel, but not before stopping at Sisterfields for dinner. I had a delicious burger and fries. You may be wondering if I’d had any Balinese food while here. The answer is no. I don’t have time for Bali Belly. While on vacation I tend not to eat local cuisine. My stomach has a mind of its own.
This morning Agung picked me up at 6 to catch my speed boat to Nusa Penida. I was a little sad when he said I was going alone and a new driver would pick me up. He’s prompt and I like that, but I’m sure we could have left at 7 and made it in time. I have a nice seat on the deck of the boat catching the breeze, sun and waves. I will be visiting Broken Beach, Angel Billabong, Crystal Bay, and Kelingking Beach.
Putu picked me up from the docks and we headed out. He warned me that the road was bumpy. I told him about my trip to Kenya on that bumpy road for hours. No need to worry, I had training. These bumps were minor. But hey, to see beautiful sites you might have to endure something uncomfortable. We had good conversation. He explained that his English was not good, so you know the teacher in me gave him some ELA strategies. He asked about my hair and was very enthusiastic. I showed home some pictures from before. He didn’t like that I cut my locs. He said I should grow them back.
Our first stop was Angel’s Billabong and Broken Beach. Then we went to Kelinking Beach. Both of these places are really scenic for pictures. You can go down the steps at Kelinking to a beautiful beach area. Just remember you have to climb back up. We stoped at a local restaurant for lunch. I had Nasi Goreng (noodles with seafood). I’m always nervous to eat food out places; especially after I’ve seen the bathroom situation. The food was excellent, but it didn’t sit well with me. We started our journey to Crystal Beach, which was about an hour away.
So here is my suggestion for Nusa Penida. Travel and stay for three days. Complete Angel’s Billabong and Broken Beach day one. The next day get up early morning and take the hike down to Kelingking Beach. Spend your last day relaxing on Crystal Beach and catch the 4pm speed boat back to Sanur.
Well, it’s my last night in Bali before heading to Kuala Lumpur. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed my time here. It was everything I thought it would be. If you are looking to go to Bali, I suggest Discover Bali Driver to handle transportation and transfers. Ask for Agung if he is available. Spend the majority of your time in Ubud and Nusa Penida. Those will definitely be two of my stops if I ever return.
One last thing…. Don’t ever sit on the corner of the speed boat. At first I was like it’s just a little bit of water I don’t need to move. By the time it was all said and done, I look like I had been swimming.
Keep dreaming and as always you can find me on instagram @jetsetmelanin2018. On my profile you will find stories with more pictures of my travels in Bali and other destinations.