Today, I am on a flight going to Bali, Indonesia. It is a sponsored trip by GrabTaxi Philippines and I am very blessed to be one of the few winners to be given this opportunity, and to be able to share it with a friend is more than I could ever ask for.
“Welcome to Bali. Thank you for flying with Philippine Airlines. Mabuhay.”
Arriving at Ngurah Rai International Airport, Bali was not as overwhelming as I thought it would seem. Probably because I decided to give off less expectations than I was supposed to in the first place. I took a mental note of all the key points I have read about arriving and staying in Bali and one of the things I, and all the other readers, have been warned of were the taxi drivers who would be charging you more than the regular fee. So as much as tempted my friend and I were, we stayed off the taxi drivers. As per advised by GrabTaxi Philippines, we would have to go through the normal booking process in order to be picked up and dropped off to our said location (with zero fee as long as the fare does not exceed more than IDR 70K and 2 rides per person per day). We touched down at Bali around 12 Midnight, got through security and took hold of our bags around 1 in the morning. The last thing we wanted was to wait for nothing. So, we gave up and accepted one driver’s offer of USD 20 from Ngurah Rai to our hotel at Nusa Dua. You must be thinking how bonkers we were to accept such a ridiculously high offer. Whatever. We just wanted to get to the hotel and GrabTaxi wasn’t making that happen for us. Quite disappointed, I needed positive vibes. I spoke to our driver and asked him to teach me a couple of Indonesian and Balinese words. He also patiently answered my non-ending questions about Bali, the people, the culture and the history of every structure we passed by. It was quite a long ride from the airport, but once we reached our hotel, we were greeted with a warm and friendly welcome. The driver and I exchanged numbers because, after his amazing offer of taking us around Bali for one whole day for only USD 50 and another day for another USD 50, we called it a deal. My friend and I were then ushered to the reception (or concierge, only that it doesn’t look like a concierge at all), for our check in details. Finally, after a very long day, we headed to our room and slept (for my friend at least, I stayed up until 8:30 AM when our driver picked us up for the first itinerary of the day).
September 14, 2015: Our official first day in Bali, Indonesia. We left the hotel around 8:30 AM and drove to the Barong Dance with our driver, Mr. Wayan, the awesome saint who dropped us to the hotel from the airport earlier that day. It was sunny and we were super excited.
Located at Jalan Waribang, Kesiman, Denpasar, Bali, it is best to leave early to avoid the traffic. The Barong Dance is performed daily and usually starts at around 9 AM with a fee of IDR 100,000. Before proceeding inside, a paper with the summary of each act will be given to you. Please take time to read it. The dance talks about the battle between good (Barong) and evil (Rangda).
Batu Batulan, Ubud
|Batik at Sari Amertha, Bali|
The people behind the very artistic and detailed structures of Bali are mostly from Ubud. Batu Batulan is known as the shopping area where you could buy a lot of cultural pieces from Bali at a very cheap price. Our first stop at Batu Batulan was the Batik of Sari Amertha. Here we were taught how to process the batik from a plain white piece of clothing to a final piece of artwork. You could choose from various postcard paintings to a numerous batik collection here in Sari Amertha. It is along Gianyar, the area of Batu Batulan, Ubud.
|Babi Guling (Suckling Pig) from Ibu Sri, Bali|
Our next agenda around Batu Batulan was to taste the famous Warung Babi Guling, or the Suckling Pig, at Ibu Sri. Everything was from pig’s parts. I am not a big fan of eating anything aside from chicken, seafood and fish, but this time I knew I had to try it. It comes with rice, soup and well, pig parts (pig intestines, pig heart, pig feet, pig ears, need I mention more?). If you’re not into spicy foods, I suggest you either try their satay instead, or order at least 2 jugs of iced tea, as it could get very, very spicy.
I have been converted into a real fan of paintings ever since Paris, but my love for artwork grew even more when we visited the art shop, Wayan Arnaya Lukisan, at Sukawati, Gianyar. All of the paintings were hand-painted from charcoal, and mostly done by Mr. Pande. The process itself was already overwhelming, much more when we were ushered inside the art room by Mr. Agus. If only I have a house in Bali, or probably if I had brought a bigger luggage with me, I could have bought more than three paintings! In every painting that you would see, you’ll notice that it was all made we passion for art and love for Bali.
|Hand-painted and charcoaled artworks from Wayan Arnaya Lukisan, Bali|
|Lumbung Sari, Bali|
Next stop is just perfect to cure my sleepiness (after not sleeping for 12+ hours straight. I know, crazy). Lumbung Sari is the “House of Coffee” at Gianyar. Here you will see how a Luwak poo could turn into the most delicious Luwak Coffee. But not just that, they also have herbal teas that are so good you won’t know it’s herbal. At first, I thought we would only be able to do a taste test for a couple of coffees and teas. We were surprised when our guide brought shot glasses of their thirteen products for us to try! It was amazing. I ended up buying their products before leaving.
Lastly for our Batu Batulan tour, be sure to visit their Gold & Silver jewelry shops and also check out Bali’s antique pieces.
Famous for its offshore setting and sunset backdrops, Tanah Lot is one of the most visited tourist attraction in Bali. Relax at the beach while listening to the waves crashing on the shore and get some blessing by washing your face and drinking from their holy water. One of the highlights for us, coming to Tanah Lot, was witnessing a prenup photo shoot. Watching the bride-to-be and groom-to-be look so lovingly into each other’s eyes, makes visiting Tanah Lot a lot more memorable and romantic.
|Prenup photoshoot at Tanah Lot, Bali|
|Fresh seafood at Jimbaran, Bali|
We were told, by Wayan that the best seafood is along the beach of Jimbaran. He was right. The seafood was fresh, the atmosphere was welcoming, the singers were friendly and the servers were very accommodating. The best thing about eating seafood in Jimbaran is dining in the open air, overlooking the beach and the Ngurah Rai airport while sipping coconut juice mixed with Balinese alcohol from the coconut itself.
September 15, 2015: I have never felt so connected with a place and its people as much as I have with Bali in just 2 days. The Balinese are so open, friendly and hard working. What I love about the Balinese is their desire to not settle. They have the constant fight in them to keep pushing for what’s better and what’s best. They’re not afraid to take risks and most certainly not afraid of change. Our Day 2, however, focuses on how tourists affect the Balinese’s way of living.
|Make your own yogurt restaurant at Kuta, Bali|
Expect a lot of Australians here in Kuta. They come mainly for surfing. Along Kuta, there’s a long stretch of shopping stalls and restaurants. Nightlife is very evident, and there is an absence of the Balinese culture I speak of here in Kuta. The Indonesians whom I met in Ubud, Seminyak and Nusa Dua were so friendly and polite; but here in Kuta they’re the opposite. I’m not sure if it was the flock of tourists invading the area, thus bringing in loads of modernization, but I hope not. In Kuta, I found Indonesians whistling at me (which I hated, because heck, people only whistle at dogs and I’m clearly not a dog, hello?). But despite my lack of interest, I did find a lot of amazing souvenirs here for a very low price, and a very delish yogurt stop.
|Vintage souvenir shop at Kuta, Bali|
GWK (Garuda Wisnu Kencana) Cultural Park
|Sculpture of Vishnu at Garuda Wisnu Kencana, Bali|
Known as the highest structure in Bali, this vast cultural park was designed for the Hindu god Vishnu and his mythical bird companion, Garuda. Cultural performances are also held in this park for free. But, the admission to the park itself is IDR 100,000.
Originally planned to go to Padang Padang, but went here instead. From the parking area to the beach, there is a free shuttle. Here you’ll find a lot of surfers taking in the amazing waves. If you don’t want to pay any additional fees, do not sit on the beach chair and most certainly do not ask or accept any form of massage. I came here to relax, but I was constantly pestered by the Indonesian women to accept their offer of foot and body massage. Politely decline, if you don’t want, no matter how irritating they could be.
Finally, this was supposed to be the highlight of our 2-day trip to Bali, as I was planning to pray. No one told me this before, but I’ll tell you now. Aside from the sarong that they’ll be giving to you at the entrance, if you want to pray, you should buy the special outfit that they have. Ask around where you could buy it. Otherwise, you can’t pray. I didn’t know of this, so I was pretty disappointed when all I had to look forward to was the Kecak Dance.
|Uluwatu Temple, Bali|
Named after the “chak chak” sounds that they make, the Kecak (pron. As “kay-chak”) dance is performed daily from 6:00 PM to 7:00 PM, during sunset. Better buy your tickets for the Kecak Dance as early as 5:00 PM, to avoid the heavy load of people trying to get a ticket and also, to get the best seat.
|Kecak Dance at Uluwatu Temple, Bali|
Day 2 may not be what I have imagined our last day to turn out, but I was still sad to leave Bali this early. Coming to Bali, we have planned out going from a place to another through GrabTaxi, but we found it really difficult to do so, so we had to adjust. Good thing, Mr. Wayan was there and offered to drive us around. We didn’t know him. We were honestly a little scared getting into his van for the first time that morning when we arrived at the airport. But there’s always a good side to every not-so-good that happens. We’ve learnt more than we could have when we didn’t insist on taking the GrabTaxi. It was a risk, yes, but a risk worth taking. I have also met a lot of Balinese people who taught me more about life. The Balinese are happy people, but it’s the happy people who always have the most interesting stories to tell.
To read more, click: "Life Is Never Easy: 5 Indonesians Who Taught Me To Appreciate The Simple Things In Life"
To watch my Bali travel video, click the link: A Place Like Home || Travel with Xam to BALI