Sunday, May 08, 2011

Travel: Bali Trip (28th Apr - 3rd May 2011)

Kuta Beach

I was really happy to sign up an introductory class for surfing (US$35 for 2.5hrs). The last time I surfed was 7 years ago in Santa Cruz, California! Time flies! The wave along Kuta Beach is really suitable for beginners like me, I managed to stand on the surf board a few times, and it was great fun!

It was not as exhilarating as my previous experience in Santa Cruz. Partly because it was not my virgin experience, but I admit I am a bit jaded (which is bad). The overall experience was still great, and I would definitely go back to Bali for more surfing.

Inland Bali

Tanah Lot
I love the blue Sky and Sea. 

Guardians of the Coast

Circular Wave

Green Padi Field @ Jatiluwih

Unexpected Experience is always good. =)

It was a nice experience sitting on the speedboat in the mountain lake covered by fog, and getting drenched by the rain. I felt ALIVE! I felt the chill wind on my skin and the painful "beating" of the rain drops on my face. =)

Enjoying a moment of silence & peace in a strawberry farm at the hill. In recent years, I enjoy and appreciate serenity and peaceful moments more. Silence is Beautiful. =)

Asian Palm Civet - Caged to "produce" Kopi Luwak.

I could really sense the sadness in its eyes. The animals just resigned to their fates and gave up the fight to escape which is futile. I was thinking of setting the animal free, but I did not have the guts (afraid that I would be beaten up by the locals).

"Kopi luwak (Malay pronunciation: [ˈkopi ˈlu.aʔ]), or civet coffee, is one of the world's most expensive and low-production coffee. It is made from the beans of coffee berries which have been eaten by the Asian Palm Civet (Paradoxurus hermaphroditus) and other related civets, then passed through its digestive tract.[1] 

Kopi luwak is the most expensive coffee in the world, selling for between US $100 and $600 per pound.[1] The specialty Vietnamese weasel coffee, which is made by collecting coffee beans eaten by wild civets, is sold at $6600 per kilogram ($3000 per pound)."

Nice Coffee or Freedom for a Caged Animal?

I did not drink the coffee. I strongly advise anybody to consume it and resist the urge of trying a good coffee. Fortunately, I was not a coffee lover. My friends drank it, and I do not see the need to brag about drinking Kopi Luwak. 

Taman Ayun
The Balinese temple and architecture is always very beautiful and peaceful. It is always in harmony with the nature and the surrounding. Beautiful!!

"Seminyak is a mixed tourist / residential area on the west coast of Bali just north of Kuta and Legian. This area is very popular with resident expatriates and land and accommodation prices are amongst the highest in Bali. Plenty of luxury spas and hotels abound. Owing to its high density of high end shopping, combined with the clustering of many fine eating establishments, it has rapidly become one of the most well known tourist areas on the island."

I like Semiyak for its art galleries, local designer boutiques, interesting eateries etc... It reminded me of Omate Sando Hills in Tokyo (See my Blog) and Neve Tsedek in Tel Aviv (See my blog). It is a nice place to chill out , read a book and do a spa.

One of the Shops.

One of the Eateries.

It was evening. I just enjoyed walking slowly along the street and drinking a chilled alcoholic drink.The pace of life is slower and more refine. Very different from the bustling and rowdiness of Kuta. Each place is beautiful in its own ways. 


Stayed in a very nice specialty hotel in Ubud (Ranked No. 2 in tripadvisor). It was not cheap, but totally worth it. The staff was friendly and helpful, and many details are taken care of (e.g. Lemon Grass Scented Insect Repellent, Nice Cookies, Free Yoga Classes, Free High Tea, Apple Jukebox, Shuttle Service to Ubud Town etc..).

Suite Room

Huge Bathroom

Cosy Balcony

Awesome View from the Balcony.

It was totally serene and peaceful to lie down on the day-bed at the balcony, especially during the sunset. The view was the padi field and a hill of coconut trees, and the background music was the sound of running river and insects symphony. Wonderful!!

View from the lobby. I love the swimming pool.

Reflection on the Swimming Pool.

I felt I was swimming in a Natural lake (without the dirt and insects). While I was floating in the pool and facing the sky, I saw flocks of migratory birds flying in V-shape across the sky. It was a wonderful experience. Definitely one of the best swimming pools I ever swam.

"Nusa Lembongan is a small island off the southeast coast of the main island of Bali. Fast becoming one of Bali's most popular attractions, this island paradise is a world away from the hassle and hectic pace of South Bali. Neither hawkers nor traffic mar the magnificent scenery; this is a fine place to just put your feet up and relax. Main activities include surfing, diving and snorkeling. The water is some of the clearest you will find anywhere, and a vivid aqua blue in colour."

My friends went back home, and I decided to go for diving alone in a small island away from the main Bali Island. I took me 1-2hrs to get comfortable from a 5-stars Specialty Hotel to a Budget Specialty Accommodation (which costed less than 10% of the former). 

The Secret Garden.
I really like it (except for the mosquito), very green & cosy & friendly staffs.

Rented a motorcycle (auto-gear) for 2 days to explore the island. I did not have a license and I had never rode a bike before. After 5 minutes orientation, I went exploring without a helmet. It is one of the best experiences of the trip.

Seaweed Farm

Local Religious Procession 

This is the REAL Balinese Lifestyle.

Low Tide

Went diving in hope to see Mola Mola. Unfortunately, luck was not on my side, but I really enjoyed the dives. There were no big fishes, but the coral and coral fishes were really pretty and colorful. I thoroughly enjoyed the experience of watching the school of tiny colourful fishes swimming/dancing gracefully against the strong underwater current. Beautiful!

That afternoon, I had a lazy afternoon nap and a wonderful dream. I saw Mola Mola in my dream (yeah, I really really wanted to see it). Frankly, I wasn't too disappointed not seeing Mola Mola, as I reckoned that this is life - as long as I tried, I should be at peace with any outcome. You can't have everything in life. That's life. Even though it was a dream, my happiness and excitement of seeing Mola Mola was real. =)

Devil's Tear

Chilling out with a glass of pineapple juice @ Dream Beach.

Well, the nice part about traveling alone for the last few days is getting to meet and interact with new people. For example: My fellow diver was a Swiss and we talked & discussed on many things including religion & spiritual stuff (He is a Catholic, I am a Buddhist). There was really nothing much to do at night.

I also had a good conversation with the cab driver from Sanur to Bali airport. I asked him quite alot of questions, and that was a good opportunity to understand Bali from a local. He is 28 years old from Nusa Penida, married and has a 5-month old daughter. He wants to have at least a son (which is important for Balinese, as a son will continue the family line) and will keep trying. With elementary school education, he speaks his native language, Balinese, Bahasa Indonesian and a bit of English. Came from a poor farmer family, and father died when he was young. His mother single handedly, raised 4 kids. He has 2 elder sisters, one is working in Kuta as Sales Assistant and the other one is a Sea Weed farmer. His younger brother is currently unemployed and is helping his mother with the subsistence farming (they have enough produce for themselves). 

The daily rental for his car is 100,000 Rps (S$14.32, US$11.56). He is only allowed to solicit business at Sanur Jetty, and if he picks up any customers from the street other than Sanur Jetty, he would get into trouble. The local competition for tourist money is fierce and competitive. Hence, driving me to the airport was a single trip and he was not allowed to pick up any passenger from the airport. Life is really tough and competitive.

When I was at Sanur Jetty, the first offer was 150,000 Rps, but I bargained hard to 80,000 Rps. None of the drivers accepted my offer except him. The reason was that he was no. 8 driver in the "Queue". He could only solicit my business after the 7 drivers before him rejected my offer. He felt that he may not get any client that day, hence, taking my 80,000Rps offer would at least cover part of his rental cost.

Beneath the "paradise" Bali that everybody knows, Life for the local is actually quite competitive and tough. In fact, I enjoyed talking & joking with him who is a very genuine person. When I reached the airport, I gave him 120,000Rps (50% more than the agreed price). This amount of money is nothing to us, but he was really happy and grateful. That made me happy too!

No comments: