There’s only 3 more days in 2019, time flies, but it’s still not too late to write about the diving trip at Komodo Islands that I went back in September. This is the first part of the trip – a visit to view the famed Komodo Dragons.
Welcome to Rinca Island, here be dragons
Since there’s no direct flight from KL to Labuan Bajo, the Western fishing town of Flores closest to the Komodo National Park, we took the flight from KL to Bali, and then Bali to Labuan Bajo.
A note though, never fly Lion’s Air if your life depends on it. Other than the plane being old (which is acceptable), the service level is downright bad. On our return flight the computer system broke down and the ground crew refused to check us in manual method until the plane landed, which delayed things further on an already delayed flight, almost made us missed the connecting flight back to KL.
After spending a night at Labuan Bajo, we headed on to our liveaboard (more on that boat in next post), and the first destination was Rinca Island – one of the three largest islands included in Komodo National Park.
a bit of forced perspective doesn’t hurt any dragon
All visitors to Rinca island must be accompanied by a local guide, and it was obvious from the get go that it’s for our own good, preventing stupid tourists such as us to get ourselves into trouble with these magnificent creatures. These things looks almost like your usual monitor lizard but just, wayyyyy bigger, like size of a crocodile.
There were some pretty sad looking deer around the park too, and we were told that these were dragon food, which kinda explained how they look the way they did, dohhh.
a guide is definitely mandatory for dragon sightseeing
The guide did his best in explaining to us about Komodo dragons, their behavior, life cycle, and even helped us take some pretty neat photos. Wikipedia does a better job than I ever can, so I’m not going to even attempt, check out the entry here.
The tour lasted some 2-3 hours, we walked around the foot path to the top of one of the hills, where more dragons were loitering around. The view on top was quite neat, worth it.
the pink beach is due to all these coral bits (I think)
As a bonus, we also got to stop by a tiny island comprises entirely our of sand – and they’re pink! Yes, the famous pink beach of Komodo National Park.
pink beach island
The pinkness of the beach is from a sort of red coral bits making up part of the sand. Makes for a good photo if you pump up saturation a bit, otherwise they’re not exactly overwhelming to be honest. One of those things that looks better on instagram than in real life, oh well.
Some diving photos and what we managed to see underwater on this trip to come, it was a very tiring and overly satisfying few days of diving.
Disclaimer: I am blogging on behalf of Visa’s Travel Happy campaign and receive compensation for my time, but the thoughts, words, and promotions on this page are mine, not Visa’s.
After our positive experience visiting Bali in 2011, I’ve always wanted to go back again. Hence when given the opportunity to head back to the island for a 3D2N tour, I was more than happy to plan a trip that maximises what we can do.
So instead of a normal vacation, we made it a road trip!
P/S: contest to win an Agoda travel voucher worth RM 1,000 at end of this post!
Our itinerary to Bali started on a flight on Friday morning and ended on Sunday night, a total of 3 days with 2 nights spent on the island.
Instead of taking a cab to the airport, we decided to drive. Parking fair at the KLIA long term parking came up to RM 130 or so, which is still a little bit cheaper than taking a cab.
we met Firdy at Denpasar Airport where I withdrew IDR with Visa
Soon as we touched down, I stopped by the ATM to withdraw some Indonesian Rupiah using my Visa debit card for places that doesn’t offer credit/debit card payments.
Denpasar airport does not have any car rental booths, so do plan ahead if you want to rent a car, otherwise it’s another hour’s wait for the car to arrive.
We rented a Toyota Avanza for our trip. I opted for self drive (armed with GPS brought from Malaysia), but you can get one with local driver too.
Check out some of the offers exclusive to Visa for car rental here. There is also a Mobile App you can download for iOS & Android devices that allows you to check the latest Visa offerings.
Additionally, there is the Global Customer Assistance Service available where you can get emergency card replacement in as little as within 24 hours.
when in Bali, one must have babi guling
Coincidentally, we met Firdy at the airport. While we traveled cashless, this guy went one step further and didn’t even bring any luggage! He ended up joining us for half our trip.
First order of business was lunch, and when in Bali, one must have Babi Guling!
To be honest, my previous experience of babi guling at the famous Ibu Oka was not exactly very positive, but this version at Sanur (around 30,000 IDR per person) completely changed my mind about this unique Balinese dish. It was very, very good, I’d definitely go there again on next Bali trip.
Address: Babi Guling Sanur Jalan By Pass Ngurah Rai, Sanur (Opposite McDonald’s)
Bali GPS: –8.682743, 115.259062
you can refuel at the gas station, of from these road side “premium” bottles
From Sanur, we got on the road and cut through the middle of the island on the way to Lovina. Roads in Bali are usually pretty tight, which makes for some challenging driving.
To refuel, there are gas stations, but there’re also road side stalls that offer gasoline (referred to as “premium” in Bali) by the bottles. No prize guessing which option accepts Visa.
Danau Bratan is at around 1200+ meters up, as high as Genting Highland
By the evening, we reached Danau Bratan, one of the three lakes in Bratan caldera, which was a Volcano that was erupted hundreds or even thousands of years ago.
The lake is situated at around 1200+ meters high, making it as high as Genting Highland. It was windy and very chilly, but of course, the scenery was definitely worth a a shiver. I would love to stay a night here next time.
our dinner at Warung Ayu, Lovina, it was lovely
For dinner, we stopped by Warung Ayu by one of the beaches that is popular as a take off point for dolphin watching (which we planned to do).
This restaurant was a complete random choice, but one that turned out to be a rather awesome! We ordered traditional Balinese food and they turned out to be very, very good. I can have that grilled chicken over and over again, it was a new taste that I’ve never had before.
The server explained that it was grilled with soya sauce and Balinese sauce. I gotta try to make that some day.
our first night was spent at The Lovina Bali, with a private garden
We spent the first night at The Lovina Bali hotel (about RM 380 including tax), it was a pretty lovely hotel with a King sized bed, a day bed, LCD TV with DVD player, and a small private garden too.
Access to the hotel is through a beautiful paddy field, and the rear of the hotel is the Lovina beach, with a pretty decent size swimming pool too.
dolphin watching started at 6am in the morning!
The next morning we woke up rather early for the dolphin watch, one of the things I have always wanted to do. My first dolphin sighting was on a trip to Tenggol Island, and second being when we were at Maldives.
While there are places you can swim with dolphins in Bali, I wanted to see them in the wild instead of in a confined area.
For 60,000 IDR (RM 17) per person, the boat man took us on a boat way out to the middle of the ocean. It was a lot of waiting but the dolphins did come, they were somewhat cautiously curious and did not come too close to the boats. Still, it was a very exciting experience!
Bali Asli, a lovely restaurant at the East side of Bali
We hop on our car and continued the road trip after the dolphin sighting. A little over two hours and some 100 KM later, we arrived at Bali Asli in Gelumpang village.
The restaurant offers traditional Balinese cuisine with an excellent view to boot. Bali Asli also accepts Visa if you book online. We had a great meal and loved the experience. At 195,000 IDR (RM 55) per person, it was very reasonably priced too.
Bali Asli Jalan Raya Gelumpang Gelumpang village Amlapura Karangasem GPS:-8.426548, 115.607427 Tel: +62 8289 7030098
Tirtaganga water palace, just a short drive from Bali Asli
If you are at Bali Asli, Tirtaganga water place is just a little over 3 kilometers away. The water palace is a maze of pools and fountains surrounded by lush garden and many stone carvings.
The water palace was built from 1948 onwards by the late heir to the Kingdom of Karangsem, definitely a place worth visiting. Entrance fee is 20,000 IDR.
Ubud, one of my favorite places in Bali
We then continued our road trip, destination Ubud, one of my favorite places in Bali. The 60+ KM journey took us another two hours on the road.
We spent some time walking around the streets littered with many shops offering local arts, paintings, and more. Haze bought a wooden mask from a local artist too.
Dinner was at Melting Wok Warung. A restaurant that’s quite highly rated on TripAdvisor but one that we did not find agreeable to our taste. The food was perhaps catered more towards Western tourists with quasi Balinese + Western dishes. It wasn’t bad, but I couldn’t finish my minced chicken as I thought the chicken breast was too dry.
If you’re a mat salleh, you might love this place though, since the place was fully booked with plenty of Westerners dining in.
our private pool villa at Kajane, so I can skinny dip 😀
We decided to splurge a bit and checked into a villa with private pool at Kajane, one of the nicer hotels at the main stretch of Jalan Monkey Forest in Ubud.
The villa was huge, and comes with open air bath tub, a king size bed with entertainment system, an outdoor breakfast area with a day bed, and of course, the 8×2 meter private pool which allows one to skinny dip (don’t judge.)
Pro tip – sometimes online prices can be cheaper than walk in, so I actually paid for this villa (RM 740) via my phone with Visa while sitting at the lobby of the hotel.
Breakfast was served at our villa the next morning. My English breakfast was awesome, but it seems like Balinese are terrible at Japanese cuisine as Haze’s Japanese breakfast was rather terrible. Worst miso soup ever, it was sweet.
Bebek Kruwil for lunch, and shopping at factory outlet before heading back
We checked out from Kajane and headed to Sanur for a bit of shopping and lunch.
We stopped by Soto Ayam Suroboyo and had some pretty awesome Bebek Kruwil (20,000 IDR), a local style duck dish that went very well with rice and some Balinese sambal. I really loved it, and it tastes even better than the Bebek Bengil we tried during the previous trip, not to mention about 4 times cheaper too.
Address: Soto Ayam Suroboyo Jl. By Pass Ngurah Rai No. 210, Sanur, Bali GPS:-8.71742, 115.215224 Tel: +62 361 7806065
Finally, we bought some cloths from one of the few outlet stores along Sanur before leaving the island with heavy heart.
So, you want to travel too?
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P/S: at the point of travel, 10,000 IDR = 2.81 MYR.
Disclaimer: I am blogging on behalf of Visa’s Travel Happy campaign and receive compensation for my time, but the thoughts, words, and promotions on this page are mine, not Visa’s.
For my birthday back in 2011, Haze took me to Bali. It was a rather awesome trip and we did quite a lot in the few days we spent on the Indonesian island.
Fast forward 2014, and we decided to head there again to do and see some of the things we missed the last time around, only this time we decided to go cashless – with the help of Visa.
beautiful resorts, quirky people, great food
First of all, why Bali?
The decision is simple, the largely Hindu island has plenty to offer and remains a pretty affordable travel destination despite its popularity. On top of that, they are lots of resorts and hotels to choose from, covering the whole spectrum of budget. A simple online search reveals over 3,000 hotels and resorts on the island smaller than the state of Negeri Sembilan.
getting wet at Waterbom, and marvelling the mantas at Nusa Penida
The last time around, we did the following:
had a massage at one of the resorts
went to Waterbom, a waterpark
went diving and managed to see mola-mola and manta rays
rented a bike and rode up to the volcano
visited monkey forest
visited many art galleries
drank cafe luak
visited kuta beach
tried bebek begil and babi guling
For this trip, I’m keeping my options pretty free. We will certainly rent a motorcycle to get around (traffic isn’t the best), perhaps take a day trip to see/swim with dolphins, or dive the Liberty wreck. Finally going to see what Tanah Lot is all about could be in the list as well.
monkey forest, paddy field, motorbiking, chicken on bicycle, art
Secondly, why cashless?
Well, I’m always a bit wary of carrying a bunch of foreign currencies when it comes to traveling. Furthermore, it is always a bit messy when it comes to tracking your expenses when everything is based on a currency you aren’t familiar with (I track all expenses on my phone). Using the Visa card for these purposes only seemed logical.
For the time when cash is needed (such as eating street foods), withdrawal can be done at the local ATMs too.
I also found out that there’s Visa travel assistance services that provides pretty neat services such as emergency cash provision, emergency card replacement (1 business day)
Additionally, there are also offers exclusive to Visa that you can take advantage off when traveling. These include discounts and upgrades for participating hotels and car rental services, discounts on shopping, restaurants, and more. Definitely something to check out, the offers are unique to each destination.
I got my tickets booked, and can’t wait for our Bali trip 2.0!
Bebek Bengil is one of the higher end eateries at Ubud. Located within walking distance from Monkey Forest, the restaurant spots several tastefully decorated alfresco style dining areas with paddy fields at the back.
The place exudes class, and that was reflected in it’s price, but fortunately, also the quality of the food.
bebek bengil, a paddy field behind the classy restaurant
Bebek Bengil (Dirty Duck Diner) was opened in 1990, and they have a little story on how the restaurant got the name
When we were building the restaurant, we thought long and hard about a name. Many suggestions came from our friends, but none seemed just right.
We know we wanted a Balinese name that translates well to English. However, for a long time the metaphor eluded us.
One tropical monsoon morning, when the restaurant was very close to being finished, a flock of ducks from the rice field across the road ran quacking and squawking into the restaurant and across the floor and tables. They left the muddy webbed footprints all over the place. They were our first guests, those “Dirty Ducks”
grilled duck with sweet chili sauce
We ordered two main courses, Haze had the grilled duck with sweet chili sauce (85,000 IDR) that was prepared by grilling the duck with Balinese sauce and serve with steamed rice. A side of salad and the usual Balinese style chili/tomato sauce came with the dish too.
It was sweet, spicy, and full of flavor. The portion was half a duck (duck here are generally much smaller, kampung duck?), and absolutely delightful.
bebek bengil, the original crispy duck
My lunch was the bebek bengil itself, the original crispy duck (82,000 IDR). It was half a duck steamed in Indonesian spices then deep fried for a crispy finish. The dish came with steamed rice (you can opt for sauteed potato) and Balinese vegetable.
The duck skin was absolutely crispy and delightful, there’s also undoubtedly the distinct herbal taste that has gone into the duck meat itself. It is unlike any type of roast/peking duck I’ve had, and in a sense, this was actually much better. It was a tad salty, but every bid tasty.
and frestea is everywhere
The lunch at Bebek Bengil was easily our most expensive meal in Bali, but it was also the tastiest. While Babi Guling might be the most famous food out of Ubud, but to me, the must-try when you are at Ubud is Bebek Bengil.
Address: Bebek Bengil Jalan Sugriwa, Ubud, Indonesia GPS: -8.51681, 115.26478 Tel: +62-361 975489
It’s time to continue documenting the remainder of my Bali trip while the memory is still somewhat fresh.
After spending a night at Kuta and two more nights at Sanur, we moved to Ubud.
Located at central Bali, Ubud is about one and a half hours away from Kuta on a cab, which in Balinese traffic, only covers around 35-40 kilometers.
Night at Jalan Monkey Forest, Ubud, Bali
The most happening place in Ubud must be Jalan Monkey Forest, a street filled with many hotel/hostel/home stays, restaurants, art galleries, and touristy shops. It is a (mostly) narrow one way street with cars that travels no faster than you could jog.
The relatively higher elevation of 200+ meters above sea level and the abundance of greenery at Ubud gave the place a slightly cooler and more pleasant temperature and than the coast.
Sri Bungalows with lush green padi field at the back
We checked into Sri Bungalows located on Jalan Monkey Forest and paid US $60 via agoda.com for the room that had a King size and another Twin bed. The wifi only works for one device at a time, but it won’t be a holiday if you constantly have to be on the internet, right?
At the back of the hotel (which was a series of “bungalows” with 4 rooms each, 2 on ground & 2 on 1st floor) is a swimming pool, and next to the swimming pool are lush green paddy fields. I’m not sure if these are real farmer’s paddy fields or they’re there only for the hotel guests, but they’re sure beautiful and very relaxing just to stare at.
artsy stuff all over Ubud, all for sale
All along Jalan Monkey Forest and a few streets around it, there are art shops. Many many art shops. Ubud is the art and crafts hub of Bali, and it may as well be the art & crafts hub of South East Asia. Throw a stone in any direction at this place and chances are you’ll hit a painting.
You can find art pieces from from 100,000 IDR cheap paintings to works done by famous Indonesian artists that fetches a small fortune.
monkey forest at Ubud, the prime tourist attraction
Monkey Forest (naturally located at Jalan Monkey Forest), also known as the Sacred Monkey Forest of Padangtegal, is a sanctuary with over 500 long-tailed macaques roaming about in the forest among the trees and temples.
mom, elder sibling, and baby monkeys
Entrance to Monkey Forest is 20,000 IDR (exchange rate was at 10,000 IDR to 3.40 MYR at time of travel). You get a small guide map and plenty of advertisements. There are 2-3 entrances into the sanctuary, and ticket counters are right next to each of them.
There are villagers selling bananas, peanuts, and other fruits you can purchase to feed the primates.
obviously these Australians were braver than me with the monkeys
It doesn’t take more than an hour or so to explore the entire Monkey Forest. There were certainly a lot of monkeys, and some of them quite daring too if food is presence. Fortunately, the monkeys are non aggressive for the most part.
I didn’t dare letting these tailed cousins sit on my lap or climb on me, but some of these Aussie tourists were more daring. (I still remember how hard the monkey bit me while filming for Project Alpha at Tambun, luckily its teeth were filed)
and I tried the famous cafe Luwak, Haze thought it was gross
We also stopped by a Bali Pesto Cafe along Jalan Monkey Forest cos they serve Kopi Luwak. For those who are not familiar with this special type of coffee, do read:
Kopi luwak, or civet coffee, is one of the world’s most expensive and low-production varieties of 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.
This cup of kopi luwak cost me 46,000 IDR including tax, which translate to something like 1.5 cups of Starbucks.
I had it black and did not add any sugar, and true to its reputation, the coffee wasn’t very bitter and carry a pleasant aroma. It pretty nice coffee, but I don’t see the what the hype is about though.
Then again, I couldn’t be 100% sure that the coffee they served me was in fact, kopi luwak. Will try it again next time. 😀
this is how you transport chicken in Bali
And after that 3 dogs on motorcycle photo in the last picture of Kuta post, I shall end this post with a photo of this chicken transporter Haze managed to shoot while we were riding on the rental motorbike around Ubud.