Kyspeaks.com

Malaysian Food Blog, Travel, Diving & More

Tag / dolphin

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!

bali itinerary 2014

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, totally by accident
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
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

GPS8.682743, 115.259062

you can refuel at the gas station, of from these road side "premium" bottles
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 Beratan is at around 1200+ meters up, as high as Genting Highland
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
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.

Address:
Warung Ayu
Kalibukbuk Lovina, Jalan Mawar, Bali
GPS-8.159648, 115.026056
Tel: +62 82147555034

our first night was spent at The Lovina Bali, with a private garden
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!
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
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.

Address:
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
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
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.

Address:
Melting Wok Warung
13 Jl. Gootama, Ubud, Bali
GPS: -8.509321, 115.264251
Tel: +62 82 153666087

our private pool villa at Kajane, so I can skinny dip :D
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
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?

You can and should participate in Visa’s contest by submitting your most creative travel photo with the hashtags #TravelHappy #VisaMY to your Twitter or Instagram account and stance a chance to win Agoda.com travel e-voucher worth RM 1,000 every week for four weeks. Click here for more!

P/S: at the point of travel, 10,000 IDR = 2.81 MYR.

 

We went to Maldives for a holiday of sun, sea, and plenty of fun in the beginning of October 2013. This was the second dive trip of the year, the first was Anilao at the Philippines in January.

Two international trips in the same year, I can’t really ask for more. Anilao was mainly for macro (small creatures), while Maldives is famous for its’ awesome big marine animals. Perfect.

This post is about being on the cruise and the entire trip, there will be other entries with underwater photos detailing the dive sites and diving experiences.

map of Maldives

For those who aren’t familiar with this paradise of a country, Maldives is located in the Indian ocean, about 400 kilometers south-west of India.

We took the Malaysian Airline flight that goes straight from KLIA to MLE. The airfare cost a little over RM 1,000 all inclusive. This was a promotional price, usual fare goes for around RM 1.6k.

Luggage weight limit is 30kg, but showing your dive card gets you another 10kg if you’re traveling to a dive destination. Air Asia also flies to Maldives now (via Columbo).

the airport at Male, Maldives
the airport at Male, Maldives

The flight to MALE took about 4 hours and we touched down just passed 10pm.

The airport is built on Hulhulé Island and while you can see the capital of Maldives – Male, the two islands are not connected to each other.

crystal clear water right outside the airport
crystal clear water right outside the airport

Hence, instead of lines of buses and cabs, you have ferries and plenty of private boats picking up travellers.

Right from the get go, we were already impressed. By the airport there were crystal clear water, coconut trees, and gentle cool breeze. We knew that it was going to be a good holiday.

Before getting off the airport, we bought a local SIM card for data services. 22 USD gets you the “unlimited” data package that lasts a month, though unlimited really means 5 gigabytes worth of data before you get throttled.

Data coverage is surprisingly good, albeit the relatively slow speed.

plenty of liveaboard cruise ships parked near Male
plenty of liveaboard cruise ships parked near Male

We were transferred to Handy Cruise via a Dhoni, a multipurpose sailboat that’s equipped with a motor used in Maldvies. The Dhoni also serves as the boat that we used for diving, as well as a rescue boat in emergency situations.

Having a separate boat for diving ensures that the main boat that we spend most of our time in is always dry and clean.

aboard on Handy Cruise, where we spent the next 6 nights
aboard on Handy Cruise, where we spent the next 6 nights

The Handy Cruise is a pretty fine liveaboard boat, there’s a sun deck on top, followed by 5 cabins on first floor (two of which has built in jacuzzi), with access to front and rear of the boat. The entertainment area (with TV and sound system), dining room, kitchen, and the bar is on the main deck. There are five more cabins on the lower deck as well.

There’s a charging station for cameras & phones on the common area, and each room is also equipped with air conditioning with attached bathroom and hot shower. I’d say it is equivalent to a 3-4 star hotel.

light attracts planktons, which attract the beautiful manta rays
light attracts planktons, which attract the beautiful manta rays

We logged 17 dives in 6 days, with the seventh day spent clearing nitrogen out of our body before flying home. As mentioned earlier, posts on diving will follow.

For two nights, the crews set up strong halogen lights at the rear of the boat. This attracts planktons and small fishes, which in turn attracts manta rays that feeds on planktons.

There was a single manta ray on the 2nd night of the trip, and two more that visited us on the 4th night. These magnificent creatures were some 6-8 feet across their wingspan, gracefully gliding through the water and doing back flips just beneath the surface as they feed.

Beautiful beautiful fish, and no, you can’t have it for ikan bakar.

we parked near Machchafushi island on the 4th night
on the ocean, you get beautiful sunset everyday

The cool thing about living on the ocean, or really anywhere around Maldvies is that you get beautiful sunsets every single day. There are no tall buildings or hills obstructing the view. It was magical.

Of course, if you’re an early riser, there’s sunrise as well, but who can wake up for that?

on the ocean, you get beautiful sunset everyday
we parked near Machchafushi island on the 4th night 

We cruised passed many small islands with beautiful resorts on them. The views are worthy of wallpapers and postcards. The photo above shows the Centara Grand Island Resort & Spa on the Machchafushi island, South Ari Atoll. Spending a night there cost something like RM 1,700.

We paid less than half of that per day, including, diving, food, board, and tips.

dolphins came by and played a bit in front of our boat
dolphins came by and played a bit in front of our boat

We were also extremely lucky. On the way crossing from South Ari Atoll to Maadhoo, we spotted a pod of dolphins. A few of them actually came and ride the wake of our boat for a couple minutes, it was the closets I’ve been to wild dolphins. You gotta be there to appreciate the moment.

food on board was not bad, we had sashimi for a few days after they caught this sailfish
food on board was not bad, we had sashimi for a few days after they caught this sailfish

Food on Handy Cruise is pretty good too.

While we’re diving, the boatmen sometimes go fishing (at non-reserve areas, of course), and they actually managed to net a 7 foot long sailfish on the 4th day of the trip. We dined on delicious sailfish sashimi for the next 3 days, cooked sailfish filet wasn’t nearly as tasty though.

Maldivian food is not very different from Indian cuisine, their dal is creamier, there’s plenty of seafood, and the meat of choice is usually chicken and the occasional beef. Since it is an Islamic country, everything is halal too.

Oh, the papaya from Maldives is also a lot juicier and sweeter than our Malaysian counterpart.

we stopped by Maadhoo island, beautiful place
we stopped by Maadhoo island, beautiful place

On the penultimate night of our stay, we stopped by Maadhoo Finolhu, also known as the picnic island.

The long and slender island with white sandy beach on boat sides is used for nothing but to host picnics and bbq parties. This was the first time we got off the ocean after 5 days. You do get a little bit of “land sick” after spending so much time getting used to gently rocking on the boat.

BBQ party at Maadhoo island on the 5th night of the trip
BBQ party at Maadhoo island on the 5th night of the trip

The BBQ party was awesome, instead of a sand castle, we had a sand whale shark. The crew even set up disco lights and sound system. Good food, great company, and we danced through the night.

Stepping on the beach along the water line excites the bio-luminescent creatures to generate lights, it was like tiny dots of stars on the beach. I’ve never seen anything like it.

I think Michael Jackson must have gotten his inspiration for the Billy Jean music video from this.

On the last day, we spent a few hours on Male, the most populated island
On the last day, we spent a few hours on Male, the most populated island

On the last day of the trip, we got to spend a few hours on Male, the most populated island in Maldives with some 100k inhabitants.

The island is less than 6 square kilometers, with majority of traffic comprises of motorcycles traveling at maybe 15-20 KM/h. We visited the fish market and witness a master carving up a huge yellow fin tuna in just some 5 minutes, bought some souvenirs from the local gift shops, and spent some time at the fruits and vegetable market too.

By nightfall on the 7th and the last day of the trip, it was time to go. We reluctantly bid goodbye to the excellent crews on the Handy Cruise and left for the airport on the Dhoni.

It was an excellent trip and one that I hope I’ll be able to repeat in due time.