Our First Bali Trip

The first week of November 2015 was my much awaited Bali trip, together with my boyfriend. I’ve been wanting to visit Bali since 2010, but made up so many excuses why not to, or why I can’t:  Expensive ticket, I don’t have a credit card for all the bookings, no one to go with, I can’t file a long vacation leave, etc…

Eventually, my desire grew stronger than my excuses, and I found a way to make it happen.

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[Picture above was last Nov. 6, 2015 at Tegallalang Rice Terraces, Bali ]

I was able to book tickets on sale, and that was the start of this amazing journey.

Bali is a huge island in Indonesia, just about 4 hours travel time via plane from the Philippines.

If you are up for a beach trip, a surfing adventure, a soul-searching escape, a yoga retreat (something like eat pray love… stay in Ubud!), a romantic holiday, or just want time to unwind and de-stress, Bali is the destination for you. What you are longing for, almost can be found in Bali, you just need to know where to find it. To prepare for your trip you can check out tripadvisor website for current yays and nays.

On our first day in Bali, we were toured around by dada Surya (Wayan Suparma), my first ever yoga teacher in the Philippines, and is now a full-time tour organizer in Bali 🙂 – how awesome is that?

For only 50 usd, he kindly picked us up from Bali airport, and drove us to some famous tourist destintions, including UC Silver, Teba Sari, Goa Gajah Bedulu,Warung Dewa Malen for lunch, and Daging Wood Carver, before dropping us to our accommodation.

(Read more about our Day 1 in Bali HERE)

Below are a few pictures from our Day 1 tour in Bali, organized by Dada Surya –

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Originally, we planned to just stay 4 nights in Ubud area with an itinerary of relaxing, exploring nearby shops, joining yoga classes at Yogabarn, maybe go biking along the rice-fields, and eating delicious vegetarian food.

After our Day 1 in Bali, full of sight-seeing of tourist spots, we took it easy and played it by ear for day 2, 3 and 4… Our trip was pretty much going out well, with our budget just right (or so we thought).

Then, fate had other plans for us.

Imagine, the volcanos in Bali were calm and peaceful since last erruption around 2010, but when we were there, the volcano in nearby Lombok Indonesia errupted, and this caused our return flight home to be Cancelled! not once, but TWICE Cancelled!!!! (on saturday the 7th, and on tuesday the 10th of Nov.)

So the original plan of 4 days in Bali, became 9 days in Bali.

It isn’t as glamorous or fun as it sounds. Imagine the Stress in terms of having enough money to get-by, our clothes to wear, and being absent at work. My dad called us ‘the survivors’ lol

Yet despite the stress, it was worth it… Why? For one it didn’t remove the wonderful experiences and memories that we had in Bali. It burned a small hole in our wallets, but money can be earned again. The lessons learned, the fun times, and the travel memories will always be with us. For that, I am forever grateful for the opportunity to have visited Bali…

My positive experiences and memories in Bali outweigh the stress… I’d say that this is one of our best couple-trips so far (the other being our trip to Coron, Philippines last 2013).

Not wanting to forget the highlights of the trip, below is a summary, followed by a more detailed explanation/description.

 

In no particular order, here are my Top 9 Wonderful Experiences and Memories in Bali 🙂 

  1. Having tea and coffee tasting at Teba Sari
  2. Yoga session at Yoga Barn
  3. Seeing rice terraces for the first-time
  4. Having a delicious vegetarian lunch at Kafe restaurant
  5. Dinner and Live music at Siam Sally
  6. Going to Coco Supermarket for Silverqueen
  7. A thrilling experience in the Monkey Forest
  8. Mornings at Kunang-kunang guesthouse
  9. A surprise gift from my boyfriend – beautiful mala beads from Ubud

                           

Having tea and coffee tasting at Teba Sari          

Teba Sari is a very small coffee farm serving Luwak Coffee, Balinese Coffee, and different types of tea.

We went here on Day 1 in Bali, and got to try complimentary teas, coffees and even chocolate! 🙂

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I enjoyed the spiced chocolate drink the most. It is basically hot chocolate with added spices such as cinnamon, star anise, cardamon, etc. If you are familiar with Chai lattes in coffeeshops, it tasted similar… A cup of warmth and yumminess. ❤ Enjoyed it too much that I bought a stash of the spice chocolate from them even if it was expensive! The small stash was already 175,000 IDR (around 600 Php). This was actually my first purchase in Bali, so I was not yet good at deciding if something was too expensive. Looking back, I wish I just ordered a cup of Luwak coffee to try, which was only 50,000 IDR a cup, a lot cheaper than if I were to try it here in the Philippines.

 

Yoga session at Yoga Barn                                                                    SAM_4291.JPG

We tried the gentle yoga with teacher Eka Kailash, and it was a great yoga experience. Eka has a great presence and vibration in him. I liked what he said during the class- “You are not here to prove anything, concentrate on your practice, and only go as far as you can”

It immediately removed the pressure to do yoga perfectly, or to be more flexible than ever.  Lars and I felt awesome after the class.

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TIP: The classes at yogabarn are easily packed, so you have to be here early to secure a good space/slot (20-30 mins before the actual class). If you plan to take more than 2 yoga classes during your stay, get a class card so that you can save more money.

yogabarn*picture above is from their website http://www.theyogabarn.com/

Per session will cost you around 415 Php if you will only avail 1 session, but if you get a class card for 3 sessions it is 1030 Php in converted Philippine money.

 

Having a delicious vegetarian lunch at Kafe restaurant

(my Favorite vegetarian place in Ubud)                                                  SAM_4298

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Kafe is a famous restaurant for yoga enthusiasts, health buffs and foreigners in Ubud. They serve organic, delicious vegetarian dishes at reasonable prices, around 70,000-90,000 IDR per person. Luckily for us, it was only 1 minute-walk from where we stayed (Kunang-kunang guesthouse).

We tried their vegan burger and their salad, and it is one of our best vegetarian meals to date! Do try this place when you are in Ubud. You wont regret! Try their vegan or vegetarian burger and the Lime-mint shake to cool you down after some walking. Also try their desserts – they serve chocolates and cakes here which looked promising…

 

Dinner and Live music at Siam Sally                  

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Yummy Thai food and Awesome Live music. One of my favorite dates with Lars. About 15 mins walk from our accommodation, we went here hungry and ordered 2 main dishes and 1 appetizer, and their serving is actually HUGE. For a regular person’s appetite, you can actually just share 1 main dish (just order extra rice) for 2 pax and still enjoy an appetizer. I recommend you try their vegan green curry as well as their vegetarian spring rolls they were very delicious!

That night, an amazing band named “Ronald Gang” played live – playing freestyle with solo guitar and drum acts (excellent job guys!) , and some favorite rock songs like “Come Together” by The Beatles,  and “Light my Fire” by The Doors to name a few.

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The lead singer and guitarist was very talented, and approachable. Sobrang galing…sobrang galing nila.

On their last break, before finishing the set the lead singer “Onick” went around and spoke with the guests/customers. He is very down-to-earth and friendly. I got to snap a photo of him and Lars.

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*Rockers unite!*

 

Seeing rice terraces for the first-time                                           

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We went here on our 4th day in Bali. Not wanting to leave Bali without walking or biking along the rice terraces, we took a taxi to get to Tegallalang area where this beautiful rice terraces is located. It was around 30 mins travel time from Ubud.

They are just BEAUTIFUL in real-life. The view is so calming.

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There are 2 coffeeshops/restaurants in this area, and we were able to hang-out in one spot with the beautiful view. The name of the restaurant where we hanged-out is “Alon alon Terace Cafe“.

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While waiting for our ordered shakes, we sat down in an open cottage, admired the view, and took lots of pictures.

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We also took the opportunity to practice a few yoga poses while concentrating on the beautiful view.

It is a dream yoga practice-spot… or a place to just let go, and let be… I imagine too that this would be a perfect spot for mediation early in the morning.

 

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Going to Coco Supermarket for a local chocolate called Silverqueen                                                                          

As a chocoholic on a budget, Silverqueen was a good and affordable ‘fix’ to my cravings. There are 2 famous variants – Silverqueen almonds or Silverqueen Cashews… You can also buy them chunky version but for me, the regular version was better (and cheaper! only about 7,000 IDR = around 25 php), with almonds as the better tasting one 😉

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The taste is close to raw chocolates, with that addicting taste of cocoa, but less bitter than raw chocolate. The texture is quite soft to the bite, and the bliss factor is 95% 🙂  Yummmy!~

For family and friends going to Bali, please buy me Silver Queen Almonds (with pink lettering), like in the picture above! 🙂

OTHER ITEMS WORTH BUYING – teas, coffee, spices 🙂
If you would like to stick to tried and tested chocolate brands, buy bars of Van Houtten or Cadburry. They are cheaper and fresher here than in Philippines. For instant noodle lovers, they have something similar to pansit canton of the Philippines, it is called Mee Goreng. You can try this and see the difference. They have this product in Singapore as well, it is tasty, but I personally like Lucky me pansit canton better :p 🙂

 

The thrilling experience in the Monkey Forest        

The monkey forest is quite huge, and it is walking distance from Jl Hanoman area in Ubud (around 20 minutes). I urged Lars that we check out the place, as an extended nature-trip, after our tour of the rice terraces in Tegallalang.

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We paid 30,000 IDR each for the entrance fee (in Philippine pesos, around 102-105 php).

At around 12 pm in the afternoon, the area was still cool, and comfortable to walk around, due to the trees everywhere…

Monkeys were also everywhere! (sulit ang bayad ninyo, it’s not just 4-6 monkeys, but a whole tribe of monkeys)

         

Before entering the forest, we were able to read tips outside as to how to not make monkeys angry or hostile, and worse case scenario, if they are already mad, how to not aggravate the situation.

Simple tips like – do not make eye contact with the monkeys, do not touch the monkeys, do not bring plastic inside or food, etc…

Seemed simple enough, and we felt safe and confident to go in and tour the area…

After a few minutes of walking and picture-taking inside, I decided to take a rest and sit in one of the benches.

In less than a minute, I was surrounded by 3 hyper monkeys! They came by so fast. They were tiny, but scary! One was fiddling with the camera string, another was trying to open my bag, and the other was just adding to my stress.  I felt that anytime they can just bite me!

(No pictures were taken but Lars caught it in video… too embarassed to share it here, lol)

In a way, I was lucky as they were 3 baby monkeys in a good playful mood, and I came out of the ramble in 1 piece, no scratches or bites. After the initial frozen-phase, I just stood up and walked away even if deep inside I was scared to death.

If they were 3 adult monkeys, or just 1 adult monkey harassing me, that would be another story all-together! You never know… and monkeys can get aggressive all of a sudden.

Here is a picture of a beautiful visitor with an adult monkey sitting on top of her!

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There were angry monkeys in another portion of the forest, and we avoided them/walked away to avoid any real danger.

Other pictures in Monkey forest –

  • There’s  a lane full of small shops in Monkey forest where you can buy shirts, bags, sarongs, batiks, and other souvenir items, similar items that you will find in Ubud Market.
  • TIP – Bargain as hard as you can (but don’t get mad at them or be very rude)! I was able to buy 2 bali sling bags for only 50,000 IDR (2 bags for around 175 Php). Since that was the only cash I had left for spending (the rest was for airport tax – which was actually not implemented anymore).
  • There are no prices for their products. If you like something, you ask how much and they will start with ridiculously high prices like 80,000 for 1 sling-bag. You have to say the price you want and stick to it. They will either chase you when you walk away, or will ask you for a price close to your asking price, “for goodluck”. If they dont give in, thats ok, there are lots of other stores here, and in Ubud Market. Try and try again. Lots of similar looking items.

 

Mornings at Kunang-kunang guesthouse 

We booked in a resort called “Kunang-kunang Guesthouse” conveniently located at Jl. Hanoman – a long small street filled with cafes, healthy restaurants, shops, travel tour kiosks, men offering taxi rides, and spas…

Mornings are amazing here in Kunang-kunang guesthouse. The air is cool, the view is spectacular, birds are chirping and flying in the sky, and breakfast is served, always including fruits, and your choice of tea or coffee.

On our 1st morning we had banana pancakes and fruits. I tried their coffee. Pretty good, it is not the 3-in-one instant coffee.

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The next morning we had omellete, bread and fruits… and what was the last(?), I forgot! 🙂 Other reviews online mentioned that their breakfast was not a lot, but as you can see above, it is just right for a regular person’s appetite.

More pics from the resort below:

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It was a great choice for mid-range accommodation in Ubud.

The rooms were clean, the noise level was close to zero (we slept soundly every night), the small pool was an added bonus, and we had complimentary breakfast and coffee everyday. When you walk out of this guesthouse, you will immediately find a reflexology center, and Kafe restaurant (excellent place) in less than a minute.

Other nearby areas include small sari-sari store/simple convenient store to buy water and fruits/snacks, bali shops selling leisure/yoga-wear clothing or natural products, and the Ubud Market where you can buy spices, sarong/malong, souvenirs, yoga-wear, batik clothing, and more is about 20 mins walk from here.

 

Surprise gift from Lars

I’m the type of person who rarely buys stuff for myself. I usually spend more on food and travels, or for things that I really need.

So when Lars surprised me with the mala beads that are very beautiful, I was touched and I appreciated the thoughtfulness on his part. He picked a mala bead necklace with turquoise gemstone, and aqua tassle.

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[His and hers mala beads necklace]

Mala beads are composed of 108 beads, to aid in mantra meditation. A mantra is a word, or a phrase that you repeatedly chant in your mind or aloud. So for each bead, you will chant the mantra, until you complete the 108 beads. Ultimately the goal is peace of mind and personal transformation by connecting with God and being in the present moment. You don’t need to be born in a particular religion, nor do you have to convert to a particular religion, in order to meditate. 🙂 Meditation is for everyone.

This tool is helpful in concentration and focus, since I was able to meditate longer with the mala beads. 🙂

Thank you again love! 🙂 The last highlight of our Bali trip…

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Now for several days already I was pondering as to whether or not I should write about the stress and the hassles due to our cancelled return flights, and feeling stranded in Bali…

In the end, I decided to focus on the good. 🙂

In a nutshell, after our first flight got cancelled, we stayed in Kuta area for 3 nights (Gowin Hotel), while awaiting for the next available direct flight with our airline (they only fly 2 x a week with the route Bali-Manila)…Hindi na kami nag-shopping or whatsoever. Our little money left was mainly for food and drinks. The nearby beach relaxed our troubled spirits. This area is the southern-most part of Kuta Beach. It was 20 mins. walk from Gowin Hotel.

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Then the 2nd time our return-flight got cancelled, we opted to re-route and fly back home via Jakarta ( Bali – Jakarta – Manila) with Lion Air as our airline from Bali to Jakarta. We had about 24 hours lay-over in Jakarta, and stayed at a budget hotel near the airport.

This is all for now… I loved it so much in Ubud, Bali, that I decided that one day I will go back to Bali. Maybe again, and again, and again… 🙂 I just don’t know yet when.

You can read more about our Day 1 in Bali HERE.

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