Saturday, April 25, 2009

Trip to Bali - Day 3

On our third day, we checked out of Oasis Benoa. We asked Gede to pick us up to send us to our next accomodation, Villa Uma Sapna, Seminyak. I chose the Villa with a Jacuzzi Spa Pool which cost USD109 nett (Rm414.20) per night.
[Our initial plan was to stay here only for a night (just to pameper ourselves) and the next day we would be flying back home. Because of Nyepi Day, we had to stay for one more night and there were no regrets for choosing to stay at the villa. :)]

The entrance of the Villa.

Pathway towards the villas.

Our welcome drink! Strawberry & watermelon juice.. NICE!:)

As I made reservations for a massage at 11am, we checked in to the villa early. The villa was not ready yet, Gede then sent us to Jari Menari, Seminyak for our massage.

Dancing fingers.

The entrance

We went for the "Perfect Massage" which costs IRD 300,000 (RM94.35) per person. The environment inside was very soothing. The moment we stepped in we were greeted by the receptionist. Then the massuers were ready for us and guided us to our respective changing room for us to change into their sarong. We were then guided to a room where we got to the massage together.

Be warned! All masseurs are males. However, they are all very professional. They did not in anyway "invade" my private areas. The massage lasted 90minutes. Han & I fell into deep sleep. The masseurs were very gentle but the strength was still there. The way they massage was as though their fingers were "dancing". :)

The interior of Jari Menari

After the massage, we were each given a glass of water and allowed to take a shower in the changing room.

We felt very relaxed after the massage and hungry! So we walked around Seminyak looking for places that I found on the website and also recommended by my colleague. Unfortunately, they were all CLOSED. We found out that most shops are closed to prepare for Pengrupukan (Nyepi Day Eve).

We decided to walk into a restaurant named Warung Murah. They serve mixed rice. Han and I enjoyed the food here. Not because we were hungry but because it does taste nice! and it's CHEAP!

The restaurant

IRD 3,000 for a iced tea. Less than RM1

My selection costs us IRD 15,000.
We love the tempeh masak gula! :)

Han's selection costs us IRD 16,000.
He even made a second helping for the tempeh masak gula.

Altogether we spent about RM 13 for lunch! Made us walking back to the villa happily.

Most of the shops & restaurants along the street were closed. We manage to walk into a few boutiques which is of higher quality & class. Very expensive compared to our shopping spree at Ubud Market.

The streets of Seminyak.
Yes, it's SUPER HOT in Bali but we didn't come back with a tan. Mainly cause both of us have fair skin so we only turn red but don't get a tan no matter how long we stay under the sun.

The shops at Seminyak.
Most of them closed and the ones open would close at 3pm.

When we got back to the villa, our villa was ready for us. We were mesmerized by the beauty of the villa. We have been to two villas so far, Pangkor Laut and Uma Sapna, they are both beautiful in their own way. :)

Since all shops & restaurants are closed for the day, we had to spend the rest of the day enjoying the villa and dinner will be in-house too.

We spent the rest of the day lazing around and taking a swim at the pool.

Our Dinner:

Niscoise salad.
So-so only. I think cause it's too creamy for my liking.

Chef's salad
This is nice. :))

Ice cream!
Yup, it is amazing especially with such HOT weather!

I ordered the burger (on the left) and Han ordered the pork chop (on the right).
My verdict on the burger: It's a little too dry. I love juicy burgers.
Han's verdict on his pork chop: After a while it got too porky!

I will have to say that considering that it's food from a hotel/villa, it's not too bad. The portions are quite big. It is not over priced for the portion and it doesn't make you go "YUCK!".
Total cost for dinner: IRD 308,550 (RM98).

That's it for Day 3. Day 4 would be less exciting but it was definitely interesting and a new experience for us! :)

Our recommendation from Day 3:
-Do go for a massage at Jari Menari if you or your partner is not conservative about having male masseurs.
-Do have a meal at Warung Murah and YOU MUST HAVE THE TEMPEH MASAK GULA!
-If you have not been pampering yourself and you have the budget, do spend a day at Villa Uma Sapna. You will enjoy the place with your partner. :) (Only for those who likes to do nothing and just chill from the stressful life.)

A Short note on Pengrupukan:
Earth purification offering. Ceremonies will be held at each village's crossroads. Crossroads are considered magically dangerous and are favourite haunt of the numerous and bothersome evil spirits which about in Bali, collectively known as Bhutakala. These guys cause disease, accidents and all manner of unpleasant effects. Magnificent offerings are made to the Gods and ancestors, as well, but the Bhutakala are particularly well fed at this time on sacrificed animals and other distasteful goodies. The ides is to get them all to accumulate in one place and then drive them off the island by power of the high priests who will be pronouncing their magical and sprinkling holy water everywhere. This cleansing ritual is critical to guarantee the prosperity of the New Year.
In the evening, the crowd will grow and the fire crackers will go off. In the distance the throb of gamelans play wild rhythms and melodies used for demons and war. Soon come the Ogoh-Ogoh blinking eyes, horrible beasts, witches with toungues of flame, the ever preset Garuda and beautiful gods and goddess. The best are the humours. It's a wild affair. Be prepared for fun and a bit of jostling.
(This write up on Pengrupukan was given by the management of Villa Uma Sapna)

Gede told us that the Ogoh-Ogoh will usually be burnt down. However, this year no one is allowed to burn the Ogoh-Ogoh because their general elections are coming up. They believe that burning the Ogoh-Ogoh would cause a turmoil in the upcoming elections which they have seen in previous years. So this year, for political reasons, no one can burn it.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Can You Keep A Secret?

I sometimes find it very difficult to digest "secrets". When people tell me "keep this to yourself" or "don't tell anyone" or "don't tell so & so", then next thing I know, the person him/herself already told someone. 

I do that sometimes. I understand that the person who "owns" the secret have the rights to tell whoever they like. But what do secrets really mean? 

I would usually assume, secrets are meant to be told to people that you trust to keep the secret. So if it's really such a secret, why tell anyone at all? because as humans, we would like to tell someone or at times you are forced to tell it because you were caught "doing" the secret. 

After telling someone, should we still classify it as a "secret"?

I'm keeping a lot of secrets. At times, the secret can be such a burden. My husband is the only one that I trust to keep secrets and I guess the feeling is mutual. Whenever I feel overloaded with secrets, he would be the one that I turn to. The other person that I turn to is God because God was listening when the secret was told. 

Sometimes I wonder whether I should break the rule and don't keep the information concealed for the benefit of the other person that is involved. In the end, I won't say a word about it because I was told to keep it a secret.

Why can't everyone just be open of how they feel about things? Then there won't be any secrets. Then life would be less stressful.

But somehow I know why secrets are secrets because not everyone knows how to handle the truth. 

Some are still living in an artificial world, not wanting to face reality. 

Some can't handle reality so they choose to be ignorant or they would just "change the topic". 

Some just love being the "right one" or the "victim" because they always feel that they are. 

Some are always in denial of their faults and point the finger back to the person. 

Some just can't be bothered.

Some secrets are secrets because the secret may hurt the one they love or add additional stress to their loved ones.

Perhaps that's why humans are not that open about their feelings or about what they have done. 

So that's why we all have our secret, the only person who knows all our secrets is God.

Can I keep a secret? Yes, I can but don't expect me to just absorb your secret. I would sincerely tell you how I feel about the "secret". :)

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Happy Easter!

Our priests told us to rise from Good Friday and welcome Easter Sunday.

May everyone rise from your sufferings & past. :)

Have a Happy Easter! :)

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Trip to Bali-Day 2

On our 2nd day, we woke up early to have breakfast at the hotel. (The breakfast buffet was so-so only.) Our tour guide, Gede Tirta picked us up from our hotel at 8am. He suggested two routes that we could choose from. I did some research before hand and found out the same thing. So we decided to stick to our plan and go for the route that I've planned for. We headed for the route towards Kintamani and ends at Jimbaran.

Our first stop was a batik centre at Tohpati. We saw the process of making batik and hand weaved cloth.

A bunch of ladies resting behind these 3 ladies who were painting the batik.

This lady is hand weaving a cloth.

We went around the centre but didn't get anything as we were not very into cloths.

Our next stop was Batu Bulan. Initially we weren't interested in getting any stone carvings but Han decided to just have a look.

The guy carving.

All the stone carvings.
There are many shops selling these along the road. Gede brought us to the one that he is familiar with. However, he did remind us to bargain at least 50% off the price that the seller offers. We decided to start our bargain at 70% off. :)

We ended up buying two stone carvings. A couple frog for my in-laws and a tea light lamp for my colleague. The opening price by the seller was IRD 150,000. After bargaining, we manage to get both at IRD 100,000. (RM 31.45)

The couple frog that we got for my in-laws.
They are just so adorable.

I couldn't help taking a photo of this pig.
We saw it at the stone carving shop. The pig Oinked when I snapped the photo! :)

We passed by Desa Celuk, where it is famous for gold & silver smith. We were not interested, so we didn't make a stop.

Gede then brought us to Sukawati to see paintings. Before we went for the trip, many people told us that the paintings there are very cheap and beautiful. But Han & I weren't that interested in paintings. We went anyway, just to see what the buzz is all about.

Ketut (the guy in grey) was explaining how an art is developed.

This is a traditional art.
He explained that there are 3 types of art, Traditional, Nature & Modern.

We spent some time looking around. I wanted to get a drawing of "Kwan Yin" (Goddess of Mercy) for my mum but I didn't cause I didn't know whether she would appreciate paintings. We ended up purchasing a painting of Balinese working at the Rice Terrace. Ketut also explained that there are 3 categories of painting, By the Master painter, teacher or student. He showed us all 3 so that we could tell the difference. The one that we chose was painted by a master. My dad said that the painting is impressive as it is very fine. The painting costs us IRD 400,000. (RM 126.00)

Gede then dropped us at Ubud Market for us to do our shopping. He again reminded us to bargain at every stall and there are other places with cheaper prices. So if we feel that the price is not reasonable, we can go to other places.

Part of Ubud Market.
The place is very big and dirty because there is wet market as well.

Han wondering where we should begin.

We followed Gede's advice and really bargained at every stall that we visit. Some stalls will be very desperate and try to hold you back. Some just can't be bothered with the price you offer and allow you to walk away. At one point, it became very stressful as they were almost "harassing" us to buy! When we were "surrounded", the first thing that came to my mind, our valuables in our pockets & bag. We were both very alert and didn't allow their "harassment" to distract us from securing our valuables.

Things that we bought from Ubud Market:

Wood Secret Boxes!
If I tell you where the opening is, then it won't be a secret box anymore! :P
I got the butterfly for a close friend, the frog for a colleague, the pig for myself and Han chose the Ying & Yang. The original price that the seller quoted was IRD 250,000 for one. I got all 4 for IRD 600,000. (RM 188.70)

More souvenirs!
I got these for my close girlfriends & a colleague.

I got the dresses for myself. One of the shorts for another close friend, the black shorts & 2 other pants for my sister & mum. Han got the Bali Bali t-shirt for himself.
We spent about IRD 1,000,000 (RM 314.50) for all the above items (including the wooden secret boxes).

We were quite exhausted from the bargaining at the market. When we left Ubud, it was only 11am! Time must have stopped while we were bargaining.

Gede then brought us to a coffee farm, Sai Land , on our way to Kintamani. We were greeted by the farmer/owner, Murtika. He speaks very fluent English for a Balinese. We later found out that he also speaks German & French! WOW!

Murtika explaining to us about the various types of coffee.
He also told us that he is 50 in Balinese years. He explained to us that the Balinese has a different calender. His actual age is 28.

A family member of the owner pounding the coffee beans.
While we were chatting with the owner, Gede helped this guy out.

This old man is 160 in Balinese years! :)
He is frying the coffee beans.

I admire the earth in Bali. The texture of the earth is just so nice that I have no words to describe how much I fell in love with it.

Luwak Coffee
This coffee is made of Wild Civet's waste. :)
It taste very nice. Not very strong but the aroma is there. It doesn't give you that sharp feeling on your throat after drinking it. We bought 2 packets of Luwak Coffee powder. It is quite expensive as 1 packet (200grams) of coffee powder cost us IRD 120,000 (RM 37.74). We bought one for my in-laws and one for us to keep at home for our guests. (So, anyone interested to try coffee made out of Wild Civet's waste, you know where to go to! :P )

Normal Coffee.
This is also nice. Nicer than the ones we get in Malaysia but not as nice as Luwak Coffee.

Ginger Tea with a stick of Cinnamon.
I enjoyed this as I'm not much of a coffee drinker since I broke my habit of drinking coffee last year.

The coffee powders, ginger tea & cocoa powder that we bought from Sai Land.
It costs us IRD 300,000. (We forgot to bargain. Lesson learnt.)

Here are photos of the plants that we passed by on our way to meet the owner.

Cocoa fruit.

Red Coffee.

Riped Cocoa.

Han standing next to an Eucalyptus tree.

Vanilla Tree.

We then headed to Kintamani. We had to pay IRD 10,000 (RM 3.14) for two as entrance fee. As we were driving up, we could see a volcano. Gede told us that this volcano is still alive but it hasn't erupted since 1963. It is indeed a beautiful view.

Gede stopped half way so that we could take a photo of the volcano.
We were again "harassed" by people selling souvenirs. These people are even scarier than the ones at Ubud as they kept persuading even though you are already inside the car. We were so afraid that we locked the car doors immediately!

Can you feel it breathing? :)

Gede then dropped us at a restaurant at Kintamani for lunch. The name of the restaurant is Grand Puncak Sari. You can enjoy your lunch while admiring the cold weather & the beautiful view. It is a buffet lunch, IRD 80,000 (RM 25.12) per person.

The food was just ok. Nothing great.

The inside of the restaurant.

We sat by the window.
So I started taking photos of the views outside.

After lunch, we headed to Mas village to see wood carving. We passed by Mas on our way to Kintamani but we didn't want to stop. After looking at the wood carvings at Ubud Market, we decided to drop by at Mas when we were on our way to Uluwatu.

One of the workers, Ketut explaining the various types of wood.

Carving in progress.

Han is a big fan of wood. So we spent nearly an hour there. Selecting & bargaining. We bought a statue of Mother Mary carrying Jesus, 2 Laughing Buddhas (for Han's colleagues), 2 sets of See No Evil, Hear No Evil & Speak No Evil monkeys, key chains & a magnet for IRD 1.6 million. (RM503.20).

The painting and wood carvings.
The painting is from Sukawati.

The key chains & magnet for Han's colleagues.

We had to rush to Uluwatu to catch the sunset. Gede apologized for having to drive faster than the normal speed. We manage to reach Uluwatu in time to watch the sunset. We had to pay IRD 6,000 (RM 1. 90) for two persons as entrance fees.

We had to wear this sarong and a yellow belt.
The sarong is only for those who wear shorts. If you wear long pants/skirt, you only have to tie the yellow belt around your waist. As this is a temple, so we had to follow their "dress code".

Sunset at Uluwatu Temple.

The temple's entrance. It is only opened for ceremonies.

There are A LOT of monkeys there! These monkeys grab your glasses, scarfs & chains or anything that is worth grabbing in exchange for food! So I had to keep my glasses in my bag which meant I walked around Uluwatu Temple quarter-blind. :P

Monkey enjoying his fruit. I wonder who was his victim.

The sea is just so beautiful at Uluwatu.

Monkeys also know how to pose.

We got very stressed up because of the monkeys as we witnessed them grabbing a lady's necklace and another lady's tudung. Plus, monkeys are EVERYWHERE! So we only spent about 10minutes there. Just see the sunset, take some pictures and RUN! :P

Gede then brought us to Jimbaran. Jimbaran was the other spot where the bombing took place a few years back. Since the bombing, there is a tighter security check before you enter the area. Gede told us that before the bombing, people were allowed to drive in and out without having go through any security check and there is no need to pay parking fee.

Gede dropped us off at a seafood restaurant named Matahari Cafe. We were greeted by friendly waiters and we were each given a welcome flower. We chose a seat on the beach so that we can enjoy the sea breeze. The waves were a little scary as they were pretty strong & loud.

There are a lot of restaurants to choose from along the beach. We were told that all are the same. So we just went for the one Gede introduced.

We get to go to the counter to choose what seafood we want. So we chose to have King Sea Prawns, Sea bass & a lobster. They were grilled two ways. Half were grilled with garlic sauce and the other half tomato sauce. We both preferred the garlic sauce.

The entrance of Matahari Cafe.

When we were seated, there was only one table occupied but the other restaurants were pretty crowded. We thought we made the wrong choice but as we dined, there were more people joining us at the restaurant.

I ordered a Bintang Beer. Just to try since many people spoke about it.
Perhaps I'm not an ardent alcohol drinker. So I don't really know what was so great about this beer.
Han ordered Balinese Sangria.
It tasted more like coke which I prefer. :)

Fish & vegetable soup as starters.

Our main dishes.
It's YUMMY! and I think it's underrated to say that seafood at Jimbaran is so-so only. It taste better than so-so. :)

Their rice was served in a bakul.

Kang kung! Which Han enjoys very much.
He will keep saying that it's so simple to cook this dish. *hinting perhaps*

The sauces that goes with the main dish.
We like the Balinese sauce & sweet sauce. (The one in the red saucer.)

Us with our food!
We stayed there chatting for more than hour after we are done with dinner. Just enjoying the sea breeze, the company & the stars. :)

It is a sweet way to end our 2nd day at Bali.

Our recommendations from Day 2 at Bali:
- BARGAIN! whenever you want to buy something, BARGAIN!
- Hire Gede Titra if you ever go to Bali as he is a very nice tour guide. He don't like the fact that his customers get cheated by sellers. So he will always warn us of any con men. He speaks Japanese & Russian. His English is understandable. Of course, we spoke to him with a mixture of Bahasa too. He will also just send you anywhere you want unless it's unreasonable for him to travel from one end to the other.
- Go to Matahari Cafe, Jimbaran (the signboard outside says White Sand Cafe but the receipt says Matahari Cafe.) for nice fresh seafood dinner.
- Don't buy so many things from Ubud Market. There's another place that can give you a better price. (Will tell you more in Day 5.)
- If you don't like monkeys, don't go to Uluwatu temple. You might just end up very stressed up.

Gede charges IRD 350,000 (RM 111.00) for a one day trip. He will pay for the parking but not the entrance fees.
Gede's contact number: +6281 856 8384
His name is pronounced as "Geh-deh" with a silent "h".