Monday, October 30, 2017

A Three Day-Four Night Stay In Bali

As an Indonesian, I have to admit that I don't know much about Bali, the Island of Gods, that attracts many international visitors. So when a friend asked me to accompany her for a brief R&R to the island, I said yes. 

We got to know each other when I was assigned in the lifestyle desk during my journo days. While I have moved on to the non profit sector, she is still writing for the lifestyle desk. Hence part of the trip to Bali was thanks to her work as she won a hotel voucher that would be void in November. 

Since we both had the same friends who work in Bali, we decided to hold a small reunion during lunch or dinner (because meal time is the key to happiness and a meaningful heart-to-heart talk). And guess what? We both brought our laptops. In the end, it was not a real holiday hahaha. But anyway, here are glimpses of review on hotels (we stayed in three hotels), food and other random things you can do in Bali.

Disclaimer: all opinion are my own, I don't receive monetary gain from writing this.

Day 1

We arrived in Ngurah Rai International Airport the night before and went straight to our first hotel, Courtyard by Marriott. Located on Jl. Camplung Tanduk, Seminyak, the hotel welcome us in the reception with a refreshing welcome drink and in our room, there was a cheese platter and two Bintang bottles. 


The cheese platter was a real treat! Slices of Camembert, Gouda and Cheddar cheese paired with pumpkin seeds, cashew nuts and walnuts (my favorite!). My friend and I don't drink, so we gave those Bintang bottles to our friend who works in Bali and drink beer.   

Breakfast in Courtyard by Marriott is one extensive array of sumptuous dishes. It's a five-star hotel, so of course it has to be delicious and complete. And as weird as it may sound, my favorite breakfast menu is the bagel.

Bagel at Courtyard by Marriott Bali

Our room had a direct access to the swimming pool. But I forgot to bring my swimsuit. So I googled "baju renang muslimah di Bali (Muslimah swimsuit in Bali)" and found this store. My friend already brought her swimsuit and jumped straight to the pool. 

I ordered Go-Jek and went across the island to buy the suit at said store. Riding a motorcycle in Bali is always a fun thing to do, and Go-Jek has made it easier. Unlike Java that has many ojek (motorcyle-taxi), Bali used to have only taxis and car/motor rentals. One visitor in Bali in the past should be either rich (to pay for taxis) or able to ride motorcycle (because it's cheaper than renting a car). My friends told me stories of having to go by taxi and getting uncomfortable experiences, such as being dropped off out of nowhere in the middle of a traffic jam just because the taxi driver didn't feel like continuing.

As I scoot along the streets of Bali, I saw people preparing for Galungan, which will fall on Wednesday. The island felt a bit vacant due to Mt. Agung's volcanic activity. It was a work day, but everyday feels like a holiday in Bali.

The trip to the swimsuit store was around 30 minutes, so I spent one hour for the trip back and forth. Added with trying on the suit, my slow decision making process on which swimsuit to buy and waiting for the Go-Jek drivers, I ended up spending two hours on the road. I arrived back at the hotel at 11 a.m. and packed up my stuffs because we had to check out and had lunch with our friend at The Stones in Legian, which is also a part of Marriott group.


Our friend, Abel, who moved to Bali seven years ago, adopted five stray dogs and one of them has epilepsy. Canine epilepsy is rare, each episode can last for a few days with post seizure fever that can last for weeks, so each day is precious for her and her fur babies.  

After a very long lunch and talk with Abel, we headed to our next hotel, Yan's House Hotel on Jl. Kartika, Kuta. The hotel has 11 themes for the rooms, and we got the Homeland room.

  Found here

Then we walked to Kuta beach, which is just a stone throw away from the hotel, to enjoy the sunset. Kuta beach was buzzing with activities, as usual. But there is always a spot on the beach for thinkers, philosophers and introverts.




While we were there, the hotel held room viewing for a group of journos, followed by a six-course dinner at CodeGrafiti, the hotel's restaurant. We tagged along with the group.

The chef, Bondan Yuliarso, is a man of innovations and he brings his visions to the restaurant. He is committed to use local fruits and ingredients. He invents juices that are a mix of either kedondong, snakefruit, mangosteen and orange. He infuses tobacco and chocolate for the sauce. The portion is small, but very fulfilling and delicious. By the end of the dinner, everyone had a food coma.

The cutest dish of the night award would go to Obat Nyamuk Lime Leaf, which is made from black sticky rice and squid ink. My favorite is the lamb sirloin and the cod fish. For more photos of the six courses, please see below. The numbering is based on the order of appearance.


Day 2

After breakfast, we had a picnic by the beach, set up by the hotel. A basket of picnic treats for two is worth Rp 175.000, and you don't have to be the hotel's guest to order one. 

The hotel's staffs set up the picnic treats



Black sandwiches, crepes, plain black bread, juices and soda

I was not sure what was this couple trying to do.

Then we checked out and headed to our third hotel, Fontana Hotel on Jl. Dewi Sri, Kuta. After the check in, my friend and I went separate ways.

I went to Brownfox Waffle & Coffee to meet up with my friend Desy. She was assigned to Bali in 2009, and I have yet to meet her again. She was a single woman when she left Java. Now she is a mother of three kids.

We looked so cool, calm and collected in this photo...

...but here's what happened on the adjacent table :D

Then I went to Nook, a restaurant in Kerobokan, because my friend was there. Owned by artist Happy Salma, the restaurant is located next to a paddy field and has the trendy crowd. Most dishes in the menu are vegetable-based.

Nook

Calm amidst the chaos

Nook salad

Nook Iced Coffee

One would consider to call it a day, but these girls decided to stop by Gusto Gelato and had some cool treats before bed. I chose stracciatella and gianduia in a cone, priced at Rp 24.000.

Stracciatella and gianduia

Day 3

Plunge!

We went swimming at the pool, had breakfast and headed to Sukawati art market. We spent four hours at the market. I didn't buy a lot, just a small rattan bag, two hand-shaped woodcarving, a piece of fabric and a pair of pants.

Woodcarvings in Sukawati Art Market

My friend rode the motorcycle, while I had to read the map from GPS. I was not sure how, but we ended up passing the Bali Mandara tollroad, or Nusa Dua-Ngurah Rai-Benoa tollroad, which is a tollroad carried by a bridge stretching across the Gulf of Benoa 12.7 km in length.


This is probably the only tollroad in Indonesia that allow motorcycles to pass through. It even has a dedicated lane for motorcycles. Some tips if you want to pass this tollroad: (1) Since it is right in the middle of the sea, the wind is strong, so wear windbreaker or other biker approved outfits, (2) Take an electronic money card, because all tollroad gates only receive this kind of payment, and (3) Read maps and GPS, because if you make a wrong turn, it would be difficult to get back on the right track.

And as you can guess, yours truly and her friend took the wrong turn hahaha. We were planning to go to Nasi Pedas Ibu Andika in Kuta, and when we had to choose two roads between Ngurah Rai airport and Denpasar, I didn't know which to take so my friend chose Denpasar, and the decision brought us back to the first tollroad gate.

When people got lost, people showed their true self. While I took the incident lightly, my friend completely blamed me for getting us lost. She was yelling, complaining and cursing. She was hungry and tired, I understood. I also got tired in reading the map, something got into my right eye which later got red and teary for 10 minutes during the ride, but did I complain? No.

Anyway, we arrived at Nasi Pedas Ibu Andika, ordered our very late lunch and ate in silence. The meal was good and affordable, and I would recommend it for budget travelers and people with iron stomach.

A plate of rice with one type of vegetable, slices of tempe and anchovies at Nasi Pedas Ibu Andika, priced at Rp 19.000.

We went back to hotel and prepared to close the day by having dinner with our friends Yoyo, Judith and Haikal at Moringa, which is only 300 meters from our hotel.

Mie Cakalang Kuah at Moringa

A candid of yours truly at Moringa by my friend. It must be that "Damn, I had to get back to work again tomorrow" face.

I hope you can find something useful and entertaining from the post. Have a magnificent Monday!

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