While most people were getting ready for work and school at the start of the new year, my partner and I decided to start the year in the best way possible, a week of holiday in Bali!! The reason we chose to go in January instead of December was because it is the off peak season and prices were much cheaper.
We took SIA which cost only SGD258 round trip from Singapore, which is roughly $30 more than a budget airline, which include a check in luggage capacity of 30kg, in-flight meal and better comfort and service. Throughout the trip in Bali, we engaged a personal driver to take us around the island. We did not explore as much places as those touch and go tourists, who wants to go to as many places as possible for the sake of being there. We believe in less is more, where we go to lesser places but spend quality time enjoying it to the fullest.
Upon arriving in Bali, we headed up north to Kintamani for its scenic view of the volcano Mount Batur and Lake Batur. The weather on Kintamani is cooling as it is located on a highland. We had lunch at Lake View Restaurant at Penelokan, which does offer vegetarian food.
I love the vegetarian maggie goreng from the restaurant. The restaurant is situated on an edge and offer spectacular view of the scenery by sitting at the outdoor section. One can sit and relax away with the tranquility and cool weather while slowly enjoying their meal. The Penelokan area has street stalls and locals will try to tout you to buy their items. Some can be pretty persistent and follow you. If you are not interested, just ignore them. If you are interested in buying, bargain hard.
views of Mount Batur and Lake batur from Lakeview restaurant.
This village is totally off the beaten track which very few tourists would know except for the photographers who came here for sunrise and night shots. Even our driver had no idea about this place. Pinggan village is located at the back side of the popular view of Mount Batur and sees very little outsiders.
When we visited, everyone would be staring at us as though we were aliens. An unknown village to tourist, this place offers a breathtaking view of the caldera of Mount Batur. Onion plantation are a common sight in the village.
With permission from the owner, we entered one of the plantation with the view of the volcano at the background. The villagers rear cows to produce fertilizers to grow their crops. This place would be best seen at sunrise as the sun will appear from the horizon and creates a misty picturesque scene in the morning.
A villager’s plantation
Location from information provided by balimehthesheep.
A short drive downhill from Lake View Restaurant and you will reach Lake Batur. It is the largest lake in Bali. Spanning about 7.4km long and 2.7km wide. We found a quiet spot and sat by the lake and let time passed by. The silence and serenity was welcoming.
As evening approaches, we checked into Segara Hotel for the night, which is located around the lake. The room is very basic but we were totally fine with it. The hot shower works. To our delight, the hotel does provide vegetarian friendly food.
Initially, our plan was to sleep in and leave for Ubud in the morning. But we were offered by the hotel staff to sign up for the morning trek up to Mount Batur to catch the sunrise. Without much thoughts and that adventure sense kicked in, we took the offer and woke up at 330am to start our climb. The weather at night was cold. We began our trek in darkness under the star-filled sky with the milky way visible to the naked eye.
After trekking up awhile I began sweating and took off my jacket. At first, we were told that it would be a non- strenuous trekking and it gets a little steep on the top part, so I thought I would carry my tripod up as well. I would later regret bringing that additional weight up as the trek was more tedious than I expected. Although I had climbed tougher mountain in the likes of Mount Kinabalu, I was mentally not prepared for the climb as this trip was supposed to be a relaxing one.
Nonetheless, we remained positive and determined to reach the top to catch the sunrise. We arrived at the crater top when the first light had just appeared. Our guide found us a spot and we sat as the sun rose from the mountainous horizon, providing a warm comfort to the atmosphere. We had breakfast of bread with banana and boiled egg.
Crab-eating Macaques started to appear to start the new day. Unlike our macaques in Singapore, the macaques in Batur were well behaved and do not harass the tourist and grab their food. We visited the crater of Batur with the volcanic smoke rising from the pit.
We then proceeded back down the volcano, passing through the clouds and villages and back to the car waiting to fetch us back to the hotel. It was the right decision to make the climb as we both feel exhilarated by the experience.
Mount Rinjani, an active volcano 3726m high located on the island of Lombok 120km east from Mount Batur, as seen from the summit crater during our sunrise climb.
Volcanic smoke from the crater
(Blue Moon Villa)
One of the things to do in Bali is to stay in a villa. There are thousands of wonderful villas in Bali and you will be spoilt for choices in deciding which villa to stay. Villas in Bali can range from as low as tens of dollars a night to the luxurious ones that would cost thousands a night.
We were looking for an affordable villa but yet still luxurious enough to stay. After much searching, we bumped into this pretty looking, open concept villa called Blue Moon from AirBnb, probably named after its owner Blue. As most of our private lives is lived behind close doors or walls,the inviting factor of staying in a private villa with an open view is intriguing.
As we stepped foot into the villa, we could not hold back our delightful faces when we see it with our own eyes. It looked even better in reality, especially when the sun began to set. Night time in the villa is very romantic. Blue Moon is surrounded by rice field and a river stream, the perfect place if you are seeking a tranquil, peaceful and scenic place to recharge or spend time with your love.
The pool is located right outside our room and we could jumped into the pool from the room itself. The bathroom is really pretty (I have a fetish for toilets) and spacious which features an open top shower. The kitchen is equipped with everything you need to cook your meal. They even had a built-in oven. The villa is shared between two rooms but during our stay the other room was vacant and so we had the whole villa to ourselves.
Our villa is the last villa among the Desa Bulan Moon Villas, so there is a lot of privacy in Blue Moon. Although we had much privacy, the rice field adjacent to the villa belongs to the local villagers. So they have the right to wander near the boundary if need be. We swam and lazed in the pool for hours, cooked dinner from the groceries we bought from the supermarket, watched movies from the laptop (wifi connection is fast). Santi, the friendly and good natured staff, prepared awesome healthy vegan breakfast for us each morning. Our only regret is that we did not stay longer in Blue Moon.
this is the link to book this villa
(Tegallalang Rice Terrace)
One of the well known attractions in Ubud is the rice terrace. It is a popular tourist spot with cafes and souvenir shops along the street. The terrace is beautifully cut on a slope and you can enter the terrace with a donation of any amount.
The money is used to maintain the rice terraces, however there are a few spots where they will ask for donations to proceed further and if you do not wish to donate further, you may turn back and try to find an alternative route.
One can walk on the narrow paths and climb the terrace. On the top of the terrace there is a little stall selling drinks and coconut. The friendly young stall owner offered to take pictures for us for free (I was afraid she will ask for donations again) as we pose wearing the Balinese straw hat and carrying the basket.
We bought a coconut drink from the stall and enjoyed the view of the terrace at a vantage point before heading back down.
(Campuhan Hill Ridge)
Hidden from view of the streets of Ubud, is a trail along a ridge that spans about 2km long. Paved with squared concrete path and surround by long grasses for the most part, this ridge walk is truly enjoyable given its scenic view and tranquility.
Our driver drove us to our start point via Jalan Bangkiang Sidem so that we do not have to walk to and fro. You may go off path at certain areas and fancy a picnic or meditation if you like, soaking in the tranquility, breeze and fresh air.
For an easier access, you can enter the ridge walk via Jalan Raya Ubud, and look out for Ibah Hotel. There will be a signboard to lead you to the start point of the walk. If you start at Ibah Hotel, the end point would be at Karsa Kafe, where you can have a rest and drink before walking back to Ibah Hotel.
If you fancy a dining place overlooking the rice field, then Cafe Pomegranate is the place you should check out. The open-concept tented cafe, which is opened by two Japanese brothers, offers a beautiful all round view of the rice field.
The ambience of the cafe is very relaxing as you laze on the sofa chair while watching the sun set peacefully, whilst dragonflies hover over the rice field . The cafe offers food from Japan, Europe, Singapore and more. To our delight, they do have vegetarian options. We ordered Singaporean vegetarian curry dip noodle, mushroom soup and pizza.
Getting there – you either had to walk 20mins or ride a bike as the road is too narrow for a car to enter. If you are coming or leaving after sunset, do have a torch with you as the road can be really dark.
Enter from this road
Hidden from view of the streets of Sukawati, is a beauty no one would expect. The canyon is surrounded by gorgeous rock formation with a stream flowing through. If you look intently, you may be able to spot ‘faces’ of animals or creatures form by the formation. You will need all four limbs to get around the canyon and it takes about 2 hours to complete.
Walking barefoot is highly recommended because at some point you will need to walk along the stream. A guide is required as it will be dangerous to walk without their guidance. They are thoughtful to help us carry our slippers in a plastic bag as we explore the canyon.
I would suggest to bring as light as possible (especially photographers) as the additional weight is going to hinder your movement. At certain parts of the canyon you have to cling onto the edge of the rocks with about 3 meters drop into the stream if you fall, which adds to the thrill and adventure of the canyon. A must visit for thrill and adventure seekers!
Along Jalan Raya Guwang, lookout for signage written “Hidden Canyon” that will lead you to the place.
(Nusa Dua Beach)
We came across this beach while having lunch at Hong Xing Restaurant located along the beach at the Nusa Dua Enclave, which requires security check to enter. The shallow waters of the beach allowed us to walk out into the sea, with its crystal clear water allowing you to see where you are going.
We walked about 150m out from the shore before the seabed becomes pretty rocky. If you are swimming, it will be real fun just sitting or laying down at the shallow water and watch the waves of the Indian Ocean.
Location of beach –
Nearby the Nusa Dua Beach at the vantage point of a peninsula, is a rocky cliff where the waves from the ocean smashes onto the cliff at great force, causing the water to ‘blow’ into the air.
The waves have been known to be strong enough to blow the water and rain onto the wooden viewing platform, so be prepared to run if you do not wish to get wet. The platform offers an unobscured panoramic view of the great Indian Ocean.
Bali is well known for its many beaches. We were looking a for a lesser known and quiet beach to go to avoid the crowd. We chose Geger beach located in Peminge village in Sawangan, Nusa Dua. Its white sandy beach, clear waters and lack of crowd were welcoming.
We paid a small fee to use the tanning beds and umbrella to laze, suntan and just let time past by. You can fall asleep easily by lying on the bed while listening to the sound of the ocean waves and enjoying the cool breeze of the wind.
There are water sports such as banana boat, parasailing, fly fish, stand up paddling, canoeing, surfing, catamarans, snorkeling etc available at the beach as well. The is also a small bar at the vicinity. There are no parking area but one can easily park at the side of the road.
The biggest souvenir and gift shop in Bali that sells at a local price. Most of the souvenirs and items that are on sale along the streets of Bali can be found here. It is your one stop place to get everything you want if you are too lazy to walk around and shop for souvenirs to buy for your family and friends. Prices are fixed and non-negotiable.
There are lots of areas to explore in Kuta for street shopping. We shopped around the area of Jalan Kartika, Jalan Raya Kuta and Jalan Pantai Kuta, where there are bars, shopping malls, restaurants, street shops etc. Branded and well known shops can be found along Jalan Raya Kuta and Jalan Pantai Kuta. If you wish to buy something from the streets, please bargain hard as the prices are jacked way up. If you need to change your currency, there are plenty of money changer around. Just make sure you find the best rate.
(Cafe La Farvela)
A classic example of the phrase, ‘never judge the book by its cover’. From the outside, this cafe does not look too much of an interest which was covered with wall clinging plants all over and look rather shabby. However, once you step into its narrow entrance, you will be wowed by its gorgeous antique settings.
It feels like you just entered a Harry Potter world. There is also an outdoor area enchanted with beautiful jungle landscaping. We chose our seats at the outdoor area on a wooden bridge over a small pond, with the sound of running water and lush vegetation creating an awesome ambience.
The menu was not really vegetarian friendly but we still managed to order decent food that does not contain any animal product. The cafe has an upper floor but it was closed when we arrived so we did not managed to check it out.
If you ever come to this cafe, please check out its awesome toilet. It is probably the most artistic toilet I had ever been to at this point on my life (my toilet fetish again). The female toilet is really cool and spacious, and according to my partner, there are sofas on the other side which I did not enter to check it out for obvious reasons. All in all, a wonderful and beautiful cafe to be in that will make you just say wow! at every corner.
the awesome looking toilet
That sums up our trip in Bali. It has been a great trip with adventures and relaxing moments. Bali is a traveler’s paradise. It is safe, affordable, beautiful, and the people are very friendly and well mannered.
We had a great driver who was very accommodating and patient to wait when we were away for long periods. Do tip the people who offered services to you, such as drivers, masseurs, guides etc. The people in Bali do not expect you to tip them and will not ask for it, but will gladly receive them if given. It will be useful to have small change such as 10,000 or 20,000 rupiah for tipping.
The weather in Bali is tropical all year round. The rainy season spreads across December to March but the rain passes quickly. During our stay, we practically had no rain except for about 15 mins of light rain on a day or two. The rest of the time was sunny.
Bali time zone is UTC+8, same as Singapore.
For vegetarians, it is not a problem to find vegetarian food as there are many of them around. If the restaurant or cafe does not have vegetarian options, you may request them to prepare specially for you.
To get around Bali, you can hire a personal driver, take a taxi (blue bird most reputable) or rent a car or scooter. There are no trains in Bali. There are however public shuttle buses called Kura Kura that connects around the popular tourist areas. The shuttle buses have free wifi and electric ports to charge your phone.
You may also like:
THE LOST WORLD OF INDONESIA – MOUNT BROMO https://dennisongphotography.com/2014/06/09/the-lost-world-of-indonesia-mount-bromo/
© [Dennis Ong] [DennisOngPhotography], . Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to [Dennis Ong] [Dennis Ong Photography] with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.