6 September 2009
The last day in Bali started out late as we didn’t have any plans in at all in the morning and our flight was not until 2:25 PM. All we need to do is to wake up before they stop serving the breakfast buffet at ten. I slept somehow late the previous night as I was catching up on Discovery Travel & Living; these show hosts are damn lucky to have this kind of job. I was able to wake up at 9:30 – good enough for me, about half an hour to have buffet breakfast.
We headed back to the room upon finishing our breakfast. I had a quick shower before packing up my stuffs. The plan would be to checkout at 10:30 and just go around the streets of Kuta Beach for some last minute shopping. After checkout, we left our stuffs at the reception and strolled around.
It was very hot in that morning and we didn’t have much energy to go further, we ended up entering the Starbucks outlet in Hard Rock Café. I always check out the country mug they sell whenever I am in a Starbucks outlet. I did manage to add two regular sized country mugs into my mom’s collection. They were selling the mug at 105,000 IDR per piece, more expensive by 20,000 IDR from the outlet in Yogyakarta. It still came with a free drink for every mug purchased though. This collection is getting bigger and bigger, my siblings and mom are buying mugs themselves wherever they get to travel in new locations.
It was already 11:30 when we left Starbucks; we took a cab right outside and went back to our hotel to get our bags. On the way to the airport, I asked the cab driver if there was a place somewhere nearby where we can eat Babi Guling. Much to our amazement, there was a small establishment just 5 minutes from the airport that serves this dish.
Sari Bhuana was the name of the establishment we visited that serves this famous Balinese roasted suckling pork dish. This eatery itself was nothing to rave about as it was just a small warung however I really want to sample how a Babi Guling would taste like and how it would compare versus the Lechon in the Philippines.
We were served the Babi Guling Special (a bit pricey at 25,000 IDR); apart from the Babi Guling, they included chicharon, satay and some other edible stuff that I cannot identify. This also came with the Babi Soup that tasted good but was just a bit too oily and VERY SPICY!!
It was a sumptuous meal however I would still choose anytime the local Lechon in my hometown in Cagayan de Oro. There was not much flavor in the meat though or maybe it was just masked by the thick spicy gravy that came along with it. One thing that keeps me wondering is how the Babi Guling in Ibu Oka would taste like; there will always be a next time to find out.
There weren’t that many passengers at the Ngurah Rai International Airport when we arrived. Unlike last Thursday, we cleared past check-in and immigration in less than 15 minutes.
Traveler Tip: If you are departing from an airport in Indonesia, check beforehand if there is a corresponding airport tax to be paid upon flying out. In Bali, the departure tax was 150,000 IDR per person payable in the local currency and in cash.
The Air Asia flight AK 363 arrived on time and landed twenty minutes ahead of schedule in Kuala Lumpur. There was more than three hours of waiting time before our connecting flight back to Singapore. Unfortunately there was a 30-minute delay, this brought our waiting time to four hours. Oh well, these are some of the things to consider when doing this kind of trip. My only consolation is that we didn’t get stranded because of these delays.
It was past ten in the evening when we reached Singapore. I really enjoyed a lot but I was bit tired after traveling for three weekends in a span of a month. The next few weeks will be a chance for me to rest and to replenish my travel fund (as this was already overdrawn even before this Bali trip).
As for now, no plans yet of going out of Singapore until late October. Of course, it can change if a good travel opportunity presents itself…
3 September 2009
The excitement on the trip was the main reason why I was no longer able to get some sleep after I arrived in my apartment from work at around three in the morning. I did some last minute packing and afterwards did some stuff online and before I knew it, I was already aboard the MRT bound for Changi Airport.
Our Air Asia flight will depart from Singapore at 11:20 AM and will land in Kuala Lumpur. From there on, we will be taking a connecting flight to Bali at 15:50 PM. The flight to Kuala Lumpur was unfortunately delayed; it was not until lunchtime that we finally left Singapore onboard AK 706. I must have been very tired because from the moment I sat in my seat, I just fastened my seatbelt and I was already asleep.
The plane landed at the LCC Terminal less than an hour later; although I have been to this airport before, I didn’t expect the long walk that we had to endure before finally clearing past immigration. As we were already very hungry, we got something to eat from McDonald’s before we did the check-in for the next flight.
We were already inside the pre-departure area of the LCCT before 2 PM; there was a good two hours before our flight to Bali. Although they advertised that there was free WiFi inside the airport, it was abnormally slow. Apart from trying to connect online, there was not much to do inside the LCCT. I gave up after 30 minutes and instead browse over my Lonely Planet – Southeast Asia Guidebook.
The plane for this leg of the journey departed on time and by 4 PM, we were already bound for Bali. AK 364 was a long 3-hour flight, I managed to catch up (again!) on my much-needed sleep.
I woke up an hour before our expected arrival time; the sun was already setting and the color of the sky was very beautiful. I deliberately chose the window seat on the right side of the plane so that we could catch a glimpse of the sunset. It was an excellent choice and we were rewarded with an unobstructed view of the sun setting at 25,000 feet above the ground.
Shortly after the sun disappeared, the plane began its final descent. In less than an hour, we landed in Ngurah Rai International Airport in Bali. After a long journey, we were finally in our destination. The traditional Balinese music was played at the airport sound system; it has a very relaxing effect on my weary mind.
As the plane docked in the 2nd farthest gate from the immigration counter, we had to walk some distance again. It took us 30 minutes to clear past Indonesian immigration since there was only one immigration officer to take charge of tourists not needing visas. While waiting for our turn, we made use of the time to examine the brochures of tours being offered by different companies, most of these were beyond our budget and were priced in US Dollars.
There was another long queue on the taxi stand and I was beginning to lose my patience. Fortunately it just took another 10 minute before we were able to a cab to take us to our hotel in Kuta Beach. Similar to the airport taxi system in Penang, Phuket and Yogyakarta, we needed to purchase a prepaid coupon for our taxi ride. The price of which is dependent on the area that we wished to be dropped off. They charged us 50,000 IDR for the ride to Kuta Beach.
It was a very short ride; although there was not much traffic when we headed towards our hotel, I did notice that the streets are very small, most probably it would be hell during peak hours.
We were dropped in Kuta Seaview Hotel just across Kuta Beach; it is a 4-star resort, which we booked from Agoda. The hotel staff welcomed us with some non-alcoholic drinks while they pulled up our reservation details from their file. I specifically requested for a room upgrade and was pleased to know that they granted my request; from Deluxe Garden, they gave us a Premier Deluxe Cottage. This made me feel a little better as the upgrade sort of justified the cost of the whole accommodation. The room was great, huge comfortable bed with excellent warm lightings. Suffice to say, this is the best place I have stayed in our trips the past few months (this probably goes to prove that I am not really used to hotel style accommodation). We dropped off our bags and headed out for dinner.
We ate at this Pizza Hut outlet a few meters from our hotel; we stuffed ourselves with an all-meat pizza. It was not a hard choice, as this was a favorite even when we were still based in the Philippines.
After dinner, we wasted no time as it was almost ten in the evening then. We strolled around the area inquiring from different travel agencies for a tour around the island for the following morning; all of them wouldn’t budge for the price we can afford and instead offered only a 20 percent discount from what was quoted in brochures, which was still very expensive for us.
Finally after several failed attempts in haggling, we were able to find a good price for the tour we wanted. For the price of 350,000 IDR, a driver will pick us up from the hotel for a whole day private tour. It is not a bad price considering that the similar group tour, which other travel agencies offered are priced at 35 USD per head. I paid for the downpayment and asked Nino, the travel agent, to pick us up the following morning at 9:30 in our hotel.
Travel Tip: In tourist heavy places such as Phuket and Bali, do not be afraid to haggle big time. Set the maximum price you can afford and if they won’t budge, just simply walk away. More often than not, this always works.
The day was long and I barely had sufficient rest. We were very tempted to stroll around Kuta Square and the many beautiful shops around the area but there is time for everything. For now I guess, it is time to catch up on my rest and prepare for a long day ahead tomorrow.
3 September 2009
Another early weekend for me, this will be my last scheduled trip out of Singapore until the last week of October.
In a few hours, we will be on our way to this island in Indonesia called Bali. I have always heard good stuffs about this place ever since I was a kid. Now is my time to really experience what this so-called mythical island can offer me.
Since I am a cheapskate, we will be taking the cheaper (and much longer) route going there. Instead of flying direct from Singapore, we will be flying to Kuala Lumpur and from there we will take a flight going to Denpasar, Bali. This in the process saved us almost 100 SGD per person at the time of our booking last 31st of July. The total airfare of Air Asia for this trip cost us a 200 SGD – it is still pretty expensive considering our average total cost per trip doesn’t usually exceed 300 SGD.
What am I excited about? These three pictures that I goggled over the weekend are the things that I am looking forward to the next few days… (click on the image to be redirected to the URL source)
Oh yeah, according to the weather forecast, we should be looking forward to a sunny weekend. Let’s cross our fingers for this.
I will try to update this blog while in Bali; please note the word try… Otherwise, I will be sharing my experience once we arrive this coming Sunday. Whatever the case may be, I shall greet everyone a pleasant weekend ahead in advance!
21 August 2009
Another early weekend for me, the past four days has been really quick. I finished work at around 2 in the morning. My clothes were already ready beforehand so I jut did some last minute research about our weekend destination, Yogyakarta (pronounced as Jogjakarta by Indonesians), before I decided to call it a night and catch some sleep. No time pressure on being really early in the airport as Air Asia offered online check-in to passengers.
I managed to wake up at 7:30; I realized that it has been a while since I woke up this early. The last time I managed to catch the early morning sun in Singapore was when we accompanied Nina of Just Wandering, to explore the tiny island of Pulau Ubin.
I took my time to have breakfast and did some last minute preparation before heading out of the apartment at around quarter past nine.
The train ride to Terminal 1 of Changi airport (including inter-airport transfers) took roughly 45 minutes. There was only less than an hour before the departure time, we immediately headed towards the boarding gate. Boarding commenced on time however it took another 20 minutes after the scheduled departure time before QZ 7139 was airborne.
The plane ride was serviced by Air Asia Indonesia and the first thing that I noticed was the piped-in in-house FM station which I thought was a brilliant idea as it made the 130 minutes flying time to Jogja a lot less boring. The flight attendant though who made the announcements was very bad in her English; it was barely understandable.
We were served hot meals as we pre-ordered food when we bought our tickets. I ordered Asian fried rice, which came with 2 sticks of beef satay. I did not like my lunch as I found it too dry. I would have been better off had I settled for a cup noodle.
All in all, it was not so bad. It was totally worth the 80 SGD I paid for the roundtrip ticket, which included the crappy meal and the advance seat request fee. I will still fly Air Asia again.
The plane landed in Adi Sucipto International Airport at around quarter to one, it was slightly delayed. The airport is very small with only one runway and it reminded me of the domestic airport back home in Cagayan de Oro.
It was a mess getting past immigration as they only have 2 counters. I would say that it took us more than half an hour before we were cleared. First thing we did was to get some Indonesian Rupiah (IDR). There was this sole money changer inside the airport, which gave us a very crappy rate. In their chalkboard, 1 SGD is equal to 6,400 IDR (in XE Universal Currency Converter it was 1 SGD to 6,900 IDR) – so I decided to just change 10 SGD, just enough to pay for our taxi fare going to the city. They gave me just 60,000 IDR stating that it was small bill – in my mind I was screaming that I was being screwed but unfortunately I didn’t have any choice.
We bought a taxi coupon for 50,000 IDR. This took us to Jalan Sosrowijayan, the backpacker area in Jogja. It was a 20 minute before we arrived in our destination. Jogja is a small city but you can also feel the vibrant environment as a result of the boom coming in mostly from the tourism industry.
Upon getting out from the taxi, we were immediately greeted by this man who asked us if we have accommodations already. I told him that we have made reservations already to drive him away. I manage to find a money changer in the street, which offered a much more decent rate. I immediately had our pocket money changed and instantly I became a millionaire!
We found our way into Gang (alleyway) II to inquire for a room tomorrow and Sunday from this guesthouse that is highly recommended by Lonely Planet. It must be really popular as we were told that they are currently full but we could check again by tomorrow.
As we will be staying in a hotel somewhere very close to Borobudur for the night, we availed of their shared taxi service going for 35,000 IDR. It was a good deal, as a private taxi would easily cost more than 4 times that said amount.
The ride going to our hotel was more an hour so I took that opportunity to get a quick sleep. When I woke up we were already inside the Manohara Hotel compound. Check-in was a breeze and I just provided my personal details as the payment was settled a week before. A complimentary welcome drink was given in their spacious open-air lobby before we were lead into our room.
We just dropped our bags and we immediately made our way towards the Borobudur temple as it was already nearing sunset then. The concierge told us to just follow the pathway if we want to go to the temple; I was surprised it was just 5 minutes away.
The Borobudur Temple, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is a stunning reminder of the Buddhist days in Java. Almost all over the temple complex you can see a statue of a Buddha, most of them headless. We explored our way the four square terrace going up in a clockwise direction. There are bas-reliefs all over the place, which depicted mostly on scenes from the life of Buddha. I noticed that the bas-reliefs were somehow crudely made as compared to the ones in Angkor Wat but nonetheless it is still a sight to behold.
The structure opens up into another four circular terrace in which many latticed stupas can be found as well. Inside these latticed stupas are half hidden Buddha statues (many of them are headless as well). At the center of the topmost terrace is the huge central stupa
As the breeze was very wonderful, we sat for a while facing west and enjoyed watching the sun slowly setting. We managed to take some wonderful snaps before they announced that the temple would be closing. A few minutes after, the guards were already going around and politely asked us to leave.
We started walking back into the hotel in a slow pace enjoying the cool afternoon air. Upon reaching our room, I tried watching TV. I immediately gave up since most channels are in Bahasa Indonesia in which I cannot understand. I then began writing this entry; shortly after I finish this we will probably have an early dinner. I hope to sleep early as we want to witness sunrise tomorrow from the top of Borobudur.