June 20, 2017

Indonesia – Bali

If I were to summarize my Bali trip in one word, it would be ‘unexpected’. For some strange reasons, I had the impression that Bali is a small place, despite the fact that I could see myself from the map that it’s goddamn huge! But it was ‘unexpected’ in a good way for me. I expected it to be a just mediocre holiday destination but the trip unexpectedly turned out to be quite pleasant for me and my family. Here are the list of hits and misses of Bali:

Hits (good):
Pura Penataran Agung Lempuyang : To be frank, you’ll only be impressed with the first few Hindu temples you visit in Bali. After that, it gets trite and common, and most of them would look all the same after that. Just like those churches in Europe. But not Lempuyang. This place has a magical feel, and it’s the only temple in Bali I’d vouch for. Its magnificent view of Mt. Agung (subject to weather condition) and serene ambiance, makes me feel at peace.

Jatiluwih Rice Terraces : It has a UNESCO label on it, and rightly so. On a clear day, you’d see contrasted green or yellow fields of rice terraces against the blue sky. Takes away all the stress.

Pura Ulun Danu Beratan : The water temple that is surrounded by a well maintained park. Because it is located at a highland, the air is cool here and breezy. Great place to relax and killer postcard scene to be had.

Twin Lake view : Located not far from Beratan lake, it is a free viewpoint with some restaurants lined up along the street. It’s a great place to have some local snacks/meal, while enjoying the super awesome view of the 2 lakes – Buyan and Tamblingan.

Kintamani : Another viewpoint that I’d vouch for. Kintamani’s view of Mt. Batur is damn nice! Like the twin lake viewpoint, the air is cool and breezy here, which is pure bliss.

Ubud Monkey Forest : It’s not about the monkeys. Fuck the monkeys. But this ‘monkey forest’, does look ‘magical’ with its ass old vines and trees. You can hike around the place too. Of course if you like monkeys, that can be a bonus for you. There are shitloads of them here, but they’re pretty much harmless.

Tirta Empul : Holy bathing place. Can be full of tourists sometimes but, it’s special enough to warrant a visit here at least once. If you’re a believer and has strong faith in Hinduism, I’d recommend to take a soak in the spring water (which are just blessed piped water, by the way).

Penglipuran village : Has a bamboo forest right outside of the main village. A stroll along the forest gives you the calm (or creeps, depending on the size of your balls). The village itself is also very unique – the traditional Balinese village setting, complete with their own private temple at each home (which is common throughout Bali). You can just walk into any home, the tenants will welcome you… with hope that you’d purchase some souvenirs, drinks or food (which are reasonably priced). An eye opener to even the locals (especially kids born in modern times), I heard.

Pasar Senggol Gianyar : Reminds me of those ubiquitous night markets throughout Taiwan. Shit tonnes of food at dirt cheap prices.

Melasti Beach : Nice beach beside some cliffs. Place is right next to Indian Ocean, which is blue and has huge beautiful waves. If I wasn’t pressed for time, I’d sit there for a long time to admire the view the whole afternoon.

Pura Luhur Uluwatu : Famous for its sunset view. The walk along the cliff offers magnificent view of Indian Ocean and some impressive waves down there. Place is touristy and full of nasty monkeys – but do not let that dampen your spirit of going there.

Waterbom : I don’t know about the claim of being the No.1 waterpark in Asia (I haven’t been to many waterparks), but this place is really a gem. If you have a day to kill and the weather’s inclement, head over to this waterpark and kill your whole day here.

Misses (bad):

Goa Gajah : Old temple but much of it is in ruins. There are a few filthy ponds nearby which are eyesores and there’s not much going in its compound. But outside the temple, there are shitloads of stalls with vendors pestering everyone to buy their overpriced merchandise. If you miss this place, you won’t miss a thing.

Ubud traditional art market : Place is a shithole. Stuffs are cheap… yes, but only after you bargain till there’s no tomorrow. I don’t like this kind of way of doing business, so…

Pura Kehen : Another temple which is located in some town smack dab of nowhere. Small compound, and there’s nothing much about it. You’d feel ripped off for having to pay to enter this temple because it’s like paying for nothing…

Kertha Gosa : Unless you’re a history nerd, this place offers nothing much other than a couple of re-created buildings of some old remnants of a guest house surrounded by a small moat. There’s also a museum in the complex which has very limited exhibits. Conclusion: This place is as boring as watching paint dry on a wall.

Tirta Gangga : Boring park with fountains and ponds. I don’t find it interesting but, can be a great place for a family picnic if that’s your thing. Because the place is located far to the north-east of Bali, I’d say to goddamn give it a miss unless you’re in the area.

Taman Soekasada Ujung : Another water palace like Tirta Gangga, which also used to be a prison for ‘evil sorcerers’ or something. Fucking mind boggling I know but, one would expect the place to look darkly impressive at the very least but, place looks like it’s trying too hard to be a botanical garden/park but failed miserably.

Goa Lawah : Bat Cave Temple – that’s the only impressive thing about this place – its name. Its just a small temple by the roadside. Having to pay to visit this place makes it feel like a RIP OFF. I couldn’t even see the bats because they’re hidden in a cave, which is restricted to visitors/worshippers. There’s totally no point of visiting this place unless you’re here for some religious purposes.

All the malls : Malls at Bali are big jokes. Most of them have retarded air conditioners (stuffy as shit) and overpriced merchandise that can be found right at the stall across the street.

Entry fees for almost all the places : My gripe is that, some of the places do not even have proper facilities like clean toilets or even a fucking parking lot – so why the entrance fee? Escapes me. I guess it is just there to part your money from your wallet in case you’re smart enough not to buy any of their low quality ‘handicrafts’.

Taxi drivers : Seriously, there are just too many of them. More of them in Kuta than those monkeys in Ubud. They’re everywhere and they’d honk at every passing foreigners on the road. If you cross the road, one or two of them would stop to ask if you’d like to go somewhere. Goddamn taxi drivers. The Bali government should consider a proper public bus (hop on and off kind) service instead of letting these shitbags to ply the streets of Bali.

Average (meh…) :

Pura Tanah Lot : Post card place that every visitor would post a picture of, when in Bali. Place looks great but, is too crowded to be able to get a decent picture there. So crowded with tourists that it has become filthy, and the reeks of tourist trap. Go there at planned time, and it might be great.

Pura Taman Ayun : A major temple of sorts. Its walls look majestic but otherwise, it looks like any other Hindu temple you can find around Bali. Might be good to visit this before you visit other temples to appreciate it.

Kuta Beach : Impressive wave but, it’s a beach teeming with people and a bit polluted due to proximity to Kuta & Denpasar. There are better beaches around Bali.

Balinese food : Greasy as hell, and not too spicy (some can pack quite a punch). Taste wise, it’s nothing to shout about. The only thing I enjoyed there was the Babi Guling meal (roasted pork). The rest are just… meh. (maybe that’s because I come from Penang).

Turtle Conservation And Education Center : Place not meant for entertainment, but more for educational on turtle conservation around Bali (as the name implies). If you’re on precious vacation time and you want max enjoyment, this might disappoint you to some extend.

Ocean rafting to Nusa Lembongan, Nusa Penida and Nusa Ceningan : Great experience on the high speed raft but the snorkeling wasn’t as impressive as say… Redang or Lang Tengah at Malaysia. Corals are bland and dull, fishes are shy. The beach club by Bali Hai is old and dated.

Bintang beer : You see signs everywhere promoting it like it’s the holy water that will give you eternal youth. But really, it’s just very normal. Go for the brand ‘Anker’ instead…

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