Wednesday, May 22, 2019

Bali Trip – Part 3

Every day was turning out to be more fun than previous one in Bali. And we were really looking forward for today, as we were visiting few places which a must in our list was. Day was supposed to start at 5:30am, but thanks for my Auto Weekend Alarm off setting, we woke up only at 6:30am with a panic attack, as driver called to inform he is already waiting for us in hotel lobby.

We got ready as fast as we can and ran down, gulped the breakfast and started for Gate of Heaven. As fancy as the name sounds, the actual name of this temple is Templeof Lempuyang Luhur. This is one of the most sacred temple of Bali, believed as the mother temple of Bali. It is in east Bali, siting on highlands of mount Lempayung which is 1775m above sea level. Which means when traveling from our hotel in Kuta, the journey was more than 2 hours long. We used this time to catch up on some sleep. After half way we were up to enjoy the pictures beauty of mount Batur and the highlands of Mount Lempuyang. We saw many paddy fields on our way. When closer to temple the roads were narrow with sharp hair pin bends.

At the base of the temple there is a small office where you can get all the information about the temple and sarongs are provided, small rent of 10000 rupiah is taken against each sarong. There is no entry fee for the temple, but one can give any amount as donation for the temple. From there the walk to the first gate of the temple consists of few hundreds of stairs and some walk on a steep road. After walking that much with a pumping and thumping heart we reached at Lempuyang Luhur, but let me tell you frankly, I felt very disappointed.  Because the place didn’t look as I had seen in many posts and Instagram pics. This was just the main entrance area. From here one had to climb 1500 steps to reach to the main temple, we didn’t have so much time, so we decided not to go inside, however main temple is not open to all tourists, there are few religious restrictions. Though the main attraction for which so many tourists come here and stand in queue is the gate of this temple which faces Mount Agung. The view of the mountain and clouds through this gate makes it a perfect backdrop for a scenic photograph. There is also a trick which the guy sitting in temple plays which takes the picture to whole new level. Well I won’t disclose that now 😜

So, after waiting for our turn for 2 hours, we finally got 4 clicks each at the iconic Gate of heaven. And believe me after seeing those pics, we really felt that the wait was worth it. And to our surprise, though it feels that you are getting 4 clicks only but the Man there with camera keeps clicking pics in burst mode, so you get plenty of pictures to choose from.While drooling over the pics we moved to our next stop which was Tirta Gangga Royal Water Park. 

This is a water garden in East Bali, which is owned by Royal family. It had an entrance fee of 40000 Rupiah and the parking area was quite close to the Park. Here only we stopped in one restaurant for traditional Balinese food. I am a vegetarian and sadly I found nothing on the menu which I can eat, so I requested the Waitress if they can make a vegetarian version of Nasi goreng Rice and mei goreng for me, which she happily agreed. While we were waiting for food to arrive we happily clicked few pics in the backyard paddy field of this restaurant. And finally, the food arrived. But to my bad luck, it came with an egg fry on top. I was hungry and angry and was running out of time too. Getting it reordered was not feasible due to lack of time, so I decided to work on my mental block. Got the egg fry removed as it was only put on top, got few layers of rice and noodles removed and then ate some to suppress the hunger. Once done we went inside the Tirta Gangga.

The center of the park has a 11-tier waterfall fountain and the pond with many sculptures and hexagonal stepping stones in it, which enables tourists to take a close tour of the pond by literally walking on it 😊 one can even sit on the bigger stepping stones and can feed the fishes and see them up close and personal. I must say the fishes were huge and many were lazy after getting fed by visitors multiple times 😛 We walked through the garden and spent some 40-50 mins here.

Next, we hopped in our car all excited to go to our much-awaited waterfall destination, Tukad cepungWaterfall. As it had 5pm as closing time and it was already 3, we had our fingers crossed to reach on time. Tired girls fell asleep again, and suddenly I woke up to see sea on one side of the road, and that is when we got a doubt, are we going to the right place. We checked with our driver and then he bombed us by saying that he is taking us to Tegenungan Waterfall. I felt cheated, as we have clearly told at time of booking as to which waterfall we want to go to. Also, on our way we said the same thing to the driver multiple times. But after lunch he kind of was playing fishy with us by not taking the name of waterfall and calling it only waterfall.

Tegenungan Waterfall is also a very beautiful waterfall but is known for being very crowded. Also, the water here is very forceful, going under the waterfall can be challenging. I was resentful and when quested the driver lied also that he was not informed which waterfall we wanted to go. This was our first encounter to cheating in Bali. All our trips and activities we had booked in advance, it was only this one we booked though our hotel travel agent and I was unhappy with this whole episode. After discussing, we decided to give the waterfall a skip and go back to the hotel and visit the beach for sunset.

After this setback, we were only able to think of one thing, Balinese Spa 😊 we went to the spa in hotel and could manage to get booking only for next day. This was first time we were seeing the amenities of our hotel, as we were on run always. We thought of spending sometime in hotel pool only and keep beach for other day, and this pool was gorgeous. It had many parts, one chilling-area at bar side pool and one pool basketball. After enjoying in pool for sometimes we got ready and went out for dinner, it was Italian tonight.

Later we booked a cab and went pub hopping, though we checked few pubs in the same lane (EngineRoom—good but too small) but then again ended up spending more time in SkyGarden only. The night ended with some music and fun and we came back to hotel by 1 as next day was again an early start 😊

Wednesday, May 15, 2019

Bali Trip -Part 2

As I told in part-1 we had a busy, early day planned next day. Therefore, after packing our bags for next day and chitchatting for some time we slept around 3 at night. We had kind of a sleepless night before (AirAsia is not comfortable to sleep ) so we were super tired. Still the two girls who are high on life wanted to experience more than sleeping, hence we planned to go to the nearby beach for sunrise. Alarm rang at 5am, we both looked at each other and went back to sleep. 😊

Day started at 7am, after getting ready and having a gorgeous breakfast (I stuffed myself with Fruits, best option for vegetarians) we started for river rafting. We had booked the Rafting package well in advance and the Driver was already at hotel lobby to pick us up on dot 8am.

The drive from Kuta to Ubud was long, so we cached on some sleep before entering scenic Ubud village. Ubud is the cultural center of Bali, you will see so many temples and fields around. The famous Bali silver work and the Bali Batik art work is done here mostly. We happened to witness a Balinese wedding happening in one of the temple, and their attires were extravagant and stunning. 

Once we reached near Ayung river, where we were going to do our much-awaited white water river rafting, we could see many agencies for rafting. On reaching our agency’s base camp, we were welcomed with some kiwi drink which was refreshing after such long drive. After filling the form and wearing our safety jacket and helmet we started the walk towards the starting point, which was climbing down 200 steps. Our instructor this time was Shakuni (If you know Hindu Mythology, I can see the grin on your face 😊) and now I was scared if we will come back from the rafting 😉 Along with us on boat was an Indian couple from Australia who were also on vacation in Bali.

Filled with enthusiasm we followed all the instructions which Shakuni a.k.a Dodo mentioned. Forward= front to back row movement, backward = back to front row movement, hold on= stop rowing and hold the boat sit tight, Jiga-jiga= Hump on your place don’t row. I had done river Rafting in Kali river a decade ago, but this was again a new experience and fun. 

River seemed to have less water and was not so deep, but the flow of water was fast. There were many ups and downs which was bringing the thrill of rafting. The banks of the river were scenic, it was not land but mountains covered with trees mostly. On our rafting journey we came across many waterfalls, and got down at few too. There was some beautiful carving which was done alongside the river on mountains which was breathtaking (looked like the mythological story depiction).

The whole rafting was for 2 hours with a break for 10-15 minutes. But it was so much fun that we didn’t realize how the 2 hours passed by. Alongside the river there are many locals selling coconut water and some snacks, do ask your instructor to stop by whenever you feel the need of refreshments. To sum up the river rafting was so much fun, I didn’t want it to end.

Once done we again climbed 300 steps to come up towards the base-camp. Quick tip, don’t wear flipflops or runners, where water sandals or stay barefoot. And do apply a lot of sunscreen, I was horribly tanned at the end of rafting even though I didn’t feel much of sun.

They had showers and changing room in base-camp which was basic but clean. We changed and got ready for our next stop. After having lunch (which was part of this package, and the only lunch in Bali which I really ate) we started for Bali Swing Park, which was just 5 mins away.

Bali Swing Park is an Instagram’s paradise, one of the hottest Instagram location, which we two gave in for 😝. All the people standing there in ques are waiting for one perfect shot in the surreal backdrop of clear sky and greenery. This place has many swings varying from 10 mt to 75 mt height, so fun for all range of adventure freaks. It also has many cute nests and a boat and a helicopter where people take pictures. The entry fee of $35 also includes unlimited beverages and Lunch buffet. But we were short on time, we didn’t eat or drink anything here except for a coffee at end. We two took lots and lots of pictures and videos and boomerang and kept ogling at them in amazement 😊 We saw so many Instagram enthusiast here, who have rented dressed to get a perfect shot as they have seen in their reference pics. Ladies had the reference Insta pic open, which they were showing to the photographer and were asking to make them look the same 😜

My personal favorite was the tallest swing, it was trilling. On the first push it felt as if I was thrown in the sky and will land somewhere in Jungle. I felt like I am really flying over the jungles. And after the first 3-4 seconds of shouting in excitement I was totally calm and was enjoying the wind and nature as a bird 😊 After taking tons of pictures and losing my favorite Blue shades (do be careful with your belongings all the time) we left Bali swing Park.

Due to lack of time we gave skip to Taman Ayun Temple and saw it only from outside. And our next stop was Tanah lot temple. Tanah lot is also a famous temple among tourists for seeing the sunset and its unique off shore setting makes it very pictures. It is the temple of sea god and believed to be protected by a big sea snake. By the time we reached here sun was about to set, so we quickly made our way to the temple. There was a park kind of setting along the seashore where please were sitting and enjoying the view and from there one can proceed to the temple gate. To our disappointment the temple was close that day due to high-tide as it was full moon day. We saw the temple from outside and took few pictures and then walked back to our car.

We wanted to end the day at much hyped beach club “Potato head”. Few friends who have visited this place before had very nice things to say about it. Almost an hour-long drive and we reached to this place. They have the Hotel and the beach club (which consists of 3 restaurants) in the same compound. The architecture of the club is unique and striking. Outside they have a dump art of torn flipflops which is interesting. And the whole passage from there till the restaurant has wooden window frames throughout the wall, fascinating again. We wanted to sit near the pool, but the poolside beds need to be pre-booked and is given on first come first serve basis, as we reached there by 8pm thus no poolside beds were available. 

We sat inside the restaurants and decided to go to the pool after eating something because we were starving. Later we took our drinks and went to the pool as poolside bar was closed after 9pm. Water temperature was perfect, and we spent good 1 hour or more enjoying the pool and the view of sea.

Around 11pm we left for our hotel, and like smart girls in Bali we booked cab via Go-jek and didn’t entertain the Taxis waiting outside as they don’t get ready to go by meter at night. Eventful day came to an end and next day we had few places to cover which we were really looking forward too.

Wednesday, May 8, 2019

Bali Trip – Part 1

In Mid of April I went for a 5-day trip to Bali along with a colleague cum friend. This whole Idea of a trip started in my head after a trip to our hometown for a family wedding. The course of having an Indian wedding in family is more tiring then getting a break, especially if you are the elder daughter in law, I see those heads nodding, we share the same feeling ladies ☺😉

On our way, back from the airport I told my husband that I figured out what I want for my birthday, and the relief was clear on his face that now he don't need to think about my gift now. “Take whatever you want” he said in a breath. “I want a solo trip” I said without wasting a second. He looked at me without even blinking for 10 sec and then turned around saying, do what you want.

I took that as a go ahead, and started my planning. After lots of research on safe places for female traveler I zeroed on Bali. But it was heart breaking for me when every time I tried to book an activity, it asked for minimum 2 pax. Bali, you are spoiled with Honeymooners huh? I was thinking of changing on the destination and one day on lunch table I happened to discuss all of this with my colleagues. There one of my colleague got interested in coming along to Bali, and then there was no looking back. We decided to plan the whole trip on our own, with all the activities which we wanted to do (different post on the Bali planning guide) 

Our 5-day trip to Bali started with landing in Bali by midday at 12. However, it became almost 2:30pm for us by the time we check-in our hotel, thanks to the ester break, immigration line was too long. Our Hotel was just 4km away from the Bali Airport, which is 10 mins drive in non-peak traffic hours. Our hotel had free pickup from Airport, so we didn’t had to wait for cab and all, our driver was already there with our name board waiting for us to arrive. Drive from Airport to Hotel was very comfortable, Bali roads are good in general, especially when compared to the roads full of potholes in Bangalore 😜 We also noticed that they don’t have smaller cars on road, mostly we traveled in and got to see SUV/XUV only.

As the day was already half gone, we had planned to cover a spot which is good to go during sunset. Uluwatu temple is a sea temple in Bali, which is famous as a sunset viewing point and for the Kecak Fire dance show in evening. We were staying in Kuta and Uluwatu temple being 23km away from our hotel we started by 4:30 with hopes to reach the temple in 1 hour. As Uber is banned in Bali, it’s good to download other taxi apps like go-jek etc, as this comes out to be more convenient and cheaper than the Taksi you get to see on the roads. Our Driver that day was Vibhisan (Yes Bali is a Hindu majority state, and most people are named after mythological characters from Ramayana and mahabharta), who was very much interested to take us to other places around too, and was ready to give good price, but we had already booked all our activities for each day in advance. However, we cracked a deal with him, that he will wait for us for 2 hours in the temple parking and will bring us back to hotel in just double the cost of what we found him on Go-jek for one way trip. Yes, with some negotiation we were able to make him wait for us for almost free. The reason we did this was, online booked taxis are not allowed inside the temple parking area for pickup, so if you want to go back from the temple by booking cab online, you must walk till the main gate which is some 300-500mtrs away from the parking area.

When going to the temples in Bali, one must dress appropriately, which is cover the shoulders and knees. However, in the entry fee of 30K rupiah the fee for Sarong is already included, which one must wear regardless of your knees being covered or bare. The guy who gave us sarong told us to buy the tickets for Kecak Fire dance first as it was almost time for it to start. We walked as fast as we can from the main gate to ticket counter of the dance show, but to our bad luck, the show was sold out. I had seen this dance long back, during my first Bali trip but my friend missed it and I was really feeling bad for her as it is an experience one must live. 
Sadly, they don’t sell these tickets online, one can only buy the tickets on spot for same day. We advise, try to reach the temple by 4:30pm or 5pm and not later. Now that the dance was out, we decided to explore the temple completely. We went through the whole temple premises and in the main temple. There are no prayers offered in this temple and tourists were allowed everywhere. Though out there are many spots as viewing points to admire the beauty of Indian Ocean during sunset. One quick tip, beware of monkeys, these cute ones are very mischievous and might snatch away your phone cameras etc, so hold on to your belongings guys. there are 100s of them here, and they are believed to be protect the temple from bad influence.

Once it got completely dark, which was around 6:15 we left the temple. While coming back we asked our driver to drop us at Kuta Artmarket, which was 2 mins walk from our hotel. Girls love to shop but as it was our first day we were more in the mood to explore, still we came back to hotel with 4 strew Bags 😌 it’s a must buy from Bali.

We decided to stay in Kuta so that we can experience Bali night life. After getting freshen up, we went to Sky Garden, a well-known night club in Bali. And guess what, we went there by walk, google helped us with directions and till 9-9:30pm streets were still busy so we girls didn’t feel unsafe at all.

Sky Garden is a multistory nightclub with 8 pubs and clubs under one roof. Entry for girls is free from 9pm-11pm, you must only pay for what you eat or drink, no deposit needed and no que if you have no guys with you “Go-Girls”. We explored 4 clubs inside, had some food as we were starving and drinks which were decent. We happened to meet few group of girls and boys who were also on vacation in Bali like us. And at end we happened to attend the show of dj Dinar candy. Well, I knew nothing about her before that night, but her music was good, we both enjoyed it.

Around 1:30 we booked a cab to go back to hotel, as we were too tired to walk back. This night was super fun in Sky Garden. But we had an early-day planned next hence few hours of sleep were must 😴

Saturday, April 27, 2019

Create your Happiness

Happiness, a small simple word which defines a pleasant emotion. However, we tend to make it sound so complex at times when we are not able to find it. But where should we look to find it, where will it come from. So many questions and only one answer, it will come from YOU.
It’s only we who can create our own happiness, and with practice it can become a habit to stay positive and up always. I am not a preacher, but I do believe in the power of mind. Let’s keep this interesting topic for next time J

I too feel low at times and with time and practice now I know what are the few things which bring me back to my happy state. Few of them I read or learn from others and few are my own modification of them, which suits me the best.

·       Make yourself the priority: As selfish as it may sound, but taking care of yourself before others is must. A filled glass can only fill other glasses. Make your well-being your priority. Do exercise, take a 15 mins walk, go for pedicure or massage, read your kind of books, listen to music. Do anything you like, keep some 20-30 mins as your own me time every day.

·       Take care of your Health: Eating healthy, drinking enough water and doing some physical activity (walking, running, swimming etc) every day is extremely important. I have personally seen the effect of physical health on mental health and now I totally vouch for it. You don’t need to be overweight to start hitting the gym or doing Yoga. Do it even when everything looks alright, you will still see positive changes. Just drinking adequate water makes you feel better than the days you are dehydrated.

·       Surround yourself with positive people: We come across variety of people, and some make us feel good and positive, hold on to them and try to learn. Avoid lingering into negative talks. I personally avoid bitching about people or hearing it, it makes me feel bad. Therefore, I don’t do it, neither I encourage others by hearing them out when they trying to pull someone else down.

·     Learn New Things: New is Happy J leaning something new gives us the feeling of achievement. There is never too late to start on something new, be it painting, playing some instrument, a new language, some life skills, be it anything. Keep adding new feathers on your cap!

·       Plan Your day: No I am not talking about To Do lists here, I am talking about that one thing which you really want to start/finish that day. If you know that, you are half way there. Tackle that as priority, and doing that will give you a more meaningful feeling for that day.

You might have more points to add here if you start thinking of same for yourself. In nutshell, don’t wait for someone else to create joy for you. Take charge of your life, and create your own happiness J

Bali Trip – Part 3

Every day was turning out to be more fun than previous one in Bali. And we were really looking forward for today, as we were vis...