“We launched Phuket-Bali direct flight so sending you and Felix to cover it” – when the words come out from Karen’s mouth– I was ecstatic on the idea that I will be traveling alone to a place I’ve never been before. ‘Solo adventure’. Given a choice to choose between Bali & Phuket – I jumped at Bali. Why Bali? I have heard so much about the place – friendly Balinese, beautiful beaches and sceneries. Hehe, Felix can hang out at go-go bars at Phuket while I go for the night life in Kuta 😛

So with zero knowledge about Bali, great help from fellow colleagues on what to do (to be honest, I was all too excited and worried at the same time to captured everything they shared with me :-P) So all in short, on Friday evening I flew to Bali, the land of Gods via AK363, equipped with few items on my itinerary & few wikitravel printouts.

Day 1: The First Night
On the way to the arrival hall, there are lots of brochures for visitors – Bali maps from various tour companies. You can’t miss out the taxi counter and there is a fixed price list depending on which area you are heading. From airport to Seminyak (where I will be staying at Tune Hotel Jln Double Six, Legian) cost Rp 60,000 and it takes about 30 minutes.

The taxi stopped right outside a small lane which is the entrance to Tune Hotel (for info: there are two Tune Hotels in Bali, located in Kuta and Legian). And what happened next is the beginning of my Bali journey. There was a couple who was also walking to the hotel which is less than 50m and we exchanged smiles, started a little conversation.

The couple, Ben & Susan is both from Germany who are here for 2-weeks holiday and they invited me to join them for the beach tomorrow morning. I feel so lucky! As I needed to check out the beach and more importantly, I make new friends! Upon reaching the hotel, the check-in process was smooth (There is a requirement to pay deposit of Rp 45,000 which is refundable – all you need to do is return the towel upon check-out).

I decided to head over to the beach. The Double Six beach is about 5 minutes walking from the hotel. Most of the eateries located in JL. Double Six are western restaurants, few bars and night club but maybe it is Friday night, and it was pretty quiet.n

Day 2: Surfers, sunset at Tanah Lot & secret alley!
After breakfast, it is time for sun, surf and beach! The beach is still pretty empty when we head over there and according to Ben & Susan, the beach over here is more quiet than Kuta. Both of them are learning surfing, so they rented a surfboard to practice for 150,000 IDR for the entire day. All the benches on the beach are owned by respective stalls – it is free for use if you rent surfboards from them.

Lying down at the bench is just so heavenly, with wind blowing and people strolling by the beach (ahem, hunks and babes alert) and watching the surfers in action (even the dogs jumped to the wave for some actions!). There are a lot of trinkets sellers who will approach to sell the trinkets, offer hair braiding, and manicure and pedicure services. If you are not interested, just smile and politely say ‘No, thank you’. I wonder if Phuket would be the same?
Everyone is friendly, just smile and drop a hello – you will be surprised with its magic. I met Eka – the life guard who shared about his daily duty life, Marx from Italy whom been living in Bali for the past 5 years with Gibson, his faithful companion (Kintamani breed), few friendly local who shared about their daily activities.

In Bali, to visit the tourist attractions, it is not possible to go about without a tour guide especially when I don’t know how to ride a motorbike. My initial plan is to visit Bali via cycling which I found out in the end, is a crazy idea.

I signed up for a tour with Ceria Agency Transport by Tune Hotels Kuta & Legian. You can choose one day or half day tour. I choose Tanah Lot half day tour which will take me to Taman Ayun (Royal Family Temple), Alas Kedaton (Monkey Forest & Fruit Bats) and Tanah Lot (Temple on the Rock with Sunset) and it costs me Rp 260,000 exclude petrol cost (Rp 100,000), parking fee and entrance or tour guide fee.

My friendly tour driver, Made (local Balinese) shared many interesting information about Balinese culture. He told me that Made is second most famous name in Bali which is very true because the guide I encountered at Taman Ayun and Alas Kedaton, their name is Made too!
I walked alone into Taman Ayun Royal Temple and was approached by freelance tour guide, Made who speaks relatively good English (expects to tip the tour guide 20,000 IDR, if you are not interested, just decline politely) who explained that Taman Ayun is also known as beautiful garden, which is set on the land surrounded by water that gives the illusion like it is floating on water.

It is still function as a temple for big ceremonial that takes place every 6 months. The temple is smaller than what I would imagine and after a brisk walk with few photographs, we make our next move to Alas Kedaton (entrance plus parking fee is Rp 15,000) and I met my tour guide for the destination, Made!

I’ve heard some scary stories about monkeys stealing tourists belongings, however, I was told only the monkeys in Uluwatu are aggressive – but do avoid all eye contacts with the monkeys unless you want to ‘invite’ them for a conversation. It is another brisk walking around the monkey temple – be ready to tip the tour guide (Rp 20,000) at the end of the tour or you can choose to buy an item from their stall.

The sky was turning dark and I was worried that I will be unable to view the sunset at Tanah Lot but luckily when I got there, the sun is in its glorious state. There are a lot of trinket shops on the way to the temple for souvenir shopping.

Traveling alone is quite interesting. Here I met Fiona, Singaporean who is traveling with her friends. We both end-up touring the entire vicinity together, helping each other to take pictures and exchanged conversations. Fiona commented that she personally prefer Phuket because the night life is much more happening and there are less harassment of trinkets sellers. I shared with her that I actually prefer Bali for its laidback atmosphere and friendly locals.
Dinner at Jimbaran for BBQ seafood was canceled many shops is closed due to the ceremonial event that took place in various locations. So I detour to Guriham Barbeque at Kuta for iga bakar (Grilled Pork Spare Ribs) and soda gembira! Cost Rp 30,000 (RP27,000 for iga bakar & Rp3000 for soda gembira).

What’s next? To meet Ben & Susan at JL.Legian, Kuta (take a cab from the hotel cost Rp 48,000) which is pretty packed with tourists and cars? The traffic is bit packed which reminds me of the traffic in Jalan Sultan Ismail in Kuala Lumpur. They brought me to a secret pub that is located in a dark alley where it is popular among the Scandinavians and Nordics (sorry, I was told to keep this secret place a secret *lips sealed*) for great deals for the drinks and wonderful crowd.

Day 3: Balinese Boreh, Babi Guling & Oleh-Oleh
After a long partying night, what’s best other than pampering me to Balinese spa? I choose Balinese Boreh (Rp 165,000 tax included). Mak Rai, my masseuse is superb as just by looking at my body structure she identified the stiff back and shoulder and gosh, it was so nice that I fell asleep twice during the 1 ½ hour massage process which uses spice oil followed by Balinese Boreh body mask made from warming spice to the body helps soothe aching muscles. I definitely enjoyed Balinese spa as compared to traditional Thai massage which to me, hurts a lot.

Brunch was babi guling at a local store in Kuta (Rp 30,000) and a stop at Bali biggest souvenir store, Krisna Oleh Oleh Khas Bali which is like a one-stop souvenir retail shop as it have a variety of souvenirs ranging from food to clothing, to handicrafts, accessories and many more! This is the right place to shop for awesome souvenirs at very affordable prices! It is on the way to the airport so let the driver know to make a quick stop for Balinese souvenirs.

The friends I met asked me this – “Kapan-kapan… balik lagi ke Bali ya”

My reply? Semestinya!

What is most memorable about the land of Gods is not just the touristic attraction but what lies beneath it – the friendliness and kindness of the people, the beautiful temples and the Balinese culture which is one of its kinds. I think it is different from the vibrant Phuket. Bali for me, is more than just beautiful beaches or surfers paradise. There are so many things to do – laze around the beach, visit the beautiful temples, party at Kuta or talking with the locals to learn more about the Balinese culture, which I believe is not something I would be able to achieve in Phuket.

AirAsia have launched Phuket-Bali, the only airline connecting 2 paradises and is available for booking at http://www.airasia.com ! Afterall, Bali & Phuket is same-same but different!

Are you thrilled to try out BALI – PHUKET together like us?? 😉

-Swee Ping-

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