Sunday, June 16, 2013

Bali 2013


I've been getting a little fed up of recipe posts lately, so here is something different for a change!

This post chronicles our recent trip to Bali. This trip was planned as a family holiday (departing from Singapore) with my parents in-law from India, brother-in-law and his wife from the US and me and hubs comprising a six-member motley crew. I will not dwell too much on the sight-seeing destinations since I've already done that in an earlier post, detailing my Bali experience during a holiday in 2009.

Usually I'm not too gung-ho about visiting a place I've already seen before. I look forward to see different places, meet different kinds of people and sample new cuisines. Then why go to Bali again, you ask? We first narrowed in on Indonesia because apart from Thailand, it is the nearest country that has visa on arrival. When you have six people traveling together and coming together from different parts of the world, the easy availability of visa becomes significant. The monsoon was scheduled to begin in Thailand and we didn't really want to be stuck in a resort in a gorgeous place like Krabi or Koh Samui with rain lashing at the windows! And having been to Bali before (and absolutely loving it), we knew exactly which places were worth visiting and we even managed to get in touch with Surya, our driver who took us around Bali in 2009 :)

We deviated from the usual when it came to the choice of accommodation. We stayed at Bali Eco Stay, situated on the southern slopes of Mount Batukaru, north Tabanan, in Central Bali. This resort revolves around the concept of Ecotourism which is responsible travel to natural areas that conserves the environment and improves the well-being of local people. We chose this place to experience the rich local Balinese village culture, surrounded by stunning organic rice fields, mountain fed streams, cascading waterfalls and spectacular views over treetops to the ocean.

We spent the first two days in Bali getting some rest and relaxation, going on long walks, exploring the resort and learning more about the concepts of eco-tourism and their eco policies. At Bali Eco Stay, we were able to re-connect with nature, gorge on home-grown organic food and get refreshed with pure volcanic spring water. The rooms were airy, earthy, traditionally made up with natural wood and fabrics. My favorite part was of course the bathroom. Check it out and you will know why! The soaps and shampoos were completely natural and made on premises. We loved it so much that we bought some while checking out of the resort. 





The surroundings were absolutely beautiful. Set amidst lush paddy fields, morning walks here are a thing of joy. The owner's dog "Buddha" used to hang around our bungalow (even guarding it at times!) and he made for an awesome tour guide. 

These few pics show the view from our bungalow and the surrounding areas





Buddha the dog

The food at Bali Eco Stay was one of the highlights of our trip. It was very important to us that the place we stayed in Bali had plenty of vegetarian options. The menu at Bali Eco Stay is primarily vegetarian (they also have several vegan options) in addition to being home-grown, organic and healthy. Every dish is freshly prepared minutes before you arrive for a meal so each order has to be placed in advance. By doing this, they ensure that no food goes to waste. We had several traditional Balinese dishes - Nasi Goreng, Mee Goreng, Balinese porridge, Nasi Champur, Cap Cay & Gado Gado to name a few. Me and my sister-in-law even went for a Balinese cooking class that was organized at their kitchen and we learnt to make vegetarian Nasi Goreng and Gado-gado. It was a wonderful experience and I am determined to try out and hopefully post atleast one of those recipes on my blog in the future, so stay tuned!

Here are some pictures of the restaurant where we spent a considerable amount of time stuffing our faces :)
Nasi Goreng

Balinese Porridge

There was a waterfall just by our bungalow and we went there on two of the mornings that we were there at Eco Stay. The walk leading up to the waterfall was lovely. In his excitement, Buddha (the dog) raced past me like a bullet a couple of times which almost sent me tumbling down the muddy path!








I would highly recommend this resort to anyone wanting a restful retreat in Bali. However, be warned that this resort is located far far away from the airport and the last leg of the journey involves an extremely bumpy road winding through the mountain. Also, this resort highly values the ecosystem which means that peaceful co-existance with all of the creepy-crawly inhabitants is completely normal. I inadvertently caused a major ant infestation with a forgotten pack of biscuits stashed away in my purse! So as long as you don't get car-sick, don't mind the remote location, don't have a phobia of insects, wouldn't mind not watching TV or creating a ruckus while on holiday, you would love this place!

Oh dear....I thought I would make this post all about the photos but here I am going on and on as usual! Old habits die hard don't they? :D

Ok, so getting to the sights, on day one of our sight-seeing itinerary, we visited Mount Kintamani and Lake Batur. It was incredibly foggy when we got there, so much so that we couldn't even spot the volcano! It was rather disappointing at first but we were advised by our driver to have lunch at a restaurant overlooking Kintamani and wait for the fog to clear up. Sure enough, as we were having lunch, the fog started to dissipate and we were able to enjoy these amazing views.


The next stop was Tirtha Empul Temple which is located somewhat close to Kintamani. This temple reminds me of the temples in my native place of Udupi and hence, I find it familiar and close to my heart. I found that the souvenir shops lined outside the Tirtha Empul temple were among the best of the souvenir shops that we went to in Bali with a wide choice of merchandise and competitive prices. 








We began the second day of touring with a visit to the Jatiluwih rice terraces, known to be one of the best rice terraces in Bali. The rice was ready for harvest and hence the yellowish hue to the landscape. I remember when we were in Bali last time in October, they were lush green and appeared even more beautiful.




From Jatiluwih, we drove to Bedugul. On of my favorite spots in Bali without a doubt is Bedugul and Ulun Danu - Temple on the Lake. I just ❤ this place! It is cool, breezy, scenic, vibrant and it the roads are dotted with vendors selling plump red strawberries! We stopped at a small local cafe and I had the most amazing strawberry juice (that was a first for me). There are three pictures of the temple taken from three different angles and I found it impossible to pick one so I've uploaded all of them :D





The second day came to a close with a visit to Tanah Lot - Temple on the Sea. We couldn't stay until sunset which is a popular choice of time with visitors because we had to get back to the resort in good time but we still had a lovely time admiring the unique temple and even managed to sneak down to the black sandy beach for a while :)


The last and final day was spent in South Bali. We drove all the way down to Uluwatu (Temple on the Cliff) followed by a quick stop over at Dreamland beach. It was scorching hot in Uluwatu and looking at the bright side (pun intended), it was a good thing because the usual cluster of troublesome monkeys had scampered off to seek refuge in cooler areas. I remember last time, we almost lost our precious camera last time due to the antics of one naughty little fella! 


After spending some time at Dreamland beach, we set off for the airport and a short flight later, we found ourselves back in Singapore. The next few days were spent roaming around Singapore, eating, shopping, lazing around and basically continuing with the holiday spirit!

I think a good holiday is one which not only relaxes you but also teaches you something new, thereby enriching your life. From this trip, thanks to Bali Eco Stay, I've become more aware on what is means to be responsible towards the environment and I'm going to make a conscious decision to pay more attention to important things like reducing the consumption of electricity & water, reduction of plastic, reusing things that can be used more than once and recycling. I guess it is not that hard when you make an effort to do it. Once it becomes a habit, it becomes a way of life. In Singapore, I always use public transport and I walk a lot on a daily basis so knowing that is positive reinforcement for my conscience and I hope that I can extend that kind of improvement to other areas as well.

I hope you enjoyed the pics (credit mostly to my hubby) and if you are considering/planning a holiday in South-East Asia and haven't been to Bali, then you simply MUST go! 

I'm signing off for now. Until next time...

Cheers,
Megha

5 comments:

  1. Very beautiful. Took me back to Bali.Thanks.

    ReplyDelete
  2. beautiful writing megha!! loved it, your blog is my morning read with chai every weekend! You gave me a virtual tour of Bali and Loved it:) Thanks.

    ReplyDelete

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