With my honey on a trip - Bali

12th Jun 2018
Photo of With my honey on a trip - Bali by Samantha Mascarenhas

With only a few days of vacation left and a honeymoon to plan we chose Bali because of the visa on arrival privilege for Indian passport holders, a new beach destination to tick off our list and of course the travel time from Bombay to Bali.

Getting there, by Air (I have not ventured into other modes of getting there) - Ngurah Rai International Airport is in the hub of the Indonesian island. We booked our flights using MakeMyTrip and were lucky to get direct flights to Bali via Garuda Indonesia airline - 7hrs 35min from Bombay to Denpasar, Bali. For Indian national visa is on arrival as long as passport is valid for 6 months or more.

Accommodation: this time relied only on Booking.com (referred to Airbnb for options but booked them through Booking.com as Airbnb seems to be notorious wherein most hosts do reservations through multiple portals). We did most of our bookings in advance with payment to avoid carrying cash. The accommodation in Bali is surprisingly cheap and you can find extremely low rents plus breakfast included!

Food, I am all about the food! However almost everything is served with rice so rest assured your trip will end with a Bali-belly! But love the fried pork, the chicken, the beef, the duck and the seafood. To name a few if not all the mouthwatering meals; Nasi goreng, Nasi Campur, the varieties of Sate, gado-gado, spicy sambal, garlic/onion sambal...BABI GULING yumm hmmmm. For the sweet tooth its mostly all made of rice flour, sugar, coconut, fruits; namely pisang rai with ice cream was a good try for me. Alcohol wise try the multiple flavors of the local Bintang Beer (I managed to try the regular, lime & orange flavor; and easily accessible in any mart :)). Coffee lovers can sip on Balinese filter coffee or even splurge on the Luwak "poop" coffee.

Things to do and getting by, very similar to most coastal areas in India with the only add-on being the cleanliness on the beaches and the blue/turquoise color of the sea meeting the horizon. Haggling at local markets & souvenir shops; waterfalls; the steps of rice terraces; nature's furious waves crashing against high cliffs; spotting manta rays, dolphins; and monkeys spotting you! the intricate temple carvings; the slow-paced lifestyle; all adds to a great memory.

Getting by is easy overall - rent motor bikes as easy as it gets because very rarely you will even be asked to show a license before getting the bike keys. You can even use the application GRAB which is very useful in Bali as it is a low fare and comfortable drive. Islands can be hopped across by speed boats.

A few necessary and useful tips:

1) Money exchange - good exchange rate from USD - IDR; get used to seeing a lot of zeros in the IDR currency; ALWAYS exchange your money at authorized exchanges which provide you a receipt, do not be fooled by the deceivingly good rates offered by some small shops who are notorious of duping you by their counting skills.

2) Bad traffic v/s bad roads - I do not know which is worse but to avoid bad traffic travel by 2-wheeler avoid 4-wheeler and to avoid consequences of bad roads travel by 4-wheeler avoid 2-wheeler! :| confused?? yeah read on to know more.

3) Don't forget to try the local cuisines as much as possible. When on the move always carry water / fruits.

4) Do not liter on the roads, forests, beaches or the surrounding.

5) Always refuel you bike or car at the petrol stations, you can save a few bucks as small shops selling fuel will offer their own rates and mostly a few bucks higher than normal.

6) When shopping, ensure to haggle E.g. asking price 100,000 IDR purchased for 20,000 IDR :|

7) Buy a sim card only if necessary. We did not buy one as all our stays had WiFi and hurrah for internet calling. most cab drivers have WhatsApp and you can call them on the same.

8) Install GRAB application; the best option for getting cabs.

Day 1

Ngurah Rai International Airport to Sanur

On existing the airport, we booked a pre-paid airport taxi to go to our hotel in Sanur. The better option which we now know is had we installed GRAB application we could have booked a taxi while on airport WiFi and then get out of the airport area to take that taxi.

Lanai room with private pool #attakamaya

Photo of Sanur, Bali, Indonesia by Samantha Mascarenhas

At the hotel after a quick nap and snack, we rented a motor bike (for 24 hours at 80.000 IDR) with help from the hotel staff and headed to Kuta area for dinner and a breezy bike ride. This street in Kuta is full of eateries and options galore.

#beer #bintang #babiguling #sate #cracklingPorkSkin #sambal #soup

Photo of Kuta, Badung Regency, Bali, Indonesia by Samantha Mascarenhas
Day 2

Day trip to south Bali

We started our day trip by motor bike from Sanur heading to our first stop; we took the Mandala Toll road (which cost us 5.000 IDR since we did not have the local card we had to wait till a local passed the toll gate so that they could swipe entry for us as well) this toll can be avoided by taking an interior road but it was worth it as the ride was quick and had a beautiful view.

Photo of With my honey on a trip - Bali by Samantha Mascarenhas

No entry fee - very few tourists - It is a complex with a mosque, catholic church, protestant church, buddhist temple and hindu temple - most worshipers are allowed but some modestly dressed (head covered/full length pants/no sleeveless) tourists can also enter the premises.

Photo of Puja Mandala, Benoa, Badung Regency, Bali, Indonesia by Samantha Mascarenhas

No entry fee to the site, however to enter the complex you do have to pay a small fee - It will take you quiet a few tries to get the perfect selfie with the water blowing up in the background but still worth the try - carry a sunhat. Truly a splendor to watch nature's fury.

Photo of Waterblow, Benoa, Badung Regency, Bali, Indonesia by Samantha Mascarenhas

The road leading to Pantai Pandawa has a toll gate where you need to pay an entry fee. Once you cross this gate your drive to Pandawa beach is through towering limestone cliffs that reveal panoramic a view of the Indian Ocean and winding roads lead down to the beach. The cliff wall facing the ocean has hallow caves/deep arches which house members of the five Pandawas carved in white stone draped in waist cloths. The beach side is lined with local eateries which rent out sunbeds at a price. This is a place for both sky and sea sports. Along the coast you will see seaweed patches and beyond the reef breaks the beautiful blue/green/teal colored sea.

Photo of Pandawa Beach, Bali, Indonesia by Samantha Mascarenhas

Has an entry fee - will provide a wrap around cover to be worn inside temple premise - the day we visited it was extremely crowded with tourists - it houses a lot of monkeys who normally go about their own business if not provoked. All in all this is a beautiful sea temple atop a cliff which is known for some scenic sunset views.

Photo of Uluwatu Temple, Pecatu, Badung Regency, Bali, Indonesia by Samantha Mascarenhas
Day 3

Sanur to Nusa Lembongan

Our hotel staff was kind enough to assist with booking us a fast boat service (round trip tickets) with pick-up from our current hotel and drop off to the hotel in Nusa Lembongan and the same on the return journey. We traveled by Ekajaya Fast Boat service which picked us on time from our hotel and took us to Serangan port to board the fast boat. After almost an hour we docked on a kind off floating pontoon from where we took a smaller boat to Nusa Lembongan dropping us off at the infamous yellow bridge. From there the same boat service company dropped us off to our stay on Lembongan.

Photo of Yellow Bridge, Jungutbatu, Klungkung Regency, Bali, Indonesia by Samantha Mascarenhas

We rented a motor bike from the place where we were staying (for 12 hours at 35.000 IDR), and set off on a ride to visit some of the famous sites on Nusa Ceningan and Nusa Lembongan as both islands are connected via the yellow bridge.

Being an island, the roads are very narrow and mostly some parts will be missing asphalt! So ride carefully but the views are scenic and mesmerizing. There are measly sign boards that will direct you to Blue lagoon. It is advisable to be careful as there are no authorities to assist if you get it trouble, noting this area is a very rocky cove with waves showing no mercy (at least on the day we visited the sea was very rough). The color of the sea is definitely not hyped and is in beautiful shades of blue.

Photo of Blue Lagoon View, Ceningan island, Lembongan, Klungkung Regency, Bali, Indonesia by Samantha Mascarenhas
Photo of Blue Lagoon View, Ceningan island, Lembongan, Klungkung Regency, Bali, Indonesia by Samantha Mascarenhas

Not much here to do for me being a non swimmer but we did see some surfers and cliff jumpers. So this could be a good place for the water sport junkies to venture. Afterwards we just drove along the coast to the other side of Nusa Ceningan until Bias Munjul from where we turned around back to Lembongan.

Photo of Mahana Point (Surf Place), Lembongan, Klungkung Regency, Bali, Indonesia by Samantha Mascarenhas

For lunch we perched by the sea at Tawe beach bar & grill on Nusa Lembongan to nibble on fried squids, goreng and campur off course while sipping on some bintang beer. Most restaurants on the islands offer up the same spread with varying cost and ambiance so take your pick and indulge.

#MeiGoreng #bintangbeer #NasiCampur #friedsquids #frenchfries

Photo of TAWE beach bar & grill, Jungutbatu, Nusa Lembongan, Bali, Indonesia by Samantha Mascarenhas

No entry fee and you can park just by all the other bikes on site. Good place for a leisure lay on the beach.

Photo of Dream Beach Cliff, Lembongan island, Jungutbatu, Klungkung Regency, Bali, Indonesia by Samantha Mascarenhas

No entry charge - free parking - getting there via motor bike is better as the roads are dirt roads and very narrow - small signage alongside the road would guide you to your destination - nothing much to do but just admire/respect nature punishing the cliffs edges.

Day 4

We booked ourselves on a boat from Lembongan to Nusa penida the next morning on spot booking (we did not need to do advance booking) and waited till our speed boat arrived. On arriving at the port at Nusa Penida it was very easy to hire a bike (for some reason the bike rentals are very trusting :| ) Anyway riding a 2 wheeler motor bike to get to the tourist points by yourself is very tricky, the roads are so bad and there is no signage we had to use GPS!! ANYWAY back to those bad roads; we had a fall on one of the roads and we happened to be the 4th biker that had a fall on that same stretch, luckily we were not as badly injured as the others so we managed to proceed with caution and very slowly towards our destination as the roads just kept getting worse in condition!! :( Unless you are staying overnight on Nusa Penida ensure you make it back to the ferry port on time for the last boat (we made it just in time with 2 minutes to spare) - Best option hire a local biker to ride you or hire a car.

Our first victory was reaching Broken Beach, without broken bones (pun intended), which also has Angels billabong in the same vicinity. There is an entry cum parking fee which will be collected from you as the collectors have set camp right on the road leading to this place so there is no chance missing this fee. There are loads of tourists in the area during the day as most visit Penida for a day trip and do not stay over on this island. You start off at Angels billabong which is basically a rock formation housing pools in shape of a billabong, I suspect on days with calmer waters you can float in these pools but not on the day we visited as the sea was rough. Nevertheless the water is beautiful.

Photo of Angel's Billabong Nusa Penida, Sakti, Klungkung Regency, Bali, Indonesia by Samantha Mascarenhas

Once you pass angel's billabong you will follow a crowd by default leading to Broken Beach. I did spot some manta rays in the water here. The notable highlight is the mother nature's bridge which allows water to pass past its tunnel to form a pool. It is repetitive at this point(I know) BUT the water is simply breathtaking.

Photo of Broken Beach Nusa penida Bali, Sakti, Klungkung Regency, Bali, Indonesia by Samantha Mascarenhas

Pay for parking - no entry fee - lot of stamina needed - you have to wonder how those bamboo stick fences were even built by some really really brave hearts!! You have to shuffle through people on your way down as many stop in between contemplating if they should continue further. We stopped half way ourselves and did not make it to the beach as we had to race back to the ferry to make it in time for our boat! But i am sure it would have been a very private beach as not many go right to the bottom. The view is breathtaking & the experience is exhilarating so expect to be tired at the end of this.

Photo of Kelingking Beach, Bunga Mekar, Klungkung Regency, Bali, Indonesia by Samantha Mascarenhas
Day 5

Nusa Lembongan to Ubud

We were hoping to leave Lembongan Island in the morning, however we realized too late that our fast boat from the island was only in the afternoon by around 1500 hrs and we had to spend half the day lazying around on the island(which is not bad at all but if you have plans those can be dampened); so lesson learned and note to all, ensure you check with the fast boat services on their departure time from the island and make sure you inform them of the correct port that you want to go to i.e. in our case it should have been Port Padangbai as our next stop was Ubud but unfortunately we returned back to Port Serangan and then had to take a taxi to Ubud since the taxi drop off would not go to Ubud from Serangan and is only limited to south Bali.

We managed to reach port Serangan late evening and requested the fast boat service to drop us off near the airport hoping to be able to get a taxi to take use to Ubud. After a lot of scouting we came across a local who introduced us to GRAB application which is very useful but in our case at that point in time (being almost night and having to travel to Ubud) not many drivers accepted to go that far with worry of not having a return fare. Finally luck struck when we accepted to pay higher than the normal fare and were happy to be on our way to our hotel in Ubud (praying for no further hiccups). The stay is just as seen in the pictures, only 2 rooms on the entire property. Comfortable rooms and bed. The outdoor bathroom is something different and unique in a good way. The owners stay just a gate away from the rooms so they are literally on beck and call. They do not speak english too well but they will definitely find someone who can translate and try to assist as needed. We were able to negotiate with them to rent a motor bike for the next 24 hrs.

Photo of Parthi Puri Ubud, Br. Silungan, Lodtunduh, Gianyar, Bali, Indonesia by Samantha Mascarenhas
Day 6

Hoping to recover on the time lost in travelling the day prior we began our ride early in the morning after breakfast at our stay. Our first stop, being the farthest point, was the temple Pura Ullun Danu Buyan. The ride from Ubud city centre just kept getting cooler as this is located on higher altitude and you will come across strawberry farms on the way. Ideally no entry fee as this is a place of worship (so modest dressing or a waist cover-up would be handy) however on the road leading to this temple there is a man sitting (but of course not seeming legitimate) who will stop you over asking for an entry fee and will provide you a ticket of some sort. The location of this temple is beautiful with the mountain on one side and a lake on the other. We spent a short time here marveling the intricate carvings which is very notable of the Indonesian architecture.

Photo of Pura Ulun Danu Buyan, Pancasari, Buleleng Regency, Bali, Indonesia by Samantha Mascarenhas

Ever heard of paying a fee to take a selfie with a gate??? Well then head on to this iconic gate at the Handara Golf & Resort Bali. Not worth paying for it in my opinion though pictures capture memories but I do not see what memory one can create with a gate :| The security guard will show you a menu, on it are ridiculous excuses of charging a fee (namely; entering the golf resort, parking, selfie with the gate...)and that is when I gave the menu back to him and moved on to my next stop.

Nice temple for a one time visit if you have time to spare - you have to pay for parking & also has an entry fee (separate) - the day we visited it was overcrowded with tourist & not very tranquil - however it is notable for the architecture and statues. Sadly the sea of tourist local and foreign together can be quite daunting - Traffic ALERT (best travel by 2 wheeler motor bike, avoid taxi/car/bus at all cost as you will be stuck is traffic for miles) - the ride is beautiful so motor bike is the way to go - compound houses host of gift shops, haggle for the best price if you are up for it. The lake Beratan (Tabanan) is very serene with a panoramic mountain view covered at time with misty clouds.

Photo of Ulun Danu Beratan Temple, Danau Beratan, Candikuning, Tabanan Regency, Bali, Indonesia by Samantha Mascarenhas

Back down the winding roads we made our way to Jatiluwih Rice Terraces. Once we entered the internal roads the landscapes on one side is the hillside wall and the other side steps forming the rice terraces in hues of pale yellow to dark green. As we further proceeded to the infamous terrace we passed numerous viewing points which had their fees if you wanted to stop over and park there so we decided to go directly to the rice terrace. No surprise here there is an entrance fee and being short on cash and almost towards the end of our trip we decided to not enter and hope to re-visit again another time for a overnight stay in this village or at least a good full day trip to hike/walk about these rolling rice fields.

We headed back to Ubud city centre to end with some souvenir shopping and retired early to bed that evening to wake up early again for our last day of exploring before ending our trip.

Day 7

No parking fees but has an entry fee to the premise - the best way to travel to this place is by motor bike - the premise is huge with multiple sections housing different groups of Balinese long-tailed monkeys (including a cemetery area & spring) - interestingly carved statues covered in moss(including a komodo dragon) - three temples - a dragon bridge engulfed in banyan tree roots over a rocky stream - a fish pond - you can easily spend half a day if time is luxury. You will find yourself in an entirely different world amidst tall lush deep green trees, haunting silence with chirping birds in the distance and scattered troops of monkeys chattering - do not disturb the monkeys in their territory especially while they are eating sweet potatoes or while they have their young ones with them. For me this place is worth a re-visit.

Photo of Sacred Monkey Forest Sanctuary, Jalan Monkey Forest, Ubud, Gianyar, Bali, Indonesia by Samantha Mascarenhas

No parking nor entry fee - free generous sized sampling of 14 varieties of tea and coffee with a bowl of banana chips to help differentiate the samples - by default you will be escorted by their staff when you enter the premise - for an additional IDR 50.000 you can try the poop coffee - serene setup of tables facing rice paddy fields - premise comprise of various plantations also(ginseng, vanilla, turmeric and other spices) and he main star the nocturnal Luwak. I would recommend not purchasing any product from there and just end the whole experience by tipping your guide for his patience - the products do not taste the same as the sample so this is the only disappointment.

1st column of coffees: bali, coconut, vanilla, ginger & ginseng - 2nd column of teas: mangosteen, giner, lemon, lemon grass & herbal - last column: bali cocoa, bali mochacino. rosella tea and durian coffee - and the showstopper: Luwak poop coffee

Photo of Lumbung Sari House Of Luwak Coffee, Jl. Raya Lodtunduh, Lodtunduh, Gianyar, Bali, Indonesia by Samantha Mascarenhas

This ended our short honeymoon in Bali and the same evening we had our flight back to Bombay; although we would definitely visit again the next time to venture the inland areas of Bali and the numerous waterfalls.

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