Monday, 12 May 2014

Mia's Travel Log: Bali Day 1 - Uluwatu Temple and Jimbaran Seafood Bay

Earlier this month, I finally stepped foot into Bali with ZH and KK for a 4D3N short trip. Through my cousin, who visited Bali earlier this year, I got the contacts for a Driver and Guide, Bli Made, and planning became a breeze as we only need to provide him a rough idea of our expectations and likings, and he will come up with a well planned itinerary for us. Being the ever so indecisive us, we randomly asked questions to change bits and parts of the itinerary, and then in the end changed our mind again and decided to stick to the original plan, however with just one change to it. 
Hahaha, sounds annoying yeah? But Made remained very helpful and friendly throughout our endless email exchanges until everything is settled via a confirmation of our flight details. 
And off we went via Air Asia (my favourite budget airline carrier so far....)

Having Batam as the only place in Indonesia I've ever visited before Bali, I was pleasantly surprised to find some awesomely clean washrooms at the airport when I touched down. To be honest, I have a westerner's expectation of a clean washroom, and that means, wet floors = dirty. Be it just cleaned (hence wet) or what, I'll still feel annoyed and slightly grossed out by the wet floors. So a clean washroom to me is really kind of a big deal. :) 

Custom clearance took a while, though. About 1.5 hours. Our flight touched down at almost 3pm and after more than a hour of queuing, we finally found Made waiting for us outside, holding a tag with my name on it, at around 4:45pm and off we go to kick start our half day tour for Day 1. 

Ulutawu Temple, which was about 1.5 hours drive from the airport. 

Entrance fee is 20,000 RP, which converts to about SGD $2.20. Upon being handed the tickets, we were called over by a few uncles sitting by a stack of sarongs and stashes at a corner, who will tie the sarong (if you're wearing shorts or short skirts) or stash for you. After which, they will usually give you a bunch of bananas to feed the monkey, after which they will ask you to pay for it. So if you do not wish to feed the "resident monkeys" of the temple, just tell them no and do not take the bananas.

And look who's here to welcome us as we enter the temple premise! Two monkeys, one enjoying a banana and another battling a corn.
The monkeys here are pretty mischievous, so be sure that you do not carry any loose articles and accessories like glasses, caps or necklaces as you enter the temple. Backpacks seems to be one of their target, for a poor lady got mobbed by one of the monkey, who sprung out from nowhere and jumped onto her back, trying to snatch her backpack. Thank goodness the sarong uncles were nearby and they quickly came to shoo it away. Else, I doubt any other tourists will dare to lend a helping hand, regardless of how gorgeous the damsel in distress is.

A very humble looking entrance...

That literally led us into the sunlight. Hahaha!
The view that awaited us was simply breathtaking.

And mind you, my samsung note 2 camera did not do the scenery any justice.

Nope, not at all.

And while walking, we saw a curious sight. This male monkey, very fat indeed, was sitting side by side with other two uncles by the parapet wall like 3 old friends. And yes, as I snapped the picture, the monkey peed, hence that trail of wetness down the wall. Errrrhmmmm....

Basically the number of monkeys there is alarmingly huge, so if you're not a big fan of monkey, or worse, terrified of them, you might want to think twice on visiting Uluwatu Temple. And yes, you'll be missing out a lot of awesome scenery too.

A shot of why I believe the monkeys here are exceptionally mischievous due to training by the locals. As a tourist couple walked past us, this monkey reached out with lightning quick hands and snatched the glasses off the man's face. I was really shocked as I thought the monkey went crazy and scratched his face or what, turned out it just grabbed his glasses and ran off to sit by the wall near a local little boy, who immediately used an apple to exchange for the glasses. Needless to say, at a price. I have no idea how much the boy asked for, but I heard the lady mumbling, "I don't have it either..." as she rummaged through her purse....

 One final, and also my favourite shot of the monkey.
"Rise of the Great Sage"

Due to our delay in clearing the customs, we ended up watching the sunset (hidden by a huge piece of cloud) here instead of during our seafood dinner at Jimbaran.

A group shot before we leave... heeheehee!

And the rest of the premise basically just look like so. Stairs and pavilions, which got me scratching my head and wondering, just where is the main temple building? We never got to find out, for we quickly rushed off for dinner at Jimbaran, which is about another 1 hour drive away.

Jimbaran Seafood Cafe is basically a stretch of humble looking restaurants located side by side, and according to Made, their prices are all the same. So we chose this restaurant, Teba Mega Cafe, with fresh seafood in tanks and took up a couple set, which can easily feed the 3 of us, at 600,000 RP.

 We were given a number tag and asked to head into the seating area at the back...

 Surprise, surprise! We're dining by the sea! If only we made it for sunset over here, it's going to be the best dinner ever.

And here's our dinner for the first night in Bali...
 Some pretty huge clams (spoon size), grilled fish and grilled squid on skewers.

Prawns and lobsters...

And kangkong.

All these, along with 2 bottles of beer, cost us about SGD $65, which I do believe is very pricey (in their local context) as you can't find a single local diner there. Diners are 100% tourists, and mainly Caucasians.
Food wise, it's good. Hard to find fault with dishes made from very fresh seafood. However, the squid on skewers did pale in comparison to the rest, for it's pretty tasteless and a little overdone, thus rubbery.
Even though I'm pretty bias towards the clams, and they're really all so fat and chewy, I guess the prawns have to win the best dish for the night. I'm not really a prawn eater but I loved every bite of the fat, juicy prawns, which were so fresh that pulling them out from the shells were a piece of cake.

And after the satisfying dinner,  we hopped back onto Made's car for yet another 1.5 hours drive down to Ubud, where our accommodation, Matahari Cottages is located. Prior to setting off, Made was really thoughtful to help ring them up to inform that we will be on our way while we were having dinner, just in case they decided to close off the reception and take it as a no show.

And here's where our nightmare started.
Upon checking in, the staff told us that the room we booked, CinnabarTearoom, was having a leakage issue and they have no choice but to shift us to a bigger family room, the Gua room, which is the largest room at Matahari and also perched high over a ravine.

 Here's a picture of the reception area.... Really simple and humble looking place.

 The area that surrounded the Gua Room, which looked a lot better in the day as compared to in the night.

As you can see, the balcony basically faces a forest. It looks so tranquil and scenic in the day, yes. But at night! Oh no, go on... freak out all you want if you're an insectophobic like me.

And yes, the bathroom is almost open-air, if not for the rattan blinds that we lowered. Yes, I doubt there's anybody in the forest to peek at us showering, but still...

Okay, so here comes the nightmarish story. First up, we were already disappointed that Cinnabar is not available and we were given this Gua room. Do check out the links above if you haven't, and you'll understand our disappointment after you view the room pictures. And after checking out the condition of the room, we were more put off by the overall uncleanliness of the room.
Floor was so dirty, it felt sandy to our feet. Bed linen has stains ALL OVER and smells salty-sourish. One of the lights in the bathroom has fused, and the staff merely nodded her head in acknowledgement when we pointed it out to her. There's supposed to be 2 ceiling fans, but one was obviously broken and removed, and we were provided yet another broken standing fan for replacement. Broken, as in it still spins and creates wind, but right up at the ceiling only. You can't get the fan to blow in any other specific directions, because it's broken. Lastly, windows were all sagging and it's so hard/nearly impossible to shut them tight. I'll get to why it's important to shut the windows in a while.
By this time, the 3 of us were either too tired from all the traveling in the day, or just stumped beyond words at the condition of the room to think of what to do or request from the staff as she started to leave the room.
And just as she reached the door, ZH caught sight of a big fat lizard hanging at the ceiling above the door and she kind of exclaimed to the staff in shock.
The staff merely look up at the lizard, and turned back to ZH, bemused.
"It's just lizard. They're harmless."
And off she went.

And so, left without any other choices, we started to unpack and wash up for the night. All was still relatively good, and we were sitting around, sharing the snacks ZH has packed for us and chatting quite happily when I noticed this big brown thing flying across the room and towards the small table outside the bathroom.
I yelled and pointed at it, thinking it was a dragonfly, until ZH shrieked: OMG, a flying cockroach!


 Ever since we settled on Matahari Cottages (as recommended on Lonely Planet), we knew that we will not be having air-conditioned room, and we were prepared to be feeding mosquitoes for 3 nights in exchange for some uniquely good experience. But heck, dirty rooms and flying cockroaches are nowhere near good, and definitely not uniquely good! It was also after the night's fiasco did we reflect on our planning and wondered, why didn't we ever consider that we might have an overall insect problem and not just mosquitoes issue?

Anyway, we basically had a standoff with this cockroach, which was flying all around the area near the bathroom, entering and exiting, and finally entering again while the three of us clutched onto a pillow each, completely at lost for what to do, other than missing our fathers.
Oh well, the usual cockroach-killer of a household, aren't they? How noble our fathers are!

Finally, the cockroach scurried into the bathroom again and kk courageously (and also with lightning quick hands) close the door to the bathroom shut, trapping it inside.
At this point, a lightbulb went off in my head and I suggested to head over to the concierge to ask for help to raise the rattan blinds (because the last time we saw the cockroach, it was resting on the blinds), and chances are whichever staff who came will have to help get rid of this pesky cockroach as well.

Feeling slightly more at ease with a game plan in mind, we picked up our room key and opened the door, only to have ZH yelling again, "OMG, what is that flying thing? It's huge!"
Okay, plan aborted. And nope, we never got to find out what that huge UFO (unknown flying object, literally) was, for we all decided to keep all the windows as tightly shut as possible (and heck the stuffiness, protecting ourselves from more UFO is more important!) and pray for sleep to find us, making a mental note to kick up a ruckus the next day and demand that we get back our intended room.

Read about my Day 2 HERE

Till then,


  1. I am planning to travel at Bali too.. Nice place to go.

    1. it is! if you're planning to hire a driver guide, you can follow the link and get to Bli Made's facebook page. :)

  2. This looks very nice :)

  3. LOL, funny story about the cockroach!

    Can you believe I have never been to Bali? I live just a short flight away and have never visited. Soon I hope! Your photos look amazing, it just inspires me to really get it organised. Thank you for sharing! GIG

  4. Aww, monkeys! I love monkeys so much <3 This would be one reason for me to visit Bali, haha~ :D
    Beautiful pictures!
    gig love <3

  5. ahh you come at my place ..XD
    hope you enjoy your holiday at bali !

  6. OMG! I absolutely HATE cockroaches!

    By the way, how much do the bananas cost to feed the monkeys?

    1. not sure. because i didnt buy any and the guide never tell us.

  7. Gosh monkeys terrify me to no end! I definitely have to stay away from the Uluwatu Temple! Moving past the monkeys, you seemed to have had an amazing trip, and lovely pics!

  8. I love your photos, especially the ones with the views. I have to say though, I'm so scared of monkeys I won't go anywhere where they are on the loose!

  9. I've always wanted to go to Bali - Your pictures are making me so so so jealous!! Gorgeous pictures, looks like an amazing adventure! <3 GIGLove

  10. aww.. wonderful photos! i love the beach and dreaming to go to bali one day! thanks for sharing your experiences :)

    -from gig
    Swirls and Scribbles

  11. i super love visiting Bali leh.....i been there twice loo!!people there is so friendly and nice, food is good and the beach is beautiful.....You should ask me where to go when you deciding that time hahahaha....

    1. hahaha! so where did you go? i'm not a beach person so kuta and seminyak is out for me already. not much of other places I can choose apart from ubud.

  12. Bali is good place for honeymoon . I want to go there too one day. You have a nice vacation spree lol
    gig love

  13. Cool pictures. I've always wanted to go to Bali. Looks beautiful.
    GIG LOVE | The Life of Leeshastarr

  14. Oh gosh the view is indeed breath-taking ! I will definitely visit here one day... :D

  15. Oh myyy Bali! The view is so magnificent <3 Wish to go there one day!

  16. What a marvellous pics! I've never been to bali but I should visit it in the next future
    gig love
    Travel and Fashion Tips

  17. Sorry to hear about your bad room experience! I'd be so disappointed and angry too and I'd probably be complaining to the staff constantly. I still want to visit Bali though!

  18. i want to go to bali one time but am scared of mosquito bites

  19. Bali is really beautiful. The pictures are amazing! Sorry to hear about your room.

  20. this is a spot on my wish list. I love it and I dream about surfing there.

  21. such a cute picture of the monkey! They can be so cheeky, aren't they?

  22. Such cool pictures :) Cant wait for the second part xx

  23. Sorry to hear that you have bad experience in Bali. But I hope you will visit Bali again.

  24. Aww. Bali is one of the great places on my bucket list. I'd love to visit there. :) giglove

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  27. What about the hotels or stays??? is there any home stays available?? because home stays are a perfect idea to experience the local lifestyle!
    Kindly Guide!


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