Monday, November 17, 2008

Our 4th Honeymoon - Bali !!

Lush and languid, Bali beguiles with its beach-side charms. It all started when I decided to have an adventurous getaway with Hon right after my last day at work. We have been to Phuket and Redang which is abundant in colourful marine life and luxurious villas for the ultimate relaxation. Thus this time, we yearn for something more exciting and bold, a totally different kind of holiday which will bring out the thrill-seekers in us both. The next 3 days of really quick planning, we have booked and paid for our Bali package at a really good deal. Everyday, I look forward to my last day at work. When it came, i was utterly ecstatic! We packed and reached Changi Airport at 5am in the morn the next day. Our flight was at 7 am with Garuda.

Day 1 - Arrival and Shopping !!

We landed safely at Ngurah Rai International Airport, Denpasar Bali. It was the start of our 4 day adventure and we are thrilled! A guide named Mahar greeted us with a warm smile as he held on to a placecard with our names on it. Immediately, we felt at ease as he explained to us that he will be our official private tour guide for the next day. We made plans with him to have a cultural immersion day on Day 2 of our trip. And of course whitewater rafting on Day 3 and sea-sports on Day 4. Our days are packed with activities. The van took us both to our hotel in Legian Bali which is very near Kuta, the hustle and bustle of Bali. We stayed at the All Seasons Legian. Comfy and clean, like a boutique hotel.

After unpacking and a quick nap, the itenerary for Day 1 was rather laid back. We decided to go shopping and explore the busy area of Kuta. We took a cab, which was really cheap at 5000 Rupiah as the starting meter price, all the way to Discovery Shopping Centre. It was less busy as compared to the shopping in Singapore. We took our time to 'discover' what we could buy at a bargain. Note that there were not many tourists at all and it was quite quiet for a shopping centre. Kuta Beach was just nearby and surfers in board shorts and bikinis walked around the shopping centre like it wasn't their business to put some clothes on. We had lunch at A&W, Shopped some more and had a free dinner at Hard Rock Cafe! Our kind agent provided us with free dinner vouchers and they were surely worth it.

On the streets of Kuta

Fish Burger at A&W. Wholemeal bread or what!

Can't miss the Root Beer Float.

Our Lunch

Near Kuta Beach

Hon and NIKE shops in Kuta

Dinner at Hard Rock Cafe. A band was playing.

We got these free.

That was the end of Day 1, time flies by fast. A nice laid back day, for sure. The weather was hot in the day and rained most nights. By that time, we were back at our hotel to just chill and surf the channel. They do have broadband with all sorts of channels. We got 15 mins of free massage each but we decided to forego that as we're not really into spa-ing this time.

Day 2 - Cultural Immersion Day

On the second day, Mahar fetched us at 9am for our private tour of Bali. We went to Ubud, Uluwatu, Denpasar, Sanur, Kuta, Kintamani and Seminyak. As Mahar's knowledge of the island is absolutely vast, we learned a lot from him. From the structure of the Balinese houses and temples to the history and legend of the characters and ancestors. It was a learning experience. The morning saw us discovering temples and typical Real Balinese houses. But first, we witnessed a Barong Dance/Play in Sanur.

Next, we visited a Batik Painting Gallery in Ubud. Their intricate designs are gorgeous. I can't believe how good their art is. Or how patient they are in weaving a single thread to make a 2 metre cloth. Oh well, their pace of life is of course different. We bought Batiks for our moms to make Baju Kurungs. =)

Moving forward, we visited a real Balinese house. The Grandmother is cooking the day's meal as the men and children of the house have gone to work and school respectively. Their house is open concept and you can see how the structure of their houses are like bungalows. They live a simple life.

The pic on the left is one of the bedrooms. The bed is just surrounded by curtains, so if the couple wanna get it on or something, there really is no privacy. Hehe! The one on the right shows how many people lived in the house and the name of the head of household. This is made compulsory by the government to be put up outside every house in Bali.

The temple within the compounds. The ashes of their ancestors are thrown into the sea and a deity replaces them in these monuments.

More pictures of palaces and temples we visited. Along with an art gallery whose paintings are done by the locals. They are really very impressive. It was said that a French painter spread his art influences to Bali as their drawings were once of people and Barongs only. We had lunch at Ubud too and the scenery was breath-taking. Padi fields lined the horizon and the people are hard at work. The air is cooler in Ubud compared to Kuta due to the highlands. We managed to catch a highly stylized Legong Dance performed by 2 young girls at the restaurant. Amidst the lush greenery, we were having the ultimate relaxation, mind free from worries back home.

Tucking in to lunch amidst the Padi Fields.

Balinese Food. Ayam Berkakak with Rice and Soto Ayam. The taste is very different from Singapore dishes.

The sacred place of the temple. Majority of Balinese are hindus and temples are scattered everywhere. And I mean Everywhere! They hold dearly to their religion but have racial and religious harmony based on community involvement and respect. They also believe that Barong (the stone carving of the creature guarding every house and place) will ward off evil spirits.

We have to wear sarongs to step into this sacred temple. Archeologically speaking, the temple ruins date back to the 18th century.

We made our way to Uluwatu next to see the Kechak Dance, a ritual dance created in the early 1930's which combined the chorus of the "Sanghyang" trance dance with a story from the "Ramayana" legend. Very impressive with its circular chorus of sometimes over 100 bare chested male singers.. Characters in costumes appear along the way to act out the scenes of the tale. The background of the scene is when the sun is setting so the view is fabulous! It was a magnificent experience. We had to walk along a cliff to get to the performance stage. There were wild monkeys along the way and they were really viscious! They will steal your camera, sunglasses and what nots. You have to bribe them with food to get your precious belongings back! Clever bastards.

The Kechak Dance "Live"! View our video-take below for a real live experience brought back from Bali itself! What you see is what you get. Hear how they use their voices for rhythm and beats. Kindly turn off the imeem blog music on the left panel first before you press play on the video to your left. It's real funny too! This is only 30 seconds of the 1 hour chant/play that they did.

These are pictures taken during and after their performance. A funny lot of bunch these guys are, haha! They are such talented people! And friendly at that too!!

Day 2 ended with free dinner at the hotel. (vouchers courtesy from our tour agent) And then back to our room with mind filled with knowledge and history and awaiting what's next tomorrow. We turned in early because we had to be ready by 8am the next morning for.. what else? Whitewater rafting!!!!! The reason why we came to Bali in the first place!!

Day 3 - Whitewater Rafting at Telaga Waja, Bali.

The thrilling Telaga Waja adventure begins in the foothills of the sacred Mount Agung, after an in-depth safety and equipment briefing by our experienced guide. From the time we experienced the drop into the first set of rapids, our hearts are already racing and adrenalin pumping.

They have Class IV rapids as the fastest and boy i think that isn't enough for us both. Haha! Hon kept on paddling the boat to go faster even though the guide said Stop! Cheeky Boy! It was only us 2 on the boat and we had the guide all to ourselves. Absolutely Marvellous and breath-taking! Time stood still as the boat glides rapids after rapids while we take in the magnificent view.

Over head obstacles, narrow gorges and breathtaking views of terraced rice plains all along the way will gave us an appetite for our final challenge! The Water Dam! A 4 metre drop into the waters down below!!! We survived it, and wanted more!! Too bad we do not have that picture. The experience will remain in our hearts.

The best fun ever!!!!!


Home - Survivor style. Free Lunch at the top after all that rafting. We had to climb up the hills to get here. Almost 100 steps. But it was well worth it.

Beautiful View for Lunch.

And that was the end of our whitewater rafting experience. We headed back and wanted to rest but we got a message from the reception that our flight back was brought forward from 8pm to 3pm. Dang! 5 hours earlier!!?!? They cancelled the night flight due to insufficient passengers or technical problems or whatsoever! So we had to decide on change of plans pronto. Instead of resting, we went shopping! We ain't got no more time for that on our last day!! We took a pic at the 2002 bombing site monument. And while Hon was shopping for his 'Supreme' bag at a skate shop, the lights suddenly went off. We were in utter darkness! We realised that the whole street had a blackout. Shops were pitch dark. Everybody went outside and waited by their shops. We sat by the pavement while waiting half an hour for the lights to come back on. It was scary shit.

When we returned to our hotel, we had a pasta buffet dinner. It was superb as nobody else was around and we had the trays all to ourselves. We settled in for the night as the next morning, we again had to wake up early for our seasports activities.

Day 4 - Sea Sports Galore!!!!!

We headed to Nusa Dua where there are many many sea activities to do. The manager was nice and gave us a really good price just because we can speak their language. hehe. *Winks* We were treated with such meticulate service! We even had our pics taken by their more than willing staff. We had 4 activities. Parasailing for me. Wakeboarding for Hon. Flyfish and ProMable for us both. Here we are bargaining and discussing the activites. The first thrill was the Flyfish, a newly created seasport for 2 pax. The instructor will be seated in the centre to steer the Flyfish. We were laying face up on the tube holding on to the handles for our dear lives. There were no straps to us. Only handles. As you can see from the following pics, we were airborne for a few minutes!! Facing backwards!!! Haha! Thrilling indeed!

My thrilling Parasailing experience. I went really high up in the air for an aerial view of Nusa Dua! The wind was amazingly strong too. I survived this in one piece and raring to go again soon.

Next was this tube called Pro-Mabel. We sat on this tube and just held on to the handles for our dear freaking lives as the speedboat pulled on the rope attached to it. The tube went zig-zag all the way and i bet you if you once let go of the handle, you will be thrown 1 metre out into the sea. It was THAT fast and fantastic. Very bumpy too as it glides on the surface of the waves.

Next is Wakeboarding for hon. Hon managed a few tries and he said that it was a good experience. It is quite difficilt to get up when you are donned in a life jacket. In the end, the guide showed us how it's done. He did jumps and stunts and all.

And so that is the end of our seasports activities. It lasted the whole morning. We reached our hotel by 1pm and the front desk was kind enough to hold our rooms until we have had our bath. We had a quick rush and packed and reached the airport by 2pm. As seen below the beach is really clean and the water is so clear too. But the most amazing thing is, the water isn't that deep at all!!! At most 2 metres even though far out. The manager even served us free (again) lunch of nasi padang. It was the best hospitality ever. We might have done even more if not for our change of flight.

When we reached the airport, we were shocked to learn that our flight at 3pm with Garuda was overbooked and we do not have seats. They wanted to transfer us to another Garuda flight business class with transit in Jakarta for 3 hours but we rejected that. We asked if there were any other options and after much negotiation, they kindly transfered us to Singapore Airlines at around 4pm. We did not have to pay a single cent for this transfer as it was the airline's fault. Such good luck for us. Once we reached home, we ate at the staff canteen as we seriously longed for Singapore food. Reminiscing the days we had at Bali, we will for sure go again, definitely. The hospitality of the country itself is heart-warming. They have asked to spread the word that it is indeed safe to go to Bali. The country depends largely on its tourism economy. It is such a pity that the execution incident deemed it unfit to go there. But rest assured, SheZai had the best time of our lives there. Feel free to leave your comments or e-mail us. It would be swell if there are any sponsors out there who will give holidays in return for a blogging review. Hahaha! But Hey, these are just dreams.

We are now gearing up for our Standard Chartered 10Km Marathon next 2 weeks. But before that, it is Hon's Birthday next week!! Let's see what we have up our sleeves for that!! Stay tuned, SheZai readers!

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