We got married and ran away to the beach!

With everything that went on for the first 3/4 of last year, house and wedding planning, I knew our first vacation as a married couple would revolve around just 1 word, BEACH. Being in Asia, it is relatively easy to fly yourself to the various beach destinations that surround Sunny Singapore. But, Indonesia’s Gili Islands had always been on my list. So, it felt natural to get ourselves there to literally do nothing and be beach bums all day, every day.

We managed to score ourselves relatively affordable tickets to Bali on Airasia during a sale for SGD 500 for the 2 of us. As we were flying off on 1 September, which was a public holiday, we knew we couldn’t score bargain tickets. Another way to get to Gili Islands, would be to fly to Lombok instead of Bali. However, as no budget airlines flies to Lombok yet, it was economical for us.

Since we arrived late into Bali, we decided to stay a night at Amnaya Resort Kuta (SGD 117/night) before we headed off to Gili Air in the morning. After checking in, we scooted off right away to Johnny Tacos which was close by for our late dinner.

UNADJUSTEDNONRAW_thumb_4e60Basic yet so yum tacos at Johnny Tacos 

The next morning, we set off to Gili Air. Our tickets were IDR 225k each and the ferry (Ganggari Fast Boat) took us through Padang Bai. We spent the whole morning travelling we checked in way past noon at our home for the next 2 nights – Samata Village (SGD 142/night). The place blew me away when I first found them online and boy, it was exactly what I had imagined it to be.

UNADJUSTEDNONRAW_thumb_5313.jpgIf this isn’t paradise, I don’t know what else is

Gilli Air, felt like I was in another world altogether having just come from Kuta. Although it was still fairly crowded with tourists, the cobbled pavements, horse carts, sand under your feet definitely did it’s magic on me. We spent the rest of the day indulging in food, more food (think gelato) and watching the sun set right before our eyes.

UNADJUSTEDNONRAW_thumb_52feSunset at Gili Air

UNADJUSTEDNONRAW_thumb_5359.jpgExploring the island on bicycles

UNADJUSTEDNONRAW_thumb_534d.jpgNumerous postcard moments

UNADJUSTEDNONRAW_thumb_53b3.jpgMovie night at Ombak Restaurant 

Day 2 in Gili Air is better explained from the last 3 photos above. It was just the perfect kind of quiet to unwind after all the crazy months of planning. For food, we checked out Chill Out Cafe, Raja Bar and Restaurant, The Mexican Kitchen and Scallywags (only dessert though). My recommendation would for both the food as well as beach huts to lounge the afternoon away would be The Mexican Kitchen. Apart from that, the rest of the restaurants were passable for food but perfect for chilling.

Heads up, we got our hopes too high thinking we could have a good brunch before we set off to Gili Meno. We chanced upon Coffee and Thyme which greeted us right at jetty when we first got to Gili Air. But, trust me, when I say just enter the restaurant, take a few snaps of the pool by the side and leave. Do NOT spend your dollar. But, I suppose that experience was good to kick us out of Gili Air and onward to Gili Meno because we sure did not have much blues after our “meal” there.

UNADJUSTEDNONRAW_thumb_5453.jpgIf Gili Air was paradise, Gili Meno is heaven

We arrived from Gili Air to Gili Meno real quick given how close both islands were. Our ferry costed us IDR 85k per person. And as we were approaching the island, we knew for sure, we would be spending our unplanned night in Meno before we head to Ubud in 3 days time. Gili Meno was far quieter with lesser people and beach huts littered all around the coast line.

IMG_4647.JPGVilla Mojo in its full glory

Our first 2 nights were spent at Villa Mojo (SGD 148/night) and for the last night Les Villas Ottalia (SGD 84/night). Villa Mojo was in a very good location, near the beach and basically the main road of the island. However, getting to Les Villas was indeed a struggle. So if you are travelling with a lot of luggage, please bear that in mind. The highlight of Gili Meno was our meal over sunset at Mahamaya Resort. It was really a treat for the eyes and a feast for the tummy. And also, tears for the wallet. Our dinner for 2 was IDR 470k.

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Apart from Mahamaya, Karma Beach Club is another popular place in Gili Meno.

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With a view like this before your eyes, all the worries in the world probably disappear even if it is temporary.  The rest of our time in Gili Meno was spent beach hopping and indulging in sinful food.

Both Gili Air and Gili Meno are really small islands that you cover either by foot or a bicycle. There are no automobiles which equates to no pollution. It’s just you and nature and more nature.

As much as it was painful to say our goodbye to the islands after 5 days, I was very excited to finally visit Ubud. Despite, being to Bali multiple times, I never made it up to Ubud. Plus, when you have got an amazing Airbnb stay (SGD 104/night) with a view like this, who wouldn’t be! 😉

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No words can describe the peace and tranquility that greets you when you step into the villa. Ubud is littered with many many good cafes and eateries. I wish we had more days to explore (a.k.a. stuff our faces silly).

Among all our meals we had in Ubud, our best meal experience was at Clear Cafe. It was truly one of a kind. For those of you heading to Ubud, Clear Cafe is a MUST on your list.

For authentic Balinese food, we tried Cafe Lotus which is also famous for having traditional Balinese dance performance in the evenings. We got our Mexican fix at Taco Casa which was bustling with people every time we drove past. For coffee lovers, I would highly recommend Seniman Coffee Studio. We had brunch at Habitat which had amazing smoothie bowls. For our last dinner in Ubud, we concluded the night in Hujan Locale which caters to people looking for a twist in a typical Asian restaurant. For coconut lovers, you will go nuts (pun unintended), at Tukies Coconut Shop.

Apart from the delectable food scene, Ubud is also famous for their rafting day trips. We booked our rafting excursion with BMW (Bali Mitra Wahana) for IDR 500k for 2 pax. BMW was said to be one of the better rafting companies to go with. But, please do your homework before you decide on which company to go with. Some factors to consider would be the distance covered as well as the terrain grade.

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After a day out under the sun, we decided to pamper ourselves to a 2.5 hour spa package at Sang Spa 2 for IDR 900k.

With that, our amazing 10-day Indonesia adventure concluded! For a beach bum like me, Gili Meno were the best 3 days spent together with my husband. Till next time!

All images belong to Solosingaporean unless otherwise credited for. Please give credit where it’s due.

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Bali Daze.

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I decided to make use of the long weekend (thanks to Good Friday) to revisit Bali having been there last, in 2013. I’ve been always been wanting to explore Uluwatu and Ubud so decided that I’d do just that over this trip instead of visiting the usual tourist spots of Kuta and Seminyak.

I did 2 1-way flights each on Jetstar and Tiger which allowed me to score tickets for around SGD 200 for a Friday (early) morning flight out with a Monday night return. Seemed like a pretty sweet deal so I grabbed the tickets last August itself.

Accommodation

There are plenty of villa options that greet you when you are deciding on where to stay in Bali. I had initially planned to stay at Nusa Dua for 1 night, Uluwatu for 1 night and then spend the last night winding down in Ubud. However, 4 days before my flight out there were some changes that I had to make to my Airbnb booking due to a system glitch that booked me into a villa that had already been booked. Am glad I managed to sort it out with the Airbnb host and everything worked to my advantage to be honest! 🙂

Moral of story: If you book way in advance for your hotels, try to get those which allow for free cancellation. You never know when it comes in handy.

So, we ended up staying near Nusa Dua for 1 night and then at our Airbnb accommodation (near Uluwatu) for 2 nights.

Our accommodation at Nusa Dua was at Tjendana Villas 1 BR Private Pool Villa ($138/night). Facilities were slightly above average only but the environment of the villa within a beautiful private compound made up for a slightly small pool and poor breakfast spread. After a night there, I moved to Villa Seratus (Airbnb) which ended up being the bomb! Highly recommend staying there if you are looking for a place near Uluwatu. I managed to get a really good rate for 2 nights due to the system hiccup so no complains at all! The villa is slightly on the steep side (SGD 180 onwards) due to the spaciousness as well as private pool/jacuzzi area. On top of that, there is a 50m lap pool shared between the 5 villas in the compound. There is breakfast option for an add on of about SGD 10 as well as in-house massage option. My 2-night stay there was pure bliss!

Transport

The previous time I travelled to Bali I realised I spent quite a fair bit on transport. As such, I decided to rent a motorbike this time round. I rented a Honda F1 (150cc) via Bali Big Bike for USD 10/day. It worked out to USD 40 for my 4 day stay in Bali. I decided to add on a mobile phone holder to the bike for USD 2.50, which ended up being really helpful in navigating us through Bali.

There are plenty of transport companies you can rent from. Hence, this table comparison would be really helpful in helping you pick the better and more trustworthy rental companies.

Petrol, if you get it from the gas station, is around IDR 7k per litre. Anywhere else, it’s about IDR 10k per litre. We topped up about 5-6 litres throughout the 4 days. It’s really economical to rent a scooter and saves you a lot of money to indulge on good food.

Tip: Do wear helmets even if they are slightly uncomfortable. On our last day, while heading to the airport, we got stopped by the police for not wearing our helmets. We are told to pay IDR 500k but negotiated our way out with just IDR 150k.

Dine and Wine

      1. Sisterfields Cafe, Seminyak

IMG_4350.JPGft. Breakfast Burrito (IDR 100k) and Pash Me Smoothie (IDR 47k)

I have been looking stalking the brunch scene in Bali for quite a while and decided on my first meal (brunch/lunch) to be at Sisterfields Cafe in Seminyak (next to Seminyak Square) upon my arrival in Bali. It took us nearly an hour to reach Sisterfields from the airport navigating through the traffic with our backpacks in the sweltering heat. Plus, I forgot to pin the location on the maps so clearly finding our way was a real struggle. But, the food and the smoothie (freaking awesome!) made everything so worth it. We tried the Banoffee dessert (IDR 60k) which was extremely sweet and delectable.

      2. Rock Bar, AYANA Resort, Jimbaran 

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Visiting Rock Bar has been on my bucket list since FOREVER. So, what better way then to spend my Friday evening watching sunset and lazing over drinks. Don’t expect much food wise here. You are essentially just paying for view. There was a minimum spend of IDR 600k for 2 if you were to occupy the arm cushion. Hence, we got 2 appetisers and 2 drinks between us, which costed us IDR 550k in total. They didn’t actually need us to hit IDR 600k so that was good.

Tip: The good seats get filled up really quick so be sure to head about 5pm (or even earlier) to get yourself a good view of the sunset. 

      3. Made’s Warung, Seminyak

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For good old Indonesian food, Made’s Warung would be your best bet. Both the dishes we tried – Nasi Campur and Nasi Goreng Udang (Shrimps) were very authentic. Each dish is roughly around IDR 50k to 60k. During our meal, there was a local band playing Balinese music which completed our dining experience really well. One of our friends, recommended us their Cheese Cake and it was surprisingly good. There is another outlet in Kuta, so depending on where you are, be sure to swing by either of their outlets for at least a meal.

      4. Kat’s Kitchen, Uluwatu

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T0 be honest, I had low expectations for Kat’s Kitchen as it was recommended by Airbnb host. I reckoned since it was near the villa it was the most convenient place to suggest for average food. In the 48 hours I spent in the villa, I visited Kat’s Kitchen for 3 meals so enough said I’m guessing. I’m drooling just thinking about their Tom Yam Goong. Yes, who doesn’t love Thai food! I’d recommend their Thai Fish Cake, Laap Kai (Spicy minced chicken served with rice), Tom Yam Goong and Khao Phat Talay (Seafood Fried Rice). Average meal for 2 costs about IDR 200k.

      5. Bumbu Bali 1, Tanjung Benoa 

IMG_4757.JPGft. Nasi Goreng Seafood (IDR 140k) and Tahu Isi Ikan (stuffed crispy tofu) (IDR 92.5k)

Thanks to my effort in googling to find something to eat near Nusa Dua, I found Bumbu Bali. After our jetskiing in Nusa Dua Beach we headed to Bumbu Bali for a late lunch. I didn’t have high expectations for this place as it seemed to be slightly commercialised with their many awards and certifications that greeted me at the door as well as their in-house cooking classes. The presentation of the food already blew me away when it was served, in addition to the presentation style of the staff in explaining each dish to us. Definitely worth a visit if you are in South Bali. There is another outlet (Bumbu Bali 2) just stone’s throw away from this so if this gets filled up guests are sent over by the private cars.

      6. Finn’s Beach Club, Ungasan

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Finn’s Beach Club is literally heaven on earth! The entrance of IDR 300k is worth it, trust me! For the private beach you get the enjoy, the beanbags that lie on the sand you can sprawl on along with rental of kayaks, snorkel equipment and stand up paddle board (when tide is high) makes the experience worth it. In addition, you get a F&B credit of IDR 150k. There was a 50% off happy hour from 6-7pm which was perfect timing for us to have a dip before settling in the beanbags for some drinks and a bite.

To be honest, having visited both the Rock Bar and Finn’s Beach Club, I’d recommend the latter if you are looking to splurge on just one. The privacy of the beach access you get to enjoy is unparalleled.

Other Activities 

We were contemplating doing flyboarding at Nusa Dua but decided against it as it was roughly around USD 85 per person. Instead, we did jetski which costed us IDR 175 per jetski for 15 minutes (we rode solo). We had also planned on doing paragliding (for USD 85) but somehow got delayed so gave it a miss.

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Uluwatu, is another highlight to visit when heading to South Bali. Entrance fee for an adult is IDR 300k and child is IDR 200k. It’s quite a long stretch around the temple that you can walk along to watch the magnificent sunset. Every evening there is an hour long Balinese dance performed in Uluwatu (tickets cost IDR 100k).

Tip: The monkeys are real and aggressive! Be sure to safeguard your belongings and carry minimum items when visiting Uluwatu. I’m glad we didn’t watch the dance as it would have meant getting out of Uluwatu post sunset (in darkness).

All in all, this trip got me falling deeper in love with Bali. I got to explore South Bali pretty well given my 4D3N there and also checked off – pillioning on a scooter in Indonesia. My only pity was I didn’t not have time to make a day trip out to Ubud. I guess that just means another trip to Bali beckons. 😉

All images belong to Solosingaporean unless otherwise credited for. Please give credit where it’s due.

Yogyakarta: Survival 101.

BhudSilhouette of Buddha from the steps of Borobudur 

1. Getting around is the hardest part of travelling when you are in developing countries. So, the only way to survive is get a driver throughout your stay there or, alternatively, when you hop on to a taxi make sure it is 2-way. Because, except for Malioboro Street, it is virtually impossible for you to get a taxi anywhere in Jogja. You can trust me on that, as I was literally stranded on Parangtritis beach with just 5 hours between me and my flight back home.

IMG_1777Malioboro Street

2. Jogja people are generally helpful and forthcoming in being your tour guide and/or your driver. That also means, they rely heavily on tip from foreigners as their primary source of income. So, a general rule of thumb would be tip anywhere between IDR 10,000 – 20,000 and you are safe.

IMG_1752Mee Bakso stall outside the vicinity of Taman Seri

3. Street food is really cheap. You can easily have a bowl of Soto Ayam for IDR 7,000. Popular desserts would be Es Teler, for example, which is basically a concoction of fruits served in coconut milk. With the sweltering heat, a ice-cold dessert after a meal would be refreshing.

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Sunset at Prambanan Temples

4. Like most Asian countries, haggling is a MUST. You generally can make a purchase for half of the initial price or even less, at times. So, you really have to master the art to survive.

IMG_2597  Parangtritis beach

5. People are persistent when they want you to buy something from them. You have to be a bit thick-skinned to get them off your back. Or, alternatively, you can shove them with a pack of cigarettes and they will leave you alone. That trick worked for me inspite of the fact that bribing my way into Borobudur to catch sunrise didn’t.

All images belong to Solosingaporean unless otherwise credited for. Please give credit where it’s due.