I never really dreamed I would be able to visit Bali in my lifetime. To my mind, Bali was this exotic land in a faraway expensive place where only the Paris Hiltons’ and the Oprah Winfreys’ visit. I was completely wrong.
Sometime in 2012, Cebu Pacific opened its wings to Pinoys who want to visit Bali at an affordable price. In January 2013, my friends and I booked, dreamed and saved up some money just for that. We were able to book a round-trip flight from Manila-Bali-Manila at Php7,800.00 each. In May 18, we took the red eye leaving Manila at 4 am. Arrival in Bali was supposed to be at 8AM, instead, we arrived in Bali at around 7:30 AM. The Gods were excited and on our side.
My friend and former boss, Jenel, booked two rooms for the three of us at the Best Western Resort and Spa (her treat!) located at Kubu Anyar which is a 10 to 15 minute walk to the Kuta Square and Kuta beach. The Best Western Resort also has a hotel located on the other side of Kuta, but i think our resort was pretty cool too. We were at the very heart of Kuta.
Check in at the resort was at 2pm and we were too tired to roam around so we decided to hang by the pool and get some fresh air. Oh and of course what is a vacation without food?! So we ate. We all ordered the Nasi Goreng Dulang, a famous dish in Bali with flavored rice topped by fried eggs, shrimp, beef and chicken. It tasted like curry. It was spicy at just the right flavor. It costs around 85,000 IDR or Php250.00. Look at that!
After we’ve unpacked and bathed, we decided to check out the Kuta square which was a cross between Old Malate and posh Makati. It was a shopper’s haven, stylish clothes were on sale up to 70% off. I was quite amazed how it was like Manila, Starbucks was almost every corner. There was KFC, Wendys, Mcdonald’s , Coffee Bean and many more. I swear, I would probably get a kick if I saw our famous giant bee, Jollibee.
We had dinner and drinks at the Oceans 27, overlooking the Kuta beach. The beach was quite disappointing. Because I come from a country that boasts of world class beaches, such as the Boracay and El Nido, the Kuta beach to me paled in comparison to the Philippine beaches. The water wasn’t blue enough, the sand wasn’t pristine and powdery enough, the sunshine wasn’t sunshiney enough. But that’s just me, I got over it quickly. Remember, when travelling, an open mind is the key to enjoyment. I ordered the Taliwang marinated chicken which wreaked havoc in my mouth. It was so hot I almost cried. But it was also soooo good, I almost cried.
After dinner, we decided to go to PotatoHead located in Seminyak which is a 30 minute drive from Kuta. Taxi costs around 100,000 IDR or Php425.000. Seminyak was like the Bonifacio Global City of Manila with its trendy hotels, trendy people, trendy shops and bars. The Potatohead was one big beautiful bar with an open garden in the middle, an infinity pool where you can drink and not dive, and overlooking the ocean. It was a cool chill place where the tourists and locals meet with subdued music and crowd. And lest i forget, it was very expensive! I had this strawberries mixed with alcohol that costs 130,000 IDR or Php600.00. It was called Champagne Supernova and it was really good. In the Philippines,I wouldn’t normally indulge and buy myself a drink that was more than Php300.00 per glass. I’m just that way, stingy. But for Bali and the experience, hell yeah!
The next day, we rented a car from our hotel for a 5-hour tour. A rented car with an English-speaking driver costs 35USD for 5 hours inclusive of gas, but exclusive of all the entrance fees of the places to visit. It was a great deal! The car can occupy 4 guests plus the driver. The amount was regardless of the number of passengers. Sweet! Off we went to Uluwatu, about an hour drive from Kuta. We first visited the Garuda Wisnu Kencara Cultural Park (GWK) which housed the largest Wisnu and Garuda statues, an amphitheater, street theather, the Lotus Pond and many more. The entrance fee to this place costs 80,000 IDR (Php340.00) plus parking fee that costs 5,000IDR (Php 21.29).
After a 45 minute tour of the GWK, Made (pronounced as “Ma-de” ), our driver, took us to the Uluwatu temple and cliff. The drive was around 30 to 40 minutes. Now, this was my personal favorite.
Before getting out of the car, Made warned us to be extra careful and to remove all jewelries, accessories and any colorful object within our person. Apparently, a lot of monkeys freely roam around the Uluwatu temple and are attracted to colorful shiny things. My friends decide not to risk it and opted to wait for me in the car. I couldn’t contain my joy i almost jumped out of the car, monkeys be damned. I was dying to see the cliff! So I took off minus my jewelries. Yahoooo!
The entrance fee to the Temple was 20,000 IDR (Php85.00). I must warn you, before entering the temple the guards will let you wear a sarong as a sign of respect since it is a place of worship. Wear it! Also, before entering, a lot of local tourist guides will offer their services for 80,000IDR (Php 341.00). They said that just a day before we arrived, a monkey attacked a tourist biting her and was rushed to the hospital. Also, two Blackberries had been grabbed from tourists. They had a penchant for expensive gadgets so hide your IPAD’s and Iphones. I didn’t. I took all these photos using my phone.
I decided not to risk my safety so I got myself a guide armed with a bow and fake arrow. So i was 80,000IDR poorer but richer in experience and fun. All went well. And the view was spectacular. Res Ipsa Loquitur.
The Jimbaran bay was another 30-40 minute drive from Uluwatu. Made took us to the Jukung Bali Seafood for dinner. It was around 5pm when we left Uluwatu so we had to rush to Jimbaran to witness the sunset by the beach. Dinner at Jukung consisted of steamed rice, grilled red snapper, spicy lobster, shrimps, chicken, oyster and octopus which costs around 1.3million IDR (Php5,535) Huwaaaaat? Water costs 19,000IDR (Php80.00). Lunok. Oh and lest i forget, everything in Bali has a 21% government tax and service charge.
Jimbaran was beautiful, a quiet place and i recommend it for sweethearts. But for girl-friends like us, it was a great place for eating! Hihihi!
On our third day, we planned to go to Ubud together but then Jenel had to stay at the hotel, Di wasn’t feeling well so I went on an adventure alone. I rented a car with driver for 400,000IDR (Php1,700.00) for 8 hours which took me to Ubud.
We first went to see the Barong and Kris dancers at the Jambe Budaya. Entrance fee was 100,000IDR (Php425.00). It was a dance cum stage play. The dancers danced with their neck, shoulders, arms and eyes, wearing elaborate costumes and make up. It was a sight to behold and overwhelming. The performance lasted an hour.
Thirty minutes away from this place was the Ubud Art village where we witnessed the local art scenery and wood carving. We also went to see the Coffee Plantation , passing by a huge ricefield. At the Plantation, we were given FREE taste of every coffee flavor from the most expensive Luwak coffee to the weirdest flavor, FREE taste of all tea flavors, FREE taste of wine and and milk, vanilla and orange flavored CHOCOLATES. All for free. I thought I died and went staright to SWEET-TOOTH HEAVEN. Wiii!
Lunch was at the Rapuan Cili Restaurant & Exotic Natural Park which had this view:
Lunch was again spicy which made me have a coughing fit it was embarrassing. You know how it is. 🙂 So i stopped eating, i didn’t want to die in Bali with this cause of death: PATAY GUTOM. 🙂
The icing on my cake was the last stop, the Bantuan temple. Bali has a thousand or more temples scattered all over, and this was just one. I was really lost for words when I entered the temple. I am a Catholic girl, and i realized right there and then, that my God and their God is everywhere. In Manila or in Bali, he is everywhere. That was the closest religious experience I had in Bali. I was awed, amazed and humbled by the sheer beauty. God is indeed so good, he created all these beautiful perplexing things.
There was no entrance fee at the temple. But they ask for donations , the amount of which ranges from 10,000-20,000IDR.
After my Ubud trip, we went back to Kuta and had fun at the Hard Rock Cafe where Jenel treated us to an expensive bottle of Bailey’s and we got VIP treatment! Super! The band, After Seven, was great singing contemporary pop and rock.
A lot of things happened to me in Bali. I realized I was kind or reckless too. But I’d like to say adventurous too. Please. 🙂
We went home to the Philippines with lovely thoughts of Bali. I miss it. They miss it. I hope someday, you, my reader, get to experience it too. It’s not Boracay, it’s Bali with its own charm. Drink it.
This post is written by my dear guest writer Maria Angelica “Gege” Espaldon.
About the Author
Gege is a Contract Manager by day and a
cam-whore traveller in between. She is a self-diagnosed bipolar with a penchant for travelling, fun, adventure and living a little dangerously, but her bank account keeps telling her she’s really not so she better stop with her delusions.She dreams of winning the lottery and flying to Nepal, Amsterdam and India. A girl can dream.
Hanggang sa muli, Paalam!
Originally Posted On: DENCIO.COM