08 December 2009

Bali in a nutshell

It was almost ominously becoming my first episode of an international embarrassment recently. The hotel room which I booked earlier seemed to be taken away by the Kangaroos who came there for their annual surfing thus leaving me to wander around the city with my luggage for another emergency alternatives, my plastic cards (the chips) out of sudden having their own mind decided not to work properly and almost left me on the street begging for rupiah to pay for the room and the organizer changed the conference venue to another part of the island (luckily not the date) without notifying the participants way in advance - I almost stranded on another side of the world. That was not to mention how the organizer changed and reshuffled the timetable jolly-molly and I almost missed my slot.

Bali was very hot sans the rain that almost sank the whole Sumatera. The whole sky was opening wide void of any cumulus cloud which I saw floating clearly from the aeroplane before we touched down. My body sweat all over even with a simple few descending steps from my hotel room to the cafe. I was on another last-minute official trip, a 5 days assignment to Bali, Indonesia presenting a talk on a conference. Without prior knowledge of the conference itinerary, there was actually nothing of any intellectual activities planned except a cocktail reception in the evening on the first day. So I took the opportunity to explore the mystical Bali, their inhabitants, the customs, the taste, the smell and indulged myself in a whole new experience so far the closest I got was from my couch watching Lonely planet on the Discovery channel.

Barong and kris dance at Batubulan. Barong ( it looks like a big lion) is actually a mythological character, the king of the good spirits. This dance narrated the story of good fighting the evil. The play have several acts and lasted about one hour with the soldiers in trance stabbing the keris to their own body as a final play.

One of the many acts in the barong dance. These ladies performed the dance elegantly evidence of many years in the dance academy.

Batik weaving was done manually. This reminded me of my mother who used a similar instrument back in the keropok-lekor land. But unlike my mother's, their technology in the weaving seemed to be more advanced. The instrument used a semi-automated feeder of which until today I still couldn't figure out how exactly it work.

There are still few active volcanoes in Bali. This one is Gunung Batur poised majestically against the blue sky in Kintamani. Tracks of lava flow can still clearly be seen at the foot of the volcano.

This restaurant where we had our lunch overlooked the magnificent mountain and Tasik Batur (on the far right). I was quite pleased as this restaurant caters for Muslim and has a musolla in its premise (which was a rare coincidence if you were in Bali). As it is located on a higher altitude, the temperature was a bit pleasant here.

As we were descending down the smoking mountain, we stopped at this popular sighting of a paddy field at Tegallalang. The rice is almost ready for the harvest. With such a terrain, most farmers will resort to using traditional ways of harvesting their produce. This exact spot was also a film set for Julia Roberts latest international movie 'Eat, pray, love" , which was shot quite recently.

Those eerie looking roots juxtaposed the serene surrounding in the Sacred Monkey forest near Alas Kedatong, Ubud. The bridge led us to the sacred monkey temple. I didn't put the monkey photo here as their monkeys were no less difference from any other monkeys in almost all departments.

This komodo stone-carving found in the Ubud forest gazed precariously on a young lady having her blissful evening bath from the cold spring that coming out from the komodo's mouth. If you look closely, there was another lady enjoying this natural spring under the Komodo's belly (notice a slipper). Unbeknown to me at first, she was actually getting too comfort with the nature half-naked! What a rare sighting!

Yours truly was striking a killer pose in one of the sacred sanctuaries for Hindu devotees. One has to wear a sarong and a sacrimonial yellow band to enter this place. So composed with the pose I forgot the name of this place.

These disciples took a dip in one of the temple sacred pools to cast away the bad spirits. I almost joined them to cool off and have a good splash as my armpit was flooded and my sweat run down like Niagara falls. Too hot and too humid. I am wondering why. Probably too many bad spirits wandering around the island.

This civet the local calls luwak (Paradoxurus) was a very interesting creature in this Coffee, fruits and spice garden at Temen. This mammal favorite food is ripe coffee beans. The still-intact beans from this animal's dropping, were cleaned, roasted and ground to become one of the most astonishing coffee ever. Dare to drink?

The resulting coffee is said to be like no other. It has a rich, heavy flavour with hints of caramel or chocolate. Other terms used to describe it are earthy, musty and exotic. The body is almost syrupy and it's very smooth. I however, have no gut to taste the coffee. The price of a pound of Kopi Luwak is around $300 or more. The above photos of coffees were samples given to us for our taste bud pleasure (from top left kopi halia, ginseng, chocolate and vanilla)

Another beautiful spot to marvel was this floating pura at Tanah Lot. One can only access this place during the low tide. Luckily I came quit early in the mornng while the tide was really low.

I spotted this terrace of green paddy fields on my way back from Tanah Lot. It was near Seminyak. Not to missed this rare opportunity, I asked the taxi driver cum our guide to stop at the road side for me to snap some splendid pictures of this natural beauty.

A stunning view of sunset at Uluwatu. Visitors/tourist come to this place for two purposes - to witness the beautiful sunset and to watch kecak and fire dance. Sun sets around 6 pm in Bali and one has to come earlier in order to catch the magnificent view.

Kecak is the most unique Balinese dance which is not accompanied by any orchestra but by a choir of seventy men. It has its origin in an old ritual dance: Sanghyang or Trance dance. The story depicted of Rama and Sita mythical adventures, fighting a demonic king Rahwana.

The grand finale for this kecak performance was a white monkey (Hanuman) kicked the fire around and menacingly toward the crowd. Ironically, earlier I almost got mugged by a probably Ebola-infested monkey who was so fascinated with anything that was not your original body parts (glasses, hats, foods, cameras etc).

Similar to this island inhabitants, food was confusing enough especially for the unwary Muslim travelers. Even with the halal label flaunting obviously on its banners it was quite common to see pork served alongside the other dishes in most of the eating establishments. The only safe food haven was the Padangs or outdoor eating hawkers along this beach. I found the best soto here, really.

Personally I think the accommodation around this tourist spot was a little bit on a higher side. The price that I paid was not worth for the type of room that I got. I paid approximately RM250 for a room in this two-stars hotel. However, I quite like the old and classic Bali decor.

Kuta Beach was really overcrowded with the sun-worshipers. It was really hard to walk freely on this beach, unless you step onto somebody's buttock.

Every evening sun-lovers will stroll the beach and waited patiently for the glowing sunset at Kuta Beach.

The highlight of the excursion was a romantic candlelight dinner with my significant half at the beautiful Jimbaran beach close to the sea. The seafood was considerably quite expensive, but... this unforgettable experience with the loved one was priceless.

In a nutshell, Bali is a very interesting island with lots of new adventures and opportunities to satisfy our sight, smell and taste. Me on the other hands, would not consider to come to this place for the second time given another chance. Our own mother-land has even more charms and hidden gems waiting for us to explore for a fraction of traveling time and cost. Sometimes, the gems were just a few steps away from our doorsteps. Just pack our bag and beat the road.


yohteh said...

...apa-apa pun Dr, benar sungguhlah kata orang-orang tua: jauh berjalan, luas pandangan..!

ASH said...

he he he...
Thank god you have a place to stay...finally!

zino said...

cantik bila agaknya nak sampai sana tu..

ASH said...

'too hot?''sweat run down like the niagara falls?'.....
ha ha ha..
wonder whether it was because of the sun OR because of the HOT STUFF you found on the beach...

....can't help smiling!!
anyway..nice photos and description!

besi said...

seronoknya cuti2
dr sam banyak cuti lagike

catz said...

hi DrSam,
conference di Bali..interesting...
boleh berjalan sekali...
nice experience...
me too..1st time ke Bali, lepas tu takde feeling2 nak dtg lagi.tah kenapa..tapi in future tak tau lah..
Actually Malaysia also has many interesting and beautiful places..just need to explore..

Meen Eunos said...

Seronok dapat bercuti
disamping keluarga tersayang
sambil menikmati keindahan yang
jauh dari hiruk pikuk diibukota.

Adliff said...



Bapa angkat saya cukup suka bercuti di Bali, katanya seronok meluncur ombak. Teringin juga ke sana. Namun entah bila. Sabah dan Sarawak pun tidak sampai lagi!

hazeleyed lady said...

Salam Doc
Civet coffe? Neh! no thank you!
Splendid N3 i should say.
Let the 'not much a traveller' like me to share and venture places i have never been to...
Enjoy your trip and salam to yer family k. take care.

NanaDJ said...

Dr Sam,
I love Bali I don't know about you. Infact I celebrated one of my birthdays there - for 3 days (it started with my other half and I wanting to get away for my birthday but a whole group of close friends decided to follow and make my birthday a memorable one) Kept going back to Bali every year since then.
Bali sort of grows on you, I especially like the crafts - its like an open air show rooms that stretches from streets to streets, each specialising in a particular craft.
Enjoy good Doctor.

kucingorengemok said...

was shown a black and white footage of the barong dance while in bali, rupanya originally dulu² the ladies perfomed topless...

heheheh, sengih² kita tengok killer pose drsam tu!

Naddiea said...

doc,nape dh x nk pergi Bali utk kali ke-2??susah nk makan yer??tp kalo nadia pun tempat2 yg susah nk carik halal food ni mmg saya surrender lah..

DrSam said...

sunggoh yohteh...sampai capek pun tidak terasa.

that was a lucky coincidence. To make the story more interesting, I have to change the room to another one as the first room turned out to be a breeding ground for African killer bees (on toilet the ceiling).

insyaallah suatu hari. kalau dirancang awal-awal perjalanan, saya rasa banyak kita boleh jimat (tiket, hotel dsb)

I think that was quite weird too. Even though I didn't come across any 'hot stuff' - by my standard le - anywhere on the beaches, but the effect of global warming seem to affect most on this particular island. However, since it was warm you know le all the mat sallehs...showing off their errrr...tattoo.

DrSam said...

cuti tahunan memang tak habis-habis. Tengah kumpul le ni (di gomen boleh masuk tabung 'tangan emas goyang' -direct translation)

Bali memang cantik terutama alam semulajadi (namun pembangunannya pun pesat juga - dari cerita orang tempatan) dan banyak perkara menarik yang boleh kita lihat dan pelajari. Mungkin kerana ada beberapa persamaan dan juga tidak banyak bezanya dengan persekitaran Malaysia, ditambah dengan beberapa faktor lain (makanan, cara layanan orang tempatan, kos yang melampau serta cekik darah dsb) menjadikan hati kurang tertambat untuk ke sana lagi.

Meen Eunos,
Kira kerja lah juga tu Meen. Lawatan kerja sambil belajar serta menambah pengalaman yang tak seberapa.

aliff muhammad,
Memang ramai juga terserempak orang Malaysia di sana. Tapi majoritinya mengikuti pakej pelancongan. Kalau meluncur ombak tu, pakej spesyel agaknya.

laki cikgu kimia said...

wawawaaa mandi beramai2 puleks..

DrSam said...

The word dropping (tahi) itself was really a turn-off :) But the other coffees, roasted and prepared in-situ was really splendid. Couldn't get enough of the Vanilla.

Good for you and one memorable experience I must say.

Yes, Bali has no less charm than any other exotic places on this earth. I really enjoyed browsing the open art market that stretch on the beaches. Ubud particularly has the most concentrated art communities and diverse in nature (exceptionally beautiful hand painting, intricate wood carving, gold and silverwares etc).

But if you are talking on the beauty of the beach, serenity, Island escapade and awesome hospitality etc, I personally think Malaysia has a lot more to offer - Baliness speaking.

Thanks for the info. Didn't know that. Seemed to miss this very important information.

ye le...asyik kita je dok dibelakang camera. sekali-sekala nak posing juga.

It was just my personal preference. There are places when you got back home, the memories kept flashing in your mind. Somehow, Bali didn't have that. Not to me.

I however, still would recommend Bali for anybody to go for the firs time, for its splendid natural beauty - while it is still there.

DrSam said...

laki cikgu kimia,
tu le yang buat kita pun semangat sama tu :)

Kak Teh said...

dr Sam, so it wasnt quite a disaster after all. the pictures are beautiful. I've never been to Bali, but suffice to say, I was nearly there - stranded in Solo one dark evening and arrived jogja late at night and was too tired and missing family too much to accept invite to go to Bali. Yes, silly me.

Liyana Safra Zaabar said...

always wanted to go to Bali, but ur conclusion to this post mmg btul,our mother land lagi best!

Pn Kartini said...

Bila cuti2 ni..release jgk tension..:)
ermm...byk lak kopinya ekk..pe2 pun kopi kampung kita jgk yg best kan..:):)

PerantauSepi1306 said...

you are not the only one saying that Dr Sam.. a friend of mine managed to dampened my soaring spirit visiting Bali years ago when she mentioned the word "Pulau Redang lagi cantiklah.." and with the additional line you had to bear the setanggi smells everywhere you go totally cut off any of my interest of going there :D nevertheless it's always interesting to be at places you've never been before..

Zendra-Maria said...

Same with me too Dinda, Bali has it's charms but once is quite enough. It was the B-bi Guling and fearsome masks and statues that were everywhere which were not too appealing for me.

CAHAYA said...

Ohh I missed Bali. :) And eating in front of the volcano was so refreshing. But sulfur smells a bit turn off. :)

What I missed most was Jimbaran, where a band sang to us, the seas too while we had our seafood.

DrSam said...

Kak Teh,
You had one great adventure too it seems Kak Teh. Traveling can be a very daunting task but yet very interesting experience. Lombok is probably more enticing with lesser commercialized atmosphere than Bali.

Liyana Safra Zaabar,
If you plan early, Mas and AirAsia have great offers. Good luck!

Pn. Kartini,
Sama je kot dengan kopi di Malaysia. Cuma kopi luwak tu agaknya spesyel sikit.

For the sake of being there, seeing it all, invoke the taste buds and smell - it's worth all the extra effort for the first timer. But yes...the setanggi was everywhere and the smell was so intoxicating. Poning den.

Benarrrr...benarrrr...I think you have given me one of the answers why Bali has loosen its magnet on me.

I stayed at Kuta and close to Legian. Kuta is the heart and vein of Bali. So overcrowded and lively until the wee hours of morning. Unlike Kuta, Jimbaran seemingly is very peaceful and serene. Yes the seafood was marvelous there. You had the live band serenading the song to you too? That was lovely.

3yearshousewife said...

Dr., You've done a good job in selling Bali.

I don't know why after so many nice things friends mentioned about Bali,I still don't feel I would pay money to visit her unless for free, hehehe...

DrSam said...

He...he...Bali tourism board should be very happy for this free advertisement I guess.

I might be wrong, probably I didn't explore much or get to know the real Bali to entice me for more visit in the future. I am contented with this first visit, but that's it.

Like what PerantauSepi said, our islands (Perhentian, Redang, Tioman, Tinggi or even Kapas) are so enchanting and their charm will always lured me to go back there for more new adventures.

geraugebang said...

Salam, alahai, dah lama saya tak jenguk umah dr ni.Bali ni unik. Tapi menakutkan la Dr sebab banyak patung. Seram pulak.

Fadhil said...

Salam Doc,

That kopi luwak is said to be the most expensive coffee in the world. I would have take the chance to taste a cup... civet droppings or not, hehehe..

I've never been to Bali and don't think I would on my own money. Like you, I'd probably spend more time exploring our own country.

I'm thinking of taking a short break in Kuala Terengganu this Christmas weekend. Dah lama tak gi sana.

Faisal Admar said...

damn it. i didn't know eat love pray will be out so soon. i haven't read the book! :( thanks doc for this info. will get the book after my exam.

btw, i plan to go to bali next year. maybe after my final ;)

ckLah @xiiinam said...

Indahnya pengalaman....

DrSam said...

hi...hi...wife saya pun cakap macam tu.

Yes...Setar-bak or Cofee bin will be stunned to know there other wonderful coffee around.

Enjoy you break in the Keropok-lekor land sir. I would probably be there too, before the school start again.

Faisal Admar,
Should get the book fast Faisal.

memang sangat alami (baru je faham perkataan tu :)

Zareda Norman said...

Dr Sam

nice places Bali ni kan Dr. Sam...

how about shopping.. syok macam Bandung tak?

Abd Razak said...


Pemandangannya cantik Dr...
Ada masa nanti mahu juga ke sana :)

Unknown said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Ida BorneoLove said...

gorgeous ya! I don get the chance to really travel .. yet.

would love to and these places are gorgeous

high altitude, i think what i'll xprience first is the 'ringing' in my ear and I would have to pinch my nose and blow, for a clearer hearing :))

nahmy said...

maannn...such a wonderful trip, thanks for sharing doc

adiwarnatasya said...

Nice places...
"Suatu Hari"...nak pergi gak"

Guten Tag said...

bali memang best..cun..ada ramai awek2 genit..

DrNotts said...

love the picture of you and family kat beach. Memang cantik! Me never been there but oneday!

Mia's Mom said...

Salam DrSam (:-D

Hmm... sempat ke Bali rupanya. Well, though I love travelling Bali is not charming enough to make me part with my money. Tempat2 yang payah nak bezakan makanan halaludin ngan tak ni kurang menggamit selera. Unless it is work-related kot.

But you seemed to have captured Bali in a charming manner. Make the best of every opportunity, right? BTw, Dundee tak de dalam itinerary ke? Cuti banyak tu...

DrSam said...

Zareda Norman,
Mungkin satu-satunya barang yang berbaloi dibeli di Bali ialah lukisan. Halus lukisannya, detail serta sangat elaborate dengan harga yang berpatutan. Berpinar mata melihat sebab banyak sangat pilihan yang cantik. Kalau nak shopping kain baju seperti di Bandung atau tempat lainnya di Indonesia, Bali mungkin bukan tempatnya.

Abd Razak,
Salam. Insyaallah jika ada rezeki akan sampai melihat tempat orang.

Ida Athanazir,
At 1700 meters, Gunung Batur should be ok for your ears, unless you have a serious sinusitis. Not as high as Gunung Kinabalu (4000 m). It is about a one and a half hour uphill drive from Denpasar. The view and scenery along the way was beautiful.

Yep, The landscape and the natural beauty was quite breathtaking. That was the part I like most.

Isnyaallah. Jika pasang azam begitu.

Guten tag,
Kalau awek genit yang dicari memang dimana-mana ada. Awek genit disini pun apa kurangnya :)

Yes, Bali has it own charms. For the first time, it is worth a visit.

Mia's mom,
Salam sis. Actually and Baliness speaking, we did plan to visit the place sometime next year. But the opportunity came earlier, like you said. As I said earlier, we've been there, saw it all, felt the heat and thats it.

Dundee unfortunately is not in my travel list so far (being there when my botak-workmate was there) - at least not in the near future. But who knows...

cik EPAL,
thank you :)

JohnJenin said...

u are very good photographer. love ur pics. i wish i can step my foot in Bali one fine day... ;)

DrSam said...

Long time no hear Pak cik! Thank you for the compliment.

CatlinaFly said...

bestnye bali...

DrSam said...

Ajak Fly tapi tunggu baby Ein besar dulu kot :)

balqissy said...

teringin nak g sana... =D btw, doc, xmandi yer kat temple tu?nmpak sgt best =D

zafi said...

i always want to go there but always miss it! i promise myself that i want to go there for my holiday!!
serene skies and bright blue sea! ohoo :d

mantan said...

This is a very beautiful blog of yours. Tons of useful information. Entertaining too.

Keep it up!

kenari said...

Dr, satu hari nnti sy akan ke sana juga. kena planning awal2 kan

NURAZZAH8 said...

terimakasih kerana sudi singgah dan tinggal jejak di blog nostalgialama saya... wow...Bali...bestnya...salah satu tempat yg saya teringin nak pergi...tapi belum ada rezeki lagi...

daros kuneng said...

salam kembara doc..

no komen about the awareness and manners..



komuniti Bali adalah salah satu dari tarikan non material culture yg terbaik dalam segmen ekopelancongan..


arsaili said...

salam dr sam..good for you...another hols..but u look err lanky or could it b d photo illusion? byk ke weight loss after d operation?

DrSam said...

teruja tu ada lah juga. cuma malu lah pulak nak tayang six pack saya :)

while you were in the UK. Try to find time to go to the Isle of Skye. I missed to land there during my trip searching for the elusive loch monster.

Thank you for dropping by. In Blogosphere, we learn from each other.

Setuju sangat. Cuba jenguk AirAsia sekarang tgh offer sempena ulangtahun ke 8.

Koleksi barang lama memang minat saya juga.

Salam. Saya sangat tertarik kepada keindahan alam semulajadi dan budaya Bali (depa cakap sangat alami). Cuma beberapa faktor yang menjadikan ia kurang terpahat dihati.

Salam bro. Still maintain my new shape. Remember... I lost 8 kilo :)

Temuk said...

Hi Dr Sham
You have nice shots shots of Bali. I visited Bali about 4 yrs ago. I snapped the 'same' pictures as you, except those were in different parts of Bali, involving different people, and at different time. They still sell the same 'things'! Same dance, same play, same sites. But I guess more Balinese are involved in selling those now. That is Indonesia -People there 'share' more clearly their natural assets, the environment. Everybody gets something out of ecotourism. I'd like to go back to Bali one day, because I think I've not seen enough its 'inner' side, including the desas (villages). Salam bahagia.

DrSam said...

Salam sdr Temuk. Thank you for the compliment. Agree with you. It seemed every Baliness folks are one way or another involved in trying to squeeze something out of their country asset - tourism. Undoubtedly Bali is one of the beautiful places in this planet. The natural beauty is outstanding but the beaches is too much of the hypes (indah khabar dari rupa). First visit so far was enough for me. The closest place I will drop by the next time I got another chance is probably Lombok for her unspoiled beauty and to meet the Sasak people.

pal7 said...

dr sam..
entah bila sy dapat sampai ke bali..bukan main seronok lagi tgok..hehe

DrSam said...

Insyaallah, jika ada rezeki suatu hari nanti.

Memorable trails... said...

Salam Doc,
Bali is beautiful but when it comes to food,I d be very careful.Don't trust the food at the hotel or even their Mc Donalds or KFC.Once the hotel staff advised me not to take the food there cause it s non-halal.
So, you must have rested well Doc, and ready to face the new year...

DrSam said...

madam gold,
Salam madam. Yes you are right. Food is very confusing matter over there. Halal probably has a different meaning in Bali. MY staple diet during the conference was mainly fruits and cereal.

Ahhh...end of the year paper works (budgeting, research programs, proposal, reports etc) have really kept me occupied the last few weeks. Resting under a palm tree while eating keropok lekor is probably what I need before this year close its curtain.

How is your holiday so far madam?

Zue said...

Ramai ke kawan-kawan kita ke Bali tahun ni? I miss conference kali ini. Next conference nanti buat kat mana?

Faisal Admar said...

I'd say the pictures you took were really nice. I took some pictures in Bali too, the result was not as good as yours.

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