Tuesday, 31 March 2009

Bali Sights: Others

when i'm on holiday, i like to take photos of the people and balinese are generally very friendly. when i ask for permission to take their photo, they'll usually be glad to smile for you, especially the children =)

26th mar is Silence Day in Bali where there is not supposed to be ANY form of activity and noise. no one is allowed to leave their house (except if it's life-threatening like going to the hospital), there will be no cars on the roads. all must stay indoors and this applies to tourists as well. otherwise wait police catch you er! really, i'm not kidding. dewa told us. the purpose of silence day is to make time for meditation.

so in preparation for this day, there're many festivities such as the barong, which is kinda like our lion dance except that it's led by children. groups of village children move from around with a pig-like puppet and shop-owners invite them to make noise and dance so as to "ward off evil spirits". we were dining at cafe lotus when i got distracted by the commotion outside so i dashed out with my camera =))




i also ventured outside the resort to chat with the locals who do their washing by the river =)


children bathing in the same river



balinese women selling sarong


musicians in the resort


some cultural exchange going on between a jap kid and the musicians =)

Monday, 30 March 2009

Bali Restaurant Review: Cafe Lotus, Ubud (3.5*)

dewa also recommended this restaurant (15 mins from our resort) and advised that we make a reservation, which of cos we asked the hotel to do =P

k sorry i forgot to take a photo of the restaurant cos i got distracted by a commotion outside (some kids were performing a pig dance which i will blog about in a later entry)

the restaurant was full house with people from various nationalities but we felt the food was not that great, a bit of an overhype. however, it's still worth a visit because from the restaurant, you get a good view of the professional balinese dance performance (every sat night 730pm). when making a reservation, request for a seat with a nice view of the elaborate stage. however, you will need to purchase a ticket if you want to watch the performance upclose. so if you're cheapskates, you can just eat at the restaurant and bring a pair of binoculars (or at least 300mm telephoto lens LOLLL)

hehehe, a german guy with a nikon D70 and 16-85mm lens saw me using my tripod and asked to borrow it. i lent it to him and he reciprocated by handing me his ticket for the performance so that i could go in and get some close-up shots LOLLL how nice of him. this is called win-win strategy kekeke =D my close-up shots turned out much better than the 200mm zoomed ones from the restaurant. Danke schön!!



The Chedi Jade Massage

independent spas tend to have more competitive rates than those in resorts (especially the 'luxury' ones) so i checked out some prices on the internet as well as picked up a brochure when in ubud. in indonesia, prices quoted are usually in thousand rupiahs so don't be too happy when you see 450 cos it means 450,000 Rp LOL

so one of the spas i was interested in offered a package:

massage
facial
bath
450


we also checked out the hotel rates and saw this:

The Chedi Jade Ritual which included
Foot bath
Chedi Jade Massage (3 hours)
Facial
Scrub
Bath
250


so i was like...

me: WA dear!!! it's soooooooooo cheap!!!! 250,000 Rp for all these??? that's like $30 per person la!! we just order one each k?
chris: k lor
me: i don;t believe this!!! it's even cheaper than the ones outside!!! =DDD

but before i pressed the number to make a reservation, i read the fineprints (ALWAYS read fineprints).

i'm glad i did.

this was the fineprint: "prices stated are in USD excluding taxes"

-______________________-|||

heng ah *pats chest* didn't "just order one each"!!! ROFLMAO

but chris didn't want me to go outside for spa. he felt it's too troublesome as we'd have to arrange for transport (which was complimentary anyway -.-) and felt that by the time i'm done and back, i'd be sweating again. also, he'd have to tag along but he wanted to stone inside the resort.

chris: just do it here dear. choose a reasonably priced one lor.

so, since there is economic crisis right, i choose the most expensive massage as opposed to RITUAL (massage is ala carte, ritual is a few treatments, like a package). The Chedi Jade Massage is USD$95 (exclude taxes) for 60 mins and is a four-hands (yes, two therapists at the same time) using a combination of strokes from Japanese Shiatsu, Traditional Thai, Ancient Balinese and Hawaiian Lomi Lomi with a blend of essential oils: Ylang Ylang, Sandalwood, Pettitgrain, Orange and Bergamot. The reason why it's called JADE massage is because there are pieces of jade IN the massage oil blend which they claim have been out in the sun from morning absorbing the sun's energy which will then by "transferred" to you during the massage!

ya right... LOL *chris rolled his eyeballs when i reiterated it to him*

the spa room faces the rice fields so it's really therapeutic =) however, it was rather bright outside so i could not get a nice shot. it's something like this.



i felt it was good value for money because for ordinary massages by a single therapist, only one area is target at any one time but when there are TWO therapists, one can do the bottom while the other does the top, one left one right. so it's like enjoying the benefits of a two-hour massage in an hour.

Sunday, 29 March 2009

My Colleagues Are So Cute La

LOLLLLLL... i must interject my Bali posts with this... on fri my dept had a retreat and we played the game Taboo. you all know how to play right? or r u like my mountain tortoise colleagues must explain + distribute the cards to show sample? -.-

k la k la, basically you have a card with 4 colours. decide on playing a colour. different colour is different difficulty level. of cos my colleagues chose EASIEST LOL then there is a word/title etc e.g. Lord of the Rings which you have to describe but there is also a list of Taboo words you can't use like Tolkien, Frodo, Gandalf etc. our version is Taboo Singapore.

so KG was describing a word...

KG: *touch his neck* this person bites your neck!
me: husband! wife!
KG: *shakes head violently* no!
me: lover? boyfriend? girlfriend?
KG: *exasperated* PASS!

answer: vampire
taboo words: blood, dracula etc...

the entire group ROFLMAO
everyone: wa lao! ann! wrong frequency man!!!

-.-

then VL described the word "first class" with...

VL: i have what honours??
someone: first class!
everyone: WA LAO!

after that there was a word "BOAST"
player: VL what about his degree?
someone A: brag!
someone B: boast!
player: ya correct!
VL: ???? -.-||| *i didn't*

then after that we played pictionary (er... pls don't make me explain how to play pictionary -.-zzz) and HM drew

a cup of coffee, Na+, Cl-, and a face with two eyes (but we couldn't make out that it was a face with two eyes)

we guess guess guess...

coffee! coffee beans! sodium!

te blah te blah...

answer: caffeine.

she explained: the Na+ and Cl- are "chemicals". caffeine is a "chemical" in coffee that keeps you awake (hence the face with two eyes)

like that also can ah? LOL

Bali Restaurant Review: Made's Warung (3.5*)

We had dinner here at the end of our day trip. the nasi goreng is not bad. tastes a bit like char kway teow accept it's rice instead of kway teow. what's nice is the children's balinese dance which i felt was v cute ^^ i took some photos while waiting for the food to arrive. sorry, no photo of food cos too hungry! LOL




Saturday, 28 March 2009

Bali Sights: Uluwatu


of all the places we visited on day 2, this has to be my favourite. the view is quite spectacular and you can sit or stand right at the edge of the cliff (barrier-free) to take in the picturesque sight.






you may catch the kecak dance if you wish (we didn't) and explore the area a little, which is inhabited by numerous wild, naughty monkeys. i think my colleague CC will just have a heart attack here.



take care of your belongings especially hats and glasses as they will come when you let your guard down, snatch them away and dart off. but there're natives there who will give the monkey some food in exchange for your item then charge you a small fee to "redeem" it back. one lady had her glasses snatched away and had to pay 20,000 Rp (about SGD$3) for it -.-

Bali Sights: Tanah Lot


tanah lot is famous for this "floating temple" because during high tide, the temple looks like it's floating on the water. when the tide is low, worshippers can actually walk over to the temple.




there are some eateries where you can have dinner while watching sunset (tanah lot is one of the nice spots for sunset viewing, the other one is uluwatu) or just have a refreshing coconut.

Friday, 27 March 2009

Bali Restaurant Review: Dirty Duck, Ubud (4*)


Dewa recommended this restaurant in ubud for lunch. we ordered the bebek bengil which is their specialty crispy duck. really quite crispy and the meat is tasty and tender. chris liked it a lot. however, the chilli dip is not spicy enough for us =P we also ordered a chicken soup, tom yam goong and sauteed vegetables. chicken was nice but the tom yam goong was not spicy AT ALL haha. we were expected vegetables sauteed in oyter sauce but it was the ang mo type, sauteed in butter, which was nice as well.

chris doesn't look v happy here (actually sulking a bit) cos he was v hungry but i made him pose to take a few shots LOL


worth a try =)

Thursday, 26 March 2009

Bali Sights: Mt and Lake Batur


we were also here the first time in bali but it was so foggy all we saw from the restaurant (the food was HORRIBLE =P) was WHITE. ya, white fog. no mountain, no lake, no nothing -.-

you really don't have to travel very far to see something nice. although the air was not exactly clear, it's still a wonderful sight.


fruit-sellers



saw some tattooists (temporary tattoos)


and families out for a day of fun

Bali Sights: Tegallalang Rice Terraces




When we arrived at this rice terrace, we realised that we have been here a couple of years ago during our first visit to Bali but we enjoyed it anyway (cos i didn't have my DSLR back then hahaha). armed with my trusty 400D with 18-200mm, my lowepro containing my other stuff and my gitzo as a walking stick, i wound my way halfway down the terrace just to explore explore and met an old farmer who posed for me =)



but golly, going downhill really killed me as my right thigh hurt like mad after that (at night). i think i probably pulled a muscle. try walking on a path 50cm wide with all that weight on you and trying to keep your balance because if you miss a step, you'll plummet all the way down the bottom of the terrace. the sizzling hot weather made it even more strenuous so when i ascended back up, i was drenched in perspiration and panting like a dog.

chris, on the other hand, was enjoying himself at the padi cafe sipping a glass of honeydew juice. he only left a mouthful for me -.-


Wednesday, 25 March 2009

Bali Driver Review: Dewamarco (6*)


Dewa as he prefers to be called is highly recommended by my friend CY who visited bali with his wife LL in sept last year. i believe CY got his contact from TripAdvisor.com

well, we managed to book an appointment with dewa for a day trip on the second day via his email which we found on his blog (found the link on CY's blog) and enjoyed ourselves very very much!

The WA!!! moments:

+ dewa is a friendly, chatty and knowledgable guy. the long drives from one place to the next (usually about an hour or so) were never boring cos we chatted leisurely about anything from politics to schoolchildren to marriage to law enforcement systems teblah teblah... but he is not a machine gun. he is sensitive enough to know when we want to rest so there were moments of restful silence too.

me: dear, how come you never talk to dewa
chris: do i need too?? you jujujujujuju talk so much you have said all that i want to say! LOL

at the end of the day...

me: wa dear, my throat feels a little sore... think the weather was too hot
chris: erm... i don't think it's the weather... i think you talked too much! hahaha!
me: -.-

+ he is very sincere and made us feel at ease and safe. we could sense that his motivation is to see his customers enjoy themselves, have a memorable trip and a great time in bali. unlike other irritating drivers who insist on bringing you to souvenir shops that sell things you don't need and don't want to buy or worse, jewellery shops with ugly jewellery that i wonder who will want to wear them, dewa brings us only to places we want to go. when we meet, we tell him what we'd like to see (no need to say the names, just cliff, temple, waterfall, mountain, rice terraces etc. and he knows) and he discusses the feasibility of packing all your destinations within the short time you have.

+ never asked for tips unlike some drivers (when we were in china, the tour guide announced, "i need to collect $2 from everyone as tip for the driver" -.- where got like that one? compelled tipping??? horrible... tsk tsk tsk)

+ a very responsible driver. he has a deep sense of accountability towards his clients and also TripAdvisor (where he has been recommended by forum readers) and he feels the need to uphold the credibility of the forum.

+ great for avid photographers like me. you know, photographers CANNOT possibly stop at a place for TEN minutes -.- where got enough time to take out tripod, shoot wide angle, shoot zoom, shoot fish eye, stack as many filters as we can and brought, try different shutter speeds, venture (sometimes dangerously) to a certain spot to get THAT shot. when we see a flower on the ground, we shoot. see a woman carrying things on her head, shoot. see fruit sellers selling fruits, shoot. see people washing clothes in the river, also want to shoot. see mee sai also want to shoot shoot shoot. but i wasn't that hard core. think CY probably shot more than 1000? i shot only 600+ in 3 days. dewa is fully aware of that streak in us so he'd wait patiently. he is also a psychic... once when we were in the car, we passed some ladies carrying large fruit and floral offerings walking by the side of the road. as if he could read my mind...

dewa: you can take photo of the women if you want...

=DDD i quickly whipped out my cam, unwound the window, stuck out my head and snapped two shots. no time to compose la. just AF and shoot liao, before i get decapitated by some other moving vehicle!!! LOL

chris: DEAR!!!! what are you doing????!!!!!! so dangerous!!!
me: =DDD


and he times the arrivals to catch the most beautiful moments if possible. we reached uluwatu with enough time to walk about and admire the flaming orange orb of the setting sun disappear into the clouds (if no clouds will be horizon i think). when we came out from uluwatu, we saw some groups going in and i shook my head...

me: haiz... so sad, they missed the sunset
dewa: *concurring* not good timing...

+ recommends nice eating places.

The WA LAO moments:

erm... there weren't really any!!!! LOL hm... well ok, caucasians may find his english a little difficult to understand but we were totally fine with his accent.

Tuesday, 24 March 2009

Resort Review: The Chedi Club at Tanah Gajah, Ubud, Bali, Indonesia (6*)


We have stayed in The Chedi Chiang Mai (Thailand), a luxury hotel from the GHM (general hotel management) group and were so pleased with their quality of service so we decided to choose The Chedi again for our recent trip to Bali, Indonesia. you can click on the link above to check out The Chedi Club so i won't bore you with how many how many hectares it is and all that blah blah blah which most people will skip anyway hahaha... The Chedi Club is actually a small luxury hotel with only 20 villas so it's very exclusive and quiet which we like.

here's our experience...

The WA!!! moments:
+ Their personal and attentive service starts right from the moment you step out of the airport. A friendly staff awaits with a private limousine (don't expect mercedes or some luxurious sedan, it's a large SUV) for your arrival and an that hour's ride to the resort, you may refresh yourselves with some chilled drinks and towels. When we arrived, our personal butler Sutari


greeted us BY NAME cheerfully at the entrance,


introduced herself and led us to the lobby


where we were served some welcome drinks and banana fritters (goreng pisang). by then it was 9pm so we were rather hungry so it was a delight. basically for me, any resort that requires me to QUEUE up to check-in is CMI (cannot make it) -.- throughout the trip, Sutari always ensured that she did what she could to make our stay enjoyable and memorable. one incident that really touched me was on our last night, i wanted to take photos of the rice fields with the lights lit so i asked her what time they'd be turned on. aware that we have an external dinner appointment, Sutari told the staff to switch on the lights just a couple of minutes earlier so that i can capture the evening shot.



the room was ALWAYS made up after breakfast and look at the 2 photos below. spot the difference?



i know i know, my toiletries have been rearranged. but look UNDER my toiletries. someone had placed a towel under and neatly arranged back all my stuff. how thoughtful =)

when we call the front desk, we were always greeted by name. again, any resort whose staff don't greet by name is also not really up to standard.

there was a hand-written welcome note by the General Manager Helen Fox and she personally came over to say hi. it's customary. at the Chedi Chiang Mai, it was the same.

Sutari gave us a brief run-through of our villa amenities (which is the cheapest, most basic one =P economic crisis ma)...

our bed



day bed with flat screen TV and bose sound system



+ COMPLIMENTARY mini bar stocked with all sorts of drinks. eh, complimentary means no one comes in the moring with a slip of paper and tick tick tick what you drank then charge you for it k? berri apple and orange juice, perrier, heineken beer, coke and other soft drinks, tonic water,


assorted nuts,


selected teas


and the piece de resistance: vodka, gin and whisky!!!!


ok, we don't drink -.- but it feels good LOL i did try some vodka with orange juice but couldn't really taste the vodka haha. somehow when i saw the vodka, i know jiahui will LOVE this place and when i saw heineken and whisky, Geraldine's face popped in my mind LOLLL anyway for our day trip, we brought out like 8 bottles of drinks and emptied them hahaha

+ COMPLIMENTARY laundry (12 pieces a day) excluding dry clean. so that means you can pack light. just two sets each. so convenient =D chris rolled his eyeballs when i gave them all our laundry to wash before we came home LOL

+ semi-outdoor bathroom with

+ twin basins. i like. that means i don't have to wait or squeeze with chris. and i can put my toiletries on one side while he puts his shaver, toothbrush and toothpaste (chris only has 3 pieces of toiletries LOL) on the other side.


+ rain shower


+ large bathtub (not like mine at home where i have to bend my knees) with bath salts and bath gel provided. and when i lie in there and look up, i can see the star-studded sky =DDD but i forgot to take a photo of the bathtub hahaha

+ nice, quiet, uni-depth pool (hehehe i can't swim very well so 1.4m throughout is great for me) complimentary freshly-squeezed juices and free internet access (not wireless, with cable. they provide a Macbook ^^).



+ restaurant with view of the rice fields. typical of The Chedi, they don't serve buffet but rather, you order from a menu and the food is prepared on the spot for you. i like it better this way cos then we don't overeat and there won't be too much wastage. also, i like that my food is prepared for me rather than cooked en masse. don't worry Singaporeans, it's still COMPLIMENTARY -.-




+ complimentary yoga classes in a yoga room facing the rice fields, 4 times a week with an experienced instructor who is fluent in english. i tried it and discovered that i could contort my body in ways i never thought possible! i showed chris and he was stunned! LOL the instructor says i am flexible and even though it was my first attempt, i was already 70% there for some of those poses. hahaha.

+ complimentary afternoon tea everyday from 4-6pm. not quite high tea like we know it or even english high tea but some light snacks and tea or coffee. we had choc mousse, tempura-fried banana balls coated with shaved coconut (which i liked), cornflakes sweet and cupcake.



+ complimentary cocktail everyday 6-7pm. we didn't go cos we don't drink cocktail.

+ the lush greenery,




beautiful ponds






and flowers






The WA LAO moments:

- chris felt that the air-conditioning in the villa was too weak. apparently, there was a thermostat that regulated the temperature and you could choose only 26 or 22 deg C. if you choose 22, once it reached 22, it will jump back to 26 and slowly decrease back to 22 again and the cycle repeats itself. i was totally happy cos i'm the type who can sleep without air con without fan and with a duvet! LOL

- typical of resort hotels with lots of greenery, you may get 4 or 6-legged visitors to your villa. i freaked out when i saw a lizard and a baby salamander (about as big as a domestic lizard). my first impulse when i saw the lizard was to boil water to scald it to death. for the salamander, it was to sigh, "sheesh, wish i had a macro lens!"

- there is only one restaurant so you will have to eat out which can be easily arranged. just let your butler know and s/he will arrange complimentary private limousine drop-off and pick-up to ubud centre.

due to the unfavourable flight times (we reached the resort at 9pm and had to leave at 10am), although we were there for 4D3N, it was essentially 2 full days.

we got the package from luxury holidays travel by jetabout. package for two, flight by SQ including 3 nights accomodation was about $2126 (or $1063 each)