Sunday, August 30, 2015

Kuta Beach, Bali

When I chose to go to Bali, the beach is not the first thing that attracts me. I was more intrigued by the culture and temples and of course the fact that I'm going to explore Bali solo. I stayed at Kuta but only went to Kuta beach on the second day. 

Well, I did tried to go to the beach on my first day but I got lost. 

I tried again the next day and wished that I went a little further down on my first day because that's where the beach is. And it is so beautiful.

No kidding, it was blue sky white puffy cloud kinda of day. Match it with blue water and sandy beach, it is perfection in my dictionary.

I went in the mid morning and it is less crowded. 

I have read lots of negative reviews about Kuta Beach on Trip Advisor, so I came with no expectation. But I was blown away by the beauty of the nature. One of the review online stated that Kuta Beach is littered with human trash but I didn't notice it. Or maybe the area that I went to is less happening, therefore less trash.

The beach was filled with people sun bathing and relaxing. I rented an umbrella and lying there people watching and trying to soak in the beauty of the beach.

Unfortunately, my relaxing time was cut short by a group of touts. I just lied down less than 5 minutes and a group of middle aged women came to my umbrella offering me services and souvenirs.

I rejected them but oh God, they were so annoying. One lady offered me massage and went straight to touch my leg without my permission. Another lady offered me pedicure and started to clean my toe nails without my permission.

I kept saying "No" but nobody listened to me. The other two ladies were pushing their bracelets and t-shirts to my face and literally forcing me to buy them.

I felt sorry for them but the way they did their business really annoyed me. They are pushy and not taking no for an answer. I should have be stern and maybe scolded them but I was alone and there were 4 of them. 

In the end, I just gave in and negotiated a lower price with them.

The service that let me down the most is the massage. She said it was 30 minutes. But the most that she massaged me was 15 to 20 minutes. It was not even massage, she literally just touching my legs all over and kept telling me how fair I am. -______-

The pedicure was good because she really did a good job albeit overpriced. The Balinese flowers on my toes stayed for almost 4 months. No kidding, my toe thumbs still have it now.

Notice how I suddenly have an anklet on my leg? Yeah, I succumbed to the bracelet seller too. She sold this overpriced anklet to me for a freaking RM28!!

But at least they left me alone afterward and I had a short 10 minutes of peace before I need to rush back to my hotel for my tour.

Before I left the beach, the guy that rented me the umbrella asked if I wanted a surfing lesson. He offered me a reasonable price, it was less than RM60 for 2 hours. 

So, the next day I went to Kuta Beach early in the morning for my surfing lesson. I was debating whether to take up the offer or not the night before but I'm glad that I did because it was the most amazing experience ever.

Learning to surf is the highlight of my trip. 

First, my instructor gave me theory lesson on the dry land. Everything sound so easy on land. When we went into the water, it was a different story.

My first few tries were all failed. I stood up too soon, failed to catch the wave, lost my balance and got knocked by my surfboard a few times.

But the instructor was really patience (I forgot his name). We tried again and I managed to catch some good waves. That awesome feeling was so good. I felt like a pro surfer balancing myself on board and surfing along with the wave.

I wanted to surf for a bit longer but I was really tired and kinda worried about my belongings that I left with the instructor's friend. 

Achievement unlocked! I will definitely come back again just to surf because it is really worth it.

My instructor and I

Since I was alone, I really had my guard held high. Honestly, I had lots of worst case scenarios running in my mind when I took the surfing lesson. I doubted my instructor, thought that maybe he will take advantage of me. 

But he did not at all. We even had a good chat. He and his brother run their surfing business. Their business is small but an honest and good business.

So, if you happens to go to Kuta beach and want to try surfing, maybe you can give them a chance. They have no business signboard or even name but errr try to look for someone that looks like the picture above and be stern to other touts that try to sell you services and souvenir.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Uluwatu Temple | Bali

The last itinerary on my Day 1 in Bali was the visit to Uluwatu Temple. The rain stopped after we left Luwak coffee plantation but I got a little headache due to the drizzle and the long drive to Uluwatu Temple made it even worse. By the time I reached Uluwatu Temple, I lost my enthusiasm. 

But the flock of excited tourists revived my spirit. Everyone was lining up to get sarong or sash, every visitors are required to wear either one on them. I picked a yellow sash since I was already in my maxi dress and kimono cardigan. 

Upon entering, Pak Putu warned me about the wild monkeys wandering around the area. So, I had no choice but to leave my hat and sunglass in the car. I'm not a fan of monkeys, so I'll do my best to stay clear from their way.

One of the cheeky monkey having its camera-shy moment. On the right are Canang Sari which translated into prayer offering. It is made from colorful flowers placed on palm leaf. I believe there are many types of prayer offering and each has its own meaning. It is normally place on shrine, the side of roads, houses or shops as a form of thanking the peace that given to the world. I saw it everywhere in Bali and please be respectful and don't go and step on the offering.

More monkeys along the way. Obviously, I stayed close to Pak Putu just in case if one of the monkey decided to jump on me or snatch my camera. Thankfully, none of it happened, phew.

I have zero expectation of Pura Uluwatu (Pura means temple) and I'm glad I did because I was so blown away by the view on the cliff of Uluwatu. 

Just look at the water. the blue gradient, it is so beautiful. Somehow I feel so calm when standing on the cliff looking down at the water accompanied by the sound of waves crushing against the shore. I did wondered how does it feel to just jump into the water right there. Crazy much eh?

But the endless vast sea did look a bit scary to me. 

Sorry dude but I bet the photo will look amazing.

Behind the scenes.

I never knew so much hard work it takes to take a wedding photo. And how dangerous it is too! One wrong step could send them down the cliff or one disturbance from the monkey there enough for me to jump off the cliff hahahha.

Pak Putu encouraged me to stay till sunset and watch the kechak dance performance. I was reluctant because I have a dinner reservation at 6pm at the beach. But kechak dance is significant to the local and I might regret it if I pass on the opportunity.

So, I said yes to the dance and we walked to the other side of the cliff where the temple is located.

View from the other side.

If you look closely, you can still see the couple and the crew doing the pre-wedding photo shoot on the edge.

Should put this photo before the temple one because this is the view of the temple from the side where the couple did their photo shoot. Look at the amount of the tourist! 

Getting ready for kechak dance. This show is not included on your entrance fee. IDR125,000 or less than that is charged for pax for the show. 

The show lasted for an hour and the sun set was wonderful but the dance itself was slightly boring for me. There was no music and the men were chanting chak chak chak during the entire show. The story line was good but the chanting can easily made me lost focus on it.

At Bawang Merah for my seafood dinner. Unfortunately I reached late around 8pm, the sun was completely set and there were not much patrons left. A group of family, a couple and me.

My seafood platter. It was very disappointing because it was not freshly made on the spot. The dish was already cold and they only reheat it. Plus, I spotted a huge rat running across the restaurant. Lost my appetite and didn't finished my meal.

It is common for a group of performers come to your table and serenade you. They came to mine and ask nicely whether I want or not. I refused and confused on how much to tip, so I decline. They politely walked away unlike some of the touts that I met on Kuta Beach. These touts deserved a post of its own because I am still mad at them.

Friday, August 14, 2015

Luwak Coffee Plantation, Bali

Another must do activity when you visit Bali is to try their famous Luwak coffee, it is not only famous, it is also recognized as the world most expensive coffee. Lucky for me, the visit to Luwak coffee plantation is included in my package as it is on our way to Uluwatu.

The unfortunate part is that I forgot the name of the plantation. Actually, the plantation that I visited is just a mini one, the real plantation is far from town and I think it is not open for visitor. Pak Putu was waiting for me outside along with other drivers while I explored the mini plantation.

First off, I was greeted by a guide and she brought me in. The entrance was filled with plantation of Arabica coffee. They planted others plant as well such as cinnamon, vanilla etc. Walking through the planting area really reminds me of my field trip during uni.

And then, we were greeted by the star of the day, Luwak. A baby Luwak actually. They only keep one Luwak there as exhibit but rest assured, it is well taken care of. Luwak coffee is originated from Luwak poop.

Yeah, you hear that right, the Luwak coffee that you I drink is the feces of a cat. Luwak is fed with coffee bean. They eat the cherries and pulp but the bean remains intact which will be eliminated as feces after 24 hours. 

The feces in its original state. These feces will be collected, washed and left out to dry.

And then it will be roasted like this. I'm not a coffee drinker but the scent of roasted coffee bean really good. It was strong yet not overwhelming.

The final step is to pound the roasted bean into powder. They do sell Luwak coffee bean if you prefer to brew your own coffee.

Tada! The final product.

After the demonstration, I was led into an open air area for coffee tasting. Besides Luwak coffee, they do have other variations of coffee too. 

My 12 glasses of coffee. 

I have never drink this much coffee in my whole life, let alone in one seating. As I was alone, I have no one to share the coffees with. I just took a few sip of the coffee to see which one I like better. After a few sip, everything taste blend together and taste the  same to me, except for those with strong distinctive taste such as red ginger coffee and ginseng coffee. I like ginseng coffee the least.

My coffees list. All of the coffees are free for tasting except for Luwak coffee. I didn't try it because 1) I'm not willing to pay 2) I don't even drink coffee, so I can't compare how it taste 3) I already having hard time finishing the 12 glasses of coffee. 4) Full bladder.

Forever alone high tea   coffee, hahahha

I bought 2 packets of Luwak coffee for my family and friends. It is indeed the world most expensive coffee. Around RM140++ for 200gram ( maybe, I forgot). I did try the coffee at home and it does taste good, easier to gulp down and no bitter aftertaste. 

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Favorite work trip

I was away for cross functional team engagement program by my company at Thistle Resort Port Dickson last week. It was the best work trip ever for me. Not only that I get to learn more about myself, we had awesome outdoor activities and we stayed in a resort. It didn't feel like work at all.

You know I really means it when I said this is my favorite work trip ever because I rarely write about my work stuff here. 

I got excited when I received the itinerary for the 3D2N program, everything is outdoor and definitely my kind of activity, I miss being active in outdoor activities and this brings back so much great memories when I was in Uni.

My evening was spent at a pool overlooking the sea to watch the sunset. The pool is secluded and away from the screaming child. It felt more like a private pool for us.

Taking an afternoon dip after rafting on the sea with my colleagues that I met for the first time.

One of the activity is rafting which is something new to me. Each teams need to build their own raft and it was a race. None of us have experience in rafting, let alone building a raft. We just go ahead with whatever that we know and built our raft. Halfway through our race, one of our float totally burst. -____-

Everything looked so easy when I watched them on the shore but once I was on the raft, it was a constant paddling and such an energy consuming activity. Our bamboos were uneven and made padding a hundred times harder. No wonder we got the last place. 

But we redeemed ourselves in Amazing Race and Maze and our drama. During the blindfolded Maze game, I knocked against chairs, bottles and other obstacles. And now my legs, thighs and even butt are covered in bruises. 

My favorite activity during the whole program is the Leap of Faith where we jump off a 4 meters(maybe) pole. I'm not exactly scare of height but the idea of jumping off a 4m pole did scared me a little. Initially, I wanted to skip but everyone was cheering for me and they made it seemed so easy. 

Climb, climb, climb, stand up and jump. So, I decided to give it a go. I mean, YOLO!

Look at my poker face, lol. Truth is I don't really think much when I climbed the pole. I didn't even know what to expect.

It wasn't that scary when I reached the top. I even smiled so wide up there.

See? All thanks to my colleagues and instructors down there that cheered for me.

And jump! That free falling feeling was surreal and it happened so fast that I couldn't process it in my mind. 

But I felt so great like I just ticked something off my bucket list.That feeling of accomplishment really made my day. The Leap of Faith is the highlight of the program for me. Maybe I can try bungee jumping next time, maybe only la,

My teammates and I. We are the winning team for the program and I'm so glad that I went because I really learnt a lot about myself. Some of the activities really help me to put things into perspective and understand why I did what I did. It is sort of like a behavior and mind study to help you to see what kind of characters that you have and others around you.

I tested the bf with the same set of questions to determine what kind of brain color (which explain traits and characteristic) he has and it is very true. The description really fits him and guess what? His brain color has the highest difficulty in communicating with my brain color. No wonder I always get frustrated when talking to him. FOL. We are always bickering with each other and never come to an agreement. The easier way for us is to drop the subject. This is definitely FOL.