Jan 11, 2020

Travelog: Bali - Day One

After so many years of not travelling, finally I was given the chance (and the time) to do so. Actually, I did went travelling last year; together with my family we joined a travel tour to Padang, Indonesia. We felt cheated, tho. The fact that the tour group consisted of teachers making "feel good" trip for the sake of completing their yearly requirement or some bullshit meant that WE had to follow the school trip's itinerary. I was so mad with the whole trip I made no effort in making a travelog.

Anyway, that's enough for an introduction. Let bygones be bygones.

Now, let's talk about BALI!!

The trip to Bali is a honeymoon trip. Initially, I proposed to my wife to go to Japan for honeymoon but seeing that we were both very much broke (still are, huhu) so we looked into other options including Maldives, New Zealand, and Ipoh (okay, this is my idea of a second getaway right after the first one). My wife then suggested Bali and I was like, hey, not a bad idea.

We made plans for Bali months before the trip. Earlier when we started planning for our wedding back in March I introduced to her the wonderful world of Google Docs where users can view and edit the documents online at the same time. We had such fun planning this over calls and shared documents. I won't give you details of our documents but if you can squint your eyes, here's how our Google doc file looks like: 

I know, I'm such a nerd. LOL.

Million thanks to my wife for spearheading the search for the details about the trip. I think that's the dynamic of us - me making the general idea and direction while my wife fine-tuning the whole thing. We scoured the Internet for places worth going in Bali, accommodations to stay, the costs for every attractions, the best supirs, and many more.
  1. For flights, the cheapest we could find was Airasia. 
  2. For accommodations, we went for hotels / resorts over Airbnb. 
    • In Kuta, we chose Mercure Hotel (there's two Mercure hotels, go for the one facing the beach)
    • In Ubud, we chose Onje Villa.
  3. For supir (tour guide/driver) - google Pak Yanto. Almost every Google search for the best supirs in Bali will show Pak Yanto. Why we chose Pak Yanto? 
    • It's a huge family business.
    • They are muslims, so they will recommend and show you halal eateries.
    • There's so many good reviews about them
    • They are easily reachable. 
    • The fee is set after we confirmed with them our itinerary. That way we can be reassured there won't be any surprise added charges when we were there. 
    • We will not share the supir and the car with other tourists. 
    • The car they provided for us was a Mitsubishi's Ertiga. Other options are all MPVs, which is suitable for small groups of people like a family or couples. 
    • They will suggest which place worth going, and they are FINE with it if you refuse. 
  4. Places to go - we researched long and hard for this and decided that the mood for our trip is relaxing and easy-paced. There is a few must-go attractions in Bali that are iconic and should not be missed, but with the timing and location we did not go to Pura Lempuyang temple which is famous for the insta-worthy picture of its Gate of Heaven. 
  5. Itinerary - we made it on our own. We searched each of the place we're going on the Internet, locating where they are, how far from the hotels, and the duration to complete the whole tour for each day. We confirmed it with our supir, who repeatedly said that he will bring wherever that we wish to go (within reason) because it's our honeymoon. 

Day One

We were late. It was my fault and it was a damn close shave. We nearly missed the flight but somehow, luckily, we managed through. When we finally settled down in our seats, drenched with sweats as we cool ourselves with the tiny jets of air-conditioned air overhead, I remembered something about how we only truly know about ourselves as a couple when these things are involved: Money and Travel. We both were very much amazed at how we quickly put our heads together and made a plan on the spot when under pressure. There's much to this tale, but it's the story for both of us that we won't ever forget!

The flight took 2 hours and a half, so and so. After we comfortably ate in the plane, followed by a fresh cup of warm coffee (for me), we proceeded to sleep (first revelation of us as a couple) and woke up when the plane descended for landing.

The airport, or bandara, is very clean and looks new. I read that a huge renovation was made to accommodate the numbers of tourists that flock to Bali.

Hers and mine :)

Sunset here in Bali is one hour earlier than in Malaysia, although there is no time zone difference. Hence, by 6 pm, the sun will set. As we arrived around 2.30 pm, we still had hours to go. We already had lunch in the air so we went to Agung Bali first to kill time and to browse for souvenirs. The items here are not as cheap as anywhere else and the prices are fixed so don't bother to barter. However, the t-shirt designs are pretty and can't be found elsewhere.

You can compare the prices of souvenirs sold at the airport and at Agung Bali with shops elsewhere in Bali whether in Kuta, Ubud, Tanah Lot etc. in order to get the feel of the range of prices. Airport, being airport, sell expensive souvenirs that are premium looking. Agung Bali merchandises are like the "official" souvenirs, while the rest can be from poor knockoffs to hidden gems.

We didn't buy anything from there at that time. Once we had toured the whole place, we went to the first and only place planned in our itinerary of Day One - dinner at Jimbaran beach.

Besarnya topi sis

Initially we are worried that it might rain in Kuta, but somehow it never does

We picked the table closest to the water (at that time) and had such a lovely time as we ate dinner while watching the sunset.

The sunset at Jimbaran beach bathed us a glow of indigo. 

The restaurant that we went to had a musollah for us to pray if we need to, but seeing that our next destination is to check in at the Mercure hotel, we opted for qasa and jama' takhir instead.

Step up your game, Mercure. What is this half-assed welcoming deco?

We checked in at Mercure hotel close to 8 pm. If you read the reviews online you'll find that this hotel is slightly more than okay-ish and it doesn't break the bank by a thin margin. The room we got was exactly as described and showcased, so we had no problems. Others might complain that the room is too small, but it's fine by us.

When we entered the room and started to unwind, suddenly there's a call.

Receptionist: Pak, everything okay? We have a cake to give to you.
Me: Cake? What cake? *getting suspicious*
Receptionist: It's a welcome cake, pak. It's for you.
Me: ummm.. is it free?
Receptionist: Gratis, pak. 
Me: Oh. *awkward* Hmm where is the cake? (god kill me)
Receptionist: Someone will come shortly to bring you the cake.
Me: Oh. Erm, hmm, okay. Thank you!

And then the doorbell rang and a young porter at the door, holding a frickin' CUPCAKE in both of his hands!! We thought it's gonna be one huge cake like a proper birthday cake with candles (at least, that's what I had in mind when they told me). We accepted the cake and crackled like madmen afterwards.

Muka sedih dikecewakan dengan harapan cake tapi dapat cupcake

The biggest strength of this hotel to me is the location. We knew roughly where it is, but we couldn't appreciate the location of this hotel in relation to other places. This hotel is located directly across the road that runs along a part of Kuta beach. The road is one of the busiest road in Kuta and at night it becomes lively. There's a number of shops and hotels around this place, which made cityboi like me a very happy man.

That's conclude our Day One in Bali. I'm going to write about every day in Bali a blog post each because I talked too much and I'm still too excited about it so I will talk at great length at everything that we went and saw LOL.

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