Last year, I spent my birthday in Bali. Honestly, I don't really plan to go somewhere as I am not fond of celebrating my birthday. It just so happens that whenever I get tempting airline promos, I would then realize that the perfect time to book those trips is on my birthday. Spending the moment with peace and quiet is very much enticing. And so, last November 2013, I booked a Bali trip for my 2014 birthday.
I initially planned to go to Taiwan but at that time,the fare was very expensive. The trip will be almost a year away and anything can happen. I don't want to waste that much money in case something comes up and I won't be able to make the trip. Bali doesn't interest me much at first, as I thought they are only known for beaches and temples. I didn't know much about it aside from the show Memories of Bali (which I only managed to watch the tragic ending) so i was not looking forward to the trip. Since Bali was the next best thing and the fare was very cheap, I decided to book it. My return fare all in was just S$85.
Few months before my trip, I started to research for my itinerary. My bestfriend also recommended Rai, the tour guide whom they got for their trip. She was raving about him so I was convinced to finally book him. He was very prompt in replying to my every email. I finalized my itinerary and sent it over to him. I booked their smallest van, which is a 6-seater, plus driver/tour guide. The 2-day trip costs me S$100 excluding entrance tickets to temples, etc. There was a cheaper tour agency I found online but their reply was very slow and they really had poor customer service, thus I went with Rai.
Searching for accommodations took me a long while. I checked Tripadvisor first for recommended restos and I found most are in Ubud. I decided to stay in Ubud majority of my trip and then transfer to Uluwatu on the last 2 days..
I booked Nyoman Karsa Bungalow near Monkey Forest in Ubud. I found it is walking distance to Ubud Center via Monkey Forest. the pics showed it overlooks a rice paddy, which was one of my requirements in searching for accommodation. I really like this hostel as it is near the center but in a more quiet location. Unfortunately, the rice paddies where not all green but its ok. The view was still lovely and it served as a nice backdrop to the pool. My itinerary was hectic and sad to say I wasn't able to use their pool.
I arrived around 5:00 PM at the hotel. I was supposed to go to Monkey Forest but it was already late so I decided to rest before heading out for dinner. I was stoked to know that Bebik Bengil, one of the resto in my list is just walking distance from the hostel. Bebik Bengil is famous in Bali for its Crispy Fried Duck. I prefer chicken over duck but this one is an exemption. Crispy skin and juicy meat, 'nuff said :D..I liked the place as well as the dish. I've read the resto has a nice view of the rice paddy beside it. I went there in the evening so it's a bit dark. Hopefully on my next trip to Bali, I'll be able to dine there during the day to have a clear view of the garden and the rice paddy.
Ramayana Ballet at Water Palace
After dinner, as I was walking back to the hostel, I saw a motorbike rental. I asked if they have bicycles. Unfortunately, they only offer motorbikes. The lady showed me their brochures and a water palace show caught my attention. I haggled a bit and she agreed. So she drove me to Water Palace in Ubud center and gave me my Ramayana ballet tickets. In the palace, there was a big temple door ornate in gold which serves as an enchanting backdrop to the perfromance. There were benches on the side and some people were already sitting on the ground in front of the stage.
I enjoyed the show! It was a glimpse to the rich culture of the Balinese people. I liked the music, the movements and the story. I also liked that the setting was informal. The place was filled but not overly crowded.
Here are some of the clips I took. I find the whole cultural show mesmerizing.
Fair Warung Bale
After the show, I decided to try the no. 1 resto in Tripadvisor which is Fair Warung Bale. I passed by a motorbike rental and booked one to take me to the restaurant. The driver was not very familiar with the place or he just can't understand English well. I even showed him the copy of the address. I almost had a scare as we passed by a very dark road which was leading us to nowhere. There were less to zero people around. I then pretended to call my hotel describing where I was, loud enough for the driver to hear. I then kept telling the driver to take me back to the hotel. I was glad when he decided to turn back and after a while I saw the main road with lots of people. I was almost crying inside during that journey. I really wanted to go to Fair Warung but I know when to let go especially if my safety is at stake. I already decided to just go straight to my hostel, but I think the heavens heard me that night. As we were heading back, I had a gut-feel that the restaurant is somewhere near and I shouldn't give up. The street was dimly lit and I don't know where we were a, but I managed to see the sign! I was so happy! I immediately tapped the driver and pointed him the sign! I can't believe I was able to see the signage even if it was a bit dark. The driver seemed happy as well and kept saying sorry because he wasn't able to find the place earlier. I forgot about the scare I had earlier and I gave him a bigger tip. :D
The restaurant was bustling with people and there were lots of Caucasians. It was so homey. Alex the owner was a jolly guy. He had a smile on his face all the time and you can tell he has a very outgoing personality. When I was to order they said they were full and I should have made a reservation. My heart sanked and I think they noticed it. Alex suddenly exclaimed something like "Be free and be happy!" lol Well, how could I after the scary moment I've been through just to get to their place. I was ready to leave and go back to the hotel when his cute Caucasian assistant tapped me in the shoulder and lead me to a seat near the entrance. I was hungry but happy!
All of the positive reviews in tripadvisor are true. The place is very friendly and the food is amazing. I think I ordered Red Karre Prawn and I loved it! The curry soup is very light and tasty. The prawns and everything else were perfectly cooked. I will definitely go back if ever I'll have the chance to travel to Bali again.
Btw, Fair Warung Bali party works as a foundation. The owner, Alex, opened the restaurant to help the youth and also support healthcare in Bali. This restaurant has soul and you can sense it the moment you step inside.
After the satisfying meal, I booked again a motorbike and I was able to go back to my hostel with no more scary incident.
I am a Filipina, formerly based in Singapore and is now living permanently in Melbourne. Yet, I am really a global citizen at heart. :)