Saturday, August 18, 2018

Saturday, August 18, 2018

Biz class final time

Posted by Hippo Bean at 11:03 PM 0 comments Links to this post
Actually quite looking forward to flying biz class again. checked out the lounge at denpasar airport. Not very clean, old sofas and food was bland. but the wifi was secured and I was able to check emails. the flight to singapore was a 2 seater in biz class but still plenty of room. I got the window seat. Not quite as private as the long haul since you have another person next to you but the center armrest was wider and TV screen just as wide. Back in changi, i showed my biz class boarding pass to enter the silver KrisFlyer lounge. Good quiet dim lighting ambience, plenty of food, indian, chinese and western. however, the wifi was not secured so I couldnt gmail. Got some beef jerky at Bee Hang and Clinique Happy perfume at the duty free. The lounge in HK was dirty and dark but they did have sweet bean curd soup. One more advantage of flying biz class is the movies. The wider TV screens and better headphones allowed me to really 'watch' movies that if in coach, wouldnt have been enjoyable: the black panther (quite good), avengers infinity war (not bad), the new lara croft tomb raider (really bad, joliePitt so much better), pacific rim uprising (waste of time) and the last jedi (again). That was probably my one and only chance to enjoy biz class. I guess from now on, flying coach again would be a nightmare. why did I do that?

so this wraps up south east asia. Indonesia offered many unexpected fine surprises but also many sore disappointments. Disappointments perhaps due to my over research and therefore high expectations. What I've thought to be a well planned trip with 1 week on volcanoes and 1 week on beach resorts, it turned out it rained on the volcano and it rained on the beach. the only one time I forgot to bring my umbrella. it would have made the trip tremendously more enjoyable had I had my own umbrella. Would certainly had ventured out more to explore. But i did enjoy the tropical rain (just not while hiking a volcano or on a beach) as CA's been very dry and I did miss the rain very much.
I didn't think i'd enjoy garden hotels since there were water and trees everywhere and therefore prone to mozzies, and garden hotels usually are bungalow types. however, to my pleasant surprise, I did enjoy all the hotels as they all had a porch where I could do my evening teas and enjoy the quiet of the night, and some did have rooms on upper floors. Even the most basic ones felt comfortable. The bathrooms though were an issue. the windows couldnt be closed and thus not only mozzies could sneak in, but ants, the humidity and the heat, and no total privacy (if you could hear the people on the outside, they could hear you doing your bathroom things on the inside).
I ate so well in vietnam, the pho, the fresh seafood, the noodles. Neither Java nor Bali had any really fresh seafood, and both noodles and rice dishes were not up to par. the bebek goreng, the crispy duck at the original dirty duck diner, was actually quite tasty but very dry and with little meat. other crispy ducks were simply no good. I didnt even try the nasi goreng since I dont like fried rice anyway and didnt know where i could get the best one. Breakfast always had some sort of dry and unappetizing noodles and fried rice. The bread was always sliced, most horrible, tasted like it was made of tapioca.
For archeological monuments, Indonesia is temple galore and you'd be templed out. Prambanan was very beautiful but we got there just before sunset so the photos came out rather dark, and I did like tirta empul, with the most beautiful hindu towers, and the cave temple gunung kawi, with shrines cut into the cliff-face, much like the ones in lalibela but in a very much smaller scale, but the rest of the temples werent all that spectacular. after angkor wat, no temple could be spectacular anymore. didnt see enough buddhist temples although borobudur was quite impressive.
But it was the volcano views that were worth all the while. even without the turquoise lake and blue fire of Mtn Ijen, the smoking volcanoes and mountains were sights to remember.
Again, we traveled on all modes of transport, buses, train and boat. And Snowie, luckiest of all stuffies, was simply on top of the world, and took many photos with the volcanoes and mountains. He even made a friend, Lilephant, Kenneth's very cute and bashful stuffie . Now how much luckier can a stuffie get?

In the end, like all my trips, I've always enjoyed them but they always end too soon, and then it's always back to the grind, the stress, the worries and the anger, and the miserable daily routine.

Friday, August 17, 2018

Friday, August 17, 2018

sanur

Posted by Hippo Bean at 10:27 PM 0 comments Links to this post
The beach front hotel looked inviting and I was planning on spending the day on the white sand beach followed by a massage and then shopping. But the noise of water dripping from the roof drain all night long proved that indeed it rained all night and it continued in the day. I have saved swimming in the sea for sanur because i didnt like the black sand in pemuteran. So now there would be no sea swimming. braving the downpour, Arinto took us for walk in town, navigating the wet streets, ending up at the hardy's mall. There I finally made some purchases. Quite satisfied, we taxi'd back to the hotel. I knew hotel massages were never great but since it was raining, I've decided to go for it. The bali massage again was just an oily gentle one and I've added a body rub of local herbs. the AC was at full blast and I had to ask to have it turned off. It was a freezing uncomfortable massage. Last supper was at the Hub inside a modern glass building. i chose the crispy duck and it was not crunchy nor tasty. the Hub sold coffee, tea and souvenirs. I bought some 100% arabica and lemon grass tea. It was not a good day.

Sanur a bigger city than Ubud, not quaint nor vibrant. I did not like it much. Due to the rain and the cooler temperature, there was no beach lounging nor sea swimming. Last day, disappointed.

Around 10pm, the earth shoke slightly in undulating motions. I was already in bed and did not bother getting up to inspect.

Sanur photos:

Thursday, August 16, 2018

Thursday, August 16, 2018

lava field and pele might be angry

Posted by Hippo Bean at 11:22 PM 0 comments Links to this post
I opted out of the Batur summit and went to walk the lava field instead. Batur erupted in 63, 94 and 2015 among other times. The lava field was extensive and long, some volcanic rocks very dark and heavy (unlike the ones on the big island of hawaii) and some grey-ish, from much older eruptions I guess. I picked one of the darkest ones for the rocket scientits and hope pele wont get angry with me. It's a different volcano, not her domain, so I supposed it was OK. After a brief rest with ice tea and some local delicacies that again, came wrapped in banana leafs and soft tapioca flour wraps, with palm sugar and peanuts (which I didnt like), we went for a free hot spring swimming in a local hotel resort. It had several pools with 2 facing the sea and an infinity pool. The water was just warm. I was disappointed since I thought hot spring meant pools in a natural setting, not swimming pools inside a hotel resort. but they did provide towels and showers.

the last temple on this trip was the goa lawah, set in front of the sea. it's a cave temple with lots of local inhabitants, the bats. The 10 levels tower was probably the one featured in postcards, fridge magnet (i bought one) and featured in the logos of the kintamani plantations. Quite pretty in a small setting.

Then a long drive amidst on and off rain, we reached our hotel in sanur. it turned out we're staying at the Diwangkara instead of the swastika. again i was a bit disappointed as I've wanted to tell folks back home that I'd stayed at the nazi hotel. But the Diwangkara was beach front and the swastika was a few blocks away from the beach. i was given a room on the 3rd floor which, if not for the very tall tree right in front of building, would have a direct sea view. The room was spacious, excellently appointed, with all the amenities and a front porch with chair and table, of course. The bathroom had a nice big shower stall and the water was very hot but intermittently hot and cold. The mozzies werent so crazily hungry here. I've enjoyed this comfy modern and quite clean room and specially the room and hotel location. a memorable final hotel.

Mtn Batur photos:



Goa Lawah temple photos:

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

kintamani

Posted by Hippo Bean at 9:08 PM 0 comments Links to this post
Today we drove to Kintamani, the coffee area, located inside the caldera rim of Mtn Batur. First stop was to visit the Gunung Kawi temple, set amidst lush rice paddies and featured rock cut shrines, the 'candis' carved into the cliff-face. this temple was very interesting as it had both hindu and buddhist attributes. Lots of people were preparing flowers and food offerings. The surrounding rice terraces provided an awesome tranquil setting.

next we visited the most beautiful temple, the tirta empul, a hindu temple where balinese come to bathe and purify in the holy spring waters. There were many groups of local hindus waiting at the main gate, getting ready to go in to wash the bad spirits away. Tourists alike took to the baths as well. Above the spring, the temple had many intricately adorned towers, quite a feast for the eyes. I liked this temple the best.

After the temples, made a stop for coffee tasting in the Cantik Agriculture plantation in Kintamani. The tray came with small cups of coffee to be tasted by everyone around the table, with a spoon! Coconut, ginger, chocolate, ginseng, every flavor coffee, plus the Luwak, which cost us 50,000 rupias each to sample a cup. Tasted just like shitty coffee. We saw the Asian palm civet (weasel) in a cage, looking bored. The beans to make the kopi luwak came from the civet's poop. It's the partly digested coffee cherries that the civet ate and defecated. Thus shitty coffee. The world's most expensive coffee. I think they just make a big deal about it. Didnt like it at all. But did purchase small packages of coconut coffee (I liked this one the best), ginseng coffee and lemongrass tea for folks back home.

After the coffee, we drove up to the caldera rim and along the way we got views of Mt Agung, which erupted just a couple of months before but now it was quiet. we had buffet lunch at a restaurant situated on the caldera rim with spectacular views of the Mtn Batur, Agung and the Batur lake. it is probably the best view in the entire trip except for the view of smoking Mtns bromo and semeru in Java. After lunch, we drove down to our very basic hotel, the segara, located inside the caldera. Before dinner we hiked around lake Batur with direct views of the Mtn Batur double craters and Mtn Agung from afar. The hotel segara was quite lovely, with rooms around a central courtyard. We dined on local fish from the lake at the hotel open air restaurant. the fish was just so so. cooler here but mozzies still invaded us so Cheng gave me a mozzie coil which I burned all night in the bathroom.

Gunumg Kawi Temple photos:


Tirta Empul Temple photos:


Kintamani photos:

Tuesday, August 14, 2018

Tuesday, August 14, 2018

ubud

Posted by Hippo Bean at 11:54 PM 0 comments Links to this post
Since we're not leaving till after lunch, while the rest of the group went snorkeling, Kenneth and I painted the small town of pemuteran. Just 1 main drag with nothing to see and nothing to buy. We went up and down the drag, mainly talking to catch up. Back at the hotel, we walked around inside the resort to photograph its many statues and different room types, and we had a small lunch at the hotel beach front restaurant. It was really nice to just sit there and feel the cool sea breeze and smell the salty sea.

The drive towards Ubud was slow as we wound up and down small hills, but the views were catching, with many balinese houses with gorgeous and interesting house temples passing by on both sides, and got to the Ulun Danu Temple just right before dusk. This water hindu shiviaite temple was located on a small jut of land on lake beratan. It would look as it's floating on the lake had we seen it in bright daylight. With the sun almost set, it just looked gloomy.

We checked in to the Sahadewa hotel at the heart of Ubud's vibrant main drag after dark, lights and people everywhere. The rooms filled 1 long lane behind the reception. the bathroom was all open to the bedroom, with no doors separating it from the rest of the room. The bathtub was enormous with just a curtain to shield it from the bedroom. There's a drain right below the tub, on the bedroom side. another entryway for mozzies. Doors again had padlock in front (locking it took some maneuvering, again) and a bar on the inside. Impossible to keep the door completely closed (again) thus allowing mozzies to freely enter the room (again). in its hay days, it might have been a very modern and sophisticated room. but now everything looked old and tired, stained and cracked. The hotel pool was just a small fountain. However, 1 block away, there's the cocomart and a bit further down the famous original dirty duck diner. That's where we went for dinner. Much anticipated since I've first learned of it from the Travel channel. the crispy duck, bebek goreng, was very dry with very little meat. but it tasted absolutely delicious with all the 'secret' spices. i really liked it and didnt mind having it again. Satisfied with experiencing the famous dirty duck, we went shopping at the cocomart. found small packages of bali coffee, robusta and arabica. grabbed some for gifts. First time we had a TV in the hotel room but no english channels. in fact, every channel was snowy, impossible to watch. didnt feel like reading, so it was an early night for me.

I spent the following day with Kenneth exploring the busy and lively town. Tons of shops selling clothing, hiking gear, souvenirs and wooden carvings. We stopped at the Palace (not much to see, only the courtyard was open to the public) and a few small temples. The major temple the puri saraswati did not allow any tourists in, so we just took a few photos of the front gates. Next we visited the puri lukisan museum which had interesting bali cloth paintings and wooden statues. In the afternoon I had a bali massage at the Sang 2 spa. I found it online and it had good reviews. After getting lost looking for it, we finally found it on a quiet back street. Before the massage, they did wash my feet but not in ginger water like in Myanmar. The bali massage was not a trigger point nor deep tissue, just a simple rub really, but it felt good. The service was so attentive, I tipped my masseuse quite well. On my way back to the hotel, I took the main drag to hit the shops but could not find the blouse I wanted for Mom. We skipped the monkey forest as well, we didnt like aggressive monkeys. Arinto took us to an expensive nearby restaurant for dinner but they had no duck. Disappointed. The restaurant decor was very nice but food was not so great. I quite liked Ubub, small vibrant town with narrow long lanes filled with shops and restaurants, but too many tourists.


Ulun Danu Temple photos:



Ubud photos:
 

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