Keep calm – it’s time for Bali

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Annual girls weekend getaway ritual for 2017 had Greece emerge as the winner. Three of us are excited, tickets + accommodation is all sorted & Caroline’s sister Margaret is also a part of this trip (yaayyy) But ah the joys of being an Indian passport holder! Need the Schengen visa but hey not my first time. So it should be easy peasy 🙂 Wait – this blog was supposed to be all about the Bali trip right? read on guys 😉


VFS (the agency who handles Schengen visa applications) politely declined to accept my documents stating I was late in submission. Guilty coz my passport took almost 3 weeks to be returned post a 60-page reissue process {Note to Indians in UAE – if you can, opt for the Tatkal service. It’s expensive but your passport comes back within 3-4working days’ time}. Bye Bye Greece dreams 😦

Post a few tearful, depressed days, my inner travel warrior knocks me back into senses. I hate visa processes so I look around and voila BALI calls out to me. So here I am with my girl flying to the Far East. Trivia moment:- Rachel is my 14 yr old who was home for summer holidays & agreed to be my travel companion. Travel plans with a parent is not ideal & apparently uncool as per teen-world but between being bored in Dubai & touristy in Bali – Bali won the race and teen-world would be handled diplomatically once we got back.

My luck hadn’t run out coz a sale offer on Emirates got us cheaper tickets; Since it was a five day break, we decided to split our time between Keramas (quieter area in East coast of Bali) & beachy Legian which had easy access to both Kuta & Semiyan. That decision was a hit and miss to be honest.

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Happy us 😀

Once in Bali, we are greeted by our driver arranged with our accommodation booking at Kori Maharani Villas in Keramas. Kori Maharani houses private villas with swimming pool, so excitement knew no bounds – we were ready to take a dip as soon as the staff left us in our villa. One of the loveliest decisions I have taken – the customer service, personalized care & attention, food, cleanliness and just sheer beauty of the place had us excited. A 2 bedroom villa with living room, pool & kitchen facilities – it was like being at home away from home.
DJ our driver was our tour guide too; his company Beat Bali Tours has a tie up with Kori Maharani so its all smooth and well-arranged. They have fixed packages and are also more than happy to flex one out to suit your time & budget;
He was super prompt next day waiting patiently for us at the reception while Rach and me was lazing around outside our villa taking in the sheer beauty of the space. And it was also the first time we saw Kori Maharani in daylight :D. It sits pleasantly by the beach side with hues of green all around. Cooling aid to the eyes especially when you come from a concrete jungle. But instant reaction to whatever we saw & felt of Bali – this is like Kerala (our home state in South India).

Day 1)
Keramas saw us do a half day tour (pool was too enticing for words and we needed a bit of a rest). We decided to see the local side through Kecak & fire dance, street markets, night market, local food. Coming from a Hindu country, it wasn’t difficult to follow the background of the Kecak & fire dance. Hinduism is the major religion of this island that is snuggly rested within Indonesia, a Muslim country (India, please take note of how to co-exist in peace).

The local street / night markets are pretty a sight and good bargaining skills can see you come back with a lot of pretty artwork & handicraft. We picked up a few small items and tried a few of their local dishes. We didn’t try any fancy restaurants coz we wanted to get the feel of street side food. Satays, bebek betutu (slow cooked duck) & their famed babi guling (spit roast pig) are definitely worth a try.

 

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All the yummy food from Kori Maharani & the night market

Day 2) – Rachel did not wake up feeling in high spirits today. Attack from the good old mate – Migraine saw us cancel the day’s tour with DJ, who went out of his way to enquire about her health twice later in the day & had arranged with the Kori Maharani team to check on us. So through out the day we were well fed & looked after. Kudos to the team to being super homely & caring. Told you – home away from home!

Day 3) – We are back & we are healthy again. We start our full fledged tour with the Bali Safari & Marine Park. Although it suggests Safari, this is more an open zoo. You are on a mini safari bus moving from one area to another watching the animals be free in a natural surrounding. Animals who find homes in India, Africa & Indonesia in the likes of lions, tigers, rhinos, hippos, elephants, deers are all found chilling out freely but with territorial enclosures. This park offers various packages – choose what suits best to your schedule – ideal amount of time would be minimum of 4 hours if you intend to watch at least a show or two. Since we had other plans we decided to go in for the Jungle Hopper package which included a variety events but we stuck to the Day safari, Aquarium, Harimau ‘from Predator to Prey’ show & the Elephant bath. They also have the Bali theatre that hosts animal show, Bali Agung show (dance & theatre performance showcasing history of Bali) apart from elephant rides and a night safari. The highlight of our time in the park was definitely the Harimau (tiger) show apart from the day safari.

Got you guys a very short video from the Harimau show – just to give you a feel of it 🙂

From here we set off through the beautiful village area towards the Tegenungan waterfall. The drive doesn’t last more than 30 mins and we are welcomed with the beautiful sound of the fall….walk a bit more and you start to get the gorgeous view of the waterfall; off we go downhill to get to the actual waterfall. The whole area is filled with tourists clicking pics & wanting to take a swim etc so be prepared for the crowd. Everything was perfect until we decided to hike back to the car. It cannot be done in one stretch for a couch potato like me & thank God I had plenty of company to cling onto the railings taking short breather break.

The next stop was at Tanah Lot Temple which was unfortunately closed due to the tide. This temple is situated on the top of a rock formation in the sea amidst beautiful waves crashing all around it. Though we didn’t opt for one, this place is ideal for those who want that perfect private sunset dinners – would be a cheaper option to Uluvata Temple which boasts to be the haven for beautifully choreographed sunsets by the cliff (click on the pics for the captions!). Also in the vicinity are various souvenir shops, restaurants & resorts so definitely worth a visit wherein you can chill out until sunset and then beat the crowd to get that perfect sunset shot. Of course DJ would be more than happy to accommodate your requests if you want to spend more time here as a part of the tour package.

Day 4) Blue Marlin offers villas with a private swimming pool / jacuzzi facilities, but coming from Kori Maharani who pampered us, we had our expectations crushed in no time. Mosquitoes (all night sitting up killing them – spraying didn’t help!), no in-house dining facilities (not mentioned on the booking site at that time), not a safe area to walk around especially in the evenings, no hotel arrangements for tours or shuttle, cabbies are not quite aware of this place since its off the main street (even DJ struggled), no luggage racks in the room, One landline in the villa placed in the kitchen-dining room area; every time it rings you gotto run from the bedroom around the pool to answer it. And for the first time in all of my travel, I was asked to pay the full amount up front as soon as I checked in – like hello can I even see what the villa looks like? As an agreement, we decided on payment later in the day or next day. I wasn’t going to dish out all the money over an accommodation that I’m yet to experience.
They did bring in a good breakfast and helped in ordering food from outside. You are also permitted to cook and eat for which they will help you with grocery purchase. But overall was utterly disappointed with this choice.

Come evening Rachel & I decided to cab it to the nearby street for shopping. It was that time of the trip – and we set off looking for souvenirs & stuff for ourselves. Ladies – Bamboo Blonde in Jalan Raya is a must visit. They have a collection of good trendy outfits that’s reasonably priced. We walked around blissfully shopping & had late lunch / early dinner at a regular diner. Well, at least the food never disappoints in Bali, that’s for sure.

Legian is comfortably surrounded by shopping areas so if you are in for a good walk you could literally be walking from Seminyak to Kuta areas. Beach is also in the vicinity which also boasts of a lot of shopping & eatout outlets. We walked around the area and finally as it started to get dark we hailed a cab back to Blue Marlin. Metered cabs are easily available in the area but due to traffic situations we kept the usage to sheer minimum. Once back in the room, amidst killing mosquitoes (trust me this place is heaven for mosquito lovers!) we take this hard decision, to check out the next morning and head over to Jimbaran bay

Day 5) VIP boarding package offered by Sundara Beach Club hosted by Four Seasons Resort – were we thrilled to have had this decision made on our last day at Bali! 😀
For those who need a bit more info, hit this link up VIP Boarding Lounge – Sundara. Please put this place as a must visit even if you end up opting only for the VIP boarding which is offered to those who have a flight out that particular day as an alternative to airline lounge facility – trust me the two does not match up; Airlines cant beat this lounge.

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Infinity pool overlooking the clean beach with drinks & amazing food in a cabana; top this up for a Balinese Spa experience at an additional cost– man that is heaven right there in your hands. This is what Bali trip was supposed to be all about says Rachel!
Final day of our stay is sheer bliss. We cant get enough of the sun the food the pool the beach & the drinks by the pool. By evening we showered & got ready for our trip back to Dubai feeling soooo blissfully happy. Sundara definitely ticked the boxes for us with ambience, customer care and pampering.

Bali – so serene, picturesque, blissful at the same time its super fun, wild & adventurous.
Such a beautiful experience but mental note – we have almost everything in Kerala. I know I mentioned this earlier but hey the similarities are too good to be true. The weather, the food & spice contents, the attractions of rice terraces, coffee & tea plantations, waterfalls, cliffy beach areas, though not quite surfers’ haven we have something for surfers too – the similarity is just immense that even my teenager had the question – “did you swap flights while I dozed off & bring me to Kerala in the name of Bali?”
Ok we are not huge on party placements – will give you that Bali. Nightlife here is totally happening…gives me a reason to revisit :D….and its not the only excuse I have to visit you again Bali. Going to be super extra special next time!

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….and I will be coming back Bali 😉

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