Date Archives

March 2017

Roving the great lakes of Bali

Bali is known for its achingly beautiful scenery and landscapes; an exploration into which is a spiritually awakening experience for many. Spending time in ‘natural Bali’ is filled with peace and tranquility, giving people the perfect environment to ponder life and widen their horizons as an individual. Besides the island’s beautiful underwater world, white sand beaches and unique culture, Bali hides a reservoir of beauty and charm that are often forgotten; these are the great lakes of Bali. These majestic lakes are well worth your time and effort, as they showcase the beauty of Bali that lies beyond the coast. Make sure your cameras are ready for what is truly a visual feast.

Lake Bratan

Let’s begin the adventure in central Bali with a visit to Lake Bratan. Situated in a crater of an inactive volcano, Mount Catur, Lake Bratan is the second largest lake in Bali and is back dropped by the majesty of Mount Bratan. Located in Bali’s central highlands of Bedugul, this lake is a favourite tourist attraction. Its high altitude allows visitors to enjoy respite from the hot and humid weather. The surrounding area is a natural spectacle offering splendid views of mountains and greenery. The lake is surprisingly shallow with a maximum depth of only 22 metres. Irises of numerous colours – yellow, fuchsia and magenta – dot the edge of the lake. The misty peak of dormant Mount Catur looms above.

Found around the lake are three 25-metre-deep caves excavated by the invading Japanese during World War II. There are also a few shrines worth exploring in the vicinity of Lake Bratan. Another popular sight is Bukit Mungsu Market (or Pasar Bukit Mungsu), located in Candi Kuning. Visitors can buy a variety of fresh spices, including nutmeg and turmeric, fruits and vegetables. Due to the cool weather there, you can also pick strawberries on the fields, a unique find considering Bali’s tropical climate.

There are so many activities you can do around the area. The surrounding mountains are popular destinations for hiking and trekking, offering routes of various levels of difficulty. Water sports lovers will rejoice with the abundance of water activities available. Rides on pedal boats, speedboats or traditional boats known as jukung are all available. Other types of water sports that you can enjoy include water-skiing, parasailing, jet skiing and paddle sports. Swimming is permitted, of course, only if you can stand the cold waters!

Lake Bratan is considered to be the most holy lake in Bali, as it is a home to one of the most famous temples, the Ulun Danu Bratan Temple, which dates back to stories told in Balinese mythology. This beautiful 17th century temple of Ulun Danu, which appears to float on the water, is dedicated to worship Dewi Danu or the Lake Goddess. Offerings are made at the temple on special festive occasions, as it is believed this will bring economic prosperity to the area.

The lake is a very important source of irrigation for many farms and rice paddies in the Bedugul region. Because of its surrounding temperatures and irrigation system, the area around Lake Bratan is blessed with high fertility, and for that reason Lake Bratan is also known as the Lake of the Holy Mountain.

It takes around 2-hours to drive from Denpasar to Candi Kuning Village, Baturiti district, Tabanan, where the lake lies.

Lake Batur

Lake Batur is Bali’s largest and widest lake with an area of approximately 18 square kilometres. The large crescent shaped lake sits within the old caldera of Mount Batur and is surrounded by the high walls of the crater rim, with an active volcano of Mount Batur adjacent to it. Located in the mountainous area of the Bangli Regency on the southeastern side of the Batur caldera, the lake lies at the feet of two majestic surrounding mountains, Mount Batur and Mount Abang. The crater is situated approximately 500 meters above sea level, and a couple of hot springs can be seen surrounding the lake with one in the middle of the lake. The water is much cooler than the other lakes in Bali. Try to dip your fingers while boating in this lake to feel how amazingly cold (but fresh!) the water is.

On the journey to the lake via Bangli or Tampaksiring, the ashy residues and active hot springs reveal its volcanic history. As you get closer and continue over the last ridge, the massive outlining of the crater becomes visible; expect a large smile to peel across your face when you encounter this moment. You can continue along the road from Penelokan, it continues right around the rim towards Kintamani to circle around the crater. The majestic and spectacular view of Lake Batur can also be viewed from Kintamani.

The only boat access to the lake is through the Trunyan village, home to the Bali Aga people. These local indigenous inhabitants are true descendants of native Balinese and have been isolated from the other inhabitants on other parts of the island. They communicate in an ancient form of the Balinese language and to date still practice ancient traditional Balinese culture and religion. An interesting part of their culture is that when one of their tribesmen dies, they are neither cremated nor buried, but laid under a sacred tree, the Taru Menyan, inside their open air cemetery. The members of the tribe believe that roots and the branches of this sacred tree helps to mask and remove the odour of the rotting, decomposing bodies.

Lake Buyan

Lake Buyan is one of Bali’s unexposed and untouched attractions. Located in Pancasari Village, in Sukasada District, Buleleng Regency, the lake spans approximately 4.5 square kilometres just below the northern rim of the Bedugul caldera. Situated in a plateau region characterised by generally very wet and cool climates, Lake Buyan is surrounded by lush vegetation, featuring fog and cool air, which allows one to appreciate the authenticity of nature’s wonders. The sight of it alone has wonderfully soothing effects that help to temporarily take away the stress of daily life.

Getting to this lake is a bit tricky, involving a 3-hour drive from Denpasar and following the road winding up the hill, where you can see an increasing number of monkeys, before you arrive at the junction on the top of the hill. Turn left at this junction and continue to follow the quiet asphalt road which leads you to the lake.

A community pool, known as Telaga Aya, is connected to the lake via a narrow canal. Telaga Aya is located between the lakes of Buyan and Tamblingan, which are separated by a forest-covered hill. At the top of the hill, Asah Gobleg village is the primary vantage point with panoramic views of both lakes and the surrounding area. Make sure to get your perfect selfie with the lake in the background from the lookout at Asah Gobleg Village on the trek down to the lake.

Encircled by coffee and clove plantations, Lake Buyan has a camping site at its southern edge with the ground being flat there. However, the most common activities are boating or fishing. Hiking or trekking is doable, but best done with local guides, granting scenic views of the landscape. For those who are into mediation and yoga, Lake Buyan offers a perfectly peaceful, serene atmosphere, ideal for such activities. Nature lovers and eco-tourists should find the entire area as a whole an ideal getaway. With limited tourist activities and the absence of human intervention, Lake Buyan still maintains its natural, intact ecosystem through protection of its fragile environment and promoting eco-tourism.

Lake Tamblingan

Lake Buyan is closely related to Lake Tamblingan in terms of location and ecosystem, and therefore both lakes are generally referred to as Bali’s Twin Lakes. An interesting fact is that Lake Buyan and Lake Tamblingan used to be one whole lake until a landslide separated them in around the year 1800. Now they are separated by a ride almost 2 kilometres wide.

Lake Tamblingan exudes a mystical appeal and charm, with some regarding it as having the most unspoilt natural scenery in comparison to Lake Bratan or Lake Buyan. The lake is located in the heart of Bali’s farming area and the slopes are covered with coffee plantations, vegetable fields and rice paddies. Its official location is on the north slope of Mount Lesung, Munduk Village area, Buleleng Regency, about 3 hours from Denpasar. You will have the best experience just driving to this place with the cool wind blowing on your face and the feeling of pure, clean air all around you. It is advisable to pull over for a few photographs or have a small picnic by the road.

The entire lake area is protected land within the 4356- acre Batukaru Nature Reserve, which is a major reason that both Lake Buyan and Lake Tamblingan have become increasingly popular with mountain trekkers, adventure seekers, bird watchers and eco-tourists. And since the lake is located at such great heights, you will find that it is mostly covered in fog that casts a beautiful spell on tourists and locals alike. The depth of the lake and reflection of the surrounding trees creates gorgeous hues of blue, green and grey that shimmer across the water’s surface like a palette of paints.

Though motorized boating is not available on this lake, you can rent a rowing boat or bring along your kayaks to explore further. Fishing is also permitted. You can opt for a jungle tour, which involves crossing the sacred Tamblingan Lake by an old-style, hollow canoe. Near Lake Tamblingan, visitors can perform activities, like trekking in the tropical forest with a variety of distances, with trips ranging from 2 to 8 hours. The idea is to spend quality time in and around the lake, and absorb its breathtaking beauty.

There are a few sights worth visiting in the vicinity: numerous temples can be found on the outskirts of Lake Tamblingan, and the most popular one is Gubug Temple. This water temple, which uses the traditional ‘Subak’ irrigation system at the edge of the lake, is a must visit place if you are around the neighbourhood. It retains much of the architectural design, as Ulun Danu Temple, but is less crowded, offering you good photo-taking opportunities.

If you plan to explore ‘real Bali’ a bit more, these four lakes offer history, culture and nature in one experience. Nourish your soul in their stunning scenery, relax at the lakeside hot springs, stroll in the beautiful local villages, take a tour of the exotic plantations, or camp in the mountains and dense jungles. Very rightly said, that Bali is a true treasure trove of natural beauty. Why not see for yourself.

This article is also published at NOW! Bali Magazine
 

Feasting on Bali’s Chinese Dishes

Bali hosts a large number of Chinese restaurants serving authentic Chinese food. From varieties of noodles, rice and mouth-watering appetizers, Bali offers enough Chinese food to satiate any food pallet. One of the good things of having Chinese food in this island is that a possibility to enjoy it in a restaurant while comfortably seated viewing beaches from the best angle. Some of the restaurants are very aesthetically built, reminding you of Shanghai cities or reconstructed ancient Chinese temples. From phenomenal crab and lobster dishes to mouth-watering prawn dumplings and the legendary Pecking Duck, it will be a small trip to Hong Kong while feasting on these Chinese dishes.

In Jimbaran area, Ah Yat Abalone Seafood Restaurant offers a huge selection of dim sum. Located inside RIMBA Jimbaran by Ayana Resort & Spa, this world-class dining spot also presents an extensive menu of traditional delicacies alongside popular dishes that guarantee will cater to a wider range of taste buds. In the interior, you can feast your eyes with an eclectic mix of Chinese furniture and antiques, while the space itself can cover up to 300 guests seated with 10 private dining rooms, claiming to be one of the largest Chinese restaurants in Indonesia.

With more than 20 years’ experience in Beijing and international hotels on mainland China, the chef brings the authenticity of oriental taste from his creations. If you come for dinner or lunch, you may want to order Lobster Sashimi; raw lobster meat served with wasabi and kikoman. You can have Lobster Sashimi for the meat and ask the head of the lobster cooked with porridge or stir fried with salt and spicy sauce. As for the dessert, Homemade Coconut Pudding, a mixture of coconut, sugar, coconut milk, strawberry, evaporated milk and galantine, would make a perfect balance in your mouth.

Moving forward from Jimbaran to Nusa Dua area, Ru Yi will take you for an authentic fine dining experience of China Town. Remaining unseen from the world, inside Awarta Nusa Dua Luxury Villas, the interior of the restaurant stimulates a sense of warm and comfort ambience to experience an oriental indulgent dinner. From its delightful Chinese entryways, wooden completing to Chinese adornments and sketches around the dining area; everything cooperates to give you that one immaculate eating background. You can choose your seating spots, either indoor with a classic-dramatic Chinese touch or outdoor overlooking the refreshing waterfall pond. Serving the most delightful customary Cantonese-style Chinese cuisines, you can try Sea Cucumber braised in special Awarta Sauce. This tastes very soft, smooth and light; melts in your mouth with a flavourful taste of a delicate Chinese fine dining meal.

Still within the high-end complex of Nusa Dua, Hong Xing Club & Resto at The Bay Bali features the enchanting décor of a Chinese-styled beachfront garden with a relaxing seating facing directly to Nusa Dua Beach. The smell of the ocean and the touch of the sea breeze creates an experience that will linger in your memory, making it the perfect place while enjoying Asian fusion cuisines. In the kitchen, the culinary team is ready to fulfil your appetite. One of the best sellers at this restaurant is the daily Dim Sum that artfully prepared to satisfy any Asian food fanatic. While you are there, don’t forget to try their signature dish, Prawn with Singapore Sauce, to engage your palate.

Driving further up, slightly outside ITDC complex in Nusa Dua, Table8 at The Mulia Resort & Villas presents an exciting oriental taste of Cantonese and Szechuan. The Dim Sum at this restaurant is a culinary journey of heart-warming bites prepared meticulously. Immaculate in all viewpoints, they’re delicate, delicate, crunchy, delicious and fragrant. Featuring all time favourites, from steamed crystal shrimp dumplings to golden sauce bun or siu mai, to name but a few of Table8’s refined Cantonese flavours. Operate only during lunch hours, you can indulge with the all-you-can-eat Dim Sum and be tantalized as the chefs prepare the dishes in the freshest way. Special only in March, the culinary team at Table8 has fired up their kitchen to prepare delicious flower snail creations. From the simple poached flower snails, to chilled marinated flower snails in Chinese wine recipe among others in a must-try menu.

In Kuta, Warung Laota is one of the local favourites for a midnight late supper. Located only 10 minutes’ drive from the airport, this 24-hour eatery seems like never running low of visitors. The décor is inspired by a simple Chinese restaurant with wood tables and chairs next to a live-open kitchen. Warung Laota is specialised for its fresh seafood, however the hot seller would be Rainbow Porridge, which is a mixed of chicken, meat and seafood. Normally, this type of dish is presented for breakfast, but not is the case in this restaurant. One bowl of porridge can be shared for four people. While enjoying the porridge, better order a famous Chinese snack, or locally known as ‘Cakwe’. The taste will complete one another.

While Warung Laota serves porridge as a main dish at midnight, Pelangi Bali Restaurant has it in a normal breakfast-style. Nestled in the main road of Jalan Dewi Sri – Kuta, this place is a pleasant family-style Chinese eatery enlivened by a mix of conventional Chinese tradition with a hip, having a modern influence. Serving the most delightful customary Cantonese-style Chinese cuisines, you will discover a huge selection of Chinese food. Their dim sum comes in a variety types, from dumplings to Chicken Feet, while the list of option in a la carte menu is endless. Their signature dish is Chicken Golden Sands; soft and juicy chicken roasted covered with a crunchy pan-fried garlic and onion.

Heading a little bit north in Ubud, the recently established Golden Monkey Chinese restaurant serves a large selection of classic Cantonese favourites at reasonable prices. Located in downtown Ubud, the team of speciality chefs takes pride in creating some of the island’s tastiest Chinese food using only the freshest quality ingredients. The Peking Duck is one of the signature of the restaurant. The ducks are carefully and meticulously arranged to give you an incredibly delightful taste and crunch. The smell teases your taste buds when your fingers touch its firm skin to set up the hotcakes before you close your eyes and nibble into that very fulfilling, tremendously anticipated the first chomp. Relish its taste, its succulent delicacy, the flavors and burst of freshness from the fixings.

If you are a great fan of Chinese food, you would agree that consuming this type of dish is not only to satisfy hunger, but also to engage the mind and provoke the intellect.

This article is also published at NOW! Bali Magazine
 

Eat Like the Locals

Every place is characterized by its local eateries. Giving a quick overview of the people and their unique way of living, these eateries represent the culture, art, lifestyle and tradition of a place. Filled with different merchandise, artwork and food items, it seems like a miniature country portraying the true colour of its motherland. This is Bali local food!

Denpasar Traditional Market

Denpasar’s charm lies in the marvellous way in which it retains such a strong hold on its cultural heritage and the ethnicities of the Balinese people, flawlessly combining the new with the old. For those who yearn to explore and have an insatiable thirst to deep-dive and learn new culture, a visit to Denpasar traditional market is the perfect doorway to authentic Indonesian lifestyle.

Badung Traditional Market in Denpasar strongly depicts Balinese culture and traditions by beautifully encapsulating Balinese lifestyle in all its shops. This market invites you with street carts, busy food stalls and people selling snacks right off the back of their motorbikes. Exotic and enticing in its own way, the market atmosphere draws in locals by the hundreds, ready to examine through a stockpile of market goods for a fraction of their retail price.

Currently relocated to Jalan Cokroaminoto after a major fire incident, Badung Traditional Market is the centre of town’s economics. Despite being a little dull from the outside, this complex remains a strong driving force for the Balinese economy with transactions and sales happening around the clock. The local people who go for shopping at this market are not only from environment of Denpasar community but also from other places. Badung Traditional Market is operating for 24 hours, divided by 2 shifts start at 5 in the morning and 5 in the evening.

This enormous shopping place consists of a large main building that houses stalls and shops of all varieties, including hardware, slow-moving items and daily necessities from clothing, home ware, kitchen utensils and ceremonial goods such as ornamental baskets and incense. It offers a perfect picture of Balinese tools and items that the locals use almost every day. Some have fixed prices, while others can be well negotiated. Outside the building is the 24-hour-open-air market counterpart, where fast-moving items and groceries are sold. You can feast your eyes on colourful tropical fruits and bargain hard. This market becomes quite cramped up before big holidays like Galungan, Kuningan, or Nyepi.

The highlight of Badung Traditional Market is its authentic street food and Balinese style light bites. From the very humble stalls on the side walk to the food stalls on wheels and motorbikes with a gas cooker, the locals have found many diverse ways to serve warm and fresh food that seems to be delivered straight from the street. Most of the food stallers have their own ‘kitchen’ that they can build flexibly next to the diners who sit on plastic stools at makeshift tables.

You will instantly feel the aroma of Balinese spices engulfing you. Lovely satay skewers with rice cakes are charcoaled to the point where the sugars from the marinade caramelizes and gives the perfect crunch. Tipat is a rice cake cooked in woven coconut leaves, a simple stodge filler, served in a thick sweet peanut sauce. Wash it down with Es Kelapa Muda, which is coconut water and flesh on ice. If you really like spicy food, you will love sate lilit (minced meat, grated coconut, coconut milk, lemon juice, shallots and chili pepper), combo wound around a bamboo, sugar cane or lemongrass stick, and grilled on charcoal or even the Sambal Matah (a chili salsa condiment that you put over grilled fish, chicken or rice). The suckling pig is definitely a must try. It is a unique dish roasted on whole over fire, stuffed with onions, garlic, ginger, galangal, turmeric, lemongrass, shallots and chilies. A very common dish that you will find in most of small food stalls is different types of Lawar, like Pork, Jackfruit and Dragonfly Lawar, which is a mix of vegetables, coconut and minced meat drowned in rich herbs and spices. Nasi Campur is Bali’s signature dish but when you order it from local eateries, the chili they put on the side or on top is ridiculously spicy, which gives you the kick of real street food.

The street food in Badung Traditional Market attracts thousands of locals and tourists every day. Simple dishes with complex flavourings is what makes these food items so irresistible, living up to the true definition of street food.

Jimbaran Fish Market

Though many of the popular dishes consists of pork, beef and duck, but fish is something which is a part of the staple diet. Located in Kedonganan village, Jimbaran, Kedonganan Fish Market is a treat for fish lovers. Very popular for its fresh and big catch, this place provides an amazingly long array of fishes to choose from. It is Bali’s main seaside marketplace where fishing boats land daily and haul off their fresh catches, making this place full of fresh catch of unending varieties. Bustling with both tourists and locals, this fish market is one of the hottest culinary destinations in Bali.

Operate daily from 5 AM until 10 PM, this market is visited by people from every segment. Located close to the coastline, the mornings are usually busy with fishermen hauling their boats and dropping off their fresh catch. The fisherman uses large, motorized boat with huge purse shaped seines. They normally depart late in the afternoon and arrive just before dawn to sell their catch to the wholesalers at the Kedonganan Fish Market. The catch is well iced to maintain its freshness and taste.

To enter this fish market, you need to pay Rp 1,000 for motorcycles and Rp 2,000 for cars. You will find stalls laid cleanly all around with small compartments to categorize the different catch. You can also find few fishermen who lay out their catch on the coast itself and few local vendors who sell fish on the move. The characteristic feature of this traditional market is its semi-permanent shops made from wood. Interestingly, the main concept of this fish market is its proximity to the coasts and umpteen restaurants serving the fresh fish there and then. There is no time spent on transporting the fish to the markets, resulting in extremely fresh and high quality fish being sold.

If you are a seafood lover, be amazed to find varieties of fish like shrimp, squid, crab, lobster, tuna, scallops, crabs, oysters, octopus, and chunks of fish eggs. Amazingly, they all cleaned and neatly arranged.  Normally, the fish prices start from Rp 30,000 per kilogram, and more for rarer catches. The prices go up slightly during the rainy season as the catch reduces, as well as during holiday seasons. Bargaining is recommended, and if you are lucky enough you can end up negotiating at some real low price. For your personal note, the fish sellers are pretty warm and friendly. They tend to give a generous discount for anyone buying in bulk.

The ambience is lively, owing to a lot of restaurants and grill houses operating in the vicinity. The place is teeming with tourists more in the evening when they come to choose their catch and take it to a restaurant to get prepared. You can either take your catch home and cook your friends and family a delicious fish supper, or you could even get it cooked on the spot. The restaurants are located along the beaches, providing a beautiful view of the oceans along with mouth-watering dishes to enjoy. These restaurants are operational from breakfast time until the wee hours of the morning. These local restaurants have a rustic air about them and are the perfect place to taste authentic Balinese food cooked in the most customary way. A lot of restaurants even allow you to take your catch to the chef and request them to prepare it for you. Of course, you do have to pay a little extra for this. The best part is that if you want to throw a beach party, you can simply request the chef to cook your choice of fish in your way and have a fun evening with a unique fish dining experience. Kedonganan fish market offers such flavoursome and scrumptious rendezvous.

Kuta’s Street Food

Kuta is a very popular tourist spot. Famous for a lot of posh hotels, resorts and restaurants, the area might seem a little commercialized. However, if you crave to eat an authentic Balinese local food, there’s a place to be considered in the heart of Kuta.

Located in Jalan Patih Jelantik, this place acts like a magnet for drawing people who are crazy about pork and want to have it in the rustic, local way. Pork satay under the tree or locally known as “Sate Babi Bawah Pohon”, speaks for itself. The dining spot is in a tent, right under a giant tree in the parking lot of the public sport Gelora Tri Sakti facilities. To reach there, once you are in Legian street, you can ask around and follow the trail of heavenly scent of barbecued meat.

Rp 30,000 is what it takes for you to enjoy 10 sticks of satay complete with Indonesian rice cake called ‘Lontong’ or better known as steamed ketupat rice-cake cubes. You might be searching for peanut sauce or sweet soy sauce to go with the satay, but surprisingly, you will find a pinch of salt with green chilies served on the side. You just need to trust the local chefs, grab one of the skewers and use the succulent barbecued meat on it to crush the chili on top of the salt. If necessary, tap it a bit on the edge of your plate to get rid of the salt before you go for the first bite. The meat is fresh, tender and juicy. It has an amazing crunchy texture on the skin. The taste of the spices and the pork blended together post grilling on charcoal is so tempting and exotic. It is sweet, sharp, a little bit hot and smoky. The mishmash of the sweet and spicy barbecue marinade together with that boost of saltiness and heat from the chili salt just bombs your food pallet in the right places. There is no doubt that you would go in for a second order or even a third, since there is nothing to worry about a dent in your pocket.

This satay opens daily from 10 AM until everything gets sold around noon. It is better to go early in the morning to avoid long queues. For personal note, it is a little difficult to find a table and chair. You might need to stand and enjoy your pork the local way. Do not get fooled by its humble location and eating spot. Sometimes people wait in queues for more than 1 hour just to taste this succulent, yummy pork. Such is the craze and popularity of this dish. It has been loved by all, and labelled Bali’s gourmet bliss!

Sanur Night Market

Sanur is Bali’s oldest upscale resort area and a mature beach-side town. Despite the abundance of resorts and restaurants around this place, Sanur offers a tranquil and soothing charm. It stretches for about 5 kilometres along an east-facing coastline, with the lush and green landscaped grounds of resorts fronting right on to the sandy beach. The beach is thin and protected by a reef and breakwaters, so families appreciate the limpid waves.

To blend with the locals and for the better understanding of how they live, a visit to Sanur Night Market can be included in your itinerary. Located near Sindhu Beach, the market is amongst the cheapest spots that a tourist can find themselves at. Groceries aren’t as overpriced as it is the case with some other spots that have purposely been established to extort the foreign tourists. Sanur Market ideally operates throughout the day with the mornings being dedicated to the selling of groceries, fresh vegetables, dried fish, pungent spices and various household goods. Slightly after midday, departments shift from grocery stalls to food stalls, and the market suddenly transforms itself into a place of sensory delights. So, you are free to go according to your fancies and whims. If you are a food lover and want to have it in the local way, the best time to arrive would be after 6 PM.

Recently, Sanur Night Market underwent some serious sorts of refurbishments and resulting into a much more organized affair, thanks to the more space created. The variety of street food available here is mind-blowing, from local food stalls to meals on wheels. You can find any kind of fried and grilled food, including fried rice, fried noodles, satay, range of curries and stir fries. It becomes so difficult for the first timer to choose what they want to try. The best part, everything is raging under Rp 30,000 per item. So, if you are travelling on a budget, this is definitely the right place to be.

Mounds of food are dumped onto squares of waiting brown paper before being neatly wrapped and handed to salivating takeaway customers. Most of the visitors park their motorbikes and dash in for a takeaway, while the others don’t mind standing in front of the stalls and waiting for the delicacies to be cooked right in front of them. You might not find chairs and tables as per a common seating arrangement, but frankly, who cares! Don’t be surprised to find heaps of foreigners in and around the food stalls and look very excited to try Indonesian food. Worry not about the language barrier as the stallers speak English quite enough to understand what you want to order. In case they don’t, you can still communicate using the language of food by pointing at the items that you want. One secret of the market is for one to understand the balance between the sweetness and the spiciness of the foods.

As you walk and dance around sampling the sweet and spicy intersections wherever they meet, you will be amazed to see live coals in the stalls where meat is charred and grilled to perfection. It is fascinating to watch the chefs cook with their varieties of tossing, flipping, sautéing and sprinkling exquisite Indonesian spices. Some of the food stalls serve plates of ready-to-go food items behind glass, and you can choose what you want to go with rice. Some of the favourites are Perkedel Jagung (corn fritters), Terong Pedas (spicy eggplant), Tempe (soy bean cake), and Balinese style mixed vegetables. You can also find Lawar (coconut and vegetable dish with bits of crunchy pork), Bakso (Indonesian soup with meatballs), different versions of chicken, beef, lamb and fish. Fried pancakes and egg rolls are some of the other foods prepared in different ways.

If you are not sure what to have for dinner, you can go for a Lamb or Chicken Satay with a delicious sweet soy sauce and Lontong (sticky rice), or do try the savoury Martabak, which is a cross between a thin pancake and a thin omelette, stuffed with a slightly spicy filling that usually includes garlic, minced meat, egg and onion. It comes with fresh, birds eye chilies, sweet chili sauce and cucumber slices on the side. For dessert, you could buy a sweet Martabak with a filling of condensed milk, nuts and chocolate. But if you want to go for something light yet yummy, try a fresh tropical fruit salad of papaya, banana and pineapple, or perhaps a Durian Ice Cream. For only under Rp 100,000 you can have all of this. It is a free delicacy.

Sanur Night Market is an amusing break from eating at high-end restaurants. While gorging on street food, you do not compromise anything on taste and quality. But surprisingly, you get to enjoy unimaginable varieties of food at immensely reasonable rates that you actually go high on food. The charm of standing in front of the stalls, ordering over the counter, interacting with the friendly locals who treat you as people rather than ‘Tourists’ and watching your food getting cooked right in front of you is an amazing experience. Away from the posh and luxury, the street food at Sanur Night Market gives you every reason to devour and indulge into true Indonesian food without feeling guilty about emptying your pockets.

This article is also published at NOW! Bali Magazine
 

An epic experience at Universal Studio Singapore

Universal Studios Singapore is a hot destination for families, group of friends, couples, or school-college trips. It is a destination for anyone who is looking forward to enter a whole new world and spend a day filled with adventure and excitement. The first and only Universal Studio theme park in Southeast Asia set up in the stunning Sentosa Island. It is meticulously designed to give you the best theme park experience in the world.

Universal Studios Singapore is categorically split into 7 major theme parks. Step onto “Hollywood Boulevard” framed by dynamic architecture, palm trees and the famous Walk of Fame, you will feel as if you have landed in the center of the entertainment universe. One inside “New York”, feel the spirit and energy of America’s biggest and grandest city as you stroll along the sidewalks and enjoy all the classic landmarks. Soak in the impressive city skylines, neon lights, and facades that set the scenes for big city fun and real-time movie production. For the science-freaks, the city of the future has arrived. Walk into “Sci-Fi-City” and experience the ultimate intergalactic battle of Good versus Evil, and visit a vibrant metropolis with all the ultimate modern conveniences. If you have always wished to explore the mysteries and legends of Egypt, then “Ancient Egypt” is definitely the place to be explored. Ancient pyramids and obelisks stand fast against the sands of time as you are transported to 1930’s Egypt, the Golden Age of Egyptian Exploration. Travel to an era when entire Pharaohs tombs were discovered, and their terrible curses unleashed. If you are a big fan of Steven Spielberg and his Jurassic Park movies, then the “Lost World” is your place. Divided into two themed areas, “Jurassic Park” and “WaterWorld”, this zone is for fans of the two blockbuster movies, as they can experience a dense tropical forest where dinosaurs lurk, then watch death defying stunts filled with thrills and spills. Especially designed for children “Far Far Away” the kids are exported to a world of talking movie stars, donkeys and other fairy tale animals. “Madagascar” which is based on the hit DreamWorks Animation film, brings you to a dense tropical jungle, filled with strange and wonderful animals like lemurs and foosas. Junior Roller Coaster rides, Ferris Wheel, Live Donkey Shows, 4-D Shrek movies, Beach Party Carousel, Boat-Rides ensures your kids are thoroughly entertained.

You may also want to explore the world beyond the screen and Ride the Movies by experiencing cutting-edge rides, shows, and attractions based on your favourite blockbuster films and television series like Puss in Boots, Giant Journey, Battlestar Galactica, Transformers The Ride, Jurassic Park Rapids Adventure, Sesame Street Spaghetti Space Chase, and much more.

On special events like Halloween, Christmas, or New Year, a lot of rides and movies are upgraded to match the festive season and get you into the mood. You can be a part of these fun parties and enjoy till you drop in the Universal Studios experience.

Ghostwriter – Copywriter – Scriptwriter

True Beauty in the Eyes of North Bali Nature

“He who has stopped travelling, has stopped living.” I guess that quote really stands up when it comes to exploring Bali. It is almost impossible to get bored and feel monotonous living in Bali. For the true explorers who are on the continuous quest for new discoveries, this island is an ideal place to satiate that hunger. Waterfalls, beach, crater lakes, paddy fields, vineyards, North Bali gives you no chance to complaint. Being the greenest area of Bali, North Bali also provides a diverse set of tourist spots to explore.

Where to go

For all those who cannot resist of going to the ocean, Lovina Beach is the only destination in the North Bali. Characterised by calm waves and side-lined by coconut trees, it is visited by all those who crave for relaxation. Lovina is sun-drenched, with patches of shade from palm trees. The tourist area stretches over 8 kilometres, and consists of a string of coastal villages – Kaliasem, Kalibukbuk, Anturan and Tukad Mungga – collectively known as Lovina. A short drive from the black sand beach of Lovina, those who are keen into architecture can visit The Royal Palace of Singaraja, which depicting royal grandeur and majestic European buildings.

If you need to pacify your soul, Pura Ponjok Batu can be an alternative. Meaning Stone Cape, this ancient, spiritual place owes its uniqueness to a rock promontory, which from the crevices of rocks grows frangipani trees and shrubs that grows artistically. This Hindu temple is used for praying to Ida Sang Hyang Widhi. For Buddhist, praying at the Brahma Vihara Arama is a must. Located at Tegehe Village, this biggest Buddhist temple in Bali rises majestically overlooking Lovina Beach with lush green hill as a background. Painted with colorful decorations, this place is also a perfect place for relaxation while admiring the beautiful buildings and surroundings.

Soaking in the healing waters of a natural hot spring is the most effective way to relax in nature, and a quick visit to one of the island’s most popular hot springs can be a solution. Located in the Banjar Village, with lush, jungle-clad slopes surrounding the sacred area, Banjar Hot Spring consists of hot ponds filled with warm water. The sulphuric water, which believed to cure skin diseases, spills from the mouths of some stone-carved mythical dragon into three pools at a tempting temperature of 37 degrees Celsius. The presence of brimstones in the water lends the healing property for various skin diseases, which explain why the place is known as the “Magical waters of Bali”.

One of the most famous waterfalls of north Bali is Gitgit Waterfall. Located in the plateau area with the height about 35 metres, the waterfall is surrounded by tropical trees with some plantations protecting the rain forest around it.

The forest lovers will be treated well at the Lemukih village, which lies in the northern slope of the island at an altitude of 638 metres above sea level. It is dotted by gorgeous rice paddies, coffee and fruit plantations, making it ideal for those who want to stroll around and explore deeper into Balinese lifestyle. Encircled by green forests and mountains, Lemukih provides a rather picturesque view. The dense tropical rain-forests are a perfect spot for trekking. It is characterised by 3 beautiful, gushing waterfalls which start at different heights. The water is cool and clean and pours out from the greenery above. The pounding sound of water falling and splashing creates a much desired tranquillity all around.

The wine lovers can enjoy the North Bali by visiting the vineyard of Hatten Wines. Situated between the towns of Seririt and Pemuteran, this place offers wine tasting and exploring experience. The Hatten Wines winery is a modern state of the art facility, bottling over 50000 bottles of wine each day. Like most places, Bali also has its own cultural drink called Tuak, universally known as palm wine. It is a milky fermented alcohol made from the sap of palm trees. It has a sour taste, and a strong burn as you swallow. It is available for purchase in some restaurants and shops and should be tried by every wine lover to know the rustic flavour of Bali.

What to do

Apart from the terrific sceneries to gape at, North Bali provides loads of activities to indulge in. The Kalimudah canyon is the next best thing for sporting Canyoning destination. In this activity, you will come across two different sections. The first section is a sequence of water slides, jumps and short rappels with glorious gorges made of volcanic rock, sulphurate water basin that come out from the underground. The second part is sportier, including swimming, floating, enchanting rappel descents along the waterfall and jumps up to 10 metres high.

Another rewarding activity is undoubtedly dolphin watching at Lovina. There is a certain ecstasy to waking up at sunrise, walking to the beach, finding a local boatman and embarking on an adventure. In no time the dolphins appear in pods of ten to literally hundreds. Some mornings, they even put on a full dolphin show with backflips, massive jumps and sometimes even tail-walking.

For trekking lovers, North Bali provides more than enough jungle treks. Trekking at Lemukih Village is a rare and unique opportunity to experience the traditional culture and the beautiful nature. You can trek all the way to temples, rice paddies, coffee and fruit plantations. If you want to burn more energies, follow a track with stone steps that winds down for about 90 meters to the waterfalls of Leimukh through jungles and rivers. If that’s still not enough and you feel like experiencing more of the wild rainforest, the beautifully crafted nests of Bali’s central highlands will make the trek to Lake Buyan and Lake Tamblingan memorable. Covered by fog most of the times, the two crater lakes are located within the caldera of extinct Bedugul volcano. You can also set a camp near the lakes.

Trekking along the vineyard can also be a part of your itinerary, and therefore a visit to Welcome Center & Observation Deck of Hatten Wines vineyards is an option. The Alphonse Lavallee grapes is grown locally in most Balinese vineyards, producing very tasty wine. Your trip will start with a quick walking tour of the vineyard. The tour will include a lesson in wine making, grape picking, and a visit at Hatten Wine’s laboratory. Finally, the activity you have been waiting for… wine tasting!

The magnificence of North Bali is just endless and gets even better with more exploration. With adrenaline pumping activities to lazing around in beach and strolling across paddy fields, this northern part of the island leaves no stone unturned to satisfy every ounce of your soul. A perfect region to distress one’s mind and body, North Bali truly captivates the heart and soul.

This article is also published at NOW! Bali Magazine
 

Ghostwriter – Copywriter – Scriptwriter