Category

culture

Phnom Penh – Pear of the Asia

Phnom Penh didn’t start life as a main defrayal until behind the Angkor time in which Angkor Wat plus the nearby cities grown to fame. King Ponhea Yat in the mid of 15th century escaped a Siamese attack in Angkor and established in a piece of what is nowadays Phnom Penh, ascertaining a palace.

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A week long fun at Visakhapatnam

However, there are countless tourism places in India. One may find cities of Historical forts, temples, battle fields, beaches, hills, caves, etc, yet there are cities like Visakhapatnam where one may find plane, hills, ocean and historical temples in a single city, even caves are nearby.

Varahlakshminarsimha templeVisakhapatnam is well connected with national capital Delhi, City of joy “Kolkata”, IT hub Bangalore, Hyderabad and Chennai. One may travel by train to enjoy multiple days journey or may reach by air within two hours. I spent one week with my family there. AC Hotels are available from Rupees one thousand onward for double bedroom. We reached there in the morning and stayed at Hotel Krishna near railway station. In the evening, we hired an auto and started sightseeing from religious places. That evening we spent in Varahlakshminarsimha temple and Rose hill church. Autos are available from Rupees three hundred onward for this trip.

Deity Darshan Next day, again we hired the auto for day long trip in Rupees twelve hundred. We started the day with Deity Darshan at Simhachalam temple which is around ten kilometer from railway station. Then we went to Film City. The road is adjacent to sea and it’s nice to see the film shootings on the way. The film city has a film museum which includes all the film making equipment there. This film city, located on Bheemli Beach Road, is built on the top of Rishikonda hills serves an enticing bird’s eye view of the Bay of Bengal. Dr. D. Ramanaidu, the owner of this film studio, was conferred with Dadasaheb Phalke Award in the year 2010. He is highly respected for his contribution to the Indian Cinema. His name is in the Guinness Book of World Record for producing films in maximum number of regional languages. On 18th February 2015 at the age of 78 this genius passed away after a prolonged illness.

Rishikonda BeachNext stoppage was at Rishikonda Beach. As always, we enjoyed the coconut water and local shopping. The calm blue water of this beach is a sight to sore eyes, and you can indulge in some quiet, peaceful time with friends and family here. You can take a walk along the stretch of the sand, and the sunrise and sunset are especially beautiful here. Then, Zoo is also there at walk-able distance. It was great pleasure for children. Next, we went up the hill to visit VUDA park at Kailashgiri. There we had good food for lunch and toy train riding. It is also a best place for children. Kailasagiri is a hill top park. The hill is at 360 feet and it overlooks beaches, forests & the city. It is one of the best tourist spots in the city for a bird’s eye view of the bay. The Kailasagiri Park is well known for its panoramic view, peaceful atmosphere and its scenic beauty.

Vishakha MuseumThen we headed towards Vishakha Museum. This route is well connected to city’s most popular beach “Ramakrishna or R K beach” where Kursura sub-marine museum, Kali temple and Matshyadarshini aquarium are located. Kursura sub-marine was isolated by Indian Navy years back and now turned into museum at sea beach. If you are in this city, stop to witness the only Submarine Museum in the entire of Asia. Matshyadarshini aquarium is just a fish collection where we have seen variety of fish live. The Aquarium has many marine varieties including the long horn cow fish, butterfly fishes, surgeon major, peacock wrasse, the lion fish, stone fish, red squirrel fish, perch dusky, trigger fish, clown fish, damsels, sweet lip rabbit fish, angels, electric ray, porcupine fish and many more.

It was 9 pm, almost 12 hours journey with lot of fun so we came back to our hotel.

Author: Prakash Vir Sharma

Email: prakash2484@gmail.com

Prakash Vir Sharma

Quick Stop at Bangkok

This trip gave me a face of Thailand that perhaps only few have seen. I met some local people and had a sight into rural life. I found that Thai people are very down to earth, kind, and actually wants to give everyone insight into real Thai culture.

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Uganda – The Pearl of Africa

Uganda is a landlocked country with a diverse landscape that encompasses the immense Lake Victoria and spreads all the way to Mt. Ruwenzori.  It is one of the few countries in Africa and by extension in the world with a wide range of wildlife to admire, most of which are rare species. But what really is it that makes the Pearl of Africa eccentric?

If Uganda is your destination, be ready to experience real adventure. Starting with the cool environment itself, going to the wildlife and other natural features, and flowering it all with Uganda’s cuisine. Many people have always wished they had planned to stay longer, while others planning for revisits. Some of the highlights of the country include the endangered tree-climbing lions and mountain gorillas. Other activities to enjoy are rafting on Lake Victoria, the source of the great Nile River, adventure in the mystical villages that are hidden in the mist and volcanoes among others. The question is, “what are the best places to visit in Uganda?”

Top Places to Visit near Kampala/Entebbe

Being the capital city of Uganda, it is most likely that your first landing in Uganda will be in Kampala if not Entebbe. Kampala has very interesting neighborhoods which include the Mabamba Swamp that is well decked with shoebill storks among other water birds. There is also the wildlife-rich Mabira Rainforest, Lake Mburo as well as Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary and the Ssezibwa Falls, just to mention but a few. You will surely not lack something to admire adventure, do or experience in Kampala and its surroundings.

The Tree Climbing Lions & Chimpanzees

On the western side of Uganda lies Queen Elizabeth National Park, Uganda’s most visited game reserved. The intricate wildlife found in the game is a reason for its popularity with the tree climbing lions attracting the highest number of visitors. These are lions that are very rare in other countries but quite many in this park. Meanwhile, Chimpanzees are other rare species in the world and for those who want to have an experience with them; Kibale National park is the place to go.

Gorillas in the Mist

It seems that Uganda is a home to primates as can be seen from how abundant endangered primate species are all over the country. Other than the chimpanzees, endangered mountain gorillas can be seen in the country. With a rough estimate of about 700 mountain gorillas remaining in the world, they can only be found in Uganda, DR Congo, and Rwanda. A visit to Mgahinga Gorilla National Park or the more popular Bwindi Impenetrable National Park will give you an ecstatic experience with the mountain gorillas. Almost half of the world’s remaining mountain gorillas are found in Bwindi.

Rafting

Jinja is a town anyone would consider the “armpits” of Uganda due to its vast industries and other economic activities that have made this side of the Pearl of Africa to be a buzz. It is also well-known for the river Nile. The town is the source of the Nile River as this is where Lake Victoria lets its water out into the Nile. If you want to enjoy the best and first-class rafting, then you can’t fail to go to Jinja. With the Nile being verified here as one of the top 5 rivers, you will be offered with the best water rafting experiences indeed.

The Switzerland of Africa

Journey southwest from Kampala to a little town called Kisoro to experience some beautiful landscapes which include lakes, cultivated terraces, bamboo forests, a tropical rainforest, hills, and mountains. The most important thing you need when touring Uganda is an open mind as the country has very bad roads. You should, therefore, expect to be taken through shortcuts.

Ugandan Cuisine

There can never be a fan without food. As someone said that there is no love sincerity that supersedes the love for food, Uganda is an eating country. I say that Uganda is an eating country because of how readily available food is. In comparison with most countries where snacks are hawked in public transport vehicles, in Uganda, “five-course” meals are served.

The cuisine consists of modern as well as traditional dishes and cooking styles as well as practices. The cuisine features Asian, Arab and English influences thus variant in complexities ranging from the very basic roasted banana all the way to starchy filler in a sauce of meat or legumes. Since Uganda is a multi-tribe country, you expect a wide range of staples throughout the country with the main dish being the banana stew locally known as Matoke. Others are yams, arrow roots, vegetables, potatoes, tropical fruits, chicken and fresh fish.

An interesting unique dish commonly found in the Northern Uganda is vegetable stew in sesame or peanut sauce. This is taken with Kuon (Ugali-in Swahili), which is a carefully prepared bread-like food from maize, millet, sorghum or/and cassava flour. In Uganda, there are 101 ways of cooking bananas so come prepared to taste something unique you had never imagined you would ever taste.

Conclusion

There is a reason why Uganda was called the Pearl of Africa during its independence. The country is rich in resources and culture. In fact, the entire Africa has been condensed in this tiny east African country. It is very unlikely that there is something in Africa which misses in Uganda. This should be your next destination.

Best Dubai Vacation

“People don’t take Trips. Trips take People”. That is exactly what this desert city does to you. If you can think of a desert which has transformed itself marvellously and effortlessly into a place the world could never have dreamt of, it has to be Dubai. At first, Dubai appears like a vast expanse of desert broken only by huge hills. A second later you scramble to readjust your vision, as a glass and steel metropolis unfolds itself like a shimmering mirage in the Arabian Desert. For most of us the UAE is synonymous to Dubai, the sci-fi-esque city of iconic skyscrapers, palm-shaped islands, city-sized malls, indoor ski slopes and palatial beach resorts. An ideal place to vacation with your family as it provides all types of entertainment you are seeking.  The city remains architecturally and geographically unparalleled. Modernity and antiquity collide into this vibrant city. This is the best Dubai vacation.

If you are planning to spend a few days in Dubai be ready to visit a lot of places. Get your itinerary straight so that you can have a planned and hassle-free sight-seeing experience. The first day in Dubai, make sure to go for the Desert Safari. It will be the best part of this trip as it includes the best of Dubai. From dune bashing in the deserts to camel rides, trying out Arabian clothes, sipping on Arabic coffee, devouring Arabic dates, enjoying the famous Shisha (flavoured hookah), the night ends with a lip-smacking buffet dinner, a mind-blowing Jambura dance and a scintillating belly dance performance.

The next morning you can visit the Dubai’s landmark building, Burj Khalifa, which is at 829.8 meters and the tallest building in the world. For most visitors, a trip to the observation deck on the 124th floor here is a must-do while in the city. The views across the city skyline from this bird’s-eye perspective are just overwhelming. The 360-degree views out across the skyscrapers to the desert on one side and the ocean on the other. You could go either at sunrise or sunset to witness the various avatars of Dubai city while in light or in darkness with lights glittering the city all over. You should also visit the Burj Al-Arab, the world’s tallest hotel, standing 321 meters high on its own artificial island on the Dubai coastline. For those without unlimited credit, you can opt for dinner at the underwater Al-Mahara restaurant, which allows you to view sea life while you eat delicious Californian food.

For the remaining vacation days, it is best recommended to enrol into a hop on hop off bus tour like City Sightseeing, Big Bus and many local bus services. This way you get to see a lot of places without paying for cabs. Start your day by visiting the famous Jumeirah Mosque which is the most beautiful mosques in Dubai and a fine example of Islamic architecture. This stone structure is built in the medieval Fatimid tradition. A program consists of tours, lectures, Arabic classes, and cultural meals to extend better understanding of Muslim faith.

Plan a day to visit places like The Dubai Mall which is the city’s premier mall and provides entry to the Burj Khalifa as well as the Dubai Aquarium. The Dubai Aquarium houses 140 species of sea life in the huge suspended tank on the ground floor of the Dubai Mall. You can walk through the aquarium tunnels.at the Underwater Zoo. Different activities help you get a closer look at the sea life. Glass bottom boat tours are particularly popular. Cage snorkelling and shark diving activities are also on offer. There is also an ice-skating rink, gaming zone and cinema complex. But the main attraction here is The Dancing Dubai Fountain Show. It is a synchronized water movement that is brilliantly choreographed to a wonderful musical soundtrack and goes 500 feet above.

For history fanatics, the Dubai Fort is a must-watch. The fort’s walls are built out of traditional coral-blocks and held together with lime and the courtyard is home to several traditional boats and a palm-leaf house with an Emirati wind-tower.

Walk down the narrow lanes of Bastakia (Old Dubai), highly reminiscent of a bygone, and much slower, age in Dubai’s history. Bastakia occupies the eastern portion of Bur Dubai along the creek, and the coral and limestone buildings here, many with walls topped with wind-towers, have been excellently preserved. The Dubai’s architectural, cultural, and maritime heritage is showcased at the Heritage and Diving Village, with displays related to pearl diving and dhow building, two of old Dubai’s historic economic mainstays. Dubai Creek separates the city into two towns with Deira to the north and Bur Dubai to the south. Boat tours and ship cruises on the creek gives a spectacular waterline view of Dubai.

For the shopaholics, the Deira lies on the northern bank of Dubai Creek. Deira is most famous for its traditional souks (markets), which bustle with shoppers at all times of the day. Deira Gold Souk is world-renowned as the largest gold bazaar in the world. The Deira Spice Souk sells every imaginable spice like paprika, saffron, sumac, thyme and much more.

Take your family to the awesome Dubai beaches and amusement parks. Jumeirah Beach is a strip of sandy white bliss and the number one beach destination for Dubai visitors. Hotels are strung out all along its length, with this being one of the most popular places to stay for tourists. The beach has excellent facilities, with plenty of sun loungers, restaurants, and water-sport operators offering jet skiing. South of Jumeirah beach is the Kite beach. It is renowned as Dubai’s premier destination for kite surfers and is home to an array of water sports operators.

While IMG World of adventure is about Marvel cartoon characters and rides, Wild Wadi and Aquaventure waterpark at the Palm Atlantis is all about adrenaline-rushing water rides. Bollywood Parks brings the world of India’s famous movie industry alive on its rides, and Legoland Dubai provides younger visitors with a fun-packed day out on its interactive rides. So, you have a whole lot of places to give your kids the best time of their lives.

For staying in Dubai, hotel prices start from 350 AED with a breakfast menu. The tickets to waterparks, amusement parks tickets cost 300 AED approx. Burj Khalifa and Burj Al Arab tickets start from around 130 to 500 AED. You will find very good restaurants in Dubai but the rates are on the higher side. So, it is best advised to plan a detailed itinerary according to your budget and stick to it.

Dubai is one of the most popular destinations in the world for holidays and tours and there are millions of travellers visiting the city every year. Shopping festivals, culinary delights, loads of adventure and much more is all entitled on your Dubai vacation. Whether you are visiting with family or friends, a vacation in Dubai will make you want to travel here again. Plan your next trip to this destination and revel in the marvellous man-made wonderstruck city Dubai.

Learning Balinese Dance at Tender Age

Dance is the most beautiful form of expressing yourself. It brings out the best in you and sets you free. It is an art well-practiced and appreciated around the globe. Balinese dance is one such enticing dance form. Popular all over the world for its elegance and colourful nature, this dance form is very unique, dynamic and highly stylized. A dancer must be able to move every part of their body, from head to toe, and for that reason, Balinese dance is easy to pick up at a tender age.

Apart from its uniqueness, Balinese dance is also closely connected to religious rituals. Dances are often performed at ceremonies, typically as part of dramas, and most involve the Balinese version of the Hindu Ramayana epic. Traditional Balinese dance forms are passed on to boys and girls at a very young age, and training is often rigorous and disciplined. So, it is advisable to impart Balinese dancing coaching at a young age so that kids learn this art form with finesse and grow deeply connected with it.

There are places in Bali to get your kids enrolled for Balinese dance class. In an introduction session, normally the experienced teachers gently guide the kids to take their first Balinese dance steps. The integration of body movements, hand and facial gestures is what makes this dance so appealing to watch. The teachers also explain the meanings behind the individual postures and gestures that comprise the basics of the dance. It is a wonderful way to expand the kid’s knowledge of the Bali-Hindu culture while at the same time enjoying and having fun.

Some resorts in Bali host dance demonstration classes for kids. In Jimbaran, Ayana Resort and Spa is conducted a class in the open air viewing the ocean wide. The kids are expected to get the basics lesson of Pendet Dance. It is originally a dance of worship which was exhibited at many temples. This dance symbolises the welcoming of the gods fall into the natural world. The dance is a lot about the varied facial expressions and symbolized the purity of the soul. Fresh flowers are handed to the kids while teaching, to invoke the true devotion of the almighty. Classes are conducted for an hour every day. The timings and fees varies according to the batch size.

Still in the same location, Balinese dance workshop is also available at Ganesha Cultural Centre of Four Seasons Jimbaran every Monday and Wednesday from 3PM to 4PM. Your little ones will get traditional dance lesson almost as soon as they can walk. At first, they can observe the impressive skills of children from Jimbaran village, and if they fancy trying it, they can join in. This class is free of charge for staying guests, and a small fee will apply for public. At Ganesha Cultural Centre, your kids will get the opportunity to personally meet and learn from Bali’s talented artists, who are hand-picked and invited to share their knowledge and skills. This programme represents the evolution of Ganesha Gallery as an independent fine art gallery. This art space has been refurbished to create an inspiring place for people and artists to connect and interact.

Not far from Jimbaran, Nusa Dua Beach Hotel & Spa conducts Balinese dance classes every Friday from 10AM to 11AM at Lagoon Pool Bale where the highly-experienced staff teaches the kids patiently all the intricacies of Balinese dance forms, giving them a close look of Bali’s cultural and artistic tradition. The Barong dance is loved by kids where they are dressed up as dragons, monsters and other mythical creatures.

In Canggu, Hotel Tugu specialises in teaching kids the basics of Balinese dance before going into specific styles. The class is held every Sunday from 3PM to 4PM and costs IDR 100,000 per session. Local kids from the Canggu neighbourhood can join the class for free. The skilled students will have the chance to perform what they learn in the class on Bale Agung Garuda stage.

Most of the workshops will not ask the kids to bring or wear anything in particular. However, it is recommended to wear lose and comfortable clothes as the postures involve a lot of stretching and turning.  Costumes will be provided to get the real feel of Balinese dance but only after a few classes once they learn the basics. Sometimes the workshop starts with a little presentation of culture, heritage and tradition just to give an overview of the background of the dance forms.

The classes are pretty interactive, making them a fun and quick-learning process. Learning Balinese dance is a special takeaway, and the kids are bound to enjoy thoroughly. As someone rightly said, “There are shortcuts to happiness. Dancing is one of them.”

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
 

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

Take Your Coming Vacation to Nairobi, Kenya

Derived from a native community (Maasai) language “Enkanye Nyorobi,” Nairobi means a place of cool waters. True to its name, the city indeed a cool place. With a cool set up, there are numerous places where someone can visit during holidays in this city. Be sure to enjoy the local cuisine in some of the best restaurants in the region. In terms of accommodation, guesthouses are all over, with different hotels offering bed spaces for visitors.

Nairobi national park is one of the destinations that everyone must stop at. Many wild animals in this park that have been left to naturally interact with nature. You can expect to be face to face with lions, zebras, antelopes, baboons, monkeys among other animals at the park. There are a number of formidable tour guide companies that will always be ready to take you round.

The Nairobi arboretum is yet another place worth paying a visit. If you are a naturalist, this stop is a must. The arboretum is preserving thousands of plant species. This is therefore where you can learn some of the plants you know physically but can’t match them with their names. The cool breeze and calm environment within the arboretum makes it a great place to spend a picnic.

If you want to know more about the history of Kenya, then The Nairobi National Museum should be your next stop. The national museum offers education and leisure tourists an opportunity to learn the rich heritage of Kenya. Opened all days of the year, let your visit not be complete without you making a stop at this site that is located on the western sides of Nairobi referred to as Westlands. The museum houses celebrated collections of Kenya’s contemporary Art, nature, culture as well as history.

Next to Nairobi, you can find the Maasai Mara Game Reserve. A visit to this game reserve would be very prudent indeed. The Maasai Mara Game Reserve is one of the few homes of all the big five animals, namely the African elephant, Cape buffalo, Rhino, African leopard and African Lion. This is just a tip of an iceberg as there are other hundreds and hundreds of species. Almost any animal that can be found in Africa will be found at the Mara. If you visit in July, you will be able to appreciate the great Wildebeest Migration from Serengeti in Tanzania to the Maasai Mara. In October, the Wildebeests migrate back to Serengeti. This is one of the great wonders of the world worth witnessing.

In Upper and Lower Hill regions of Nairobi are the spot where you can discover high rated hotels. These hotels have different ratings, hence different costs of accommodation to suit your pockets and class. Most of these guest houses have swimming pools, gyms for recreation, physical fitness, spas for body massage and general body wellness. Notwithstanding, there are other good hotels and guest rooms scattered all over the city.

And there is no Safari that can be complete without good food being served. In Nairobi, you have the opportunity of enjoying the Kenyan cuisine at its bests. Native vegetables, traditionally prepared are worth your taste. There is also the Ugali, a corn flour product that is the staple food of Kenya. Ugali can be served with any stew, mainly for lunch or dinner. Other foods include fish, beef, Irish potatoes and beans are prepared in different ways.

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