Sunday 29 July 2018

2018 Bon Odori in Shah Alam

Konnichiwa y'all!!!! Last weekend I attended the annual Bon Odori festival in Kompleks Sukan Negara, Shah Alam. My second time in 2 consecutive years! This time, I brought my friends along with me, took me months to brainwash them. Anyways, since I am cheapo, I opted to take the KTM to the Shah Alam Station then board the free bus chartered specifically for the event. Another reason was because I am aware with events like this, traffic tend to be really bad and I don't really want to spend time stuck on the road!

My friends and I arrived about 5PM, just half-an-hour when the premise was open for visitors. I wanted to spend the evening before dawn exploring the stalls before the crowd swells. The last time I was here it was also too dark to navigate around but this time it appears to be well lighted up.

Was messing around and stuffed all our fans behind my friend Fannie lol

First thing we did after some photos was to look for food! For starters (ceh wah), I recommended this Hokkaido ice cream to my friends. They're RM10 each at the event. I was told the usual price is RM13 for the Yuzu flavor and RM15 for the sea salt flavor, so worth it!

After that, I spotted some squids so decided to get the grilled squid in BBQ sauce. Very yummy!

Jac got us some German sausages.

Then more ice creams serve on thin waffle shaped in squares.

Later that evening, I bought some tempero because I was hungry. These are basically what I managed to get from stalls that didn't have long queues. At some stalls, the line was so long I wasn't in the mood to queue LOL

From this point on, I'll let the photos do the talking.

2018 Bon Odori at Kompleks Sukan Negara Panasonic, Shah Alam

2018 Bon Odori at Kompleks Sukan Negara Panasonic, Shah Alam

at Kompleks Sukan Negara Panasonic

Saturday 14 July 2018

1-Week Bali & the Nusa Islands Itinerary

I come to like writing about these genre, so here is another itinerary from my 2017 Bali & the Nusa Islands vacation! Hopefully with this guide, you get an idea of how to plan for your next travel to Bali. You're welcome.

By the way, I say 'the Nusa Islands' a lot because it's too long to say Nusa Penida, Nusa Lembongan and Nusa Ceningan repetitively in the blog!

As you can see, Nusa Penida's the largest island among the three.


Where to Stay..
.. in Bali

There are no shortage of hotels, villas and hostels in Bali, it seems everyone is doing this business! They do get booked out quickly, so I would definitely recommend you booking online to secure a room and to get the best prices. I have opted mostly hotels with private rooms and even though the rooms are simple, I am quite contented with most of them. I spend most of my time out of the room anyways. 

I do have one problem _ the water! Because of the geography, most of Bali and the Nusa Islands, their main source of water is from the sea so tap water and showers have really strong sea water odor which is really uncomfortable to brush teeth with and it isn't so good on my hair! The good news is, not all hotels I have stayed in have such problem, I don't know what's the difference...

In Sarma Homestay, Kuta.

In Flamingo hotel and the Legian Sunset Residance in Bali. the Nusa Islands

These are the places I stayed in Nusa Penida. I'd definitely recommend Abian House for many reasons, read my Day 3 travelogue for more of that.

Super cute cottage in Bintang Bungalow, Nusa Penida.

This is probably the first and last time I stayed in so many different stays in a single vacation. It was ridiculous and troublesome to say the least! However, it wasn't an option either because of how my itinerary was arranged and the whole island hopping going on..  Well, at least next time I know!

Tip #1: Plan your itinerary to reduce the number of AirBnB bookings and the time needed to check into each hotel.


Getting around Bali

In Bali, you can find taxi drivers and unlicensed ojeks (moped riders offering pillion rides). For the latter, there are even apps such as Uber Ojek and Gojek offering similar services. Because Bali's so commercialized, it is not hard to rent a car or moped (~70kRupiah) for your own use.

I do not have the nicest things to say about taxi drivers and unlicensed ojeks because of some unpleasant experiences with these unruly people who are more than happy to charge foreigners exorbitant fees! In fact, almost all simply threw in 100kRupiah when quoted for a less than 5-minute rides! For the later half of my vacay, I relied mostly on Uber whose rates are much more reasonable ranging from 10kRupiah - 20kRupiah for short trips. Hail Uber! the Nusa Islands

I'm going to include a How-to-get-to-the-Nusa Islands guide here LOL. I took a speedboat ride from Sanur to Nusa Penida. If you are planning to return from the same island, you can purchase the return ticket from the same speedboat operating company for about 450kRupiah. I didn't do that instead, island hopped from Nusa Penida to Nusa Lembongan then heading back which cost me 500KRupiah for the return ticket to Sanur and 70kRupiah to get between the two Nusa Islands.

Table to give you a better picture:-

Sanur ↔ Nusa Penida
Nusa Penida ↔ Nusa Lembongan
Nusa Lembongan ↔ Sanur

As for getting around the Nusa Islands, you can rent moped, at price similar to in Bali, 70kRupiah per day.. I tried asking around and found cars are scarce so renting them is out of question, at least for now. I wouldn't recommend doing the former for reason the road condition in Nusa Penida is horrendous and dangerous for those not use to them! I supposed the Nusa Islands are relatively new to tourism compare to their neighboring archipelago island, Bali and so roads were not made to cater for large traffics. They are working to improve that, according to my host Made which was why they are charging entrance fees to the attractions around the island. 

My suggestion is to go in groups and hire a tour van. If you are going solo, ask your local staff in the hotel. A lot of them are out of their shift by 3PM and offers ojek services for 70kRupiah. Not bad at all but at the end of the ride your bum and thighs will most probably hurt!

Me riding pillion around Nusa Ceningan


Bali & the Nusa Islands 1-Week Itinerary

If you would like to read about my experiences in Bali & the Nusa Islands, you can read about them by clicking the links below. I also include some recommendations of additional activities you can do and places you can go. These were some of the places I wanted to check out but couldn't!

Click on the * link to my daily Bali & the Nusa Islands travelogue

Summary of Places to Go
Day 0
Departure from KLIA2
Arrival at Ngurah Rai International Airport at night
Flamingo Hostel, Kuta
Head to Legian & check into room
Explore Legian & Seminyak by foot
Lunch at Ocha Warung
Explore Arjuna Street
Dinner at Apartment Red
The Legian Sunset Residence
Breakfast at Shelter, Bali
Boat ride from Sanur to Nusa Penida to Dwi Menunggal Harbor
Lunch & Dinner at Bintang Bungalow's cafeteria
Kelingking Beach, Angel Billabong & Broken Beach in Nusa Penida
Bintang Bungalow, Nusa Penida
Morrning hike down & up Peguyangan Waterfall
Lunch at Penida Roadside Warung
Explore Goa Giri PuriCheck into Abian House & short break
Night chatting with host
Explore the nearby seaweed farm and town
Dinner at Warung Dukung
Abian House, Nusa Penida
(Half-day in Nusa Penida)
Take ojek to Atuh Beach and TreehouseLunch at Warung Makan Boga Segara
Rest in room
Take dukung boat ride to Nusa Lembongan
Dinner at Sanghyang Bay
Suba Guesthouse, Mushroom Bay in Nusa Lembongan
Breakfast at The BAR
Morning explore Dream Beach, Sandy Bay & Devil's Tears in Nusa Lembongan 
Lunch at Blackwood Coffee Shop
Gala Gala Underground House and Panorama Road & Beach, Nusa Lembongan
Marvel at Blue Lagoon, Nusa Ceningan
Dinner at Warung Mola Mola
Breakfast at TS Hut
Board boat back from Mushroom Bay to Sanur, Bali
Lunch & dinner at roadside warung
Do nothing evening~!
Sarma Homestay, Kuta
Explore Ubud, Bali
Brunch at Warung Lokal in Ubud Art Market
Continue exploring Ubud
Breakfast at Babi Guling Karya Rebo
Walk at Jimbaran Bay (Best to come at night!)

Shop at Oleh Oleh Krishna
Shopping in Matahari Department Store and along Jalan Pantai, Kuta

Recommended to check out Uluwatu Temple & Tegal Wangi Beach if you have the extra time
Day 9
Departure from Ngurah Rai International Airport to Singapore
Take a tour up Northern Bali to Tanah Lot, La Laguna, Lovina Beach / Yeh Leh Beach
Hiking at Mt Batur or Mt Kintamani
Sanur, Nusa Dua & Jimbaran Bay, Bali
Head to Lombok from Nusa Lembongan
Diving or Snorkelling around Nusa Penida

One of my regrets is that I didn't snorkel or dive in the most beautiful diving spots in the world! From underwater temple and shipwrecks to diving with sharks or stingray to beautiful corals! Corals, I must see them!!

I have read online that Bali waters are homes to the huge Mola Mola fish, also known as Moon fish or Sun fish. I was telling my friends how I wanted to swim beside the gigantic fish and have even looked up several videos. I don't know why I chicken out in the end. Partly because after seeing how big the waves are in Bali and that scares the hell out of me. I am no swimmer and freaked out even when wading in waters thigh-high. Mind you, I'm also fun size so there are possibility of me getting swept away by the waves and that thought scares me!

Diving and snorkeling. My bucket list. Will I ever conquer my fear of water? *Deep breath*

What & Where to eat

Like Malaysia, there is no shortage of good food in Indonesia. Moreover, Indonesian cuisines are generally quite similar to Malaysian's though I learnt from my friends that some are influenced by the Dutch (they shared lotsa food with me! woots!)  during the colonization era. Though, I don't remember seeing the latter around Bali... I would have love to try those! Some of the must-trys in Bali are the babi guling, bebek, ikan nyat nyat, ikan bakar and lots other seafood! 

From Warung Mola Mola, Nusa Lembongan

My 'mixed rice' from the roadside warung

I was introduced to this dish, Ikan Nyat Nyat by my host from Abian House. This is in Warung Makan Boga Segara.

Tip #2: Get along with your host or locals for insider's opinions on the best places and what to eat.

Babi Guling set meal from Babi Guling Karya Rebo, Bali.

Bali is also a haven for vegans, there are so many trendy cafes and you'll find all the hipsters-ish, meals or fruits bowls, stuff like that. I only went to one because my friend wanted Insta-worthy photo spots. I didn't mind going once in a while but not everyday LOL! It's too boring!

Hipster vegan meals in Shelter, Bali

Souvenirs to get

The best places to purchase souvenirs are along the street of Legian, Ubud and Jalan Pantai in Kuta. My favorite got to be the latter because there are rows of Art Markets and Matahari department store in one row of street. The department store has almost everything you probably want to find _ batiks, traditional toys and decorations, wooden cutleries and diningwares, coffee and so much more! Check out my souvenirs haul in this post.

Budgeting for Bali & Nusa Islands

I don't have the breakdown of each and every expenses because I'm too lazy to keep track! In fact the receipts are still left on my working desk unattended... However, I can tell you my biggest expense aside from flight and accommodation is transportation! My friends and I relied heavily on tour guides almost daily, especially in the Nusa Island. Not to mention, getting to the Nusa Islands by speedboat makes up a large part of my expenses.

Food-wise, I am a simple traveler and contented with eating at roadside warungs which mostly charge me under 50kRupiah per meals. Even with a bottle of Bintang beer, still under 100kRupiah. Of course, there are times I dined at the more expensive warungs. The most expensive one at 250kRupiah! It's really for the sake of one-time experience. The other one-time I splurged on, is for a woven based batik tote I really liked.

Money Changers and ATMs availability 
in Bali & the Nusa Islands

I have literally an entire rows of money changers along Jalan Pantai Kuta, and supposed this is the best place for you to change enough currency! In fact, I would advice you to do so before heading to the Nusa Islands where you will most likely get lower rates compare to what you can find in Kuta! 

In Nusa Penida, you can check with locals but you won't find many and if you do, they are unlicensed operators. In the neighboring Nusa Lembongan, Blackwood Coffee Shop offers such service and is the only one I know off. Again, you won't get better rates than in Kuta. 

As for ATMs, there are MEPS ATMs again in Jalan Pantai Kuta, Bali and nearby Mushroom Bay in Nusa Lembongan (not too far from Blackwood Coffee Shop) if you're in need for one.  In Nusa Penida, ironically despite being the larger Nusa Island, have only one local, non-MEPS ATM near the market.

Tip #3: Prepare enough local currencies to avoid paying for more especially before heading to the Nusa Islands where currency exchange rate is lower and there are fewer to none money changers.


In Conclusion

Albeit some uncomfortable incidents I think Bali & the Nusa Islands are one great place for a relaxing getaway. The Nusa Islands being my favorite because I felt the safest and experienced the greatest hospitality from the locals! If you have time to spare, I would DEFINITELY recommend you taking your time island-hopping around the Nusa Islands, perhaps even Lombok. Or visit these places on another trip, because even in Bali there are so many places to explore!

10 Souvenirs to get from Bali & Singapore / 2017 Souvenirs Hauls

I finally have all the photos I needed to make this post happen, I have been meaning to post this forever! So here are they *drumrolls*  hauls I got from my recent trip to both Bali and Singapore. While I mentioned these two places, I did the majority of my shopping in Bali because things are cheaper thanks to the lower currency as compared to in Singapore. There were a lot more interesting souvenirs to shop from Bali anyway hahahah

#1 Bamboo Straws

I first found this being used in one of the warungs I was dining in Nusa Lembongan (if I remember correctly) and thought the idea to be novel! This simple bamboo straws are the answers to reducing the use of plastic straws.

I was glad when I heard Starbucks making an initiative to stop using plastic straws by 2020. Wished all consumers can do so too! To purchase these bamboo straws, check out Bali Life Bamboo Straws. There are several other other options like this foldable, metal straws from Lazada.

The whole climate change, pollution, and going greener for the sake of the environment has been in my head for awhile. I do agree us Malaysians are not giving back enough to the environment. Sure, we do plant trees, but air pollution from the One-Car-One-Driver concept especially in KL, not recycling (yet), not completely cutting out of plastic are definitely not helping our environment. 

This National Geography cover totally depicts our problem with plastic.

Planet or Plastic cover

 Then of course, I read articles online saying plastic straws and bags make up a big percentage when it comes to polluting our rivers and seas then lead to animals like our fish, turtles and just everything in the ecosystem! So, join me in my


I have to admit it didn't occur to me until when I was at a restaurant in Nusa Lembongan was using bamboo straws. That totally pique my interest, I had to check with the waiter where I can get them. But then I didn't know, so now that you know, you can get them in Kuta or Ubud. Definitely, definitely get these when you are at Bali! They make cool souvenirs and help save the environment at the same time:DD


#2 Get an entirely new attire!

This was exactly what I did! I bought two longue pants from Singapore's Little India, a halter tie-dye dress and printed skirt from Bali.

#3 Accessories

This bracelet is something I purchased from Matahari department store which I'm super loving! Told my BFF I got this for under RM10 and she remarked on how it doesn't look cheap LOL

Souvenirs from Bali

I saw these rattan weaved bags with the insides decorated with batik, so pretty!!!

Souvenirs from Bali

Unfortunately, it's above my budget, costing close to RM300 at Matahari department stores in Kuta. By the way, you hear me mentioned this place a lot in this post because I actually prefer shopping at the department stores or art markets who affixed price tags on their products. That way you won't get extorted _ I've dropped by several small art market and stalls selling souvenirs and the shop keepers were very keen on overcharging me. This is one annoying issue in Bali IMO.

My pretty, pretty batik and rattan handbag~~

#4 Kopi Bali or Luwak

You can find plenty of these in Art Markets in Bali. I got mine from Matahari Department Store's grocery section. There is an aisle dedicated for coffee alone and you'd be spoil with options!

Souvenirs from Bali

Souvenirs from Bali

#5 Local Snacks

 I dunno why, but these are super addictive!!!! Couldn't stop eating at all!

Souvenirs from Bali

#6 Magnets

...because my family & I collects them :)

#7 Handicraft wares

From cups and plates made out of coconut shells, wood or shells to woven table mat and the list goes on! Coconut shells cups/bowls for my bestie because she asked for them.

#8 Homemade Soaps

I purposely bought homemade soup because I needed something with brightening effect in hope I can get fairer before my sis' wedding. Unfortunately, I only used for over a week! It slipped into the toilet bowl when I was using it (T___T) 

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