Monthly Archives: March 2011

Tips for Traveling to Bali

Bali has been a tourist friendly destination for many years with beautiful beaches, cultural sites, and many resorts. Here are some helpful tips if you are planning a trip to Bali!

Airports
The Soekarno–Hatta International Airport has 3 terminals. There is a free shuttle service to get you from terminal to terminal. However, the shuttle only runs from 6AM to 11PM.  Try to avoid super late flights. Though negotiating with a taxi driver wasn’t too bad to get to the other terminal, you can only enter the terminals if you have to use the restroom because the terminals are closed from 12AM to 5AM .  This means, chilling outside with gazillions of mosquitoes attacking you. We did get sneaky and managed to stay in the terminal out of sight to get a little shut eye, but we still got attacked by the pesky mosquitoes.

Ngurah Rai Airport (Denpasar) has squatting toilets at the baggage claim. If you do not want to pop a squat with your luggage, a few steps away outside from baggage claim is Starbucks. Sure you may have to buy a drink, but it’s definitely worth it.

Airport taxes are not included in the air ticket so remember to exchange/save some Rupiah to pay for these taxes at the airport. The departure tax for domestic flights is 50,000 Rupiah from Ngurah Rai Airport. The departure tax for international flights is 150,000 Rupiah and 40,000 Rupiah for domestics flights from Soekarno-Hatta Airport.

Getting around Bali
If you do not plan to stay in one place, I highly suggest hiring a driver. TripAdvisor has many recommended drivers listed by fellow travelers. The roads are not very easy to navigate if you plan to rent a scooter.

Our driver was Wayan. He lives around Ubud, but he will go anywhere. His email is wayanrida@yahoo[dot]com. We used him for airport pickup, 2 days of touring, and airport drop off.

Wayan was always on time and a careful driver. In addition to driving, he started an agro tourism business called Bali Pulina. I absolutely loved looking at the spices his family grows and how kopi luwak coffee is roasted. After a tour of the property, sample coffees and teas to taste while taking in the views of the rice terraces at the café.  It is a breath of fresh air after seeing many temples.

Temples
All temples have a small fee for entering.  The price is about 15000 Rupiah.

Temple Etiquette: Wear clothes that cover the knees and shoulders. If you are wearing shorts or a skirt, you will have to wear a sarong to enter the temple. Those wearing proper attire will have to at least wear a sash tied around the waist. Complimentary sarongs and sashes are available at the temple. Donations are accepted.

Scams:

Uluwatu Temple: WATCH OUT FOR THE MONKEYS! Sure the monkey above looks like he is in total Zen, but my glasses got snatched by one of his friends. Once it was snatched, a “temple caretaker” had bags of candy and peanuts ready to exchange with the monkey. The monkey dropped my glasses and the caretaker told us to pay $10 for his heroic efforts.

Temples that are open after government hours: There is the same requisite temple fee, but one of the “temple caretakers” will start following you and spout out information. In addition to historical information, he will not so subtly remind you that there is a $5 donation, then a $10 donation, and even have the audacity of mentioning $15.

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See this:
Tanah Lot Temple
Rice Terraces
Holy Water Temple

Bali Pulina
Agrotourism
Pujung Kelod Tegallalang, Gianyar
Phone: +62 81558025119

El Gaucho – Steakhouse

Watch out Ho Chi Minh City, a new steakhouse is in town! Newcomer El Gaucho is serving up some juicy steaks that will easily catapult them to the #1 steakhouse in Saigon. If the dishes that we had are representative of all the other eye catching platters on the menu, I would be happy to come visit them for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. I’m all about the little details, and I loved how there was a paper napkin just for the utensils to be placed on, and a cloth napkin for our laps. We could tell the waiter was knowledgeable of the menu as he effortlessly guided us to some recommended sides to accompany our steak.

We happily munched on the complimentary bread with garlic herbed butter and their rendition of chimichurri. The chimichurri had lightly pickled red bell pepper, green bell pepper, and onions with olive oil and garlic. It was absolutely amazing!

Si and I started with the Lobster & Crab Meat soup and Arugula Salad. Both were perfectly seasoned.

Shortly after we finished our starter, we received our 500 gr. Queen Cut Rib Eye Steak that was brought to us in a metal platter warmed by charcoal. It was the perfect size for the two of us to share.  There is the option of other sauces to go with the steak, but we stayed with the chimichurri. The waiter also brought us refills of the chimichurri without us having to request for some more.

We ordered the Baked Potato with sour cream and bacon and Macaroni Cheese to compliment our protein.

Thought we were super full, we HAD to order dessert because it was pouring outside and we didn’t want be caught in the rain on a motorbike.  We had the fresh Marinated Strawberries and Sabayon, which was absolutely delish with a shot of balsamic vinegar in the bottom of the martini glass.

It’s amazing how an awesome meal can totally rejuvenate the soul. After a mentally exhausting couple of weeks of class and work commitments, Si and I were both craving a good sit-down meal. El Gaucho totally won us over, as our tummies were left completely satisfied. I can’t wait to go back!

(Pictures taken w/HTC Desire)

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Bite this:
Lobster and Crab Meat Soup
Queen Cut Rib Eye Steak
Strawberries and Sabayon

El Gaucho Steakhouse
5D/104 Nguyen Sieu St.
Ben Nghe Ward, Dist.1
Telephone: 38251879

Baby Banana Bread with Chocolate Chips

Baby bananas are sweeter than the average sized banana, and are about 3-4 inches in length. In my opinion, they must have a little bit more flavor because of their compact size!

I love baby bananas because it brings me back to my childhood summers spent in Seoul. My mom would always buy these for me to snack on while going around the city to catch up with her friends. The mini me back then thought these bananas were only meant to be eaten by kids only! Fast forward to today,  I am eating these babies in another city where they are available all year round. In Ho Chi Minh City, there are street vendors selling bananas off of push carts. Local markets are also plentiful with baby and regular sized bananas. We got these perfectly ripe bananas at our neighborhood supermarket- Coop Mart.

Initially, I was eyeing the Flour’s banana bread recipe, but decided to go with a recipe that didn’t call for sour cream. I didn’t want to motorbike all the way to the international market in District 1.  Simply Recipes had a very easy recipe that I adapted to add a little “something something.” This banana bread recipe was so yummy; it was finished within a day. It is a recipe that is meant to be shared and enjoyed with friends and family. I will be definitely rotating this banana bread and the coco oatmeal chocolate chip cookies regularly when I’m craving some sweetness.

INGREDIENTS
3 or 4 ripe bananas, smashed (6 to 10 baby bananas, approx. double the number bananas to account for the difference in size)
1/3 cup melted butter
3/4 cup of sugar
1 egg, beaten
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon of salt
1 1/2 cups of all-purpose flour
3/4 cup of semi-sweet chocolate chips

Optional: 1/4 cup of dessicated coconut to sprinkle on top.

INSTRUCTIONS
Preheat the oven to 350°F (175°C). Mix butter into the mashed bananas in a large mixing bowl. Mix in the sugar, egg, and vanilla. Sprinkle the baking soda and salt over the mixture and mix in. In a separate bowl, stir the flour and cinnamon together and mix it into the liquid ingredients. Do not over mix. Stir in the chocolate chips. Pour mixture into a buttered 4×8 inch loaf pan. Sprinkle the top with dessicated coconut if you fancy. Bake for 1 hour. Cool on a rack. Remove from pan and slice to serve.

Ubud, Bali – Tepi Sawah

Tepi Sawah Restaurant was our favorite place to eat Indonesian food in Ubud. With gorgeous view of rice paddies and spacious open air dining areas, our lunch was simply perfect.

Tepi Sawah makes special juice blends for diabetes, hypertension, and cholesterol. Some of the ingredients in the juice blends were lemon, apple, and pineapple. The juice was very refreshing after our ride from Tabanon to Ubud.

The coffee with sweet coconut cream was delicious! The taste reminded me of the Kopiko coffee candy. The peanuts on the right were roasted with pieces of fried garlic. They were so addicting that we bought two bags of these peanuts to enjoy in Ho Chi Minh City.

We tried the popular favorites on the menu. One was the Bebek Bengil, deep fried crispy duck. Tepi Sawah’s crispy duck was juicy, plump, and perfectly fried. Try dipping pieces of the meat in the chili sambal or the shallot & lemongrass sambal that comes with the meal. Compared to the famous Dirty Duck Bebek Bengil, Tepi Sawah’s Bebek Bengil won hands down.

The other dish we tried was the mixed satay. The mixed satay consisted of grilled chicken, beef, and pork. It was accompanied by a bean sprout and green bean salad with peanut sauce for dipping the satay.

The restaurant even had a traditional Balinese performance for the lunch crowd, which was really nice since it was the only cultural performance we saw while we were in Ubud.

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Bite this:

  • Bebek Bengil – Deep Fried Crispy Duck
  • Mixed Satay

Tepi Sawah
Jl. Raya Goa Gajah,
Br. Teges,Peliatan,
Ubud, Bali, Indonesia
Phone +62-361-970388

Bali – Waka Gangga Hotel

“Getting away from it all” meant staying at a location off the beaten path (places like Kuta and Seminyak). We went to the west coast of Bali, Tabanan, a location known for black sand beaches steps away from green rice paddies.

We stayed at the Waka Gangga for two nights. We had our very own thatched bungalow overlooking the property, beach, and rice paddies. The location is very quiet and serene. The hotel does offer some complimentary activities, but since we had a driver, we already looked at a couple of the nearby sites on our own.

As mentioned on Trip Advisor, Waka Gangga is not an immaculately polished five star resort hotel. Being very close to nature, you will find bugs and geckos. Aside from nature’s creatures, the outdoor shower and the view from the bungalow was a great romantic and relaxing getaway.

The strong currents make the beach not swimmable, however we still enjoyed walking and exploring the area. Unfortunately, the beach is not as pristine and kept as other touristed beach areas. On the plus side, we practically had the beach to ourselves and saw some locals fishing.

Breakfast and sunset cocktails were complimentary.  Sunset cocktails were fresh fruit shakes with a sweet snack like fried bananas.

We enjoyed a dinner at their restaurant, which had a great view of the beach. We had the grilled red snapper with tropical fruit salsa and seafood red curry. Both dishes were perfectly seasoned and fresh.

Waka Gangga was a great start to our Bali trip. After a hectic couple of months, we really wanted some place to unwind before going to the busier areas of Bali. Waka Gangga totally fit the bill with their very polite staff and remote location.

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Waka Gangga
Jalan Pantai Yeh Gangga, Desa Sudimara
Tabanan – Bali
Phone: + 62 361 416256