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Entries in food (4)


Bali Travel Essentials~ Singapore Visa Run

Here is another installment of our Bali Travel Essentials Series. This time we explore The Singapore Visa Run. Balifornian offers an exciting side trip to Singapore and our clients use this in a number of ways. We can help you arrange a layover on your in-bound or out-bound trip. We can also coordinate your stay and tour of Singapore between other destinations such as Thailand, Vietnam or anywhere else you might like to visit. If you plan to stay in Indonesia for a few months you will likely need to do a Visa run and the most popular destination is Singapore. It's close, convinient and offers many wonders for the traveler. Contact us today to see how we can help you get the most out of your South East Asia travel experience.

Bali Singapore travel tipsSingapore's Iconic Merlion Stands Stalwart over the CitySingapore, both a country and a city, is one of the world's most successful examples of city planning. It is perhaps the cleanest city I have ever visited. I don't think I saw a single piece of rubbish on the street and hardly a blade of grass too long. Some may mistake this for sterile, lacking in culture, or unnatural, but it is a welcomed contrast to parts of Indonesia. Lets remember just a few decades ago almost none of this was here. Now it is a thriving international hub and a great example to other countries of what thier govenrment can provide for its people.

Singapore Marina Bay Bali visaThe Infinity Pool at The Marina Bay Sands Hotel provides a spectacular view of Singapore's SkylineThis photo was taken from Ku De Ta Restarant and Club (Yes, Bali has a Ku De Ta as well, but different ownership). It is a shot of the new infinity pool at The Marina Bay Sands Hotel and Casino.  It is the boat shaped structure sitting atop the three towers as seen in the top photograph.

Bali wellness Singapore vacationOrchids as seen in Singapore's Botanical Gardens

Singapore is a hyper-modern city with one of the best public transport systems in the world. Despite this, the green spaces of Singapore dot the city and provide wonderful places for a walk or picnic. One of the best among them is The Botanical Gardens. It is free to the public but there is a $5 Singapore Dollar charge to enter The National Orchid Garden and it is well worth it. The cool house is a special treat and photos of the pitcher plants housed here are forthcoming in a new post.

Singapore is buzzing with entertainment, fine art and plenty of shopping. There must be more malls per capita than anywhere else on earth. If you are like me and don't care for shopping, you may find yourself in these emmense and highly styled cathedrals to capitolism just to enjoy the air conditioning, um I mean architecture.

But the big draw for us is the food, the glorious, mouthwatering, food. It seems all the great and strange foods of the world all come to Singapore to intermingle and create even tastier versions of themselves. The two not to miss items are the barbeque pork buns and the world famous chili crab. It is some of the very best stuff I have ever tasted. It's not spicy as the name may suggest but the flavor is deep, rich and complex. My mouth waters as I write this blog just thinking about them. Jumbo's Restaurant offers some of the best we had.




Singapore Bali travel tips foodThe Sun Sets on Singapore's Skyline from atop The Marina Bay Sands HotelMore posts and details about where to go and what to do in Singapore are to be featured in upcoming blog posts so join our newsletter to keep updated.

Part 2 of The Bali Travel Essentials~ Singapore Visa Run ~ The Photos has been posted HERE and keep an eye out for Part 3 Singapore Food!


Kuta Beach, Bali. Best and Worst, Old and New. The Real Deal.

I am perhaps the harshest critic of Kuta but I do have to give it its due on a couple points.  It has changed quite a bit in the 17 years I have been coming here and just 20 years before that, Jalan Pantai Kuta was just a dirt road lined with coconut trees linking Kuta, Seminyak and Legian.  But now it is packed with hawkers, chain stores, drunk loud bule and the traffic can be worse than the 405 at rush hour on a Friday.  Sure, for the first couple hours you can politely say ‘no thank you’ or ‘tidak tertarik’ to the hawkers yelling out to you every 4 steps, but they are so numerous and persistent that even Gandi would want to get a sign that reads, “NO, I am NOT interested in transportation, neon beer cozies, spiked motor bike helmets, drugs, massage, etc.” I remember thinking after first arriving, “How sad.  Bali is over.  Some places can handle tourism and the influx of the almighty dollar, but unfortunately, Bali can not.”  This was of course before I smartened up and got the hell out of Kuta as fast as I could and saw the real Bali. 


The short video above is from The Balifornian Tours & Travel Blog's "Quick Look" series. 

I return to Kuta seldomly, but I do have some dear friends there like Mas Ngurah and his sweet family who run the newly renovated Baleka Hotel and Resort.  If you want to be in Kuta, it’s a great value in a good location and with the Balifornian discount, you can get a steal of a deal on some modern and impressive lodging.  They have a pool and The Gula Gula Restaurant and Lounge.

That being said, the cause of the over-crowding is in fact for good reason as the beach itself is a world-class beach with white sand and great waves.  If you can avoid road rage getting in, and the crowds at the beach, it can be close to a quintessential beach experience (although I greatly prefer being on a beautiful beach alone or with a small group which Bali also offers).  The trash on the beach is certainly disappointing.  “Littering” is an unknown concept to many Balinese.  In fact our close friend Kadek is a bright and very spiritual person, but I have seen him toss his trash onto the ground on occasion.  Its not that he and many other Balinese don't care or are bad people, they just did not receive the same repeated messages that we in the west did- No cute owls telling us kids to “Give a hoot and don't pollute”.  I in no way blame the Balinese for all the trash on Pantai Kuta as much of the blame falls on the tourists.  However major efforts are underway to educate and its effects are being seen already.  For example, this last weekend was Eco-Weekend on Kuta beach and a massive clean up volunteer effort was held to clean up the beaches.

The surfing in Kuta is great for most levels including the beginner and there are tons of activities.  One secret we recommend is a place on the beach called 27 Beach.  The short video above was shot at this location. Neither I nor the staff knows the significance of the ‘27’ as I asked half a dozen of them, but they have a great pool, post-surf shower, comfy lounges and decent food and drink.  It serves as a great home base to sit with friends, have lunch and drinks, head to the beach for play or surf, and return to your own un-crowded spot.

As much as I can get down on Kuta, I am thankful for it, as it being the easiest place to get to (just a few km from Denpasar Airport), it keeps most of the obnoxious tourists in one small spot leaving much of the real Bali for the rest of us.

Leave a comment and let us know what you think of Kuta.


Bali: Paradise Regained


Horrific as it was, the terrorist attack in Bali stemmed a surge of tourism restoring its rightful tag as a more blissful blissful getaway.

“Although I hate to say it, the bomb in some ways did a lot of good for Bali,” says clothing designer and Bali resident Nick Morley, my unofficial guide. “What it did was put a lot of brawling, beer-drinking piss heads off coming here.”

Take the fashionable beachside restaurant/bar Ku De Ta, situated in the popular Seminyak. Here you can laze on a lounger and watch the sunset over the ocean while sipping a chocolate Martini. Down the road at Wasabi – a sleek, state of the art sushi bar-you’ll taste a Japanese meal as good as anywhere– while at Made’s Warung you’ll sample the finest Indonesian meal on God’s earth for just £3. This is precisely the beauty of Seminyak – where the cheap and traditional and the expensively chic are back-to-back.

Kuta, with its Holiday Inn, Hard Rock Café and McDonalds, is just a short hop from Seminyak, but it couldn’t be more different. It’s one of those sad developments that has attracted big bucks and lost its soul, drawing drunken Aussies, forlorn prostitutes and even a gang of transvestites known as the ‘sucky sucky girls.’

Kuta’s only plus is its surf, which, for the novice, is perfect. Having never surfed before, and with the help of the local teacher at the Hard Rock Surf School, I was up on the board after only one day, “hanging two and a half” replete with cut knees, bruised elbows and about half the ocean inside me. Spurred on by such success I decided that my next mission was to learn to scuba at the dive capital of Amed in East Bali. The five-hour taxi journey from Seminyak will set you back the equivalent of £50, but it beats the hell out of the ten-hour mini bus. On the way, stop for lunch at the beautiful coastal town of Candi Dasa and swim in the monumental Tirtagangga Water Palace, constructed by one of Bali’s last kings, Anak Agung Anglurah Ketut in 1947 – probably the world’s most extravagant swimming pool.

At Amed we stayed at the Coral View Hotel, which, at $50 for a double private bungalow, was little short of heaven. My proviso was that we could walk out onto the beach in less than a minute – here we could do it in about 15 seconds.

From Amed, snorkelling in Jemeluk provided not only the best array of fish I have ever encountered with mask only, but also – due to my lack of t-shirt – delivered a crackling lobster-red back that any roast suckling pig worth his salt would have been proud of. After suffering the inevitable jibes for at least 48 long hours, I was ready to scuba and settled for Eco Dive, who offered a day of training in the morning and a guaranteed dive in the afternoon for the meagre sum of $75.

“Although I hate to say it, the bomb did a lot of good for Bali. It put a lot of brawling, beer-drinking piss heads off coming here.”

After going through the necessary rigmarole of learning what everything strapped about your person actually does, we hit the shallows for a few practise runs. Cue claustrophobia, breathing difficulties and the sneaking suspicion that carrying loads of heavy stuff on your back isn’t the best method of floating. But, blind panic over, I finally arrived at The Liberty, an abandoned WWII American shipwreck that, at just 50 metres offshore and 50 feet deep, is yet another perfect environment for the petrified neophyte.

The best site on dry land is inarguably the sunrise from the Gunung Agung mountain (considered by the Balinese to be the ‘navel of the world’) – one has simply to drive to Pura Pasar Agung, locate a guide and then climb the perilous mountain for three hours to arrive at the summit by 6am. After roaring up the hill like the Sherpa Tensing twins we were rewarded by a sunrise so glorious it almost made me take up religion.

After my six-hour walk, I felt a slice of Rn’R was needed, so we made our way to the Panchoren Retreat in Ubud, the central Balinese city renowned as a centre for the arts but resembling little more than a shopping centre. But, first appearances aside, numerous exquisite restaurants, performances of traditional Balinese theatre, Gamelan and puppetry reveal themselves.

The Panchoren itself is a stunningly beautiful settlement, comprised of a number of exquisitely designed individual bungalows constructed almost entirely from bamboo. Its Irish owner and designer Linda Garland offers the finest respite money can buy. “Just about everyone who’s anyone that comes to Bali stays there,” says Morley. “ Even though she’s got the helipad to whisk the rich and famous in and out without being seen, I met Bono when he stayed there, Jagger spent his honeymoon there – you name them, they’ve been.”

When it eventually became time to leave the A-list dream life behind, we returned thoroughly rested and once again returned to South Bali, taking in en route the traditional Kecak Fire Dance, the magisterial floating palace of Tanah Lot, eating freshly caught seafood by candlelight at Jambaran and staying out far too late at the Double Six Beach Club in Seminyak. But nothing impresses more about the island than the Balinese themselves, whose quiet, gentle dignity is a lesson to those who spend just a few days in their company – and the reason why Bali’s reputation can only continue to thrive.


11 Essential Bali Travel Tips

by Anastasia Fiatmita

I live in england and im trying to contact my dad in indonesia, but i dont no how, can you help?This are helpful tips, thank u.What I want to know is what if you drop her of from a first date and she kisses u in ur cheek?should I kiss her back on the cheek?Pls can you help with question- guide to investment portfolio management and associated riskI'm trying to reach Pat Hunter, my former travel agent. I haven't booked a trip in quite a while, but could use her expert help.
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11 Bali Travel Tips for a Bali holiday:

1.Seasonal and weather change actually makes little difference so any period of the year is a perfect time to visit Bali, although it’s useful to check out the public holidays in Indonesia. On the month of Ramadan - Muslim fasting period, Bali gets busy and crowded as locals from neigbouring cities, fill resorts up and prices for accomodations escalate.

2.Bali can be really cheap with superb value, especially for budget accommodation and budget flights. Do book in advance to get a great deal for your accomodation and flights. Air Asia is well-known to provide cheap flights to Bali if you book early in advance. Do search through all the online travel agents for the best hotel prices before you book your accomodation online. For example, you can compare the prices of Bali Hotels here - Cheapest Bali Hotel Rates & Reviews of Bali Hotels

3. If you’re planning to surf, do check out Bali Surfing Report. It has useful information on surf camps, cheap boat charters, and surfers package deals to remote beaches in Bali with great waves such as Nusa Lembongan.

4.Treat your tastebuds for something different and try eating in a warung (small traditional roadside eateries). Although they may look unhygiene, trust me, they are safe to eat. They are REALLY cheap, no-frills hangouts all serving unique and different foods. The food is often displayed in glass cabinets out in front. Grab a seat, make a selection and get the real flavour of Bali and Balinese food real cheap.

5.To understand Balinese culture and life, visit Murni’s in Ubud, which have everything regarding Bali and Balinese, from explanations of Balinese names to what one wears to a ceremony.

6.If you're staying in luxury hotels, do consider staying in a Homestay where native Balinese families host you. It'll really make your trip more enjoyable and eye-awakening.

7.A little knowledge of Bahasa Indonesia will definitely take you a long way. "Selamat pagi" - good morning -, "tolong" -help or please-, and terima kasih -thank you-, for starters. Also, try memorising, "way say" which means toilet, "mana" means where, and "gimana caranya" which refers to "how to". For a fun introduction to the language, check out Bahasa Indonesia in 7 Days.

8.The best way to see Bali and travel around is with your own transport. Get a map or GPS and drive, hire a guide driver or rent a Bike.

9.Getting tired of hawkers bugging you to buy something? Do you know that there is an invisible line on the beach of Kuta that hawkers are not allowed to cross? Be a lil' bit cheeky and park yourself closer to the sea. You won’t be hassled anymore.

10.Bargaining while shopping is a MUST. It is part of the whole shopping experience so don't be shy and BARGAIN. Get into the swing of things and test your "Bargaining Art". However don’t get too carried away until you've made a fool of yourself. If you do so, suddenly you'll find out that you've spent the past 10 minutes quibbling over 50 cents. Use your instincts and logic.

11.To really ensure that you enjoy your holiday, do read "Bali Travel Guide For First-Timers" which is really useful and essential.

Do comment if you have any ideas to contribute or if you have any questions.. Happy Bali-ing!

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Anastasia Fiatmita - About the Author:
Anastasia Fiatmita was crowned Miss Bali 2003 and Miss Indonesia Tourism 2004. Born and bred in Bali, she now blogs regularly at Bali Holiday where she gives free guides and insights on Bali for tourists and travelers. She also gives unbiased reviews of hotels in Bali at Bali Hotel Reviews.