Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Bali 2006 - Part 1 - Shanghai to Singapore to Ubud, Bali

May 13 - Shanghai to Singapore to Bali

Just 6 days after returning from an exhausting trip to Tibet, we were off to Bali. Why Bali? It's a tropical island paradise. The weather is perfect in May and it's the low tourist season. And May 18th 2006 would be our 15th wedding anniversary.

Up at 6:00 AM. In a taxi by 6:30 and headed to the Pudong (PVG) airport. The 8:45 AM flight to Singapore, our first ever on the famous Singapore Airlines, left on time and arrived at Singapore Changi Airport 4hrs and 40 minutes later. A nifty airport with a very luxurious orchid garden (photo below) and free internet kiosks. Also has a movie theatre. We ate dinner at an Indian restaurant: Pakora Platter, Uttapam, and a Masala Dhosa for 17 Singapore dollars total.

Orchid Garden in Changi Airport
Orchids in airport

Caught the 4:40PM flight to Bali which left on time and arrived on time at the Denpasar Airport at 7PM local time. No problems entering Bali. As expected we paid $25 US on-the-spot each for a 7-day Indonesian visa. Got 1,000,000 rupiah, yes one million rupiah (1 Chinese RMB = 1000 Indonesian rupiah) from ATM. 1000 rupiah is about 12 cents in USD. Negotiated a 140K taxi ride to our hotel in Ubud. The posted prepaid rate is 175K but in the low season it's a buyer's market.

Arrived at Graha Ubud Hotel on Monkey Forrest Rd after a one hour ride in the dark in which we saw many motorbikes with Mom, Dad, and Junior dressed up and headed for a festival. The temperature was pleasant and the air not as sticky as I had imagined. We had a reservation for 3 nights at 30USD per night. Checked in and immediately headed out for a cold 630ml Bintang (the local beer) and a piece of cake for Sun-Ling. Saw many foreigners in the several blocks of Monkey Forrest Rd we walked. Then back to hotel and crashed.

May 14 - Ubud, Bali

A good night's sleep in Graha Ubud Bali Hotel. Had to cut off AC in middle of the night because it got too cold. Our room is actually a 2 rooms; a sitting room and a bedroom. The sitting room has a table, chairs, fan, and a fridge. The $30US per night included a slowly delivered breakfast of fresh juice, fresh fruit, coffee, and fried noodles.

During breakfast, we decided to switch hotels because the Graha pool was greenish and the hotel was generally "not kept up". Spent the rest of the morning wandering up and down the Monkey Forrest Rd, the main north-south drag, looking at hotels. There were many available rooms at reasonable prices. John wanted a room in a hotel with a pool. Finally, we decided on Sri Bungalows just across the street and the 2nd place we looked. The bedroom room was big with a killer bed (more later), AC, fan, and very nice veranda. The bathroom was big with shower and tub and small window. There was no TV or fridge. No problem. The furniture was neat and art hung on the walls. The pool was clear, blue, and refreshing. The price of 300K rupiah per night (about 38 USD) included tax and breakfast.

The bedroom.
Sri Bungalows

Sun-Ling relaxing on the veranda.
Sri Bungalows

The pool!
The pool - Ubud, Bali

After checking out and moving to Sri it was time for lunch which we ate at the Nyuh Gading Restaurant just down the road. We shared a gadogado and some sort of tempe dish. No drink. Sat on the 2nd floor overlooking the football field. A group of boys in some sort of religious procession passed by below. They were playing music, chanting, drumming, and 2 of them were dressed up as the front and back of a cow or maybe an elephant (photo below). Anyway, we enjoyed a relaxing lunch.

Procession I

Walked all over Ubud checking out the local bookstores looking for a decent copy of a Lonely Planet Bali or Rough Guide Bali. Yes, we arrived without a Bali guide book. More about that later. We passed the main Hindu Temple which is also used for performances and festivals. Finally, bought a new Rough Guide at Ary's bookshop in city center. Then back to Sri Bungalows for a fantastic swim in the pool. Out to dinner at Bambu. We had a cold Bintang, a ginger beer, Cap Cay, and Nasi Goreng for 83K rupiah total including 10%tax and 5% service charge. And extracted another million rupiah from an ATM on the way back home.

Back street scene with festival poles.
Indonesia Bali Ubud

Women carrying gravel to a construction site.
Procession II

The town palace pavillion.
Saraswati Hindu Temple - Ubud, Bali

SLHOTD (Sun-Ling's Highlight of the Day): The veranda.
Sun-Ling relaxes

JHOTHD (John's Highlight of the Day): The pool.
Blue Water Bali

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