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I couldn’t stand it. I just had to go to Bali. And I did just that with the husband. 😛

A few days prior to our departure to Bali, I wondered if my decision to bring us there was wrong. Because the anniversary of the Bali bombing would be on and the Indonesian authorities were giving out warnings on possible terrorist attacks on the island.

But I kept reassuring ourselves that we are headed for Ubud, not Seminyak or Kuta where the terrorist attacks had occurred and hoped for the best.

So we had a morning flight to Bali via AirAsia. Oddly, purchasing the air tickets on a single trip basis was slightly cheaper than doing so via a return flight one. I quite like AirAsia as the prices stated on the website are very clearcut, unlike Jetstar which added the taxes and surcharges only at the end. Hence I always find tickets at Jetstar to be too expensive for low-cost carriers and am convinced that it would be better to take SIA than Jetstar.

Anyway we had an uneventful flight to Bali and we reached Denpasar at around noon time. Some resorts provided express service for customs clearance whereby they would be cleared through customs at a special lane. However, I found such service to  be redundant in consideration that everyone was then slowed down by the wait for the luggages. So perhaps such service is good when one has only hand carry baggage.

At the exit, we met our driver for airport transport who had held up a signage with my name. I must say, I was on high alert while waiting to get into our car transport. One can never be too careful, no? The traffic outside the airport was horrible. It was terribly jammed!

It took a while before our car was in crusing mode. Luckily we were headed to Ubud as I wouldn’t be able to stand the crowd at either Seminyak or Kuta, judging by the number of cars heading there.

The journey from Denpasar to Ubud was long! It took close to 2 hours for us to finally reach our resort, Kamandalu Resort & Spa. I chose this resort because I wanted a nice villa with a pool, and a resort that is not too noisy.

Upon reaching the reception, our luggage was taken care for us and we got flower leis and welcome drinks. Check in was done within 10 minutes and the receptionist proceeded to show us the club house (which we are entitled to) along the way to our villa.

A mask at the entrance to our villa. Its used to denote 'Privacy please'

A mask at the entrance to our villa. Its used to denote ‘Privacy please’

View of the pool area from the villa

View of the pool area from the villa

Looking like paradise

Looking like paradise

Bale

Bale

Our bed for the next three nights

Our bed for the next three nights

I love these small details

I love these small details

The partially indoor outdoor shower

The partially indoor outdoor shower

So we were a bit hungry and I had plans for us to walk around the Ubud centre. So we went to the reception to wait for the free transport that would bring us to Ubud centre. This free transport is available only at certain timings and the schedule would be provided by the reception upon check-in.

Upon reaching the Ubud centre, I already knew where to head for lunch. Being quite dependable on Tripadvisor, I found out the number 1 warung to head for is the Melting Wok Warung. This warung had garnered very very good reviews for its food on Tripadvisor. and with the time being at 2 plus, I had assumed it would be a good time to head there as the lunch time crowd would have be done by then.

The warung was not difficult to buy. On our walk to the warung, we came across a mobile vendor selling a snack which was highly popular with children.

The mobile snack vendor

The mobile snack vendor

If you look carefully (at the area of vendor’s hand), you can see what the snack is. Its actually sliced bread with the colour rainbow stuff that we put on our ice cream plus chocolate sauce.

Seein the kids so excited over this snack made me keenly aware of how lucky we are in Singapore, with so many kinds of sophisticated snacks available. However, on second thought, these Balinese kids could be the luckier ones. Sometimes the simpler snacks are simply the best snacks ever. Because we don’t get tired of simple snacks but we do get sick of the sophisticated snacks. I still remember clearly the types of simple snacks I had in my childhood and I still crave for them even after so many years of ‘modern’ snacks. Its kinda like how I love hawker food in Singapore and how food from Michelin starred restaurant cannot match up to our local food, at least where the heart is concerned.

Melting Wok warung was easy to spot and it was rather empty as it was way past lunch time. The warung was very clean and organized. The menu is presented on a chalk board and the choices are very limited. The husband got the special of the day while I decided to try a laksa without milk.

Menu at Melting Wok

Menu at Melting Wok

Laksa noodles without milk

Basil chicken with mushrooms

Basil chicken with mushrooms

To be honest, my laksa wasn’t fantastic. It tasted like Mee Soto back at home. The basil chicken is quite nice but it’s not something we have not tasted before. In fact, we have been to many Thai food establishments (either in Thailand or Singapore) that does the same dish.

I do think this warung is a bit over-hyped on Tripadvisor. Perhaps for people who have not tried Indonesian or Malay food before, the dishes are fabulous. But for those who live in the Southeast Asia region, the food at this warung is really nothing to shout about. I do have to say that the service is very good though.

I’m beginning to suspect that the food reviews on Tripadvisor, while genuine, are not truly accurate. A lot of the restaurants I’ve visited due to excellent reviews on Tripadvisors, turn out to be quite mediocre. In fact, I did a short ‘test’ and searched for good food in Singapore on the website. Lo and behold, the list of restaurants are restaurants/ cafes I haven’t heard of. And restaurants with good food are not necessarily at the top of the list. So from now on, I will take the food recommendations from Tripadvisor with a large pinch of salt.

So back to Bali. After the meal, my husband was keen to try the snack we saw earlier on. So we backtracked to find the vendor. However, he has left and we didn’t come across such vendor again for the remainder of our trip. 😦

So the itinerary I had arranged was for us to visit the Monkey Forest after we had filled out stomach. We decided to walk.

Along the way, there are insights to the local life.

Typical way of carrying things

Typical way of carrying things

Typical life of a dog. Although most do not chill out along the cramped roads of Ubud. I hope it stays safe.

Typical life of a dog. Although most do not chill out along the cramped roads of Ubud. I hope it stays safe.

It was turning out to be quite a long walk. It was hot and humid in Bali. Although it is always hot and humid in Singapore too, perhaps, due to the lack of airconditioning (which we are very used to at home), the weather got a bit to me.

I was happy then when I saw this:

Monkeys in the neighbourhood

Monkeys in the neighbourhood

Seeing monkeys here meant we were reaching the Monkey Forest. Indeed, we reached the Monkey Forest in a couple of minutes.

We had to pay to enter the Monkey Forest, nothing too expensive. There’s a stall selling bananas but we didn’t buy any as the advices we were given were not to bring food in.

Luckily we didn’t bring any food into the area. Monkeys are fascinating; so human-like and yet untamed. And they are be so very scary. I remember reading that monkeys harbours a certain virus (not Ebola) that’s transmitable to humans and ever since, I have been wary of monkeys. But I remain fascinated with them, with their similarity to us.

The monkeys were spread out all over the place. Most monkeys could be found where food was. I was fascinated with the monkeys help each other groom, presumably helping each other to find fleas.

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Very orderly monkeys

Very orderly monkeys

Monkeys are at their scariest when food is involved. They would bare their teeth at each other, snatch food from others and fight for food.

Amongst food

Amongst food

Some tourists entered the premises with bananas. Some even taunted the monkeys with the bananas. You know what the monkeys would do? They would climb all over you, including your head, and they’ll do anything to get their hands on the food you are withholding from them. This is actually very dangerous. One could easy get scratched and/or bitten by the monkeys. Some tourists were smart to immediately release the food but some insist on taunting the monkeys further. Maybe they thought its funny. I think its crazy. And disrespectful towards the monkeys. :angry:

Likely to be mother and child

Likely to be mother and child

As we explored the grounds, we came upon a very interesting trio of monkeys, consisting of two adults and a young one. While I’m not sure if both the adults are the parents of the youn monkey, what we were sure was that one of the adult is definitely the parent. The other adult seemed to be the gatecrasher. The baby monkey would wander off a bit and the gatecrasher would try to get close to it. When the parent realised the gatecrasher’s intentions, he/she would immediately return to the baby’s side. But the gatecrasher doesn’t give up and kept finding opportunities to get close.

We must have spent about 20 minutes observing this trio, not because of the above mentioned activity, but rather because the baby monkey was mimicking the actions of its parent. The parent was gathering dried leaves and stones and just kept rolling them on the ground. The baby decided to do just the same. It was very cute and we were ooh-ing and ahh-ing at times over their actions. For the life of me, I couldn’t figure out what the parent intended to do.

We would have stood there continuing observing them except some tourists came along with bananas. As I’ve said, monkeys are very scary where food is concerned. The parent of course got the banana (who wouldn’t give the parent the banana when the baby is present?). The gatecrasher then decided to have a go at snatching the banana. The parent then turned on the gatecrasher and qucikly carried the baby and banana to run away.

Three's a crowd

Three’s a crowd

I am really curious as to what the parent was doing really. Rubbing the stone and leaves against the ground. I wondered if it was to generate heat when I saw another monkey rubbing something that resembled a coconut bowl against the ground.

Seemingly unused temple within the Monkey Forest

Seemingly unused temple within the Monkey Forest

By 5.30pm, we were ready to leave the Monkey Forest. I had made reservations for a massage session at Putri Spa before dinner. I called the spa and asked about their free transport to their premises and it turned out they offer only free transport from the Ubud Palace (which is at heart of Ubud centre). So we walked to Ubud Palace.

The husband likes this kind of vans

The husband likes this kind of vans

It was a short wait for the driver and we reached Putri Spa by 6pm. As we were all sweaty and uncomfortable, I requested for us to have a shower before commencing our massage session. I was prepared to be rejected but to my surprise, they had no problem with my request at all. 🙂 🙂 🙂

It was great to shower! And then 4 masseuse entered the room after we were done. Why 4 masseuse when there’s only the 2 of us? Because I had arranged for us to have the 4-hand massage!! I suppose it is only in Bali that a 4-hand massage is so affordable.

Unfortunately, the masseuse that I had, one was good while the other’s strength was inconsistent. Hence one side of my body was less well worked on compared to the other side. It was kinda disappointing. Another thing to take note of is that the room was not air-conditioned. Just as well it was evening when we had our massage as it had been a hot day. There’s a fan and that was sufficient for the evening.

All in all, for the price we paid, we were happy with what we got. So we arranged for foot reflexology the next evening at 8pm.

We needed transport to Warung Bernadette for dinner. So we had to negotiate with the driver to bring us there and to send us back to the hotel. Think the driver charged us 70000 rupiah which is expensive compared to their standard rate of 50000 rupiah per hour.

So we decided to go to Warung Bernadette because on Tripadvisor, the beef rendang were very highly praised.

Upon reaching, we found the restaurant to be so very empty. We were the only ones there! Alarm bells started ringing. But I had made reservations and because the location is out of the centre, we don’t have much choices of restaurants, so we decided maybe this was just a quieter day in Ubud. And of course, we ordered beef rendang. We also decided to get a gado-gado.

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Beef rendang

Beef rendang

Gado gado

I was so very disappointed with the rendang. The meat was so tough, not tender at all! The taste was fine, similar to what I have tasted in Singapore. But oh, the meat should have been very tender, no?! 😕 And the food wasn’t piping hot which was a bit of a mystery given that we were the only customers. I love my food piping hot, with the exception of sushi and sashimi of course. On the other hand, the gado-gado was quite nice. We finished the gado-gado and not the rendang. 🙄

By then I was seriously doubting the reviews on Tripadvisor’s. I went back and read the reviews again and found that most of the reviewers are caucasian who might never had rendang before. So to them, this rendang would be fantastic. Then again, there are some who said they have tried many rendang and this was one of the best. Most said the beef was tender but my husband was totally put off by the tough meat.

So, I’m seriously treating Tripadvisor’s reviews with a very large pinch of salt.

We left and headed back to our resort. It was night time and lights were on.

The resort was pretty at night.

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And when the entered our villa, we saw that the turndown service was done. I love turndown services. It’s such an indulgence as it prepares the room for sleeping. Excellent!

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What’s preventing us from having sweet dreams? Nothing at all! 🙂

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