Sunday, June 08, 2014

Life is a Beach - Relaxing in Bali

Bali - Bali UmbrellasMijo and I finally made it to Bali, Indonesia! All I can say is that I now see why people like Bali. It is easy to romanticize. 

Aside from a relaxing beach scene, we both enjoyed the food and the unique culture in the island. Thank you, Bali! 

I must admit that my family vacation in Boracay was not totally relaxing because it was filled with fun beach and water activities. It was enjoyable but far from being soothing and restful. Mijo and I felt like we needed a truly relaxing beach vacation. The decision was easy. Bali.

Cebu Pacific, a budget airline based in Manila, has direct flights from Manila to Bali. The flight was almost 4 hours. I was surprised it was that far because Bali looks close to the Philippines on the map. This was our first time to go to Indonesia. 

We got there early in the morning so my first taste of anything Indonesian, a Balinese coffee. It was quite good and tasty.
Bali - Coffee and Sugar

This was my first sight of Bali. We stayed near Legian Beach. If you are familiar with Bali, Legian is north of Kuta Beach and south of Seminyak Beach.
Bali - Legian Beach sands

The plan was to relax and we did.  We rented a couple of beach chairs and an umbrella and stayed on the beach the entire afternoon. Unlike White Beach in Boracay, Legian has waves. The waves can sometimes look huge and scary but it is quite enjoyable once you get the hang of it. The waves are perfect for body surfing. The sound of the breaking waves is relaxing enough.
Bali - Cascading waves

My first Indonesian beer - Bintang Pilsener. They were refreshing! I am not a beer drinker at all but beer somehow tastes so much better when the weather is hot. I brought a magazine and a book but Mijo and I ended up talking all throughout the afternoon.
Bali - Bintang Pilsener

Since we didn't have any plans that evening, we decided to see a Balinese temple and local dance performance at Batu Bulan. The temple is called Uluwatu and it is located near a cliff. Here is the view of the temple by the cliff.
Bali -Uluwatu temple by the cliff

After being shown around the area, we were taken to an outdoor amphitheatre to see a cultural performance. 

This is dance is called Kecak dance (pronounced as ket-jak). It is kind of like a drama slash musical. The background music is provided by a hundred or more men chanting ket-jak rhythmically while clapping and shaking. The choir is called addala male choir. There were characters from the Ramayana story coming in and out of each scene. Some of the men looked like they were in trance because they were really shaking hard. When the sun set, the men changed their formation and then torches and a bonfire were added in the middle as props. I've never seen anything like this before.
Bali -Kecak Dance

The same ritual the next day. Relaxation by the beach.
Bali - Legian Beach

We took a break from our beach relaxation to eat lunch. This is called a Tropical Punch. It consists of orange juice, aloe vera, mint and ginger. The ginger gives it a spicy flavor. 
Bali -Tropical Punch

I decided to get a Bali sampler lunch. The flavors of the spices were layers and layers of goodness. It was delicious!
Bali -Combination plate

Mijo and I also ordered this lamb curry which has Indonesian twist.
Bali - Balinese entree

The lamb curry came with rice and crackers.
Bali - Rice and crackers

On the streets of Bali, I noticed hundreds and hundreds of motorcycles parked on the side of the street. Some of them have stacks of books for sale. I guess there is a demand for books to read while at the beach?
Bali - Street Scene

I also noticed Hindu altars dotting the streets of Bali. Some of them have fresh offerings and lit incense.
Bali - Street altar

After lunch, we took a cultural tour of Bali. Our first stop was to see a local dance called the Barong. It is a drama slash dance depicting the battle of good and evil sides of human nature. The costumes were beautiful and having intricate designs. There were two main characters. Barong represents the good and Rangda the bad.
Bali - Barong Dance

The Barong has live accompaniment. The music is soothing to listen to. Back in San Francisco, we've seen and heard Balinese music and dance performances at the Ethnic Dance Festival and at the Asian Art Museum. I am impressed the ones we've seen in the States are close enough to the original.
Bali - Balinese Musicians

Our second stop was at local shops with painters. These paintings are so intricate and the colors so vivid. To take this photo, I had to ask for permission by eye contact.
Bali - Balinese Painting

Across the street from the painters is another temple. We had to wear a sarong to cover our legs.
Bali -Bali temple

The next stop, which I truly enjoyed, was coffee and tea tasting. Indonesia is famous for its coffees. We tried both the Java and Balinese coffees and they were both good and tasty. We also enjoyed the different herbal teas like lemongrass and ginger.
Bali - Coffee and Tea tasting

While in Bali, Mijo and I stayed at O-CE-N by Outrigger. It is a cute boutique hotel right in the center of Legian area. This is their buffet breakfast.
Bali - Breakfast

On the third day we decided to stay at the hotel though the beach is just across the street. The hotel has cute pools and lots of chairs with umbrella. These chairs are across from our hotel room. You can order food and drinks from the hotel's restaurant and have it delivered by the pool.
Bali - O-CE-N Bali

We also arranged for a Balinese massage with Lulur spa. That was truly relaxing. I brought these back to the States so we can experience Bali in San Francisco.
Bali - Lulur spa pack

Bali - Feet soak

Though short, our vacation in Bali was truly relaxing.  Mijo and I plan to go back to the island and explore the rest of Bali next time. Thank you, Bali!


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