Bali

High on Bali

January 28, 2015

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As I was going through some photos, I was reminded of this fun and memorable family trip to Bali that I have yet to share with all of you. 🙂

I have countless photos and stories to tell (you know me, I can go on and on!) but since I don’t want to bore you with the unnecessary stuff, I have narrowed it down to just the highlights of the trip (which is still quite a number, honestly!) but will try my best to keep it short and sweet!

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We stayed at the new Fairmont Sanur Beach Bali  which is a very nice resort that offers suites and villas — that is perfect for families.

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The resort is only 25 mins away from the airport and is located along the golden beach of Sanur. 

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Our first taste of traditional Balinese food was at Made’s Warung  in the town of Kuta. This is a casual dining restaurant that’s quite popular with the locals, expats and tourists.

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This restaurant also hosts cultural shows at night, which proved to be a good place for us start the introduction of Balinese culture to our kiddos!

COLLAGEWe had traditional Balinese food like : Beef Rendang, Nasi Campur Ayam Too-to  (Indonesian roast chicken with curry and spices), Chicken Satay and Nasi Campur Babi Guling  (Indonesian roast suckling pig).

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The next day, we went to Nagari Village in Ubud  to see the Luwak Wild Cat, or what is more popularly known as the Civet Cat. 

There is so much talk about them now because…

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The Civet Cat’s poop (yes, their feces) is a prized possession worldwide. After fermentation and processing, the cat’s waste is turned into this rare kind of coffee bean — which when brewed becomes the Kopi Luwak or Civet Coffee that we know now.

This coffee as it turns out is the most expensive (and to some, the most delicious) coffee in the world!

*That’s my daughter’s hand beside mine holding the Civet Cat’s poop — er, coffee beans!

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The Civet Coffee — this is as pure as you can get!

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Being a black coffee aficionado, I was excited to try this rare coffee… although I must admit that in the beginning, there was a bit of hesitation on my part too! This is especially true after I saw the actual Civet Cat in the premises! 🙂

(On a side note, there has been a lot of issues raised surrounding the production of Civet coffee. A lot of animal right’s groups are saying that this is a form of animal cruelty. I am not here to judge anyone nor am I here to promote this coffee culture. I am just sharing one of my unique experiences in Bali!)

Read more about Kopi Luwak or Civet Coffee  here. 

IMG_1145Our lunch was still in the town of Ubud, a few kilometers away from the Kape Luwak  farm.  Bridges  is a nice, casual, fine dining restaurant that serves both international and Indonesian cuisine. Of course we ordered from their Indonesian menu!

The photo above shows some of the delicious dishes we had. From left to right, top to bottom :

1) Pepes Ikan – diced Barramundi fish and prawns wrapped in singkong leaves and lemon basil, served with spicy grated coconut dressing, sweet tempe and yellow rice.

2) Brongkos – beef slowly cooked and simmered till very tender in rich spicy coconut milk curry.

3) Spicy Red Curry Chicken – chicken slow cooked in aromatic red curry sauce with curried pineapple and yellow rice.

4) Sate Kalapa – beef tenderloin in mild spicy paste with freshly grated coconut, peanut sauce, fern tip salad and lontong.

This meal was one of the best meals I had in Bali. Every dish was good and flavorful. And the restaurant inside was very charming too! (Click here for the address. )

IMG_1152As expected, the dessert we had was amazing! We ordered Pisang Goreng – a ginger infused banana with cashew nuts coated in a crispy coconut and cinnamon crust, served with cinnamon ice cream and palm sugar syrup.

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We also visited one particularly unique museum in Ubud : The Blanco Rennaisance Museum of the world-renowned Spanish painter, Antonio Blanco.  He is special in Bali  because he is the most famous and most successful (foreign) artist to ever live there.

But here’s one very interesting bit of trivia about this artist : Antonio Blanco was born in Manila! This was in the year 1911 when his Spanish parents settled in the Philippines during the Spanish – American War. His childhood was spent in Manila, until he found himself moving to New York when he was a bit older. After a few years, he moved to Bali, where he met and married a Balinese woman and lived here for good, until his passing in the year 1999.

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Antonio Blanco’s home and art studio, is now a museum and a must-visit landmark in Bali.

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His place is set on a majestic hilltop facing the Campuan River and is surrounded by lush greens and filled with roosters and hens, birds and the like.

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Visitors to the museum are invited to stroll through the gardens, play with the animals or linger for as long as they want. Unfortunately, no photos of his artworks inside the museum are allowed.

To know more about Antonio Blanco and his beautiful museum in Bali, click here. 

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Our next stop was at Ubud Palace.  This is one of the most important palaces in Ubud.

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It has well – preserved Balinese architecture and is quite popular with those who appreciate the Balinese arts, as this is one of the main sites where both the locals and tourists watch dramatic evening dance performances.

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We were also able to visit Pura Luhur Uluwatu, one of Bali’s six main temples, known for its magnificent location — perched on a steep cliff overlooking the Indian Ocean. This place has such beautiful architecture and amazing ancient sculptures too.

The name Uluwatu  came from the words : “Ulu”  which means head, top or tip and “Watu”  which means stone or rock in Balinese.

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What’s quite amusing about this temple is the presence of monkeys all over! There is an open forest that lies just in front of the temple where these monkeys live. These animals are believed to be the “guardians” of the temple, so they are allowed to freely roam the area, to “protect” the temple from bad spirits and negative influences.

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These monkeys can be found everywhere in the temple! So don’t be surprised if they jump at you or the person right next to you! They are known to snatch hats, earrings and sunglasses from visitors! 🙂

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Without a doubt, the setting of this Pura Luhur Uluwatu temple at 250 feet above the Indian Ocean is one of its major highlights. We stayed here until sunset and the view was incredible. The whole temple seemed even more mystical as the sun went down and cast its pinkish orange glow!

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We ended the day with a good and hearty dinner at Sardine, a beautiful restaurant that serves mostly fish and seafood with an elegant al fresco setting.

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The highlight of this place were the rice paddies built around us. We were seated in a sprawling bamboo structure, overlooking this serene view that was nicely lit at night. Food was excellent but more than that, it was this unique dinner setting that made this one of my best dining experiences here in Bali.

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I’ve got too many stories to tell and countless more photos to share… but perhaps, I would leave that now for another time, for another place.

Bali  is a city rich in history, arts and culture. And Bali has something for everyone to enjoy. As I am writing this now, I am already dreaming of going back and exploring it some more. I am definitely still high on Bali!

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