Monday, November 29, 2010

Bali 2010 - Tanah Lot

To me Pura Tanah Lot is the most beautiful temple in Bali. The location is just spectacular, and the integration of the temple structure into the natural rock outcrop is seamless. The whole complex looks good from any angle, and is probably the most recognisable image of Bali.

I was sad to see that the temple had changed somewhat from my last visit. Much of the original stone base had to be rebuilt due to erosion, and although they had tried very hard to simulate the natural rock texture with concrete, nothing beats nature itself.

The best time to visit Tanah Lot would be just before sunset, but when you are traveling it is not always possible to follow the schedule. We ended up going in the morning, and luckily it turned out to be a really nice day with clear blue skies. There were a lot of people there as usual, but not so much as to swarm the place. If you have the patience to wait, you can still get some nice shots of the temple without hoards of tourists around.

The entrance to the temple.

Lots of souvenir shops on the way there.

Finally, you arrive at the temple.

It is spectacular !

I would recommend trekking up to the lookout point above the cliff. nearby. The view from here is simply breathtaking.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Bali 2010 - Dinner at Rumours Seminyak

Rumours Cafe is located along Jalan Laksmana (Oberoi), not far from Ku De Ta. After a drink at the very chic Ku De Ta, this is a nice place to stop by for a bite. The menu offers a nice mix of mainly Western dishes, and many bloggers have high praise for their steaks and pasta. Prices here are definitely more sensible then Ku De Ta or the other high-end establishments in Bali.

Simple but cozy interior.

We order a Grilled Seafood Platter, an Aglio Olio, and a Beef Stroganoff. The Seafood Platter was certainly impressive. It came with generous portions of fresh scallops, mussels, prawns, squid and a whole crab. All of it was good except for the crab which was totally inedible as there wasn’t any meat inside the shells. The sauce which came with the dish was very good - intense flavours of sun-dried tomatoes and garlic.

The Aglio Olio was a bit different from what we are used to. It was a bit too oily, and bland. Not enough herbs or chili flakes.

Complimentary bread with herbed garlic.

The Beef Stroganoff was actually quite good. Tender, flavourful pieces of beef cooked with mushrooms. We were a bit too full to finish the mashed potatoes served with it.

We would definitely recommend Rumours for a nice and affordable. Service was also very efficient and attentive. A real find in Seminyak.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Bali 2010 - Ku De Ta

Having missed out on Ku De Ta on all my previous visits to Bali, this time I made it a point to go there. I’ve read about the expensive drinks and overpriced menu on many blogs, so decided to go just for drinks.

After so many years in operation, Ku De Ta remains the coolest night spot in Bali. This year they are celebrating their 10th Anniversary. Started by an Australian entrepreneur, Ku De Ta is actually an entertainment complex offering lounge areas, bar areas, and dining. They have added a 1st floor lounge area next to the beach for even better views at sunset.

When night falls, all the rich and beautiful in Bali gather at this trendy outpost to soak in the gold -gilded and diamond encrusted atmosphere. When we were there, the placed was packed. All the lounge chairs were taken, and there was standing room only on the deck next to the beach. The view of the sunset from here is truly beautiful, and I can see the attraction of very this cool but expensive establishment.

The centre courtyard is where a lot of the popular events are held.

The bar and dining areas.

Main entrance to the ultra-chic club.

There is no entry charge for Ku De Ta, so if you are interested just to take a look I would recommend that you make a quick round and leave. Otherwise order up one of the cocktails which are quite nice. Avoid the food as most items are overpriced, unless you have a millionaire’s pockets. A meal here will easily cost you twice of what you pay your guide for the whole day. You can find much better value elsewhere.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Bali 2010 - Lunch at Made's Warung

Made’s Warong is quite an institution in Bali. It was in fact one of the first casual dining cafe in Bali. The very first outlet was located on Jalan Raya Pantai Kuta, right off the road. It can get a bit noisy and chaotic. The Seminyak outlet is more protected from the road, with seating areas wrapping around an open courtyard. The main restaurant has a mezzanine level that overlooks the rest of the dining area.

The beautiful interior of the cafe.

Service here is casual but quite efficient. Once you are seated, your order is taken quickly and the food comes out within minutes. We ordered one of the famous Nasi Campur Special, and one Nasi Campur with half Gado Gado (Indonesian Salad). The Nasi Campur was really impressive - it came with more then 10 different small portions of Indonesian dishes - including beef rendang, smoked chicken, sambal prawns, etc.

The taste of everything was very good and authentic. This is a very satisfying way to sample many different dishes on one plate, and you can see why Nasi Campur is so popular in Indonesia and also Malaysia. The Gado Gado version had more vegetable dishes which were also really delicious.

Nasi Campur Special.

Nasi Campur with Half Gado Gado.

We also ordered a vegetable soup, a light broth which complemented the spiciness of the rice dishes.

And finished with some Banana Fritters, served with palm sugar. Some vanilla ice cream would have made it perfect.

Some may consider Made's Warung a bit touristy, and the pricing is definitely not hawker standard, but the quality of the food and the great ambiance makes it a really enjoyable lunch or dinner venue. Try it at least once. You may be hooked !

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Bali 2010 - Seminyak

Seminyak - a little further North from Legian Beach, is like a more upmarket version of Kuta. Like Kuta, the area is centred around resorts, retail and entertainment lined along one main street - Jalan Laksmana (Oberoi). The developments have now stretched further North to include Jalan Petitenget. On both side of these streets you will find an endless array of fashion boutiques, lifestyle shops, jewelry shops, bars, pubs and restaurants to suit your whims and fancy. Whatever your taste, you are sure to find something here that you like. Prices are generally much higher then in Kuta, and some shops don’t take too kindly to bargaining so do exercise a bit of restrain when it comes to haggling here.

Lots of nice boutiques in the Seminyak area.

Best for sunny, breezy clothes.

Along Jalan Laksmana there is a stretch known as “Restaurant Street” which has a nice collection of cafes, restaurants and pubs. Here you will find nice places for lunch or dinner if you get tired from walking and shopping on the streets.

Some of the places worth checking out in Seminyak are:

Made’s Warung - nice Indonesian or Western food in a beautiful Balinese style building. Reasonable pricing 

Rumours - nice Western food at very reasonable prices. Modern contemporary decor

La Lucciola - very pricey but nice Italian food in a beautiful garden setting

Ku De Ta - very pricey but ultra-chic chill-out lounge, bar and restaurant (all the beautiful people flock there)

Friday, November 19, 2010

Bali 2010 - Uluwatu Temple

I spent quite some time at Alila Uluwatu and almost missed the sunset at Pura Luhur Uluwatu. Luckily I made it there in the nick of time. The sunset there is breathtaking as always.

The parking area outside the temple compound is usually full with cars and tourist vans. There is a short walk to the temple through a footpath. Before going through the gate, don't forget to pay the small entrance charge and put on a sarong which is mandatory for men, or ladies wearing short pants. There is no lighting along the footpath, so it can get a bit dark. Bring a torch if you can.

Pura Luhur Uluwatu is located at one of the most spectacular locations in Bali. This is where you come to watch the famous Bali sunset over the Indian Ocean, and it is quite a sight to behold. Somehow the old temple architects have found a way to harmonize their structures with nature, with the man-made structures serving to enhance the view rather then detract from the natural beauty. This is the lesson that architects often learn from Bali - that it is possible to work with nature and achieve more rather then to compete with it.

The crowd watching the sunset. You can also watch a traditional Kecak dance here, which is quite an experience by itself.

The spectacular coastline at Uluwatu. I particularly love the colour of the sea here.

The Temple itself is very old - it is one of the oldest in Bali. The original temple structure - built of coral stone, is in a ruinous state, which adds to the mystery of the place. Like all the temples in Bali, this is still a fully functioning temple. Devotees come to worship and make offerings here on special occasions, like during the night of my visit. The priest wasn't too happy with my phototaking - but the rest of the devotees didn't mind so much.

Like many other temple areas in Bali, there are lots of monkeys around. Monkeys are considered sacred in Bali, and are featured frequently in Hindu legends. You are advised not to play with, or feed the monkeys. They can be a bit aggressive, so hold on to you handbags, hats and sunglasses or they may grab them.

Pura Luhur Uluwatu is one of the must-visit places in Bali, and it is easy to see why. This is what Bali is about.