Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Instantly Bali: Day 1 at Amertha Villas

After arriving at the Airport, we were immediately met by our driver who led us to a 20-or-so-seater bus to take us to Pemuteran. The driver was expecting 10 people in arrival, one of which was a VIP from the Philippine government. Instead, he got us. He looked pretty confused but carried on with loading our bags into the bus instead. haha. We still had a 3-4 hour bus ride ahead of us, so we slept most of the way - in various positions (think creative).

Pemuteran is a little fishing village found at the north western side of Bali. It's just starting to become popular among tourists so you won't find the usual suffocating crowd you'd see in Kuta. Something I really liked. This little unassuming village is also home to one of the largest Biorock Projects in the world (I'll be elaborating more on this on a separate post).

We booked a two-night stay at a beautiful resort called Amertha Villas. Since half of the group cancelled on the trip, we were left to having the 2 villas to ourselves. We got Villas 7 and 8 which were each a two-bedroom Villa with it's own outdoor kitchen, swimming pool, garden and terrace. By then, I was starting to forget all about the lost camera. Nice resorts have that effect on you. Especially of you're there for free. haha.

Villa 8
I was housed together with the 2 boys. They got the bigger room while I got the smaller one. Both rooms were connected but had separate openings to the pool. Each room also had a separate air-conditioning system so you can control the temperature to your liking, a cute four-poster bed and a separate bath and toilet. Privacy. Wonderful.

The boy's room
My room
My toilet

What I loved about Amertha Villas is the space. The resort was sprawling with very private villas that open up to large lawns and a private pool. But in spite of the huge area, their WiFi signal was still okay. So happy me. There were no two-story buildings here which made the views of the mountains and the sea unobstructed - just as they should be.

I woke the boys up extra early so we'd have time to roam around the resort before the bosses wake up. God, I can't believe I'm here. Everything looked so intricate and beautiful. Even the bamboo trash cans were an eye-catcher.

We had brekkie right at the beach. It was a complimentary breakfast with fresh fruits, Bali coffee and a choice of continental or Indonesian breakfast. We all got the Indonesian breakfast - of course.The weather was sunny with a slight breeze blowing from the sea, the coffee was hot and splendid and the company was great. God, that was a good day.

After brekkie, we were to meet Dr. Tom Goreau, one of the founders of the Bio Rock technology. This was one of the highlights of my trip to Indonesia. You can read more about it in the next post. =)

Amertha Bali Villas Beachfront Resort and Spa

Instantly Bali: In Transit

I usually spend months, sometimes, even up to almost a year planning for trips abroad. But this trip, I planned only for a month. Why? It was work-related and therefore, FREE. (well, watdya know?!!!) My boss actually mentioned it to me several months before and it was one of those "I-know-it's-never-going-to-happen-so-stop-dreaming" plans.

But lo-and behold, a month before the trip, the big guy told me to finalize the itinerary. I was freaked out, yes. My passport was expiring. I had to get some pocket money and get the needed travel documents (government scholars are required to get one whenever they travel abroad). Make the itinerary. Book the flights. Book the hotel. Plan for the transportation. And most importantly, I had to make arrangements for the Energy Ball.

It was a tough month, bouncing between the field and the office for the preparations. A gazillion changes and re-bookings later, it was finally October and I was packing my bags for the 7-day trip. The plan was to spend one day in transit to Bali. Spend 3 days there to meet a coral restoration expert. Fly to Singapore  and spend another three days there to meet two other coral experts before flying directly back to Cebu.

This was my first time in Indonesia so yes, I freaking excited. It was a grueling 24-hour trip (Cebu-Manila-Singapore-Bali). After touching down in Bali, we had to go on a 2-3 hour road trip to a fishing village called Pemuteran.

As I mentioned before, this was a business trip so accommodations were pretty comfortable. We were fetched by a 20-seated bus at the Kuta Airport and there were only 5 of us (2 professors and 2 of my old college classmates-turned-workmates).

Now for the last leg of the trip, a 3 hour bus ride to Pemuteran
My first impression of Bali? Well, I arrived at midnight, after more than 18 hours of either being on a plane or waiting for our flight in an airport. So it wasn't really that much. Plus, I lost my camera during our stop-over at Singapore so I wasn't really feeling so high by the time we touched down on Indonesian soil. Oh well. Maybe tomorrow will bring me something to be excited about.

A little teaser: Yes, I did forget all about the lost camera the following day. =)

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

On Writer's Blocks and Heartaches

It's been a while. I mean really been a while. These past 3 months have been one of the toughest times of my life. I experienced heartaches in ways I never thought possible. A lot of things have happened, most of which are too personal to be written here. Some very important things ended. And it left me scared in a way. For myself and for the people that are very important to me. Hence, I chose to stop writing. And at some point in time, I thought I may stop the travelling as well.

But on the other hand, these times have been some of the most blissful of my life. I found things that I thought I would never find in my lifetime. I found hope in places and in people I least expected. Life broke my heart and replaced it with one filled with gratitude and a new appreciation for what I have right here, right now. It challenged me to become better -  a better mother, a better friend, hell, even a better cook (I once got burnt badly in the face while cooking a freakin' egg. I had to endure being called Doctor Evil for a month).

So life must go on. I intend to live life the way it's supposed to be lived. I involuntarily show my tonsils and sometimes, cry when I laugh. I eat healthy. I eat unhealthy. I dress up, even when the occasion does not call for it. I speak my mind (which gets me into trouble, sometimes). I can do so many things at once. I love alcohol and when the occasion is right, I let myself get tipsy. I walk fast. I do great under pressure. I've made, fulfilled and broken promises. I sing in the shower. I smile at strangers. I daydream, a lot.

And I write. I write with my heart. I write with my soul. So the writing must go on. And perhaps, the travelling shall too....

Camotes Revisited: A Day in San Fran

My previos trip to Camotes Island with Dodong's bar(tenders =D) was not completely documented. The reliable IXUS cam broke down just as we reached the first stop of the tour. But if you've read my previous post, I vowed to come back and get you guys the pictures you needed.

This was also a special trip because this was my semi-gift to the Nanay. "Semi" meant I only paid for half of the trip (I could not afford to pay for an overnight stay for 9 people). She paid the other half of it, of course. Semi-parasitic me.

We booked an overnight stay at Mangodlong Paradise Resort, right after Typhoon Gener left Visayas. The waters were still a bit choppy and I was genuinely concerned because we had a 3 month old baby in tow. But well, you can never be too young to travel, ei?

The resort observes a strict check-in/check-out time (at 2pm and 12 pm, respectively). We arrived around 12pm and opted to have lunch first while we wait. It's a good thing I came here before cause by then, I knew exactly what and what not to get. I got a good estimate of the amount of food to order as well (yes, I can be freaky-compulsive like that sometimes).

Right after checking in, we immediately went on a day tour around San Fran. Now, I did this once before but I wanted the balikbayan Nanay and the brother to experience it. We booked the tour package offered by the resort. There were 9 of us, which made it real cheap at P1500. That's 167 Pesos per person. Not a bad deal if you ask me.

First stop: Lake Danao. Lake Danao is known to be the largest lake in Cebu or if I'm not mistaken, in the Visayas. There are kayaks and boats for rent. There are also picnic stations and food stalls if you plan on spending the whole day at the lake. We however, just took a handful of pictures and moved on.

Second stop: Timubo Cave. Timubo Cave is a freshwater cave in Camotes Island and a popular tourist destination. Visitors need to pay 15 PhP for an entrance fee. The way down can be pretty slippery and stiff but there's a cool freshwater pool waiting for you below, which makes up for everything. The water is cool and crystal clear. The little brother had a blast.

Third stop: Esperanza Beach. Esperanza Beach is actually a public beach with a long stretch of white sand. Although the typhoon has gone way past the Visayas, the waters at that time was still quite rough so we (Energy Ball, to be exact) were left taking photos instead.

Last stop: San Francisco Baywalk. There's nothing much to see here. We came to town to buy (rather, smuggle) some alcohol into the resort (which was supposed to be prohibited, by the way. lol. spare us, gin is much, much cheaper in town).

The deserted Baywalk
We returned to the resort at around 5pm. The pool suckers wasted no time and went straight to the pool.   I on the other hand, was busy ordering food for dinner and mixing the smuggled gin with lime. I wanted to make it perfect for the Nanay and for the brother. =)

Dinner was good. The Energy Ball slept the entire time which meant we could eat without interruptions. haha. After that, we rested for about 5 minutes before heading out to the darker part of the beach. It was time to consume the prohibited alcohol.

THE Hangover
The Energy Ball was safely sleeping with the Nanay. The first few hours of drinking was pretty fun. After that, I could not remember a single damn thing. In short, I got real drunk with my brothers on the beach. It's a first, actually. =) I woke up the following morning with sand on the bed, on my hair, in my pockets and everywhere. Top that with a head-splitting headache. God I love family outings.