Saturday, January 12, 2013

Instantly Bali: Goodbye Pemuteran, Hello Kuta

Time flies fast, even in sleepy Pemuteran. And before I knew it,  business was done and it was time to leave. But not Bali just yet. Mind you, the bossess know how to have a good time too. They instructed me to find a good place to stay in Kuta so we could wander around just before we bid Bali adieu.

I scoured the net and found a few hotels well within our budget. I wanted a place near the go-to spots because we only had very little time in Kuta. Lucky me found a beeeeautiful bed and breakfast right at Legian Street called Tanaya Bed and Breakfast. Small, clean, good price, good location, complimentary breakfast. Perfect.

The 4 hour ride back to Kuta was wonderful. I slept a little and spent most of my time looking out the window of the bus. The soil was red here. And the houses, they looked intricately decorated, no matter how small. There was very little talking going on between me and the boys. They were looking out of the window too, making occasional side comments about a statue, a funny road sign. Comfortable silence on road trips. I like it that way.

The streets got more and more crowded, retails stores slowly come popping out like mushrooms and the traffic gets more and more heavy. We are in Kuta all right. We arrive at Tanaya just in time for lunch. They have a strict check-in time policy here so we opted to eat first before checking in. Luckily, they let us leave our bags at the reception area. The bosses would have freaked out if they said no. Heck, we were carrying over 30 kilos of dive gear.

I picked Tanaya because of the location. It's close to everything. Stores. Restaurants. The beach. We had a few dollars changed and went across the street to have lunch. I loved the food in Amertha Villas. But food in Kuta is a different story. They looked good but they did not exactly tickle my taste buds. Everything smelled of incense. But still, I needed to eat if I were to spend the entire day walking. We ordered a set meal that had various types of rice in it, some chicken satay and many other things that I know not the name.

After returning back to the hotel and checking in, the boys and I wasted no time and went out to explore. I pleaded them to wait until later in the afternoon. It was 1pm and scorching hot. But no. They threatened me that they won't be returning until evening and that I'll be left alone in the hotel to rot. They can be real bullies like that, sometimes.

First things first: a visit to Kuta beach. It was an ungodly hour to go visiting Kuta beach. It was hot. The traffic was so, so heavy. Even people had a hard time walking through the streets with so many motorcycles invading the side walk. But still, we were there braving the heat and the traffic.

The beach was beautiful. It was dotted with locals selling cold beer and other refreshments. Some offering surf lessons. We took refuge in a huge umbrella and ordered some beer. People-watching mode. The cold beer felt wonderful. But it was just a bit too hot that day. After finishing a bottle, we decided to go back to the hotel. My head was starting to hurt from all the heat.

BBB - Beer with the boss in Bali
Second thing on the agenda: pasalubong. I let the boys lead the way. These two were really bad at haggling. And I was not very good at it either. But with very little pocket money, we had no choice but to take on the challenge. We decided to buy pieces in bulk so that we could all ask for a bigger discount. We also did the dramatic walk-away scene and got a huge price off on some Bintang shirts. And then there's the "we-will-be-leaving-tomorrow-so-give-us-a -good-discount-for-good-luck" thing. Before we know it, it was 7 in the evening. We had been walking for 6 freaking hours.

A little tip: if you're looking for cheap pasalubongs and souvenirs, there are guys who customize key chains for you just at the side of the streets.

Pasalubong hunting. From mornin 'till night
We got back to Tanaya and had dinner across the street again, this time, in a different resto. Food was fairly good. Not really something to rave about. Except of course from the frog legs the boys ordered. It was too slimy for my taste. Everything smelled of incense still. 

At night time, the streets of Kuta come to life. Loud music. People walking with beer in hand. It was crazy. We were tired so we opted to buy some beer from a convenience store and enjoy the crazy Kuta nightlife as a bystander.

Tomorrow, I'll be leaving Bali. Although I won't be able to experience the notorious Kuta nightlife, I'd like to end my last night in Bali, my way. A quiet corner on the 2nd floor patio, not too near, yet not too far from the crazy crowd and the streets. And of course, a bottle of beer. Bintang to be exact.

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Instantly Bali: The Biorock Project

This is still day one of our stay in Bali, Indonesia. After that wonderful brekkie by the beach, the bosses, the boys and I prepared for our meeting with Dr. Tom Goreau. A simple and short background: the BioRock technology is Dr. Goreau's ingenious way of restoring damaged coral reefs. He uses a very small amount of electricity to hasten the calcification of corals. This means that corals grow faster, and (as he claims), are more resilient to rise in water temperature or global warning. 

I admit, I was a little skeptical at first. But you have got to see it to believe it. The corals in his restoration site were ginormous and extremely colorful. The project places various artificial reef structures in the area. After which, they attach coral fragments and wire them up with electricity coming from inland. The result? A beautiful, thriving coral reef that attracts schools of fishes and various marine organisms. 

Yes, that used to be a real bicycle on your upper right..
We spent a good 4 hours snorkeling and diving. We have never seen anything like this before so yes, the boys and I were a little ecstatic. After the final dive, we headed to the villa to freshen up and got ready for dinner. 

Eating becomes extra pleasant at Amertha Villas
We had dinner at Amertha's beautiful restaurant by the shore. We had squid, shrimp, some chicken and fish. I forgot the names, I'm sorry. But there was one part of dinner that I shall never forget. Bintang. The oh-so-wonderful beer that perfectly ended my first dinner in Bali. Hick* Hick* (Disclaimer: No I did not get drunk. Not with the bosses around.)

Dinner @ Amertha Villas
Where have you been all my life?
We got real lucky because we also got to witness a beautiful village dance at the neighboring resort. The dance was very intricate and the kids were extremely good at it. They apparently, get donations from tourists after the presentation. But apart from the little money, they also do this to pass on their culture to younger generations in the village. Bali is beautiful indeed.