Monthly Archives

November 2015

Indonesia, Travel

MY TOP PICKS: 7 BALI RESTAURANTS

November 23, 2015
Bali Restaurants Feature Pic

With so many restaurants to choose from it’s hard to know where’s best and more so, which is the best value. So here I have put together the restaurants I would recommend for those of you visiting Bali,, Seminyak but on a budget/mid-budget:

Trekor Restaurant

One of the first restaurants me and my boyfriend went to along Double 6 Beach. Very low-key in comparison to the other restaurants and attached to the Sing Ken Ken Boutique Hotel, but really good value and the food is great. The menu is varied so there is something to suit everyone’s taste. If you order any of the traditional Indonesian food they bring it out on a huge wooden plate – very strange but I think it’s a nice touch. They also offer free bread and garlic dip as you wait which I love, and I love every restaurant that does this because it’s the little things that make all the difference!

Trekkor Entrance

Price for a main meal and beer (including tax): 120,000IDR/£5.80/€8.20

Address: Jl. Arjuna No. 1, Sing Ken Ken Hotel, Legian

Cafe Marzano

Located near Double 6 Beach this small Italian restaurant is always busy and quite rightly so. The pizzas here are the best! The chef, I believe is Italian therefore you are severed with authentic Italian food which is incredible. This place is our “treat” place as it’s not as “budget” as the other restaurants we normally eat at in Bali, but still well worth it. A glass of red wine and the “Diavola” pizza is my fave combo and Cafe Marzano get it right every time.

Price for a Pizza and Glass of Red Wine (including tax): 165,000IDR/£8.00/€11

Jl. Arjuna No.6, Legian

Char Char Bar & Grill

The lunch deal here is a regular for us – a beer and a burger for 40,000IDR you cannot go wrong! There are a number of options to choose from, but aside from the burger my other favourite is the “Laksa” which I order every time. Char Char is a very popular spot sat in the Oberoi area of Seminyak on the famous “Eats Street” drawing in the crowd with their unique layout. Their layout is combined of a sophisticated restaurant with an open roof and a section called “The Steps” which look out onto the street – perfect for people watching over a Sangria and crackers and dip (which are complimentary of course).

Char Char Steps

Price for lunch and a juice or beer (no tax): 40,000-60,000IDR/£1.93-£2.90/€2.75-€4.10

Address: Jalan Kayu Aya, Seminyak

Biku

Biku is also located in the Oberoi area of Seminyak which serves local cuisine at very good prices. It is also very, very popular for their Afternoon Tea which I never got to try, but always looked lovely and their cakes are displayed for you to see and drool over. It is decorated a little bit like an antique shop/book store which I have heard is exactly what it used to be and now is converted into a restaurant. They interestingly offer Tarot readings among other spiritual reading activities between 1pm-5pm which you can book just before you visit making your lunch date even more unforgettable.

Biku Restaurant

Price for lunch and a juice or beer (including tax): 90,000IDR/£4.35/€6.20

Address: Jalan Petitenget No.888, Seminyak

Nirwana Snack

This was another restaurant which we went to the very first time we arrived. It’s a small restaurant holding no more than 30 people at a time and by no means fancy, but we love stopping by here after a day out and having a quick dinner. The menu is based around Australian style food which is simple and stodgy – it kind of reminds me of your classic “pub” food menu which isn’t a bad thing at all! Definitely recommend this place if you want a quiet and filling meal. They do amazing banana pancakes as well, literally the best way to finish off dinner.

Price for main meal and a beer (no tax): 75,000IDR/£3.65/€5.20

Address: Jl. Petitenget No. 8M, Seminyak/Kerobokan

Old Man’s

I love it here. Coming in from Batu Bolong beach in Canggu, walking straight in to Old Man’s, having a quick shower, and grabbing lunch and a cold drink. Both the food and drinks are fairly priced – obviously depending on what you order. It can get a little pricey for the regular budget traveller especially when you’re buying cocktails but there is definitely something for everyone. It looks like an exotic, beach bar with multi-coloured decor and I think it gets quite lively here on a Wednesday from sunset onwards where they play a massive game of beer-pong.

Old Man's Bar and Restaurant

Price for main meal and beer (no tax): 100,000IDR/£4.80/€6.70

Cocktails: 85,000IDR

Address: Jl. Batu Bolong Beach, Canggu

Gourmet Canggu

This little gem burrowed in between Seminyak and Canggu serves delicious food and is always full of people in the evening. It has a large menu full of different dishes and an equally big menu for its choice of smoothies (I’ve heard their coffees are impeccable also). It is not a fancy place but you can get so much food for such little money you really can’t complain! It’s very casual, very laid back and so perfect for that quick stop by on your way to or from the beach.

Gourmet Canggu Sign

Price for a main meal and juice (no tax): 59,000IDR/£2.90/€4.00

Address: Jl. Tegal Sari No. 41, Canggu

Fashion

GETTING BEACH-GLAM WITH BLUE GLUE BIKINIS

November 17, 2015

I have been lucky enough that a week before I leave for Thailand, Blue Glue Bikinis – a Bali based swimwear producer and designer were kind enough to let me shoot some material for my blog with four of their new collection (and absolutely gorgeous) bikinis, and picking them from the showroom was so hard.

Being from the UK I had never come across the brand until I came here to Bali and the first time I stepped in their shops (which are all over Seminyak) I fell in love with everything. The swimwear range is truly unique which look incredible on anyone who wears them. I love how exotic the designs are, the fabrics are high quality and most of them you can turn inside out for another totally different look.

The designer whom I had the privilege to meet was more than welcoming (and as chic as her swimwear range might I add) and gave me an exclusive design to shoot which I can’t reveal until the release date! I was so excited about it, the style is of course gorgeous and I will the post the look as soon as I can!

Byzance set Sirocco

This golden crotchet bikini is my absolute favourite (and I am now a proud owner of this one). The details on this bikini are so intricate. It is hand painted in bronze and lined in dark sepia lycra. The bikini top has a no hassle function which means no need to tie a knot at the top and the bottoms tie on the sides with golden braids. Ultimate GLAM.

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Favela set Acai

This pink number is super sassy with major LATINA vibes. The bikini top is really interesting crossing over at the front and following around to the back where you get this stunning back design. The bottoms offer that little bit more extra exposure, and also have the same woven zig zag design to match the top.

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Thaikila set Singha

I have seen this exotic bikini on so many bloggers and models so I just had to try it for myself. It is so comfortable – the fabric is super soft so you don’t really feel like you’re wearing anything! The top has a bright floral design with black structure and ties in so many different ways at the back. The bottoms are stunning and tie on the sides with more exotic prints to match the top, but contrast slightly to give a more “edgy” look.

Exotic1

Indonesia, Travel

TOP 5 BALI BEACHES

November 12, 2015

If you come to Bali then your expectations of the beaches are most definitely high and I can say you will not be disappointed. At every end of the island there is a new beach to experience so I have hand picked my fave top 5 beaches that I went to when I was living out here that you MUST check out.

Double 6 or Seminyak Beach

Double 6 Beach runs along the west coast of Bali and connects right through to Legian and the famous Kuta beach (if you walked far enough). It’s where I spent most of my weekend’s body boarding, sunbathing and watching the sunset. The beach can get quite busy later in the afternoon, but there are always sun beds available and plenty of beer. Very popular with beginner surfers who want to ride the white wash, but it can get pretty rough depending on the tide and there are rip currents. Don’t worry though there is always a life guard on duty ready to spring into action. It’s probably also handy to mention that Double 6 is home to La Plancha (must visit bar) and the Cocoon Beach Club.

SeminyakBeach

Nusa Dua – Geger Beach

This beach it just stunning. The water is turquoise and the sand is golden – beach perfection. So, definitely take a trip over to the luxury end of Bali where you’ll find all the 5 star resorts sitting side by side. When you drive into the Nusa Dua resort area you feel like you’re entering a completely different world, there is high security, the roads are lined with green grass and exotic statues. It’s a lot quieter on this beach and when we went we couldn’t even find any sun beds to hire for the day (it is that quiet), but we were happy enough to lie out on the sand and you literally feel like you have the beach to yourself. However, it is rather sterile here as most of the beach is occupied by the hotels so there isn’t much going on unlike Double 6, but still, I loved it.

NusaDuaBeach NusaDuaBeach2 NusaDuaBeach3

Canggu – Batu Bolong

Batu Bolong or otherwise known as Old Man’s beach is a hot-spot for all those hip, surfer types which I have been referring to whenever I talk about Canggu. Another beach I just love that you have to go and see for the day, especially if you want to try out your surfer skills on the more advanced waves. If I’m not feeling in the mood for the beach and the boyfriend wants to go and surf I just hang out at Old Man’s and catch up on my blog with a drink. It gets quite busy, but it’s not a bad thing the atmosphere is lively especially at sunset and of course, being on the west side of the island like Double 6 the sunset is amazing.

surfing

Dreamland Beach, Uluwatu

You will more than likely head north of the island to Uluwatu whilst visiting Bali. The beaches here are so scenic as most are at the bottom of gorgeous cliff sides with huge waves in the background making them all picture perfect. Surfing is not recommended here, it is strictly for advance surfers due to the rocks and the coral reef. But out of all the beaches we went to in Uluwatu we agreed Dreamland was our favourite. It used to be a secret beach as it’s small and secluded, and we stumbled across it after being told to drive down a really rocky dirt road and climb down to it. It has sun beds to hire, plenty of warung’s to get food and there is a beach club you can go to. One downside is that I wouldn’t say it is safe for swimming as the current is strong and most people only brave it to the edge (even then you risk getting dragged in by your ankles ending up with your bikini top wrapped around your head).

Uluwatu2 Uluwatu1

Jimbaran Bay

This is another gem of a beach if you want to have a day away from the crowds to just relax with a book or a bit of music on the sand, beneath an umbrella. Jimbaran is located between Kuta and Uluwatu right behind the airport. It sits on the west coast and therefore another beach blessed with the views of the sunset. It is famous for it’s seafood restaurants which line the beach, however they can be very pricey so always check the menu before committing. The waters are calm and the sand is golden making it perfect for swimming. The sea, the sunset and seafood what more could you ask for!

JimbaranBay

Bali, Fashion

BALI FASHION EDIT: WHAT TO WEAR

November 10, 2015

Although the general vibe here in Bali is very laid back I would say there is a lot of character with regard to fashion and I would best describe the style here in Bali as boho-chic traveller.

People flock to the island from all over the world bringing their own unique styles, however the bohemian theme is quite predominant. Don’t think along the lines of hippie (in fact just get that image out of your head completely) but think more towards the glamorous end of the bo-ho spectrum, kinda like festival style but a little bit more casual.

Must have details:

  • Lace
  • Crochet
  • Anything embroidered
  • Denim
  • Delicate silver jewellery

TIP: I wouldn’t really recommend packing more than one pair of heels (I know, I feel your pain) but Bali is not dressy at all. So pack maybe one dressy outfit and one pair of heels to go with it – the rest casual.

Bali, Fashion

BEST BIKINI SHOPS IN BALI

November 6, 2015

If you come to Bali you will undoubtedly end up poking your nose into all the boutique shops (especially if you are in Seminyak) and bagging yourself a new bikini or two. When I came here for the first time I was suddenly made aware of the surf culture. The “beach babe” vibe is STRONG here so I find myself keeping up with trends by heading to these shops:

Blue Glue Bikinis

Blue Glue is a French brand based in Bali which oozes glamour! The designer has been designing swimwear for over 25 years and decided to launched in Bali in 2004 to show case her talent. They certainly have a presence here with designs that make each and every bikini irresistible. There is something to suit every woman. This is one super chic shop and I gotta get my hands on a bikini soon!

BGB

 

 

Gooseberry Seaside

This Bali brand started off as an independent lingerie label in 2011 and has now delved into the depths of swimwear designing, thank god! Their swimwear range is to die for – delicate lace, Italian material and seductive styles. Gooseberry is slightly on the expensive end of the spectrum but still loved by all the sun-loving surfer babes out here.

Goose

Billabong

This well established Aussie surf brand couldn’t be more at home here in Bali. They have everything you need to get out there and catch some waves but more so, they have some stylish bikini designs to make sure you look hot whatever you do. I’m loving the whole “high-neck bikini tanks tops” trend at the moment and Billabong’s paring them with tropical prints… perfect.

Billabong

Rip Curl

Another Australian surfing powerhouse here in Bali is Rip Curl. Their latest “My Bikini” campaign with the heading of ultimate surfer chick Alana Blanchard showcases bright, tribal and exotic swimwear that’s not only stylish but also totally surfer friendly (well maybe not the bandeau style). What I really like about their bikini’s are that most of them have interesting designs at the back that scream “look at me”.

Ripcurl

 

Bali, Indonesia, Travel

THE COST OF LIVING: BALI, INDONESIA

November 6, 2015

After four months of living in Bali I would like to say I’m quite “clued up” about how island life works and will share with you 5 handy bits of information if you’re thinking of living here for a long period or coming for an extended holiday – locations, transport, activities, food/drinks and visas.

Where to live or stay?

There are many areas to stay in Bali such as, Uluwatu, Ubud, Kuta and the list goes on. Each area has its own character, you just have to figure out what you want from your environment. For us it was good bars and restaurants, close to the beach and high speed internet access. So we found ourselves in Seminyak.

We stayed in this little coastal area the first time we arrived and loved the atmosphere. It’s a little bit of a tourist trap making dining out and drinking more expensive but once you get to know the place you do find the more affordable places. I especially love all the boutique shops that line the streets and how it feels a lot classier than its neighbour – Kuta. We stayed in mid-budget hotels Fave Hotel and Max One Hotel and had no complaints.

Next, we tried out Canggu which is apparently the new “hip” place to be attracting young surfer types who flock to Echo Beach and Old Man’s Beach. The big plus side to Canggu is it’s a lot cheaper to dine out and the price of a hotel/rent is considerably lower than the busier tourist areas. However, as nice as it was we felt we were a little too far away from the buzz of the island and there were too many wild dogs (which scared me to death). Here, we stayed in a large villa and had a room that overlooked the “jungle”.

WhiteDove WhiteDovePool

We headed back to Seminyak and found ourselves a villa-like apartment complex in a good location called Utopic Seminyak. It offered studio style accommodation which was spacious, modern and each had their own little kitchen and lounge area. They have fiber optic internet so it was perfect for what we wanted. However, you do pay a slight premium but, still it is a lot cheaper than renting back home or more so, Dubai.

Unfortunately the whole experience at Utopic Seminyak was ruined when the management allowed a security guard and his wife into our room for “cleaning” the weekend before we were due to fly to Thailand whilst we were out at the beach. They stole the majority of my boyfriend’s foreign currency that was hidden in our wardrobe which he brought with him from Dubai and it amounted to £500/$700. The owner denied all liability and said that we had no proof that money was stolen,then tried to make out we were lying and just wanted a “free stay”.

We felt very cheated and disrespected by everyone who worked there and left Bali feeling really disappointed. I cannot recommend this apartment complex to any one who reads this as the same staff still work there and the owner can not be trusted. The staff told us this had happen before and we were just their latest victim. What they are doing can ruin your whole travel plans and even send people home so please be aware of staff or whoever has access to your room.

Seminyak Seminyak3 Seminyak (2)

Fave Hotel & Max One Hotel – 300,000IDR/£14/20 per night

White Dove Villas – 250,000IDR/£12/€17 per night OR 4.5mil/£218/€305 per month

Utopic Seminyak –3.5mil/£169/€237 per week OR 8.5mil/£411/€576 per month * Please note theft takes place at this complex and I do not recommend it.

 

How to get about?

You will have the option of either taxis or scooters, both of which are very affordable but one is more agile than the other and also a little dangerous. The roads here are small and the traffic is heavy so your best option and the one we chose was to rent a scooter. It’s really the only way around the island of you’re staying for a long period. You can hire taxis and private drivers which I’ve heard you can get for a fair price but I never inquired. It is definitely a better option for comfort, safety and if you’re not confident on a scooter.

You shouldn’t really be paying more than 600,000IDR per month for a bike. I remember us being quoted by a number of dodgy bike men about 900,000IDR per month until we found a decent bike guy to rent from. Also to fill up the tank it should never cost you more than 15,000 -20,000IDR.

Once we were charged 36,000IDR and the guy had ripped us off so just watch what they do! They may leave the meter running from the last customer and make you think it’s what you should be paying but really they just pocket the extra you give them.

TIP: When you arrive at the airport (if you have light luggage) walk away from the airport towards the main road which is fenced and flag a metered taxi. We paid 180,000IDR from the airport to Seminyak in one of those “airport taxis” who promise you you’re getting a cheap price and the next time we managed to flag a Blue Bird taxi off the main road and it cost us only 60,000IDR to Seminyak!

Scooter

Scooter Hire – 330,000IDR/£15/€22 per week OR 600,000IDR/£29/40 per month from Indra’s Bali Car and Motor Bike Rental, Kerobokan-Kuta, +62361735144

 

What to do?

Bali is famous for its surf breaks and beaches so catch some waves and rent a surf board or as I prefer – a body board. I never used to body board and chose to chill out under an umbrella and hire a lounge chair for the day but now I’m always out there. However, if you’re not a confident swimmer- like me then know your limits and when the waves are getting far too big (and they get really big) call it day.

There are also dangerous rip currents which will be pointed out by red flags along the shore. My boyfriend once had to help a group of young local boys who had accidentally swam out into the rip current and couldn’t get back to shore. It was an awkward situation to be in. The panic seemed to take over and they couldn’t stay afloat by themselves without clinging on to him and his body board whilst waiting for help. But, luckily the life guards are fast and super vigilant.

Another thing you MUST indulge in when you’re out here is a traditional Balinese massage. I had one amazing massage whilst I was in Ubud at Ubud Traditional Spa and there is one place I’d recommend in Seminyak called Spa Bali Seminyak. They are both highly rated on good old Trip Advisor and I have to agree.

surfingmassageUbud

Surf board or body board rental- 25-30,000IDR/£1.50/€2 per day           

Sun Lounges (Double 6 Beach) – 25,000IDR/£1.50/€2 per day

Traditional 60 min massage – 150,000IDR/£7/€10

 

What to eat and drink?

I won’t go into detail about all the restaurants and bars I’d recommend – they will be covered in another blog! But normally I eat local cuisine such as Nasi or Mie Goreng Ayam – meaning fried rice or noodles with chicken which is dirt cheap and actually really good.

Nasi Goreng- 15,000IDR/70p/95cents
Mie Goreng: 12,000IDR/55p/75cents

miegoreng

However I do cook a lot as I’m not too keen on eating out all the time. After a year of being an air hostess and going on a “room-service food binge” after every flight I wanted to start eating healthily again and control what types of food I let in my system! Here are a few of my basic shopping items I get from Bintang Supermarket:

Litre of Milk – 17,000IDR

Half a loaf of bread – 9,000IDR

10 Eggs – 17,000IDR

Minced Beef 200g – 40,000IDR

Chicken Breast – 30,000IDR

Packet of bacon – 40,000IDR

Muesli – 75,000IDR

5-6 bananas – 20,000IDR

Pasta 500g – 14,000IDR

Beer 500ml – 24,000IDR

I would say my basic grocery shop each week costs on average a total of – 400,000IDR/£20/€27

 

The visa situation

One thing I wish there was more information about is visas – how to get a long term visa to stay in Bali for longer than the normal 30 days. There is an array of different blogs/articles that cover this but I could never get any straight answers from them. So I have noted down my view of things here and hope it helps.

When we arrived got stamped with our free 30 day tourist visa (UK Citizens). However, we wanted to stay for an extra 90 days after this so what we did was apply for a Social/Cultural visa or as the locals call it a “Sosial Budaya”. This entitles you to stay in Bali for 60 days so long as you have sponsorship from a local, but do not stress. We applied for sponsorship through an agent – there are lots of agencies in Bali that will assist you with this and in fact it is a thriving business here.

Once you have your sponsorship set and you’ve printed off all your paperwork (the agency will tell you what is what) you must exit the country about a week before your tourist visa is up and fly off to Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia for a couple of days.

You don’t have to go here but we heard that it’s the easiest and most hassle-free place to get your 60 day visa approved. We went to the Indonesian embassy the day after we arrived, paid our money to them (you have to go to their bank to pay around the corner, not at the embassy’s desk) and the following day everything was done and dusted.

We headed back to Bali and were allowed to stay for an extra 60 days. However, should you want to stay for longer after that like we did just give your agency a call and they will sort out a visa extension for you. You can extend the Social/Cultural visa 4 times allowing you stay for a maximum 6 months after this you must apply for a new one. Simple.

Sponsorship – $20

Social/Cultural Visa in Malaysia – $35 (this could be wrong as I can barely remember the trip but I think it’s this amount. We paid in Malaysian currency so it’s all a bit of a blur, however your agent will let you know).

Social/Cultural Visa Extension -$50

 

So how much does island life cost monthly?

All in all, taking into consideration my rent, bike rental, grocery shopping and activities at the weekends my monthly cost of living is around £360/€500. If you wanted to live a really nice life here I would say you could spend double what I spend and even that is still amazingly cheap.

Indonesia, The Gili Islands, Travel

A WEEKEND GETAWAY: THE GILI ISLANDS, INDONESIA

November 2, 2015

The Gili Islands are three separate, small islands which are located just off the coast of Lombok, Indonesia. They are stunning little pieces of paradise which I was so lucky to be whisked away to as a birthday treat. If they aren’t on your Asia travel itinerary you’ll want to make amendments as soon as possible because I am sure you will fall in love with them as much as I did.

gili6

We arrived at Gili Trawangan, which is the main island, by speedboat from Bali which took around an hour and a half. Thankfully the weather was good so it was a smooth cross over and once we arrived (after all the “oohing” and “aahing” at the crystal clear waters) we jumped straight on to a horse and cart to the Aston Sunset Resort. Horses and push bikes are the only methods of transport on the islands as motor cycles are banned which I think makes the Gili’s even more authentic – a true escape from reality.

Gili1 Gili10gili2

The resort my boyfriend had booked for us was right on the bay where the sun set (and where the famous swings can be found) and we never failed to miss it each evening. The hotel bar’s happy hour made for an even better experience. We would always bike into the main part of the island for dinner and more drinks.

gili3 gili4gili5 Gili8

There are many restaurants to choose from, high end and low end but I highly recommend the night time food market where there are stalls of local BBQ food to choose from. The lively Irish Bar for after dinner drinks would be another recommendation of mine – we went on a Sunday where they were doing buy one get one free on drinks so two mojitos cost £1.70… yes, we had many.

Take a short boat trip across to Gili Meno for the day to really get that paradise island feel. It’s considerably more under developed than the main island but equally as gorgeous. After trekking through the mud paths to get to the “harbour” we stopped for lunch and found ourselves walking along the shore line for the rest of the day and relaxing in the tiny huts that overlooked the water.

Gili9 Gili7

There is nothing I didn’t like about these islands. Surrounded by turquoise waters and incredible scenery it is simply beautiful. A traveller’s haven for all those jealousy provoking Facebook pictures that make you want to quit your job and pack up your life for the road!

 

Helpful details:

Speed boat from Bali (return) – £27/€37.50/$43p/p (please note I have heard a rumour they are stopping direct route speed boats from Bali to The Gili Islands, you may only be able to go from Bali to Lombok then on to the Gili’s – so do some research)

Horse and Cart – £4.70/€6.50/$7

Boat to Gili Meno (return)- £3.20/€4.60/$5p/p

Dinner at the Night Food Market – £1.70/€2.40/$2.70p/p

Small beer – £1.15/€1.55/$1.80