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Bali, Indonesia, Travel

BALI: MY TOP 5 THINGS TO DO

September 9, 2016

If you’re planning a trip to the “Island of The Gods” here are my top 5 things to do whilst you are there. With so much to do in this beautiful, tropical destination it’s hard to know what’s worth doing and what isn’t – especially if you are only here for a limited amount of time. So after spending 6 months of the year here, allow me to make things easier for you with my suggestions…

1. Number one on my list is a fairly obvious choice and rather commercial, but I’ve been here twice and would definitely recommend you head over here for the day to Potato Head Beach Club. It’s 500,000 IDR for a bed with a maximum of 4 persons and you get to redeem that amount against food and drink, so you don’t really lose out. It’s always full of people just wanting to enjoy the sun, watch the waves from the infinity pool and just unwind completely for the day.20151115_140041 _1

2. Next on my list is slightly on the expensive side, but if you’re in Bali for a special occasion and want to do something really luxurious I would 100% recommend going to the Soleil Sunday Brunch at The Mulia Resort in Nusa Dua. Make a reservation in advance and drink as much sparkling wine, beer, cocktails and eat as much as you like for a whole 4 hours! The food is incredible and the drink selection isn’t restricted at all. You will get the best of everything here and you can literally ask for anything you want. The restaurant overlooks the hotel’s stunning pool and beach, and the interior of the restaurant is beautiful. Once brunch is over head outside with your last drink of the day and enjoy the resort’s surroundings.DSC_1103_1

3. Up next is a day trip all the way to Tenenungan Waterfall. My advice here is do not trust the Google Map location like me and my boyfriend did if you are planning on biking it there by yourself, if anything I would suggest hiring a driver or taxi driver to take you here and back because the drive is long and the traffic is pretty overwhelming but once you get there it is well worth it. The water fall is amazing and there isn’t as many steps down to it as I was expecting which is a bonus when you are making your way back up. We arrived at about mid-day and it was pretty busy so if you can get there early morning I can imagine it is really special.DSC_1221_1

4. Next on my list is a secret beach called, Green Bowl Beach. Located to the south of the island near to Uluwatu you will discover this gorgeous hidden beach surrounded by cliff sides and has the most golden sand you’ll ever see. Again, it is one where you should arrive as early as possible as it can get a little crowded a mid-day, but still there is enough room to spend a whole day here and enjoy this little beach. However, there are over 300 steep steps to get down to this beach and walking back up is not for the faint hearted!DSC_0885

5. Last, but not least whilst you are in Bali make use of where you are and your proximity to the most amazing islands in the world – The Gili Islands. I did a full blog about my visit last year which you can read here. Every time some asks me “What was the highlight of spending your time in Bali?”, I always say “The Gili Islands”. There are three islands to choose from and you can spend your time on all three very easily as there are taxi boats that run every day regularly to them. But honestly, these islands are a must see and such an unforgettable experience!IMG-20151006-WA0000_1

If you have any other suggestion on what to do in Bali please comment below and share your thoughts! You can also see “My Top 5 Things To Do in Koh Samui, Thailand” here.

Bali, Restaurants, Reviews

BARBACOA: LATIN AMERICAN DINING IN BALI

May 12, 2016

DSC_1043_1DSC_0972_1 DSC_0987_1 If you’re looking for somewhere to enjoy a chilled drink and BBQ style food with a stunning view of the Balianese rice paddies I’d highly recommend stopping over at Barbacoa. The whole venue has a warm and rustic feel to it, and the food is delicious!

Their lunch menu provides a wide selection of tapas style dishes, perfect for sharing and enjoying over a cocktail or beer. Me and my boyfriend ordered a few smaller dishes and one main to share, and this was more than enough for us to feast on.

There is also so much to look at whilst you dine – apart from the view, if you head over to the kitchen area you will see how the chefs roast their pork ribs! The atmosphere and ambiance here is 10/10 so add this Latin American eatery to your list of places to dine at whilst in Bali.

BarbacoaBali.com

Bali, Indonesia, Restaurants, Reviews

ILLIDO BALI: AUTHENTIC ITALIAN DINING

May 11, 2016
IlLido Bali Courtyard

After visiting their stunning rooftop oyster bar in Singapore – Southbridge – IlLido Group were kind enough to invite me to their first flagship in Bali to experience more of their amazing hospitality.

The venue was elegant and open-plan with a courtyard surrounded by trees, and furnished with dark wooden tables and chairs in true Italian style. The menu is extensive with a focus on quality – here you will find quintessential Italian dishes which are cooked to perfection and presented beautifully.

Upon entering the restaurant the staff were accommodating and remained attentive throughout the whole time that me and boyfriend were there. The atmosphere was relaxed and unpretentious which made for a great dining experience. To start, the wonderful manager, Claudio recommended two historic Italian favorites – bruchetta and grilled octopus which were both delicious. Prior to this home made fresh bread was served with balsamic vinegar and olive oil.

Starters 20160430_191648

For the main courses I had the Milanese pork chop and Chris had the snapper. Both dishes were impeccably presented and tasted as good as they looked. The manager suggested both of the main courses for us to try after describing them with such knowledge and passion which was really amazing. IlLido is most definitely a restaurant where you can expect and will receive the highest quality Italian cuisine.

20160430_193428 20160430_193357

Finally, dessert was served and of course, I had to try the Tiramisu and we also ordered the profiteroles. The waitress came to serve hot chocolate sauce over the profiteroles which was a very nice touch and was great to watch. Definitely leave room for dessert at IlLido, it is so worth it!

Dessert Dessert

Conclusion

I had a fantastic experience dining at IlLido. This super-chic venue along with its outstanding menu and friendly hospitality sets the standards high for all other trending restaurants in the Seminyak area. You can find IlLido at: 38 Jalan Raya Kerobokan, Banjar Taman, Kuta, 80361 Bali, Indonesia.
Reservations can be made via info@illidobali.com or by calling +62 361 731175.

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.

Bali, Lifestyle

HOW I QUIT MY FULL-TIME JOB AND MOVED TO BALI

October 29, 2015

I always wanted to travel the world. It was all I ever spoke about when I was younger and the only thing I knew I wanted to do once I had finished University.

I thought that moving to Dubai to be an air stewardess was perfect for me but it didn’t satisfy the hunger I had for adventure and real experiences.

The job only allowed a mere snapshot (twenty-four hours maximum layover time) of what a destination had to offer and if I’m honest I spent the majority of my layovers in the hotel room sleeping or ordering room-service because I was so exhausted and sleep was far more appealing than venturing out to explore the place I was so lucky to be in – as much as this pained me.

After one year of flying and living in a beautiful city I had made the decision to email my manager and resign from my position. I wanted more from my life and didn’t want to stay in a job that was not making me happy. Me and my boyfriend packed up our lives (again) and bought a one-way ticket out of Dubai straight over to South East Asia.

So here I am (or was) in Bali, Indonesia and I have been here for four months now and already have Thailand booked as my next stop. The “island life” is different to the hustle and bustle of the city which I’m used to. Everything is slower and more relaxed. I wake up when I want, go to the beach every weekend and get to explore at a pace which suits me (and on a scooter). There’s no more layover time-limits.

How do I earn a living you’re probably thinking? Well my boyfriend has always been a big fan of the online working idea and made it work pretty well for himself when he was in Dubai so I have jumped on board too.

However it isn’t an easy way of life even though many “digital nomads” seem to suggest it is – I don’t know, maybe they know something I don’t. But so far it’s been a roller coaster.

I try to earn a steady income through a variety of things like freelance writing or transcribing, web design and also do stock trading from time to time – just anything that will at least cover my living costs such as rent, food and drink. I have had days where I am so full of frustration I could just cry because maintaining a consistent income is hard and to go from a well paying job in Dubai to earning barely anything is a shock to the system.

Luckily, the cost of living out here is so low that I’m not under too much pressure and I suppose this is the good thing about relocating to Asia. If you want to read about the cost of living in Bali take a look here.

I don’t for one second regret my decision to leave my job. It’s been an amazing experience so far to be able to work on things that I’m actually passionate about and have an interest in (like blogging). I am determined to find a way to make it work, but if it doesn’t then at least I tried and I will just have to figure out another way of travelling the world… we will see how it goes.