At the Bali Airport, remember that Singaporeans do NOT have to pay an airport arrival tax. So don’t queue to pay for tax. To make things even more confusing, there are two more counters: one immigration counter for tourists who paid their taxes; and one immigration counter for tourists who don’t need to pay tax. Be sure to queue at the right counter.
We arrived in the afternoon. The airport is near Kuta and Seminyak, the trendy part of Bali, so you may want to visit La Luciola for late lunch. Great ocean view, reasonably priced food and awesome granitas. But we hadn’t arranged with Petanu River Villa on this side-trip to La Luciola in advance, so we just asked our driver, Wayan, to bring us to any restaurants along the way.
He recommended Warung Babi Guling Sanur (Jl. By Pass I Gst Ngurah Rai No. 256 Sanur, T: +62-361-287-308). “Warung” means restaurant but this is more like a restaurant in the 80s, dark and rundown, which we love. The restauranteurs can’t speak English so just point and order. We ordered the “special,” which include two soups, satays (super savory!), two bowls of rice, and a plate of assorted meat including babi guling (suckling pig) and other unidentifiable meats. Quite disappointing. Meats are very tough. Worst of all, it is expensive in such a dingy joint. 180K rp (S$25) for two. Ask Wayan for another recommendation if you go there. (See facebook for more photos of food and the restaurant.)
Reach Petanu River Villa at around 3-4 pm. Take a dip in the infinity pool!
Get out at 5pm to visit the Imperial Palace where traditional dances are held at night at about 7.30pm-8.30pm (80K rp, S$12). Go early to sit in the front row. The traditional dances are found in many restaurants for free too but this one tells a story–read about the plot in the brochure, which comes with the ticketing fee–and is more professional. If you just want to take photos, then you can skip this performance. I’ll tell you which restaurants have the dances that you can take photos with.
After the performance, walk along Jl. Monkey Forest Ubud. You will see one of the ubiquitous gelato shops. We tried Gelato Secrets, with many surprising flavors such as dragonfruit, coconut pandan, guava, and pumpkin hazelnut. But they were so-so and expensive, S$5 for two scoops.
Continue to walk along Jl. Monkey Forest Ubud to reach Kou Cuisine (T: +62- 361-972-319; email@example.com) which sells handmade jams from local produce. About S$5 a bottle.
Still continuing on Jl. Monkey Forest Ubud, when you see a football field, turn left and walk on to find Batan Waru (Jl Dewi Sita, Ubud, Bali; T: +62-361-997-528; website) for dinner!
We ordered otak-otak (pictured above); ayam rica-rica (grilled boneless chicken, simmered in Manadonese chili, shiitake mushroom and coconut milk sauce, 66K Rp (S$9); rendang sapi (beef tenderloin, red kidney beans and baby potatoes slow-braised in Padang spice paste and rich coconut milk, 75K rp (S$11); and bubur injin (Balinese black rice pudding, known as ‘pulau hitam’ to Singaporeans, 22K rp ($3). Not a bad meal, the otak-otak is rubbery like those rubber cheese but the dip is awesome. The meats are tough–still more tender than the one we had in the afternoon–but very savory especially the ayam rica-rica. Including drinks and taxes, we paid 280K (S$40) for two. Not too bad, but not excellent either. (Visit Facebook for the photos of food and restaurant.)
Go to Petanu River Villa rooftop at 6.30am in the morning to see the sunrise and Mount Agong, the volcano in the north.
Then by the side of the dining terrace at the villa, there are steps leading down to…
Paradise!! Hookerlily and I were ecstatic like little children receiving new toys. The plunge pool by the river has spring water trickling into it! But you can swim and bodysurf in the river!!! The river is so private that you can skinny-dip! HOW AWESOME!
Return to the villa at 9am for the complimentary breakfast. (The banana pancakes and vegetable omelette are great.)
Laze by the infinity pool to chit chat and then go to Pulau Kelapa (Jl. Raya Sanggingan, Lungslakan, Ubud; T: +62-361-831-5502) for lunch.
Both Hookerlily and I agreed that this is the BEST MEAL we had in Bali. We had the tempeh penyet (vegetarian soybean, 6K rp, less than S$1!!!); nasi campur (white rice with assorted dishes, 25K rp, S$3.50); nasi kuning (yellow rice with assorted dishes, 25K rp, S$3.50); cumi goreng (calamari, 20K rp, S$3) and two drinks (get the cendol 10K rp, S$1.50, the other drink, Kiatna Medan, golden orange and spice syrup, at the same price is so-so). A total of only 105K (S$15) for two people! Hookerlily likes her angmoh meat, so she couldn’t resist ordering the calamari. But besides the calamari, the food is fantastic! Even the tempeh. I have never eaten such good tempeh before! MUST VISIT. (Visit Facebook for the photos of food and restaurant.)
Then walk across the street to Indus for dessert because Indus is costly but the ambience is amazing, very romantic.
Didn’t I tell you the view is breathtaking? But the desserts are so-so. We had banana-coconut crepes with palm sugar syrup and vanilla ice cream (40K rp, S$6), which is a gigantic version of kueh dadar; a “famous key-lime pie” (50k, S$7) in memory of 14K since it’s the only dessert he eats; and Balinese tea each (40k, S$6), totaling to 207K (S$30). All we can say is you pay for the ambience. (Visit Facebook for the photos of food and restaurant.)
At about 3pm, ask Wayan to send you for a day trip to Kuta and Seminyak.
You can shop around Jl Legian, Jl Raya Seminyak, Jl Laksmana and Jl Raya Kerobokan before heading to Jari Menari (Jl Seminyak 47; +62-361-736-740; website; 10am-9pm) for a massage by an all-male staff. It is said that Indonesian massage originated from here and all the masseurs/masseuses in Bali have one time or another come here to learn. This is the best massage I had in my life. Simply astonishing. The masseur’s hands were so warm and comforting. 330K Rp ($50) including tax for 75 minutes. The massage was so good I tipped the masseur 20K.
After the massage, walk down to Made’s Warung II (Jl Raya Seminyak; +62-361-732-130; website), which has free traditional dance performance and you can take photos with the dancers. This is said to be the first Indonesian restaurant “that started it all.” I don’t know what that line means.
We had the best gado-gado (30K rp, S$4) in the world here. Because of the gado-gado here, we kept ordering gado-gado in all the restaurants we went, hoping to find one as good as this one. We also had traditional Balinese duck, bebek tootoo (165K, S$23) for two. Don’t quite like it, too much star-anise, a spice I dislike. We had two desserts, pisang goreng with brown sugar (a Balinese speciality) and black rice pudding ice cream (highly recommended). We paid 250k (S$35) for two. (Visit Facebook for the photos of food and restaurant.)
Take a cab to the bars/clubs.
You have a few choices of nightlife: Bali Joe (Jl Abimanyu, T: 0819-9910-0445; 8pm-3am) for drag queen performances and maybe meet a few gay boys; OR the most happening local club now, Potato Head Beach Club (website); OR Ku De Ta (Jl Laksmana; +62-361-736-969; website). We chose to go to Ku De Ta.
The deck chairs at Ku De Ta face the magnificent waves, so tall, so terrifying that I was fearful of a tsunami. That’s how strong and tall the waves were. It was a mistake to go to Ku De Ta. In celebration of my singlehood, I ordered “The Monk” and Hookerlily the signature mojito, costing us S$30 and they weren’t good. You pay for the ambience here and it was very quiet. We should have gone to Potato Head Beach Club.
Market tour & Cooking Class. Recommended cooking schools: Casa Luna Cooking School (+62-361-973-282; Jl Bisma; website). Half day cooking class includes visit to market, from 9am-2pm, starting from 300K rp (S$40). Lunch included. OR Bumbu Bali Cooking School (+62-361-976-698; Monkey Forest Rd; website). Half day cooking class includes visit to market, from 9am-2pm, starting from 250K rp (S$35). Lunch included.
However, the cooking classes were fully booked and Hookerlily and I didn’t want to be ripped off by the third cooking school, which was offering 350K (S$50). So we toured the market on our own in the morning (8am). We were adventurous and ate food from the market.
10am – Sacred Monkey Forest Sanctuary (20k Rp, S$3). Not worth going but hey it’s only $3.
12noon – ARMA Art Museum (40K Rp, S$6) includes a free drink at the cafe beside the padi field. We were ripped off here. The person at the entrance charged us 50k Rp ($7). I wasn’t very impressed by Indonesian art. Can skip this.
Walk about 1km to Bebek Tepi Sawah (Jl. Raya Goa Gajah, Br. Teges, Peliatan, Ubud 80571; T: +62-361-975-656; email: firstname.lastname@example.org) for lunch. There is free dance performance and you can take photo with the dancer.
We ordered the fighting cock (quite tender and flavorful, 53K rp, S$7.50); pork ribs (fantastic!, 79K, S$11); gado-gado (no good, 38K, S$5.50); macaron (no good, 10K, S$1.50) and black Russian pie (no good, 39K, S$5.50). Great mains, not good western desserts. We paid a total of 284K (S$40) for two. (Visit Facebook for the photos of food and restaurant.)
After lunch, we returned to Petanu River Villa because we will miss the infinity pool and we want to make most out of it on our last day. We lazed by the pool until 4.30pm.
By then, we were hungry and the housekeeper kindly cooked noodles for us and we sat by the terrace dining to eat, watch the birds fly by in a V-formation, and sing Fun’s We are Young. We had a great bonding time.
At 7pm, we set off to Nomad (Jl Raya Ubud #35; +62-367-977-169; website) for dinner.
Nomad is the most fancy and expensive restaurant we ate in Bali–and it isn’t that expensive too. Very crowded. The food is organic and the plating and cooking are the atas kind. For example, the gado-gado (28K, S$4) is a deconstructed. We also had beef burger (55K, $8); chicken satay (50K, $7); black rice pudding (27K, S$4), bringing a total of 273K or S$39, for two. The food is not too bad, but nothing exceptional too. (Visit facebook for more photos.)
Walk to Jazz Cafe for great live Jazz music and bad daiquiri.
Hike at 6am to Goa Gajah from Petanu River Villa and back in about 3hours. Breakfast at 9am. Then you can take the afternoon flight back to Singapore. On the way to the airport, stop by a mini-mart to buy some snacks home. The triangle and brown sphere aren’t too bad.
PS: Thank you, Sera, for the invited stay at Petanu River Villa.