Aug 3, 2015

Really Important (Seriously!) Guide of Visiting Monkey Forest in Ubud Bali

I was in the monkey forest in Ubud with my clients from Denmark. They enjoyed their stay there. Besides the monkeys, they enjoyed the walk around the forests.

There are about six hundred monkeys who will entertain you once you get in the forest. It is not a forest like you may think a forest where it is hard to walk around. Since there are many visitors coming to this forest, the local government has made path around the forest.

These are the "polite monkeys", they don't snatch your glasses, earring, hair clip, or your credit card.

They have enough to eat so that they don't have to take your belongings and force you to buy food to exhange with stolen items. They don't have that kind of mentality.

Local provide them with sweet potato to feed them for several times a day. Of course, they will not refuse banana. Monkey and banana are just not to be separated. Close your eyes and say monkey to yourself, and your brain will think banana.

Please don't give your biscuit, coke, and peanut to them. It's not healthy for them. They can get sick. Especially the coke, they contain lots of sugar and who knows what's in the coke. It tastes nice, monkeys like it, but it is harmful for them.

You can buy banana at the entrance of the monkey forest. Small bunch wich consist of four bananas, cost about rp 20,000 and big bunch cost 50,000 rp. Bringing a bunch of banana to the monkey forest will attract the six hundred macaques. And that's not fun. So, hide them in your bag, but don't let the monkeys see you as you put them in your bag. And feed them one banana at the time.

When you feed the small monkey (ow, so cute!)  the big monkey will come. The small monkey will run away. Okay, you probably think that you need to teach valuable lesson the big monkey how important is to share. But, please, don't.  The rule of the jungle applies here.

Forget about talking to the monkeys, they won't talk to you back. You know why? Because their moms told them not to talk to strangers.

Jul 31, 2015

Visiting Calm Quiet Beach in the North Bali

This is a video I make during my visit to Lovina beach, just outside a restaurant and hotel named Aditya. The beach was calm, and the wave was not that big. Not so many people when I came. It's lunch time, and was quite hot day.

Lovina beach is not like the beach in Kuta or Nusa Dua. It has black sand. And being in the north, it is not as popular like Kuta beach.

From south Bali, you need to spend 2 to 3 hours to go here. But on the way, there are many beautiful places to visit along Bedugul and Gitgit.

So, when you have time you can go tour to Lovina or just spend overnight at hotels around Lovina.

Jul 6, 2015

Galungan Holiday is Coming, Yay!!

This is my favorite holiday as a kid years ago, (feel like yesterday, though). I feel that everybody goes to the temples on this day. Well, of course that's not true, some may stay home because of certain reason.

Back to me as a kid, it was my happy moment. This was the time I got new clothes from my parents  and some money that I can spend the way I like it. I think every Balinese kid will be happier at the Galungan day because they can wear their best clothes. Maybe it is not always new, but you know what I mean.

But the atmosphere is different than the normal day. There is peacefulness in the air. A sense of holiness and celebration.

This is a day that nobody should go to work or goes to school. Everybody should go home and meet their parents or families and exchange news.

At home in the village, I imagine the conversation will start with
"he, kenken kabare, tumben ngenah?" (hei how are you? long time no see? )
 "Dije jani megae, Yan? ( Where do you work now, Yan?)"
 "Kude be ngelah nak cenik jani?" (How many kids do you have now?" )
 "Beh, gaya den be dadi boss megae di pariwisata." (You're so cool now being a boss working in tourism) and the like.

For me as a kid, long time ago,  going home to the village means meeting my grand parents and my cousins. This another great experience.

For me now as an adult,  going home and have my kids meet their grand parents and their cousins. This makes them happy, as I was.

Last note, Galungan Day takes places every six months in Bali and it said to commemorate the victory of Dharma against Adharma. And for this month it will be in mid of July 2015.

Holiday makes us a happier person, don't you think?

Jun 26, 2015

Best rice fields views in Bali

Here are some photos I have taken during working as tour guide in Bali. I took these photos in several locations including Tegalalang village, Pupuan Village, Belimbing village and also the popular Jatiluwih village. If you have the chance to visit Bali, I recommend you to visit some of those villages, or all if you can, to enjoy breathtaking views.

Oct 28, 2014

The Other Side Of Jimbaran

Jimbaran bay is a great place for spending time relaxing by the beach.  You can go there in the evening at about 6 and enjoy the sunset on the beach. Your kids probably likes running around and playing around the beach.  You can order the food at the restaurant or cafe where you stop for dinner.
One of my favorite place for dinner in Jimbaran is in Kelan village.  This is toward northern end of the bay.  It's located closer to the airport,  but far enough that you can't hear the sound of the planes.
I like this place because it's more quiet.  There are not many cafe near by so there are less people.  There are music,  but they are not so loud.
In the main area of Jimbaran, where most of the cafes or restaurants are located,  there are usually lots  of traffic. Traffic in Kelan is less,  hence it's easy to drive around.
This photo is from one of the cafe in Kelan.

Oct 22, 2014

Tegalalang Rice Terrace Not For Sale?

Sometimes ago if you passed Tegalalang and wanting to see the view of the rice terraces, you'd be surprised with the huge letters spread out on the main hill of the rice fields. It says "NOT FOR SALE".
For some of the tourists who would like to take photo of just the rice terraces, that would be a problem. So, anyone wanting to take photo of the rice field will have to include the letters.

The letters not for sale was actually from one of a Bali artist who also concerned about the environmental issue in Bali. I have no more information about this, nor that I have the capacity to talk deeper about this. But one thing for sure, that there is a fast decrease of the rice field area in Bali every year.

A lot of the rice field in Bali has been converted into housing area. With more people, as the population grows, Bali needs more housing. And for this we converted rice field into housing.

Another reason for a conversion, because people build more hotels and villas around the rice field. Soon we will no longer have enough rice field to produce rice for our people. Even now we have imported rice from other countries.

The word NOT FOR SALE serves a reminder for us not to blatantly sell our rice field. This is one of the reason why tourists come to Bali. What do you think?

Oct 18, 2014

What's New in Ubud Market?

I still remember when I first went to Ubud marrket in early 2000. This was before it was renovated. Now everything has changed.
In the past, once you get into the market you would see the sellers were everywhere, they would lie down their merchandise in the ground. As I walked around the market, you walk down path where you need to walk carefully at certain point so you don't step into any merchandise for selling.
Most of the sellers just lie down their sellers in the open. Can you imagine what happen to them if it was raining? They would probably packed up their merchendise.
I enjoy watching those merchandise for display everywhere. It was colorful. They were mostly souvenirs. You could see wood carving, wind chimes, table decoration, fans, wall decoration, painting, ash tray, bottle opener (which usually very obscene, but it is a different kind of sense of humor).They were all differet in colours and it is a real treat for the eye, and walking in the forest of souvenir making me thinking that was the part of the Ubud market which was very interesting.
Nowadays, those are gone.  Ubud market has been changed, all the sellers now have their own stalls or little shops. These shops are located in a big building where the sellers could rent or buy their place for selling their merchandise.
When you arrive in the Ubud market, you can enter the two stories building where you can see these little shops. The sellers do not have their stuff for sale in the open air, but inside the building. For me, it is less fun to walk inside the building, it felt like walking in shopping center. But that's just me. I am a tour guide, I am not a tourist who go there for shopping. Just for taking my clients or the tourists. You will probably will think differently than I do.
One thing that remain the same is the bargaininig. You will have still bargain if you want to buy art in this market. But, a word of warning, because it is indoor, and there is no AC at the time I write this post, it can be a bit hot. So your bargaining skill maybe compromised because you can not stand the heat.

Oct 15, 2014

Learning Balinese Dance

Maybe you come to Bali for not just holiday, but you want to learn about the local culture. One way to do it is learning Balinese dance. There are many studio where the Balinese kids learning to dance. They are scattered all over Bali. One that I would like to present here is Sudi Dancing School in Blahbatuh.
Every afternoon boys and girls from 4 to 15 years old come to the house of Mr. Sudi. Mr. Sudi and his wife, Made, were both dancers. They call their home Sudi Dancing School. But it is not like a formal school where you see many children studying in class room. This is very informal way of learning.

The idea to start this school, according to Mr. Sudi, more than ten years ago, was to prepare the Balinese local children so they can perform dancing at the temple ceremony at their village. That's the main reason. In Bali, there are three kind of dances: dance that dedicated for God or sacred dance, next the social dance, and the last is public performance dance. As you can see, the first was the reason the school was started.

Now they do not just teach religious dance, but also public performance dance. Probably you have seen Legong dance performed somewhere before. This is one of the many dance they teach.

While Made is soft when teaching, Mr. Sudi is more energetic. Sometimes he can be overwhelming for those who are not used to him. But they have their distinctive style. Some students may enjoy soft way and others may need more energetic teachers.

Here is a photo of Mr. Sudi and his wife teaching the local girls dancing. The photo is taken by my friend, Thant Zaw.

Oct 14, 2014

Introducing the Bali Mandara Toll Bridge

This morning I went to Nusa Dua from Denpasar.  I drive via the toll bridge. That will save me about 45 minutes. Instead of going for one hour drive, I could cut it into 10 minutes.

If you are in Bali, you may want to use this toll bridge to save time whenever you go on tour provided that your hotel is located in Nusa Dua or Jimbaran.  If you stay in Kuta, Legian or Seminyak, there is no need to use this toll it does not connect to that places.

Going on the toll, you can see quite beatiful scenery of the Benoa harbor and the mangroves along the toll. In certain area of the sea, you can see fisherman boats, and people going fishing on small boats. Maybe there is no time to capture that with your camera, because you can not stop. But this scenery is great alternative to the traffic jam you may encounter when you drive through the normal route.

Besides Nusa Dua, one end of the toll bridge is the Ngurah Rai statue which is close the airport. This means if  you're just arrive at the airport and wishing to go a quicker way to Nusa Dua or Sanggaran or Sanur, you can use the toll bridge. You can save lots of time.

Payment to go to the toll is only around USD 1 at the time when I wrote this post (or rp 10000). Use the 10,000 rupiah note to pay, it will be quicker that way.

As you can see from the photo, there is not much traffic on the toll bridge. There is no traffic jam there, maybe for the next upcoming few years. Who knows?