March 29, 2017
Finally our first real day out and about in Bali! Or so I thought…Apparently, today was still a holiday: Ngembak Geni, the day after Nyepi.
For breakfast, we decided to finish all the store bought Nyepi snacks we bought that we didn’t eat the day before. I never thought my mom would let me eat instant noodles for breakfast! So delicious!! Indonesian spices are so good!
Then we took the hotel shuttle to Seminyak Square. Many shops were closed for the New Year so we headed straight to the beach. Seminyak Beach is kind of disappointing. There’s a ton of trash near the entrance and it doesn’t look well kept. We wandered around and decided to check-out Potato Head.
Potato Head Beach Club
I was a hesitant to come here at first. “Beach club” just sounds super trendy, expensive, and uptight, but the atmosphere was surprisingly laid back and relaxing. The entire place is beautifully laid out. The “Potato Head experience” starts from the moment you enter. You walk down this long, tree lined entrance, pass a couple modern storefronts covered by green-vines, and then you see this dramatic, Roman Coliseum inspired facade made of old window shutters. Behind these walls is the actual beach club – restaurants, bars, and a pool with ocean views all around.
Unfortunately for us, the pool was under construction so the views were slightly hindered but still impressive. We took a seat in the bar lounge area near the water. I ordered the Kookaburra and Matahari. The first one was so good! It had passion fruit and some sort of foam thing on top. The second one was like a mojito. Both were refreshing in the Bali heat! We also ordered their homemade chips and nuts which were also really good. It didn’t taste too oily and fried and there was a little bit of spice (of course) which gave that extra kick. Drinking under the shade and fan, while looking toward the endless ocean, I quickly fell into relaxation mode.
The lounge is not as pretentious as I had expected. The service was amazing and the atmosphere was so casual. It’s a little pricey for Bali of course but affordable for tourist standards. I totally recommend it. My mom kept saying she felt like she was in a movie.
The hunt for lunch on the day after Nyepi…
We got a ride back to the hotel, passing eat street, much of which was closed. Along the way, we passed by a lot of Ogoh-Ogohs that were used for the parade or festival the day before.
We then decided to eat near the hotel before our 3pm pickup. We tried to go to two hotel-recommended Indonesian cuisine restaurants, but both were closed because of the holiday. After walking under the awful, brutal mid-day sun for 30+ minutes, we finally found an Indonesian restaurant, Warung Mak Oni near the hotel. The nasi campur mixed rice and the curry were both really good. I love Bali’s spices! We also wanted ice cream at the popular gelato spot down the street but it was closed. EVERYTHING good was closed today!! This was really disappointing considering it was our only real day in Seminyak.
Based on the little I saw of Seminyak…
The area seems to have a very resort-like atmosphere. Everything is catered to tourism here. The “main attractions” which are the manicured beach lounge, hotels, and bars/restaurants don’t feel real. But when we ventured outside of these areas, it was just so disappointing. It didn’t seem like an area where people lived. When I talk to people who have been to Bali before and were disappointed, I feel like this is area they are referring to. Oh well, now we were off to Ubud!
Kopi Luwak Coffee Plantation
To get us to our hotel in Ubud, we hired a private driver through the hotel. The plan was to take a little detour to see the sunset in Tanah Lot and then to Ubud. We left the hotel a little early, so the driver took us to the coffee plantation to try kopi luwak coffee (the poo coffee).
Kopi luwak coffee beans are found in the droppings of the civet, a nocturnal, furry, long-tailed catlike animal that prowls Southeast Asia’s coffee-growing lands for the tastiest, ripest coffee cherries (interesting NY Times article…). It was kind of sad seeing this animal locked up in a cage used to eat and produce coffee. Also, the poop looked pretty gross. They complimentary tea and coffee tasting was not good. It didn’t include luwak coffee. My mom thought this place was dirty so we didn’t bother trying it. It really was…uneventful and disappointing.
We made it to Tanah Lot and walked around the shops for a bit.
Once we reached the cliff, I realized how big the viewing area was. I had no idea there would be so much to see other than the famous sea-side temple. There are actually two temples. One far away on a cliff that is the famous and important one. Another one you can climb up if you get blessed and donate some money. For the blessing, we waited in line, splashed ourselves with some Holy Water which was streaming through a hole in the rock, and then the blesser (?) placed dried rice in the center of our forehead. We were then allowed to climb up this rock which was totally uneventful. We donated 50 cents for this.
We witnessed an amazing sunset at Tanah Lot. People say it gets really crowded here for sunset but it wasn’t really that bad. I didn’t have to look over anyone or shove or push or anything (like during the Ogoh ogoh festival) so it was definitely worth it.
Right after the sunset, it started raining and then quickly pouring. Our driver took us to a restaurant catered to Westerners again. We went in, sat down, and then left. We asked him to take us to a cheaper and more local spot. He ended up taking us to a slightly cheaper and fairly nice restaurant 1.5 hours later, 10 min from our Ubud hotel. There was definitely some communication issues. In hindsight, we should’ve just eaten at our hotel when we arrived because the food there is so good! The fried duck I had was pretty tasty though.
Our Ubud hotel, Sankara Ubud Hotel was beautiful! We were warmly greeted upon arrival, and served with a lemongrass drink, and given a cold towel. They were so friendly here! The room had a massive bathroom, probably half the size of my apartment. So glad to be spending three nights here!!