Jillian
It would seem that I'm pampered. Again, I must be, having taken two vacations already this year. A couple of months have passed since I came back from South Korea. Some of you may have read about it right here already.

This summer, we went to Bali. It was my first trip there and I must say, I really don't know my neighbour. Malaysia is literally next to Indonesia and I'm surprised at how little I know about this little piece of paradise.


We made a huge mistake of flying AirAsia but we'll get to that in another entry. In this entry, I'm only taking you through the nice, pleasant events of the trip. We went to several cities and villages throughout our 2-week stay there; namely Ubud, Amed, Padang Bai, Kuta, Jimbaran and finally ending our vacation in Seminyak. Pardon the inconsistency of the links though, those are just bits and pieces I Googled.

We stayed in Ubud for a week before moving on towards our next destination. Ubud was wonderful. So much so that I don't even know how to begin describing it. Well, shopping was great for one. We were spoiled for choice over there as there were peddlars in every corner of the streets, insisting that we buy their clothes, jewellery, handicrafts, sarongs; you name it. With stiff competition everywhere, sometimes it's interesting to see how much these street peddlars would lower their prices sometimes as much as 10 times the original asking price when the potential buyer tries to walk away.

I was surprised at how good Eric was at haggling prices, he could normally get at least 50% off the asking price if not more. Sometimes I was so amazed at the price that we paid for that I would stand there staring at him for a good few seconds. "How did you do that?! I don't get it!" It helped that Eric has been to Bali 11 times before this and the peddlars couldn't really get away with charging us too much. If he wasn't there, I would've probably spent twice or maybe three times more money than I did there in Ubud. Street peddlars intimidate me sometimes! I can't help it...

(One of the many stalls and shopfronts that we stopped along the way)

Being a major tourist destination, Ubud has a countless number of salons which will pamper you from head to toe; for half the price (or less) for the same service here in Penang (that's where I live). Therefore, I never believed in going to a salon or spa to get a manicure/pedicure when I could do a considerably good job myself. However, with Eric whining (you did whine when you didn't get your massage, darling) about getting a massage everyday while we were there; made me get my very first manicure in my life. I loved the experience! It's not just a manicure, they massage your arms and moisturize your hands...well er, the usual things a girl would like. When everything's done they would serve us ginger tea and cookies. I'm not much of a cookie fan, but I loved having them served anyway. There are kids in Africa who don't have any food...I know. Well...

(Walking along the streets of Ubud and then sharing a giant coconut)

And my finger nails looked so juicy that I could've eaten them.

Days in Ubud were spent lazing around in the sun, getting my nails done, doing facials and of course, one never truly visits Bali until they tried the traditional Balinese massage. Never once I had to think about work or worry that a customer would call, life without a cellphone is GREAT! I should probably switch it off during weekends.

(What's better than lazing in the sun is lazing in the sun near a pool which is close to a green patch of paddy field)

Some of the highlights of being in Ubud are the wonderful food that they had there. We tried the cuisines at as many restaurants as we can. We tried the bebek tutu; which is a traditional Balinese smoked duck dish which takes at least 6-8 hours to prepare. It's a ceremonial dish that is usually served during weddings and special occasions. But then again, being a tourist attraction, they serve it in their restaurants any day if the customer would place an order a day before.

(The smoked duck is served with a variety of side dishes, so there was really too much to eat!)

(This is the restaurant with extremely heavy mahagony chairs. They were so heavy that I needed help to get up from it.)

Another major highlight of our trip was that we got to watch the biggest, grandest cremation ceremony in Ubud. It was the royal cremation (read more here) of the King of Ubud. There were giant effigies of rams and other religious symbols which were built at the local temples.

(Some of the effigies that were being built)

(This was too funny NOT to include...)

(The feeble attempt of 2 men drawing a map, heh...I can't make out what they were drawing either)

A short drive out from Ubud takes us to a little town called Mas. This is a town famous for its skillful wood carvers that produce brilliant masterpieces of art. These are then displayed in the hundreds of art galleries in Mas. The detail of the carvings amazes me. Most of the art pieces portray religious and mythology characters.

(One of the many interesting pieces of artwork in the galleries)

(The beauty of the carvings are overwhelming sometimes. The Komodo dragon would be a great piece to put by the door to scare kids!)

Like the Balinese massage, no trip to Bali is complete without watching the famous Kecak Dance. The Kecak is a tradional Balinese play performed by a large group of performers. It's a story of good versus evil in a mythological sense.

(The fire scene at the end was my favourite. The guy with the little horse runs around making the burning coconut husks fly around like fireworks - it was an amazing sight)

The last but not least bit of Ubud worth mentioning is the wonderful salad at Tutmak Restaurant. This was the restaurant that the Eric was trying to point out to a French couple whom we met at a different restaurant; hence the feeble attempt of drawing the map (above) surfaced.

(The green sauce is one hell of a great salad dressing)

You know it's a great salad when you close your eyes and savour your first bite. Ubud was great, however it wasn't much of a relaxing place to be, albeit all the shopping (shopping is supposed to be therepeutic, right?). There were just too many things to see.

(It was all good though...)

There's more to tell in my next entry, so stick around.
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