A Taste Of Bali: DISCOVERING UBUD
This Bali trip is quite short, and I am sure there's more to see and do in this beautiful summer destination in Indonesia. But who am I to complain when I've been given a glimpse of this island on an all-expense paid trip?!! (Read more on how I got this trip HERE). When I think of it now, this trip is actually the kickstart of my summer 2018! Hoping there will be moooore opportunities in the coming weeks! .....
Unlike my past travel posts, sadly I cannot give extensive travel tips on Bali because I was a part of AirAsia Red Talks' group tour. Meaning, I did not plan anything for this trip, but for a change, I enjoyed just following their itinerary and just c h i l l while I explore a bit of Bali's go-to town named UBUD.
How To Go?
Ubud (oo-bood) is a town around 1-1.5 hours away from Bali's airport Denpasar Ngurah Rai International Airport. We took AirAsia's direct Manila to Bali flights, which now flies 4x weekly with a departure time of 6:40pm. Check out www.airasia.com to book promo fares!
Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Sunday
Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Sunday
We arrived at the airport at around 10:55pm. A mob of tour guides and taxi operators will mob you upon exiting the immigration and bag claim area. Kagulo! I was imagining if I was alone on a DIY trip, baka better ata if I plan on my airport to accommodation transfers beforehand just so I am sure with the rates!
Why Was I There?
The Bali trip came in as a surprise after winning a posting contest during the AirAsia Red Talks Season 2 media event in Cebu. We were there to cover the Ubud Food Festival, but basically, they just let us wander around and enjoy the trip while they shoot! :)
Along with AirAsia's team Steph, Sir Dave, and Nadine, we were also with the crew involved on the AirAsia Red Talks including the host Miss Daphne Oseña. We were a big group, and another separate team includes Sir Jim Paredes!
With my fellow winner, Etienne who is also a social media girl based in Cebu:
It's always cool to meet people who have been in their industry for decades! Fun fact, my sisters and I were named after an APO Hiking Society song "Anna" (which Sir Jim happily sang during one of our dinners in Bali!), while I am a BIG fan of Miss Daphne's show F!!!
Ito ang tunay na "lodi"! Haha!
Almost the whole group!
Where We Stayed?
I usually see villas whenever friends and Instagram peeps go to Bali, so I was surprised when I found out that we were booked in a fine hotel! I love it! It's a comfortable stay in Element by Westin Bali Ubud where all the staff were so friendly, every corner is Instagram-worthy, and we always have good breakfast buffet to look forward to every morning!
Always had a great sleep in our room:
You can enjoy the pool from day to night!
Just outside the hotel, you will already find markets with the usual Bali merch from basket bags to dream catchers to colorful clothes!
Money Exchange: Rupiah
Some of the people I was with had their money exchanged while in our airport (NAIA), but there are also money exchange counters in Bali's airport. Meanwhile, I had my USD exchanged in Bali na, with the help of our tour guide he brought us to a legit money exchange counter.
I wasn't able to try exchanging Philippine Peso to Rupiah or try withdrawing directly in local banks like I usually do during trips, but I saw a few ATM when I was in their grocery so I guess it could also be an option. Just to be safe, I also avoided using my credit card even in stores with credit card ports just because one of us in the group tried hers and nag invalid pin sya but still nabawasan sya according to a text message from her bank. I also attempted to use my card in the grocery but nag invalid pin din so I just paid in cash.
They have the same plugs and sockets with Korea and Europe--two round pins. Make sure to bring an adaptor or even an extension for charging your gadgets!
I wasn't ready for this trip, so I did not attempt to look for pre-booked internet devices or local sim online. Instead, when we had the chance to walk around on our first day, I was able to chance upon a sari sari store where they cell assorted essentials including phone cords, casings, and local sim card!
Since we're only staying in Bali for less than 5 days, I got the 4.5GB sim card that comes with my own local number and Internet! I was able to maximize the Internet with my excessive browsing (haha) and daily uploading of photos and even Instagram stories! Signal is great all throughout, and I only paid 45,000 Rupiah or Php 168!!
Service provider that I got is called XL / MyXL (navy blue and yellow packaging).
Where To Go? What To Do?
This is our tour guide showing to us the whole map of Bali. It's bigger than how I imagined it to be, we weren't even able to explore 1/4 of it!
As mentioned earlier, we stay in Ubud and also explored just this town with the crew. Unlike the Bali that I know because of social media, I wasn't even able to have a glimpse of Bali's BEACHES and popular CAFES (Motel Mexicola?). What they have though are beautiful temples and shrines, terraced rice paddies and rainforests, and colorful markets. Ubud is more known for their traditional crafts so expect that you will do a lot of SHOPPING here.
1) Tegallalang Rice Terraces
This place reminds me of our own Banaue Rice Terraces! This version in Ubud was said to be passed down by Rsi Markandeyo, a revered holy man from the 8th century. I enjoyed just looking at the Tegallalang Rice Terraces from above, in one of the indie cafes with a lookout.
They also have several offers to enjoy this view including a giant swing or a walk through the intricately designed terraces (with payment / donation to the locals). It was so hot when we were there, I opted to just enjoy the view with my iced coffee + check out some of the local shops nearby.
We availed the free swing in one of the cafes in Tegallalang Rice Terraces. But also in the area you will spot the giant swing with a fee (yung mas mahaba and mataas, with actual operators).
Side shops with usual Bali souvenirs from clothes to colorful cloths to rattan bags and magnets:
Just chilling with my iced coffee:
We asked our tour guide to take our photo together, and he also took a "selfie" with my camera and sobrang liit na namin sa likod, hahaha!
2) Goa Gajah Temple
This is one of the few temples we visited while in Ubud, and I think if there's just one temple to go to on your trip it's the Goa Gajah Temple! It's a complex with both Hinduism and Buddhism imageries, and a bathing temple in the middle. We were also blessed by an old woman in her corner in the complex, and although she asked for loose bills right after (haha) it was a unique experience still.
Entrance to the Elephant Cave:
So many to see in the whole complex:
3) Ubud Market
For the whole trip, I tried to look away at all the shops we passed by in all the tourist destinations we went to. THEY ARE EVERYWHERE! But one of the girls we were with who has been to Bali and loves shopping said that we have to be patient (lels).... The UBUD MARKET is the place to be for cheap shopping!
Temples just across the market:
Truth be told, there will be almost similar shops selling almost similar goodies. If this store sells housewares, for sure another store sells exact same thing. A tip though: Look for a store where you will surely buy a lot so you can easily haggle by mentioning that you're buying this amount in their store!
I am fairly good in haggling, but this place will test your patience, endurance, lahat na! Haha! A store owner even grabbed me by the arm, almost pinching, when I was about to leave because her basket bags were expensive! Minsan nagiging 40-50% off pa ang presyuhan nila, magugulat ka nalang!
Another tip: Bring your OG Divisoria skills when you go here, lels! As in, simulan nyo na agad ng 50 off! Then work your way to a compromise. Pede nyo din gamitin ng pakipot scheme, yung aalis kanwari dahil namahalan ka, usually biglang sisigaw yan sabihin kung anong price gusto mo hahaha!
From experience, they are also very very insistent. If you're about to ask for an item's price, get ready to firmly say NO if di mo naman talaga bet. Although ANG HIRAP. They will not let you go till you buy from them hahaha!
But remember, okay lang if you purchase something and may mas mababa pa pala sa iba - this is usually the vendors' only bread and butter and just think of it as supporting them by buying in their store!!
What to expect: Bali house displays and housewares, jewelries, especially weaved accessories and silver, basket bags that are so popular nowadays!, colorful clothes from polo to sarong to dresses, etc.
4) Pura Taman Saraswati
Another interesting temple that we visited in Ubud, the Pura Taman Saraswati is a Hindu temple with a beautiful lotus pond in the middle making it not your usual temple destination. Interesting tidbit, the temple's Hindu Goddess Saraswati is also the goddess of learning, literature, and art. It is a small complex that you can easily go around for 15 minutes, 20 minutes tops, but since it is walkable to and from the Ubud Market, you can do both in one day! They also have a "hidden Starbucks" in the compound, which for me is perfect when it was sobrang wild hot outside!
5) Folk Pool and Gardens
A good sunset destination when in Ubud is their Folk Pool and Gardens, a resto-bar with a pool right smack in the middle! It's like our pool club in Fort, but more chill! We even imagined this concept in La Union or Siargao, it will surely be a hit! Haha!
We don't have our swimwear when we visited, so we just lounged on the sides and had their super good pizza + pink margarita as the sun went down. I enjoyed our short time there since we were a smaller group and was able to loosen up with the yummy drinks!
Watch my Bali Instagram Stories:
A few months ago before winning this trip, the caption for my contest entry started with: "Earlier's sunset in Cebu, hopefully next time it's sunset in Bali."
Dreams do come true, bessy. They really do! ❤