Travel Diary – Bali

We were kind of pooped after Singapore. With my cousins wedding and trying to cram the sights of Singapore into a few days, it had all caught up with us! Luckily we had a full 10 days to relax in Bali, away from my beautifully crazy family!

Note: In Bali, halal means to cook the pork and alcohol separately from everything else. Most restaurants will say they are ‘halal’ but no cross contamination is what they actually mean. The halal status of their actual meat is questionable so I would avoid it altogether unless they have halal certification/halal sign. The places listed below are all halal unless otherwise stated. Vegetarian and seafood options are in abundance so food is not an issue at all!

 Part 1 – UBUD

Our Hotel (not halal)

We stayed a 10 minute walk from the heart of Ubud, and a 5 minute walk from the Monkey Forest. The Alaya Resort is probably one of the best hotels I have stayed in. It’s reasonably priced for their service and location, and has increbly special and unique touches dotted around the hotel. They have an in-house, award-winning spa service (which we didn’t try unfortunately), and the warmth and service from every single member of staff was amazing. The room itself was also special! It was spacious, and open plan (no separate room for the bath and bed) with a curtain separator and a balcony. Shops, supermarkets, access to taxis were all nearby. Alaya also provide a turn down service (because I’m incredibly pretentious/bougie, I appreciated this). Their breakfast was a la carte and changed every morning. It was always served with fresh fruit, yogurt and tea/coffee, and you could dine at one of two of the in house restaurants. I really recommend staying here

What we did

  • Monkey Forest
    The monkey forest was so close to our hotel that we walked there in 5 minutes and did this first. Its incredibly cheap to get in, and once you’re in, be prepared to have monkeys climb on you! I wouldn’t take in any jewelry/sunglasses as these could get lost. For a small price, staff will encourage a monkey to climb on you to get some food which presents a photo opp. It was probably my favuorite experience of the trip. You can tell the monkeys are well looked after, free to roam, and you won’t very many opportunities to see these amazing creatures up close like you would here.IMG_5364.jpg
  • Shopping
    There is a market in the centre of Ubud which is rather maze-like, but which sells some beautiful dresses, handbags and souvenirs. I bought some dresses and hand woven handbags for a good price. Just remember to haggle starting for around one third of the proposed price!
  • Luwak Coffee Plantation & Swing
    Luwak coffee is esentially ‘poop coffee’. This coffee includes part-digested coffee Cherries eaten and defecated by the Asian palm civet animal. We got to see the coffee beans, what the Luwak poop looked like and then how it was ground and made into coffee. It was all quite fascinating but my only concern was for the welfare of the animals. I did see one palm civet pacing around in it’s cage at one point from the stress and anxiety, so I felt extremely guilty even being there. Anyway, the tour is free and ended with a free sampling of various coffees and tea, and for a little extra, you could also taste the infamous Luwak coffee as well. Interestingly enough, there was a few giant swings on the plantation where you pay to soar over the rice paddies and forest greenery. I’m terribly afraid of heights as is ShakerFries, but we did pay to go on 2 swings each (one couple swing and then the super extreme swing). After a few swings you really start to enjoy it. You’re fully strapped in and it’s safe. I would definitely do it again as it was an amazing experience!
  • Tegallalang Rice Terrace
    Tegallalang Rice Terraces in Ubud is famous for its beautiful scenes of rice paddies involving the subak (traditional Balinese cooperative irrigation system). For a nominal amount, you enter and walk around. You can even climb to the top where you can get some stunning views of the valley! Unfortunately, when we visited, the rainy season caught up with us, and we ended up trudging through the muddy landscape barefoot! Needless to say, we didn’t make it to the top on this occasion.
  • Tegenungan waterfall
    We had to pay a small fee to enter and view the Tegenungan waterfall. As you enter ou immediately see the waterfall as a whole from the top, but if you choose to climb down over 160 stairs (which I eventually convinced ShakerFires we should do), then you can see the waterfall up close and take in the views (and get some good shots). We couldn’t swim near there as the water was choppy due to the rainy season, but on a nice day you can take a dip at the foot of the waterfall. The challenge was to climb up the stairs after visiting the waterfalls, so we took our little breathers until we reached the entrance again!
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  • Goa Gajah (Elephant Cave)
    We actually hired a driver for the day to do all the main atrractions. I think everyone should do this as for a small fee, you can see everything in Ubud in a day or 2. The cave experience was short. Goa Gajah (Elephant Cave) temple is one of the ancient temples dating back 11th century. The cave itself is tiny! There are plenty of shops inside the temple, which sell souvenirs, woodcraft & worship items. Do not buy any sarongs from the stalls outside as they are given to visitors free and then one can return them once you are done. ShakerFries had to wear a sarong to cover his legs!IMG_2539.JPG
  • Puri Saren Palace
    You will soon realise that each home or family has it’s own temple, so you will come across a fair few when walking around! The palace was built in the 16th century. It was situated in the center of Ubud, and I found it to be really busy and run down. There was a lack of information or guides available so I had no idea what I was looking at or the history behind the place. It did look beautiful though.

Note: When in the center of Ubud there were some days where we couldn’t be bothered to walk back to our hotel. We grabbed a scooter taxi each from the roadside. Seemed a bid dodge at first, and you need to haggle, but actually the traffic is so slow that it’s relatively safe (and a fun way to get back!). It cost us a couple of pounds each.

What we ate

  • Gelato Secrets
    this place is a chain selling both a variety of gelato and sorbets. It’s a bit pricey compared to the other foods but it’s totally worth it! I got the dragon fruit with cinnamon, passion fruit, and virgin mojito sorbet. This was so yum and perfect in the heat!
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  • Borneo “8”
    A basic halal ‘warung’ (cafe) on the main high street in Ubud, serving up a mix of Malaysian and Indonesian cuisine. I grabbed a char kway teow (Malaysian) with an iced Milo and satay. It was tasty and incredibly cheap! Perfect for lunch.
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  • Bale Udang Mang Engking
    This place is a little way out so you need to grab a taxi, but it was probably one of my best dining experiences in Bali. This place is completely halal but is actually very well known for it’s seafood. We went here for Valentines Day and so had a set valentines menu with an array of seafood, a drink and dessert. The best part about our dining experience is the fact that you can choose to dine on a floating dining room in the water, which is beautiful. Some days, there are even traditional dance performances here in the evening. I would highly recommend this place!
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  • Gado Gado (v)
    We had this twice in Bali. The first time was from the roadside cart. I wouldn’t usually advise doing this, especially if eating meat as these carts aren’t the most hygienic. On this ocassion I wanted ShakerFries to try this (it’s my dads favorite). It’s a completely vegetarian dish is an Indonesian salad of blanched or steamed vegetables and hard-boiled eggs, boiled potato, fried tofu, tempeh, rice cubes and a peanut sauce dressing. It’s awesome! and it costed under £1! We just ate it on the side of the road. You can get this almost anywhere (we ate this in the hotel too – didn’t taste as good) so keep your eyes peeled.IMG_6184.JPG
  • Puteri Minang Padang Food
    You will find that padang places in Bali are all halal. Padang food or Minang food is the cuisine of  West Sumatra, Indonesia. It is famous for its rich taste of succulent coconut milk and spicy chili. I’m not talking Indian chilies…I’m talking ridiculously HOT Indonesian chilies…don’t try to be brave…ask for the sambal and you’ll find out what hot is. These places are generally like a buffet where you choose what you want. First you choose the rice, then you choose the meat/fish, followed by whichever vegetables you want, all in one bowl. You are billed at the end depending on what you choose. Although tasty and immensely satisfying, beware of the spice, and also beware of the questionable hygiene rating of some of the padang restaurants. Our place had really good reviews on Trip Advisor and so we felt it was okay to dine there. The food was awesome, especially the rendang chicken.IMG_6137.jpg
  • Yasmin Middle Eastern Cafe
    We did get a bit bored of the food in Bali so had some Middle Eastern food one day. We decided to share a mixed kebab, hommus with warm bread, borek, chips, and some mocktails! The shisha was awesome too, and for £4 it was great to relax outside with a tea and shisha in the evening. This place was a 5 minute walk from our hotel so we didn’t have to go very far to get some good food!IMG_5164.JPG
  • Halal Ubud Burger
    We came across this place whilst taking a stroll along the main street in Ubud (same road as the palace and market), a little before you get to borneo 8. This place will be changing it’s name soon (an issue with trademarks and using the word halal in it’s name), but is open everyday from 8am to 10pm. They have a prayer space which you will be hard pressed to find in Bali, due to it being a Hindu country (unlike the rest of Indonesia). I got the beef sandwich, which consisted of a baguette with mayo, lemongrass, pickles, cucmber, chilli and coriander. It actually tasted amazingly healthy but was bursting with flavour. The chips were also hand cut skin on chips whihc I loved. ShakerFries ordered a double cheese burger and was equally pleased with his choice! You’re looking at around £5 each for a meal, maybe less. Great value!IMG_0244IMG_2789

Part 2 – Sanur

Note: When changing money in Sanur be very careful! We had already read about the risks and still got ripped off. If the rate looks too good to be true then it usually is. Despite us counting the money the cashier still managed to take back around £10 worth of cash back off us when handling the money and handing it back to us! Make sure you get a receipt and go to somewhere with a certificate and a proper counter.

Our Hotel

The Puri Santrian had a completely different vibe to the Alaya Hotel, where we stayed in Ubud. For one it was a beach resort, and so besides the 3 or 4 pools at the hotel, the beach was quite literally at your doorstep. I personally felt that the staff were warmer at the Alaya, but ShakerFries was equally pleased with the service at both these hotels. The food served everyday at breakfast was continental mainly, with a few hot dishes. I usually just grabbed a bowl of fruit and a couple of pastries every day! As we had booked the deluxe room, it meant that we had access to the infinity pool beneath our block, which we utilised to the fullest! The strip outside our hotel was relatively quiet, with a few restaurants and live music bars. We didn’t stray very far from our hotel, as now was the time for relaxation, so we mainly just grabbed dinner and lunch from nearby (or a cheeky pizza from room service) before heading back to our hotel.

What we did

  • Adventure Parasailing 
    Although most of our time was spent by the beach and pool in Sanur, we did manage to tear ourselves away for one last ‘adventure’. I can’t swim and so have never been interested in doing anything remotely related to watersports. That being said, after my adrenaline filled experience on the super extreme swing, I figured that it was about time that I faced my fears. I found the Benoa Water Sports reviews on Trip Advisor to be very good, and so we gave them a call to arrange parasailing. They arranged a free pick up to take us to Benoa Water Sports Centre, which was around a 45 minutes drive from our hotel with traffic. It was very busy at the centre, and it seemed that ShakerFries had rather sneakily booked us in for 2 activities, parasailing and the flying fish, rather than just one. We paid around £90 for both activities for the 2 of us, and everything from there was pretty much smooth sailing (no pun intended). In the end, parasailing was not a thrilling experience as I had expected, but it was a beautiful one. I had no stomach feeling, and instead just gently floated in the air, where I had the opportunity to take in the views. The best part, I had no need to be fearful of the water, because we started and ended our experience from the boat itself! The flying fish experience was equally fun, and was something that we hadn’t seen before. Again this wasn’t thrilling (although it looked it). In fact, it was actually more thrilling to be on the boat itself whilst other members of your group were on the float trailing the boat!IMG_3098.JPG
  • Kuta Beach at sunset
    We actually went to Kuta beach to check out a shisha lounge/halal Lebanese restaurant, but I had read that the sunset in Kuta was beautiful, so we headed to the beach first. Although the sunset was beautiful, the beach was PACKED full of tourists, and the beach was not as clean as Sanur, as Kuta is known to be party central. The vibe is completely different to Sanur, with lots of night stalls, clubs, and people selling things. I would visit one evening just to see the sunset and grab a bite to eat. This place definitely shows you another side to Bali.IMG_2138

What we ate

  • Warung KKN
    I found this on number of halal food blogs but didn’t get the hype. It was basically the same as the Padang Warungs dotted around Bali (there were a number of halal marked Warung huts near our hotel too but the hygiene of these places was questionable so we didn’t eat there). It’s the same concept where you choose your rice, meat and vege and then the bill is calculated at the end. We paid less than 5£ overall for the both of us. It was good value, but I felt we had ‘been there, done that’. If you do visit here though, I recommend the honey chicken, now that was tasty!IMG_7232.JPG
  • Pizza Hut and McDonalds
    We got bored eventually of the local food and both had a dodge tummy from all the spice, hence we had 2 meals at Pizza Hut and one at McDonalds, both of which were a short cab from our hotel. Both offer an extended menu, especially Pizza Hut, and both were halal certified therefore had a prayer room and no alcohol was served. Pizza Hut was yum and served lots of extras that you wouldn’t even find in the UK such as Philly Cheese Sliders and a Yakult/lychee drink.
  • Nyoman – Jimbaran beach
    I found this place online and had to initially twist ShakerFries arm to venture out of Sanur one evening to try this place. it actually ended up being one of our most favourite meals! It was by Jimbaran Beach, which was another 40 minutes away. There are no bluebird taxis at night by this restaurant so I highly recommend that you get your driver to wait for you until your done. At first Nyoman restaurant looks like an empty, dead restaurant, but one you walk through you see dozens of candlelit tables set up on the beach. For around £20, we shared a massive seafood platter, with drinks, lobster, king prawns, clams, and white snapper fish with a portion of rice and fruit to finish off. The marinade they used was amazing, and all the food had been charred over the BBQ giving it an amazing smokey taste. There was live music which provided a nice atmosphere, and when you were done you could visit one of the many stalls for a roasted corn on the cob, or should dip your feet into the sea as the tide came it. A beautiful setting and a beautiful restaurant which I highly recommend!IMG_3870
  • Shisha Cafe – Kuta
    Modest name, but not so modest restuarant! As soon as you step into the Shisha Cafe in Kuta, you’re transported to a different country. The lighting is dim but the decor in this place is extravagant. The service was amazing, and the menu was extensive. I had a lemon and mint soft drink and we shared our hommus and sharwama. It was great food and fantastic (cheap) shisha.
  • Gelato @ Massimo Bali
    This place was around a 10 minute walk from our hotel. We came across it by accident, but it always had long queues, That’s because for less than £1 you could purchase a small tub with 2 scoops of gelato of your choice! We went back here twice as the gelato was beautifully rich and creamy. I’m a sucker for mint chocolate chip and so I was a happy bunny.IMG_6983.JPG
  • Bali Buda
    Bali Buda has a few branches around Bali, and provides healthy/vegan/gluten free traditional Balinese dishes, all for a slightly higher price than the Warungs. It’s fully halal (yay) and is known for doing a yummy breakfast. I had the vegetarian Nasi Campur with grilled coconut, sprouts, tofu, greens, sambal matah and red rice for lunch. It was really filling and enjoyable! I also ordered the Soto Ayam as my grandfather told me I had to try it. This is an Indonesian, pro-biotic chicken soup with potatoes. It was okay but kind of tasted like what you should have when you are ill! ShakerFries indulged in the all day halal breakfast fry up. He was moderately pleased with his meal. I recommend you try here if you don’t want to dabble in the local Warungs but still want to try some local Balinese dishes.IMG_6567IMG_7098IMG_9041
  • Bali Bakery
    Bali Bakery delivers excellent cakes, pastries and breads, as well as an innovative menu list of both local and Western cuisines, Again, there are a few Bali Bakery branches dotted around Bali, and this one was a 2 minute walk from our hotel. We just went here to grab a coffee and cake, but I found it a little overpriced. The pastries do look and taste delicious though, and I’m a sucker for a creamy chocolate eclair. I just wasn’t impressed that my espresso costed twice as much as my pastry. The actual food here is not halal.
  • Red Manna
    This was a bit of a hidden gem for us, which we found when looking for somewhere nearby to grab lunch. After they told us this place was halal we still weren’t 100% sure, so we decided to stick to seafood options. Alcohol is also served on the menu. We actually ended up eating here twice. The first time around I had the calimari starter (which was surprisingly fresh), and the udang batu bolong (prawns in a sweet tomato chilli sauce with steamed rice, sambal and vegetable urab), ShakerFries had the sizzling prawn platter with rice. Both of our dishes were mindblowingly tasty, and we were more than satisfied. We paid a bit more as we were eating on the main strip (by more, I mean £5 a dish instead of £2), but judging by how good the food was we didn’t mind. The second time we visited I tried the serosab segara, which was shrimp, squid, and fish served in a lemongrass chilli broth, with steamed rice and fish satay. The novel thing about this dish was that it was served in half a coconut, which was an awesome touch! The meal itself tasted fragrant, with just the right amount of spice!IMG_6297IMG_9846
  • Overall, our visit to Bali was one filled with adventure, relaxation, and most importantly FOOD! I definitely think I enjoyed Ubud a bit more over Sanur. But that’s because I always prefer the adventure over beach relaxation. My husband is the complete opposite!! If you have any questions or want any recommendations don’t hesitate to contact me 🙂

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