I am in Bali
(Well not quite just yet!}
I was going to take a couple days off from blogging. After all we had been in Kuala Lumpur before. This time we only had two days there, so probably there wasn’t going to be much to write about. Then we had such a good time, I have to share it.
*Aside* I’ll add in our first few days in Bali, Indonesia. That will make it worth reading, right?
We got on the train in Hat Yai intending to take it all the way to Kuala Lumpur. We stopped in Pedang Besar to cross the border from Thailand into Malaysia at about 10:00AM.
*Aside* Crossing the border was super easy in the train station: walk in, clear immigration and leave Thailand; walk through the other door, clear immigration and walk out in Malaysia. Getting a ticket for the next leg of the journey to Butterworth was not so easy as it was upstairs, so I waited with the bags while Tom got the tickets. We just made the train to Butterworth.
On the train we met a man from Malaysia who was sort of traveling with a man from Australia who now lives in the United States but was visiting Thailand.
*Aside* Convoluted, right? It was convoluted when it happened as well. These two met on the train and started talking. By the time we met them they seemed like old friends.
Just before noon the four of us arrived in Butterworth together - obviously since we were all on the same train. Now we are ALL friends. The train to KL was not scheduled until 3:00 PM. The Malaysian man suggested we check on a bus. In fact he left his bag with us (and the Australian man) to check the bus schedule for us. There was a bus leaving in 45 minutes reaching KL at about 7 PM. The train wouldn’t arrive in KL until about 10 pm. We ALL voted for the bus. Our Malaysian friend sped ahead to make sure we got good seats. The bus he chose provided big comfy, over-stuffed seats - two on one side of the isle and one on the other side.
*Aside* I never sat in such a roomy, comfortable seat on public transportation before. The bus was in good shape and the roads were in good condition so the ride to KL was a breeze.
When we reached KL, our Malaysian friend said goodbye.
*Aside* We were sad to see him go. He was such awesome help; even helping us find and negotiate for a quick lunch before we got on the bus.
Our Australian friend stayed with us to KL Sentral, then he said goodbye as well. We found our train to Banc Negara, the closest stop to our hotel. Four stops later we arrived at our station. Now we need a cab to the hotel. To do that we had to go down several flights of stairs and across several walkways to get to the street.
*Aside* It sounds so simple but with two suitcases weighing about 52 pounds each plus a carry-on and our backpacks and me with a bum knee, it was daunting.
We flag a taxi but the driver doesn’t speak any English and can’t understand where we want to go. The next driver doesn’t know where we want to go or he doesn’t understand the way we tell him where we want to go or he just doesn’t want to go there. Finally we get a driver who calls our hotel (Flora Hotel by Crossroads) for directions, loads our luggage into his taxi, and delivers us to our hotel.
The hotel is delightful and the room is, well, roomy and comfortable. We settle in,then go down the street to find some dinner at The Food Loft.
*Aside*The Food Loft is just a fancy name for a collection of small restaurants under one roof.
Then we stopped in the Lulu SuperMart for some milk, some yogurt and some pastries for breakfast.
Next day we’re up early to attack Kuala Lumpur with a vengeance. We try to make reservations at Feugo.
*Aside* We tried to eat at Fuego when we were in KL before but there were no reservations available. This time we are put on a waiting list and then canceled off the waiting list so no reservation this time either. Shoulda done it sooner.
We walk outside our hotel and look up and there it is: The KL Tower. We arrived so late the night before and were so focused on getting settled and getting dinner that we didn’t even notice it!
We are about a twenty minute walk away from KL Tower, so of course we walk. There is a free shuttle at the base of the hill that takes you to the top of the hill. We pay our money and ride the ride, well the elevator. There is an open air deck and an enclosed deck. The views, although it was slightly hazy, were well worth the $25.00 per person entry fee. We even spotted our hotel. There are two clear glass (actually probably Plexiglas) decks cantilevered off the edge of the open deck over the city. One faces the Petronas Twin Towers so that iconic building is front and center for photos!
*Aside* You can stand or sit in the Plexiglas cube, but you only have a few minutes to take your pictures on the glass deck before it’s time for the next person. Later I realized I could have staged my “Sitting on Top of KL” picture much better, but the experience was all mine (and Tom’s, of course).
Completing our visit to the tower, we walk down to the KL Forest Eco-Park, also known as Bukit Nanas Forest Reserve. This is small patch of original rainforest right under the KL Tower which still houses trees that are several hundred years old. We did not walk the paths, but opted for the Canopy Skywalk: a series of suspension bridges across the park and up into and through the canopy.
Next stop the Petronas Twin Towers. Again it’s only about a twenty minute walk to the Twin Towers. We didn’t enter the towers but walk around admiring the different perspectives of these amazing buildings which look like decorations for the most awesome wedding cake EVER.
We tried to find a great substitute for Fuego for dinner, but settled on walking back over near the Petronas Twin Towers to a pub for some semi-American food. As we walk back to the hotel we catch KL Tower in the middle of its color show!
Our flight to Bali leaves at 3:20 the next afternoon.
*Aside*This is in direct opposition to our flight back to the Philippines from Bali that will leave . . . wait for it . . . at 1:30 AM. Yes, Ladies and Gentlemen that is that 1:30 that comes just one hour and a half after midnight. Gives us something to look forward to (not).
While waiting for the plane we enjoy Tea Time at Herrod’s Kuala Lumpur Airport. Yumm!
We arrived in Bali at around 6:30 PM and checked into our hotel: Kuta Central Park. Our dinner plan? We met about twenty-five CouchSurfers at Bowl Mama for a CouchSurfing Get Together.
*Aside* I wondered if Bowl Mama was a bowling alley, but no, it’s a restaurant that serves very good “Balinese Boat Noodles” in a bowl. They were just a block away from our hotel. We made some connections and gathered information for our stay in Bali.
Next day we dropped off Tom’s scuba regulator for its annual service, then we did some research. Tom found us a Food Tour for Sunday. I found us a massage for immediately: Reborn; and tonight’s dinner location: Merah Putih. We both had awesome massages then went through our wardrobes to find the best clothes we brought as Merah Putih looks snazzy.
For dinner we chose the Indonesian Tasting Menu at $45.00 a person. This is pricey for Bali, but it was oh so worth it. The inside of the restaurant was amazing with full sized palm trees growing under the tent-like ceiling in the main dining room.
*Aside* While we’re in the restaurant it started raining and the rain is pouring down through the white columns that hold up the ceiling. They capture and recycle rainwater to support of Bali’s eco-system. Wow!
And then we had dinner. It was phenomenal. There were nine courses and each one was amazing. Every course had its own personality and flavor: Yellow Fin Tuna, pearl scallop and trout toe; Crab Claw Fritter and andaliman; Balinese Squid Salad, ink and long beans; Duck Soup, seledri and vermicelli; Smoked Ocean Trout, green chili and cabbage; Whole Slipper Lobster, coconut, leek and turmeric; Crispy Boneless Duck, soy and steamed buns; Balinese Black Bass Curry and asparagus; Angus Short Rib, Sumatran curry, smoked onion; Coconut rice, pickles and sambal. Dessert was Raspberry Sorbet with hibiscus sauce and then two more desserts to share. The chocolate cone was filled with chocolate mousse and coconut ice cream. It was an evening of incredible indulgence and I know it would have cost three or four times the price in the states.
Sunday afternoon at 1:00 a young man named Berlin and his cousin Wahyu (who together are Bali Sunday Morning Tours )pick us up for our food tour . This was not your typical Food Tour. We ate, yes, of course we ate. First we ate delicious Chicken Satay from Berlin and Wahyu’s favorite place. Beside this place is a huge tree - at least one hundred years old.
*Aside*Spirits are said to live in the roots of the tree so although there are all kinds of interesting nooks and crannies in the tree, no one is supposed to play in, on or around the tree.
We also saw a man carving beautiful decorations for a wedding entrance out of styrofoam and other decorations made from bamboo. Amazing!!
After we ate, we walked back and around, past one temple, then down mossy stairs into a secluded sacred temple with a holy water fountain intended for purification. It was so beautiful that I could have stayed there the rest of the day.
But wait there’s more.
Tom needed to pick up his regulator after its service at Dive Sport Bali. Berlin and Wayhu took us there to pick it up. Next we stopped at Bajra Sandhi Monument and Museum. We didn’t take the time to tour the museum, but now it’s on our list when we come back to Denpasar before the airport.
Next we drove out of the city again into the villages for a walk through the rice fields.
*Aside* It is about now that I realize that Bali is what I’ve been looking for. Even the mundane is exotic. Even the new buildings have touches of the traditional on them. Bali doesn’t want to eliminate their history. They live in it and it is everywhere you turn your head. The roof lines and roofs are exotic. The entrances to the houses are exotic. The streets are filled with exotic. It is a feast for my eyes and we are back in a land of people who smile. Ahhhhhhh! It’s perfect!
Our next stop Is Wayhu’s house. We walk into their compound and sit down for a snack.
*Aside* This family has a family of dogs. There are at least four dogs in the compound that belong to the house and several more that wander in and out, just visiting. People in Bali love dogs and take care of them! Some of the dogs are very friendly and a couple never really decided if we were friend or foe but it’s nice to see dogs taken care of.
We’ll be back for dinner, but now we’re going out to the rice fields. We walk past a vaillage temple and on our onto a concrete path that winds its way through the fields.
We walk for a bit then settle on the roof of another cousin’s house to watch the sunset over the
rice fields while we enjoy rice cakes with brown sugar syrup and coconut.
*Aside* This is my kind of food tour we get dessert before dinner!! Perfect! Down below us someone is roasting a pig, but to Tom’s disappointment the pig would not be ready in time for him to eat some. Tom was sad.
Returning to Wayhu’s house we enjoy a home cooked meal. It is another in a series of amazing experiences. We ask lots of questions about Bali and learn so much about what it is like to live in Bali. As we leave we receive the most amazing hugs from Wayhu’s mother. You would have thought we did her a favor by coming into her house and eating her food.
But wait there’s more!!
Before they took us back to our hotel, these two adorable guys helped us buy Tom a new cell phone.
*Aside*Tom’s phone died earlier that day which is a whole story in itself, but we’ll just leave that alone right now.
It seems there was no limit to the kindness and patience of these two young entrepreneurs. Certainly Tom could have never gotten another phone without their help!
What an unforgettable way to start our time in Bali!!
Oh my gosh! Wasn’t that fun?