Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Makan Makan @ Bali


Most of the hotels and restaurants in Bali serves a variety of Indonesian and western delight such as fried rice and spaghetti. If you wish to try the real local food, you will have to go out to the streets and bazaars.

Some of the must try food when you are in Bali are bakso (meat balls noodle served with soup), babi guling (roast pork), bebek bengil (dirty duck). Some other food such as the satay and grilled corn from the street are very good too. Request the driver/tour guide to drive you to some of these famous local eateries.

Let me share some of the food I have frequented during my short stay in Bali.
During my short stay in Bali, I have had the opportunity to experience stays at three different hotels. All these three hotels served toast with butter and jam on their menu. Some served pancakes and fried noodle but you can be sure they have toasts for breakfast. Tea or Coffee were served along with the breakfast.

My breakfast for the first morning in Bali, banana pancake in Hotel Bali Segara. They have a few option, but i went for this. I reckoned it was served with strawberry and coconut syrup. A little bit too sweet for my liking and the portion was too small!

On the 2nd day stay in Ubud, toast with jam and butter was served with tea.

Toast with jam and butter again....and tea. This was the 4th morning in Bali served by the restaurant in Hotel Grand Sinar Indah at Kuta.

I had an extra portion of fried noodle and fried rice with fried eggs. The fried noodle was good.

This was on our must try list, the famous Bebek Bengil diner which serves the crispy duck. Bebek Bengil means Dirty Duck and it was the name of the diner instead of the name of the dish. I had the wrong perception that Dirty Duck was meant for the dish but it's not.

I had to say this was the best meal during my stay in Bali!

The signboard at the entrance bearing the name of the dirty duck diner.

The diner was designed by incorporating a lot of traditional balinese sculptures and outdoor greeneries such as paddy field and frangipani trees.

The paddy field was just next to the diner. Our table had a good view of this while we were enjoying our delicious meal.

A peak into the world of paddy field.

This salad was really good. Spinach in saffron sauce with a sprinkle of parmesan.

Duck breast with wine sauce. This was another very delicious dish.

This is my order, the crispy duck! Half a duck, steamed in Indonesian spices and deep fried for a crispy finish. Yummy~ Just found out that the bones can be eaten too since they were very crispy and brittle. Maybe next time I will try chowing down the bones too...

This was the vegetables served together with the crispy duck. I didn't try this cause it looks like some veges that I don't eat. I am not really a vege lover.


Next, I am going to introduce the famous suckling pig. This was another must try on our list. The warung which serves the best babi guling is Ibu Oka and it is located in Ubud. I have seen this recommended on Anthony Bourdain's and several other travelling shows, and by some friends, so I was very eager to try this.

This is the sign, Babi Guling Ibu Oka.

An outlook of the warung. When we reached there, the place was empty as the food was not ready eventhough it clearly says "Open" with the sign on your right. Hence, we went to do some shopping nearby and came back about half an hour later.

Suckling pig ala Balinese style.

The eagerly anticipated meal. I was pretty hungry after all the shopping, so this ought to be really good.
The serving of the meal comes with big chunks of meat, a large piece of the crispy roasted pig skin, deep fried intestines, pork sausages, vegetables, carrot soup and steamed rice. And the spicy sauce on the pork servings made the dish better and doesn't taste too dry.

A closer look at the pork servings. The pork meat was good but i found the cripsy pig skin a bit too hard to chew. Anyway, I was hungry and chow, chow, chump, all went into my stomach except for the crispy skin. This was good but not the best pork meal. The siew yuk and char siew back here in Malaysia is much better!

Everyone was happily enjoying the meal. Look at Bird's hands, both hands funnily stretching out. Going for tissue and nuts at the same time? No idea what was he up to.

Delicious meatballs noodles served in soup. Another popular Indonesian delights served in warungs, and stalls out on the streets. Most bakso were made from beef but there were some which serves chicken bakso. I didn't have the chance to chow down any chicken bakso but the beef bakso was really good!

First try of bakso at the eatery inside the Garuda Wisnu Kencana Cultural Parl. The small portion was served with noodle and vermicelli noodle with beansprouts and green vege (sorry, my knowledge on green veges are fairly limited), and of course the main ingredients, the beef balls!
Taste like beehoon mee clear soup noodle served back home. The soup was fairly plain with a tinge of coriander leaves taste. But the meatballs really stood out and they were good.

Our driver, Ma-de brought us to this famous joint for bakso which was usually frequented by the local Balinese. Located in Denpasar, this little green shop known as Ayu Minantri I served very delicious bakso! Besides bakso, they also served Soto Ayam (sold out so no chance to try), Mie Ayam (fairly good) and Lontong (glutinuous rice similar to lemang served back home in Malaysia).

The best bakso in town! The vermicelli noodle was almost non-existence as there were only a few strands. But they were only playing second fiddle to the main ingredients here, the beef balls! Chillies, soya sauce and vinegar were available to spice up the bowl of bakso. I chose to add soya sauce and chillies to the broth, and it was simply delicious! yum yum!

The first bowl was so good, I've decided to go for another serving. So, I had a 2nd portion and this time I went for the bakso urat. The balls were really huge! At least twice the size of the normal beef balls! It taste slightly tougher than the normal beefballs as there were more beef veins mixed with the meats hence the name urat which means veins. Still it was very delicious!

Deliciously grilled corn with honey and butter was another tasty delights found anywhere on the street of Bali. Some might be wary to try out the street food but I was told this grilled corn was really delicious.

I don't like corn but i trust my mates' taste in food. We will stop over for some of the grilled corns whenever we spotted a stall.

First time trying the grilled corn. The corn was freshly grilled over some red hot charcoals and honey and butter were added for the final touch. Voila and you have the perfect grilled corn. After trying this, the guys were hooked and was looking for more...

This grilled corn stall was in Tanah Lot.

Golden brownish grilled corn. A good and cheap snacks!

Thumbs up by the guys! Tried and tested!

Blogging on some other food found in various warungs and eateries in Bali.

Special fried rice in a restaurant at the Bedugul bazaar. Surprisingly, this tasted as good as how it looked. The fried rice was served with a chicken wing and chicken satay topped with fried egg. A little spicy but it just made my meal a much better fare.

This was actually the first meal that we had in Bali, Nasi Padang. The food was a little salty but overall they were better than we expected. A very complete meal of meats and vege served with steamed rice.

Rojak ala Bali style. Some lontong, some veges, some crispy crispy stuff and some spicy nutty sauce in here. Oh..and a packet of fish cracker! I am good with this but some of my mates didn't really like this.

This is the lady preparing the rojak. This stall was found at the Kuta beach. There are many stalls selling various street food such as rojak, bakso and drinks along the beach.

Two local bottled drinks, Teh Botol and Fruit Tea. The Teh Botol was actually tea, and the fruit tea taste a bit sour and fruity. My vote went to Fruit Tea although the Teh Botol was not too bad.

End of entries for my Bali trip.

My others Balinese entries Glorious Bali Island - Part 1 and Part 2.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Glorious Bali Island - Part 2

It was the 3rd day in Bali, and we have spent the previous night in Ubud. The previous night, we spent a great half an hour, or maybe more looking for rooms for the 7 of us. Many hotels turned us down with a "full house" sign, and finally, we settled for a mediocre hotel with a mediocre room.

It cost us 300, 000 rupiah for the night for a room with only a ceiling fan, standard double bed and toilet. The room was not the best and there were no TV and toilet paper. I did not get the name of this hotel but it was definitely the worse of the hotels I have stayed in Bali.

Generally, the room rates in Ubud were more expensive than Kuta. So on the next day, we decided to pack our bags and will be spending the next night in Kuta.

Entrance of the hotel in Ubud. Not the best hotel stay experience in Bali.

The swimming pool at the hotel which drew our interested. We spent the night chilling here with snacks and Bintang again! Actually, the exterior of the hotel wasn't all that bad. The condition of the room was a different story.

A beautiful bunch of yellow coloured flowers at the hotel's garden.

We were around ubud town, spotted this temple which was opposite the famous "Bu Oka Babi Guling".
I have to upload this since i got a tick off from the temple keepers. I was standing on one of the platform to shoot this and apparently visitor was not allowed to step on it. Apologies again...I didn't spot the "No stepping on this platform" sign. Many many apologies~

A beautiful sculpture of a Goddess.

The fine wood carvings on one of the shrine.

A closer look at the wood carvings! Beautiful and delicate art work!

Shopping, Shopping & Shopping at Pasar Ubud
First shopping session in Bali and it was here, Pasar Ubud (Ubud Market). Remember to bargain for everything by 70-80% of the initial price.

Bargaining technique: Insist on the price that you want, and if they still don't want to settle for your price, walk away. Most will be desperate and accept the price you want once you start to walk away!

Anyhow, after shopping in a few places in Bali, this was the most expensive. So, if you are going to other places in Bali, wait till you get to Tanah Lot.

This marketplace was crowded with foreigners.

Women carrying things on their head such as this was another common sight especially at marketplace. Some would wrapped a cloth on their head, so the weight pushing down on them wouldn't hurt them too much. What a wonderful balancing technique!

This was a shop selling decorations. There were extensive items selling in the marketplace such as clothes, silver jewellery, wood carvings, paintings and various other souveniers. Remember to bargain for whatever you are interested in!

Chillies, onions, garlics and other vegetables were sold here too.

Terraced Paddy Field in UbudBefore turning into a commercialized tourism destination, Bali was an agricultural land and rice was one of their main produce. Nowadays, there are still many beautiful paddy field around the island.

We did not stay here for long. After getting out from the van, we snapped a few photos and left. But some of my mates did managed to do a quick and short shopping from the vendors who were literally chasing us and forcing us to help them buy some of their stuff. We turned a deft ears on these vendors and left quickly. We must learn to be ignorant to these vendors as there were too many of them and they were everywhere.

We were at a open air cafe next to the paddy field. Spent some time here snapping photos and having a nice cup of Balinese coffee. I am not a fan of coffee but no harm trying some local drinks. I am game enough to try new things as long as they look presentable!

Left: A closer look at the paddy stalk. Right: Ducks at the paddy field.

Remember not to snap photos of the farmers in the field. They will ask you for a small fees if you take photo of them. Some were desperate to ask us to shoot them but we were wise not to take any of them.

A very nice blanket! This was a blanket reminiscence to the blanket many of us would use when we were young, usually made by our grandmothers.

The Cool Mountain Range of Kintamani
After a good sleep in the car, and god-knows-how-long trip, we finally reached the famous Mount Badur which is an active volcano located along the high range of Kintamani.

The cool breeze of gushing wind and the magnificient view of Mount Badur and Lake Badur was a really good experience. One of the best place in Bali and all of us never wanted to leave here. A cup of nice tea, sitting looking down at the view would be very enjoyable.

Lake Batur, the largest crater lake on the island and a good source for fish.

*Click on the photo above to link you to a panoramic view of Mount and Lake Batur.

We stopped by at Trisna Bali Agrotourism which is a farm and a place where they sell local products such as spices, organic Bali coffee & cocoa, spa products and organic fruits.

From left: Coffee berries, orange, mangosteen tree's flowerings.

The Holy Spring Water
This is
Pura Tirta Empul, the Temple of Holy Water and one of the six most important temples in Bali. Tirta empul means crystal clear stream and the spring water here are used in many various religious ceremonies.

Devoted Hindus bathing in the sacred water which was believed to have healing merits. First, the worshipper make an offering to the temple, then one climbs into the main pool to bath and pray in the water. Some even bottled the spring water to take home.

This fountain feeding water into the stone pool. The temple has been around for more than a thousand year and people have been coming here for sacred baths since then.

A large pool with spring water gushing out from the ground.

An altar with dragon carvings inside the Holy Water Temple.


I took this on the morning when we wanna leave on day 4. This is Grand Sinar Indah Hotel, our lodging place on our 3rd night. A decent and pleasant hotel, unlike the previous one in Ubud. We took 2 standard room which cost us 300, 000 Rupiah each, and 1 deluxe room (additional bed) for 600, 000 Rupiah. They ran out of standard room, else we would have taken 3 standard rooms since the standard and deluxe room didn't differ much except that the deluxe room was in the wing that was newly renovated.
After breakfast, we started our day with a nice Balinese massage. After a few days here, my mates and I was yet to try any traditional Balinese massage. Thus, on this day, we were dreadfully yearning for a good massage.

We settled for this massage parlour known as Melasti Salon & Spa located opposite our hotel. It cost about 100, 000 Rupiah for an hour of kneading and massaging my strained body and limbs. First time trying Balinese massage, and I think it was not bad but it could have been better.

The Royal Garden Temple
First stop, we travelled to Mengwi, which housed the Pura Taman Ayun, a beautiful garden temple built on water. Built in the 17th century, Pura Taman Ayun served as the family temple of the Mengwi Dynasty, which lasted till the late 1800s.

Above is the tower where one can view the temple from the top.

A tower view of the temple with its vast greens and fountain. The temple was actually built on an island of rivers. After walking through the bridge and Candi Bentar, visitor will need to go through a long path leading to the inner courtyard which house the pagoda-like shrines known as Merus. The large fountain on the right as shown above, was dedicated to the rulers of the u

We passed by an artist workshop inside the temple. He had some interesting works displayed and these egg shaped artworks was some of the more interesting pieces.

As we entered the inner court, the temple was surrounded by beautiful trees and plants such as the Frangipani.

Here, the sacred place were segregated by stone walls. Beyond these stone walls, the lotus filled moats was surrounding the Merus and shrines at the center of the holiest ground in the temple.

The temple is famous for the Merus, which are wooden pagoda like shrine dedicated to various deities and spirits. The Merus which can be five, seven, nine or eleven tiered, are replicas of the original at sacred sites around the Bali Island. These enables the Mengwis to worship the replicas without travelling to the original place scattered across the Island.

Highlands, Cool Breeze and Lake Again...
After leaving Pura Taman Ayun, we headed towards the highlands again. This time we were going to Bedugul, a highland retreat about 1400m above the sea level. No wonder, it took us forever to go up the hill. Well, it does feel like forever, eventhough, I was asleep for most part of the journey. Our destination in Bedugul is the unique Ulun Danu Temple which was built on a small island at Lake Bratan. (As shown above)

A wooden bridge found on the other side of the lake.

After the visit of the Lake Bratan, we headed to a marketplace nearby, stopping for food and some shoppings.

The marketplace, selling various stuff from fruits and veges to Balinese art and decorations.

The Floating Temple on the Sea
We reached Tanah Lot just in time for dusk break. But if was a disappointing day, and the weather was not very helpful. A large cloud overshadowed the sun set, and we could only see a line of red and golden hue painted in the sky.

Pura Tanah Lot is a temple that sits on a large rock off the shore which has been shaped continuously over the years by the ocean. Certain part of the rock foundation has been restored with artificial rock to conserve the temple. When the tide is high, the temple looks afloat on the sea water, and when the sea tide is low, visitor can walk over to the temple by foot.

Sunset at Tanah Lot. Not the best but still decent golden hued skies.

It was fun watching and snapping the waves hitting against the rocky boulders.

Chee Leong and two unknown visitors with the oncoming waves. We were told to disperse to higher grounds as the the water level began to rise. There were life guards there to keep everyone safe and sounding the alarm for high tide.

The Bazaar that Never Sleeps
We were backed in Denpasar at nightfall. A short detour to the famous Pasar Badung. (Badung Market). Ma-de, our tour guide told us this bazaar operates 24 hours a day. I was quite impress with that statement; you have city that never sleeps and here was a bazaar that never sleeps. Interesting!

It was dinner time when we reach here and people were still flocking to the bazaar. It looked like a huge Pasar Malam with various of items such as food, raw meat, fish, vegetables, bags, women accesories, and even prayers offerings. This was a very very busy bazaar and the walkway was jam packed with people, most of which were locals. Hmm...on second thought, all were locals except us...i think.

We brought back some Kuih Lapis from this stall. Some of the kuih muih that were sold bear some similarities to those that were found back in Malaysia.

Flowers play a very important role in the lives of Balinese Hindus. Various flowers are served during daily praying ceremony.

A good trip to Bali and a good get-together with my mates from my college. Although, the whole trip was filled with many travelling in the van, getting roasted out in the hot sun, walking a lot, sweating a lot, and counting a lot of zeros for the currency convertion, we really had fun! We should do this again in the near future!
You guys must be wondering where has all the food gone missing, there were none in the blogging. I save the best for last. Next up, special on food from Bali!

Next entry, Makan Makan Bali (Balinese food and delicacies)