Friday, January 22, 2010

Sunset dinner at Jimbaran - Bali

Jimbaran Beach is a popular beach in Bali where those five star hotel are located like Ritz-Carlton, Four Seasons, etc. But beside that, its also very popular for the seafood dining by the beach. And that's where we headed on our last night in Bali.

The restaurant offered different kind of combo based on the price. Our dinner include water as drink but we ordered beer and paid the difference. From my observation of other tables, our combos seemed to be the most modest. We got whole grilled fish, 3 small prawns , deep fried squid, a few clams. We got two plates of stir fry morning glory (kangkung) to share. Not to mention sweet and sour soup as starter. I said it was a decent dinner.

The tables around us filled pretty quickly as the sunset drew closer. Everybody seemed to be waiting for the sunset. The clear sky made the sunset that day very beautiful. A very memorable dinner in Bali.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Jendela Bali - GWK Cultural Park, Bali

The highlight of our third day trip in Bali was the food and the restaurants. Well mostly the restaurants and the food came second.

For lunch we headed to Jendela Bali (which means window of Bali) which was in the cultural park on Bukit Peninsula. In the same development was the on going project of the huge statue of Garuda Wishnu Kencana which is Wishnu on a garuda bird. Wishnu is one of the god from Hindu religion.

Most of the tourists came to this cultural park seemed to be also going to Jendela Bali. They could probably get the complimentary tickets by having lunch at Jendela Bali. I kinda assumed after I looked at the tickets handed to us by our tour guide. There were a few tables occupied by Korean tourists when we were there. Guess what, everybody were practically having the same dishes. Whatever we had on our table, they also had them on theirs. :)

First was vegetable soup. Fried chicken - the best fried chicken, crispy. Fried noodle - not bad. Stir fry mixed veggies with tofu - fulfilled our servings of fiber for the day. Braised tofu with red chillies and onion.

The food maybe three star but view was five star. Our dining room has wooden windows that open to the view of the bay and ocean below. The breeze that came in was nice even though the day was sunny and hot. We enjoyed our lunch accompanied by the gamelan music. Only later on did we find out that there were two men playing live gamelan music downstairs !

Sacred spring and wonderful lunch on the mountain

We started the day with a Barong Dance show. Barong dance depicts the fight between good and evil. Story was based on a Hindu epics Mahabharata and Ramayana. We got there in time before the rain started pouring from the sky. Growing up in Indonesia I never quite enjoyed any traditional dances, but ever since I've been to performances like Nutcrackers I started to appreciate shows. I enjoyed not just the story line but also the costumes, the different color that made up the costumes.

We spent lunch at the top of mount Kintamani. The restaurant offered lunch buffet with tons of delicious food. There were outdoor seatings on the patio overlooking mount Batur which was fogged up at that time. We chose to sit inside because rain was pouring along with strong breeze.

There were two different types of soup, a vegetable soup and a chicken noodle soup. Then plain rice, fried noodle and fried rice. There was also deep fried vegetables like tempura, fried chicken and fried fish. The food was fresh and didn't taste like they had been reheated over and over. The dessert was a bunch of fried banana and hot tea or hot coffee. Perfect for the rainy day out there.
It was our best lunch ever. Too bad I didn't have a chance to take down the restaurant's name. It was pouring when we got there. There were a bunch restaurants up at the mountain. Most of them had spectacular views.

From there we visited the Pura Tirta Empul which is a Hindu temple with the sacred spring. Long time ago there was a warlock that poisoned all the spring in the area. Indra (one of the character from Mahabharata and Ramayana) was mad and he created this sacred spring to help the local people fight the poison. These days locals still go there to bathe and pray on the different springs there. Different springs provided different purposes - for health, for wealth, to fight black magic, etc.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Kuta Beach Club - Kuta, Bali

We were going to select Kuta Lagoon Resort but just after we chose that, our travel agent told us that the hotel was fully occupied. I was surprised to find that out. It's after all second week of January. But later on our tour guide told us that Bali is still very popular as place for corporate meeting place. So I guess that explained the busy hotel on low season.
It took only about 10 minutes drive from Ngurah Rai Airport to Kuta Beach Club Hotel. The hotel was on a small one way street paralel to the Kuta Beach road. That small road was packed with stores that sell souvenirs, clothing, beach wears, etc. There was also a Circle K (like a mini mart) about 100 yards away. Though the price is a bit more expensive but it's convenient. If you don't mind walking another 5 minutes more, there's a supermarket inside the Matahari Dept Store which is just a stone throw away.

The hotel sure got a very awesome location. The rooms were clean and AC working very well which was very important considering the humid and hot weather. Unfortunately I couldn't say the same thing about the bathroom. Our bathroom's bath tub had draining problem. Water pooled on our feet after taking a shower. We then changed room with my aunt and her bathroom had problem with its lock. Simple stuff that could easily be fixed. It's a shame that the hotel didn't pay attention to small stuffs like that.

All in all we loved our hotel. Swimming pools were great. Clean towels provided every time we visited the pool. Make sure you exchange your towel with your pass back otherwise there's a penalty when you check out.

Bali Trip - First Day

Me and hubby had been to Bali a couple of times before. Having only a short time in Indonesia, we wanted to spend time with family and also visited Bali at the same time. So we took my parents with us. We signed up with a travel agent who arranged an itinerary for us.

First day was an easy one. It included trip from Ngurah Rai airport in Denpasar to our hotel Kuta Beach Club. By then it was afternoon and the rest of the day was free for us to roam around.

Lunch : Dulang Cafe - Kuta

The premise had side walk seatings as well as inside. We chose to sit inside because it was like 90 degrees outside. The AC was on but didn't feel cool at all. There were a few ceiling fans blowing. It was kinda dark inside that was my first impression but I thought as soon as my eyes adjusted it would be brighter. But no, I guess they were trying to create a cozy cafe feeling.

As crazy as it sounded, even though it was 90 out there, we all decided we needed something hot to warm us up. Me and dad ordered mi kangkung (yellow noodle soup with morning glory), my aunt and mom got soto ayam (chicken soup with clear noodle and vegetables) - served with rice. Hubby got soto betawi (beef with coconut milk broth and vegetables) - also with rice. My uncle got chicken curry with rice.

The food was good but was a bit pricey. The sizes were way bigger than typical size for Indonesians. I guess that explained the price.

Dinner : Kedai Tiga Nyonya (Three Ladies Stall) - Kuta

Found this place on the way home from our lunch. The restaurant served peranakan food which is a hybrid of malay and chinese food. I've been wanting to try peranakan food in Singapore but didn't have a chance.

We ordered :
Nasi lemak special (coconut milk rice with condiments)
Ayam kluwek (chicken kluwek)Sup bola bola ayam (chicken meatball and vegetable soup)Gado gado lontong (mixed vegetable salad with peanut dressing and rice cake)
Tumis toge ikan asin (stir fry bean sprout and salted fish)

All were good. Dishes were very homely. The sizes were right and we finished everything without feeling too stuffed. Total spent IDR260000 before tips (US$29). By the way for drinks we had ginger tea (hot), lychee punch (refreshing) and young coconut.

Kedai Tiga Nyonya
Jl Pantai Kuta No 8-9 (62-361) 767218, 767219

Monday, January 18, 2010

Albert Court Village Hotel - Singapore

This hotel didn't even show up on our itinerary until later on our trip. We thought that we would be happy enough with Fernloft that we would use it again on our last night in Singapore. Unfortunately we decided it's not worth the savings. We tried to look for another place but we were on 'borrowed' PC all the time (public use PC) that I didn't feel safe enough to do any reservation and put my credit card info on it. Our last resort was Transit Hotel at Changi Airport. It cost more but we were ready to just use it for 6 hours !
Man. Those were tough words there. Apparently nights of lack of sleep were easily forgotten when it comes to save a dime. Or was it because we thought we had gained back all our rest due to our 2 nights at Hong Vy 3. Or we were simply nuts ?

Anyhow, upon arriving at Changi we were trying to find the transit hotel. Hubby finally found one information counter with a very nice lady that explained to us that transit hotel - just like the name suggested - is in TRANSIT AREA !! So unless we were inside the terminal, we wouldn't be able to use it. Okay.. plan B. Another hotel closer to Changi Airport in case you didn't notice is Crowne Hotel Plaza. Looking at the hotel I knew that NO WAY it was going to cost like $80/night. Yet we inquired. ha..ha. It cost about $250/night but no, there was no room available. Wow.
But I wouldn't call her a nice lady had she not helped us found our hotel that night. In fact we learned something useful that night. That hotel information counter can actually help you reserve room with special discount. We didn't know that until the lady found us a room at Albert Court Hotel - a boutique hotel between Bugis and Orchard. We paid $80 for our room. No breakfast. But that's fine, we just needed a room to put our heads down on the pillow and had our bodies on a 600 count bed sheet. :)

The room was a bit small but with huge windows from floor to ceiling. Bed sheet was indeed 600 count (according to hubby). But the most interesting part was the shower. It's diameter was 9 inch hung from the ceiling and the water was like waterfall. It didn't feel like you were drowned in it because the shower didn't face you. It's like showering under rain fall. :) Nice.

Albert Court Village Hotel
180 Albert Street, Singapore

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Ben Thanh Market Eateries

One of the tourist spot in Ho Chi Minh City is Ben Thanh Market. One side of it is a wet market. Coming from Asia myself, we didn't feel like we should check it out. I was more interested in the shopping experience and the food sold there.

The wonderful thing about Ben Thanh was you can take whole day here and go through each tiny aisles. When you're tired just go the 'food court' area where vendors sell different kind of drinks, dessert, noodle soup and snacks. Don't worry about language barrier, most of them understand English. Most of the stalls have menu in English and price listed.

We tried banh tam bi which was rice noodle with coconut milk and shredded pork. It sounded quite interesting and different. I have been looking to try something other than pho and this fell into that category. Hubby was a bit skeptical about it, but after it got mixed well, he actually loved it. It's a bit combination of sweet and savory from pork and coconut milk. Just make sure that you mix it well or else it feels like eating dessert.

Total 1 young coconut and 1 dessert drink (jelly mixture with coconut milk) 22000 dong (USD1.2). Total 1 banh tam bi and 1 order of spring roll (3 rolls) 40000 dong (USD 2.25). Very affordable.

Banh tam bi served at :
Ba Tam
Ben Thanh Market, Stall 1028

Friday, January 15, 2010

Giant oil filter

Who ever that came up with the idea for this lamp must have worked as a mechanic before.

Hong Vy 3 - Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam

Found this hotel while browsing Agoda. Decided to reserve the deluxe room. Compare to the standard room, the deluxe room cost about $3 more.
We arrived at the hotel around 9 in the morning. I asked the receptionist if we could check in right then. She said to wait around half hour. I told her that we'll be back. Even though I don't really want to leave. :) She stopped me and said that she'd check. She then picked up the phone and talked to somebody and came back to tell me that it'd be around 10 minutes.

The lobby was small with a few couches. Two internet stations at one corner offering free internet. From we sat we could see the breakfast room. And next to the elevator was a tiny staircase.

Before we knew it, we got our room key and off we went. Room was bright with two windows facing the road on one side. Next to the bed was a dresser and then a TV. There were also two chairs to go with a tea table. We used those two chairs to put our clothing most of the times. :) We went to check out the bathroom. Pretty decent. Soap and shampoo were provided with clean towels. Standing shower looked a bit worn with door that couldn't close properly but it didn't bother us. Coming from Fernloft, we decided to just stayed in that day and just slept the whole afternoon. And we DID.
Hong Vy 3 Hotel
20 Bui Thi Xuan, Ben Thanh Ward, District 1

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Changi Budget Terminal

We arrived at the Changi Budget Terminal at 5 in the morning. At one point during the taxi ride, I thought the taxi driver was lost because the road seemed to go nowhere but the police station. At 5 in the morning, the terminal was busy with people. Some travellers slept over night on the floor and some flocked at the McDonald. Yeah..we were worry that there'll be no food services at the terminal that we woke up earlier to make sandwiches.
The terminal itself wasn't as bad as I thought. It may not be as fancy as the main terminals but it's decent. The boarding pass looked more like a receipt from a grocery store. :) But after we passed the immigration point, there were free internet terminals, more food services and Duty Free Shops. The prices at the DFSs was quite decent too. I almost got some souvenirs there but I already had some stuffs in mind that I wanted to get so I held myself in and moved on.
Even though on the e-ticket said that check-in counter opened two hours before the scheduled departure, don't be fooled. That day the counter opened at 5:30, 15 minutes earlier than scheduled. If you only look at the screen to find out the counter number for check-in you wouldn't find it because until 6 am it still didn't show up on the screen. So beware and keep your eyes open.

We walked to the gate and had to walk back to those Duty Free Shops because there were only 3 chairs at the gate. And those chair were already taken. I decided to sit by those shops while Wawa went back to check his emails.

Time came for boarding and we waited in line for like 15 minutes. Yes, the only thing good about the lay out was this space for queing like those in Disneyland snaking in the area that could have been used for more chairs. But again, it's budget terminal. And when it's time, they let us out in the free air to walk to the plane. I mean really walking on the tarmac and climb onto the plane. I wonder how they do it when it's raining. While we were waiting. We saw the pilot and copilot and the air crew. The pilot and copilot were so young that I wonder if they just graduated from school. One of them carried a thick binder. Me and Wawa joked that the book was actually a manual to operate the plane. We made it to Ho Chi Minh City just fine. hehe.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

One Day In Singapore

If we had more time, we would have spent a few more days in Singapore. I just love that city. It's clean, easy to get around and awesome food. But this time we only going to stop by there for 42 hours so we better enjoy every minute of it.

Suffering from jet lag, I woke up early around 6:30 and took a shower. By 8 me and hubby were on the street looking for breakfast. Not too far from our hostel, we found a small 'food court' with a few stalls already opened for business. I'm sure they actually opened early in the morning since all their customers were local going to work or just looking for a place to sit down and enjoy breakfast. I ordered my mee pok (minced pork noodle) and got laksa (curry noodle with seafood) for hubby. A man came asking what we would like for drink, we got 2 can of soy bean drink.

Food were awesome. My mee pok was a bit spicy. Just perfect for the morning. The size was a bit smaller than what we usually see in the restaurant in the States. But that's fine, we could always look for another snacks later on.

Down the road, there was another food court. This one was bigger than the previous one and supposedly open 24 hours. Though I didn't remember seeing it last night when we passed by. We walked in anyway just curious what kind of food were available. The very last stall was selling roti pratha with curry. I 'encouraged' hubby to try. I knew that he wanted though sometimes he wasn't sure. ha..ha..

We then walked back towards our hostel and made phone call outside a 7-11 to my friend Ratna. We were going to have lunch together. I was checking in with her to see where we'd meet later. Got the confirmation and we walked back to our hostel. There was bench at the bus stop in front of the hostel. We sat there and enjoyed the breeze. It was cloudy that day so it wasn't very hot.

Left Suntec in a hurry to go to Vivo City. Last minute, Ratna changed the meeting point to Vivo City. After we met, she suggested The Chicken Rice Shop which is a halal restaurant. The reason she suggested that one was because hubby wanted chicken rice and that was the only place to eat chicken rice in that mall. :) Hubby is a chicken rice addict and he needed a fix badly.
We all ordered chicken rice. Ratna added kue Pai Tee and Ipoh Bean Sprout. I added Sai To fish ball soup. And we all agreed on Penang Rojak. Chicken rice was actually very decent. Even though Ratna kinda suggested that it may not be as nice as the regular non halal one. I don't have as much chicken rice experience, but I think the chicken rice was good. But we all agreed that the Penang rojak was da bomb. Ratna even had another order to take to her office for her coworkers.

After dropping off our suitcase at the airport, we went and met hubby's friend, Patrick for dinner. He steered us to a food court near his residence. He ordered a bunch of seafood dishes for us and his two children. Among the dishes were chilli crab, broccoli scallop, tofu seafood, and fried prawn with mayonaise sauce.

I seriously didn't remember much about the food. I didn't try the crab because I was trying to recover from my cough. But the crab was smaller than usual and the sauce was too much compare to the rest of the crab. Both me and hubby didn't eat that much due to our jet lag.

The Chicken Rice Shop
1 Harborfront Walk
#B2-37 VivoCity, Singapore 6376 9388

Monday, January 11, 2010

Fernloft - Singapore

Found this place when we were looking for lodging in Singapore. Our favorite hotel - Seven Storey Hotel is no longer available. It was too bad because both location and hotel condition made that hotel five star in our travel book.

We arrived at Changi around 1:30 am. Taxi driver had no clue when we told him the name. He even asked us where we got the name from. ha..ha.. I think he thought we made it up. But we got the address and he took us there and found the place.

The establishment is on top of a bistro. The bistro was still open when we got there. I walked in it and found the guy behind the bar to help us checking in. He brought us upstairs and gave us the key and showed us a few things.

The first thing I noticed when we walked in was the fan. I was disappointed immediately and was thinking in horror how am I going to sleep tonight. But then I noticed the AC and my worry was gone right away.

The room was small and had no windows. Well it only cost SGD60/night. Location is far from any MRT station. They did provide a list of buses to reach any places of interest which helped us a lot. Breakfast was provided in the form of bread, jam, milo, and coffee. Laundry provided with a small amount of fee. Shared bathroom.

We found out the downside the second night we were there. There were live music until 1 am in the morning. Even with the jet lag it's still hard to sleep. I managed to sleep around 2 hours. I don't know if they had live music every night or it happened to be Friday night. Needless to say, we had to cross out Fernloft from our future lodging list.

Fernloft Hostel
693 A East Coast Road, Singapore

Friday, January 8, 2010

Burger Joint - SF Airport International Terminal

After touring the whole airport...yes..both domestic and international looking for supposedly Burger King that (according to the website) was at the domestic terminal to no vain. Yeah..we had too much time on hand. Reached airport around 8 in the morning and not able to check in yet so we opted in for an airport tour. So finally we went back to International terminal and found this place called Burger Joint. I ordered Chicken breast burger that came with french fries. No drinks. Total $10.32.
After 15 minutes, we got our order. Quite a big piece of chicken breast with nice grill mark. Next to it a pile of wedge french fries. It looked pretty good until one bite into it. The chicken was a bit bland. Maybe they forgot the seasoning. We ended up putting more ketchup into it.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Packing..and packing..

Just a few more working days and we'll be off on our vacation. Hooray !

I started packing a few...*ehem* weeks ago. Yeah..even hubby made fun of me each time he saw me and my suitcase. See...I got very excited when it comes to vacation. As soon as we were done deciding the date, boom..I just had to start packing. Packing is a lengthy process especially when it comes to buying gifts for ten thousand family members. And with my oh so good memory if I don't place the items in the suitcase chances are I won't remember where I put them.

So here was what I did. I took out my suitcase and got it ready. I had a list of gifts that I need to purchase. Each time I got one, I dropped it in the suitcase. When it got quite full then I started arranging them.

Two days ago I declared that I'm done packing it. I zipped up the suitcase and dragged it out to show hubby. But then last night as I called home, parents wanted another bottle of fish oil pill so today I had to unzip my almost broken suitcase and stuffed the bottle in. Zipped it up again and swore that I wasn't going to unzip it again until we reach Singapore. As I tried to remember whether I got all the toiletries, I went inside the bathroom and saw my deodorant. How the hell did it get out again ? I was so sure I put it in just now.

Now I am just hoping that my lovely suitcase will make it to Singapore without breaking in two. I can't quite imagine strangers looking into my really personal belongings. *gulp*