21 Days in Indonesia – Day 1: Kuta, Bali

We boarded the plane from Singapore to Depansar (Bali) at 9pm. We were both exhausted from the long travel (for Markus: from Hamburg; for me: from Ho chi Minh city), we had fallen asleep even before the plane took off.

Arrived in Depansar around midnight, we quickly got to the immigration and checked in. One of the things we both love about Bali Ngurah Rai Airport is the efficiency in immigration process: it takes 30 seconds to go through the custom. Facial scan, passport scan, chop, go. We were in separate line so there seemed like was an internal competition between us (as always) to see who would be done first. Of course, lady first.

Our hotel was Harper Kuta Hotel by Astons located at the heart of Kuta. Regretted we were for not requesting for hotel pick-up, we thought we could find an Uber. But It was not easy to request Uber or Grab. The arrival hall was a mayhem with so many taxi/transport service drivers standing and walking around to find passengers. Finally after 30minutes of waiting, cancelling, requesting, we managed to have a driver to our hotel. It costed 35,000 IDR.

After checking in the hotel, we soon dozed off.

Day 1: Running at Kuta Beach – Tanah Lot Temple – Kedungu Beach – Watching the Sunset – Fat Chow

8am: I woke him up for our run. We were having our hike to mount Rinjani the following 6 days, we needed to train our stamina and strength.

We ran along Kuta beach. It was a true pleasant to run on the wet sand closer to the water, firm but soft enough to give less pressure on our knees. Kuta beach wasn’t nothing but a beautiful beach with strong current. There were so many surfers and surfing lessons going on at the beach where we ran. Me and Markus were tempted to try it out. But we were going to the Gili early the following day. We would not take the risk.

Following the amazing run, we went down for the hotel breakfast, and it was one of the best breakfasts we had in the entire trip: wide-range selection of foods with American and Continental Breakfast. The coffee was not so good but still, the foods definitely compensated the minor disadvantage.

9:30am: Settling tickets to Gili Meno and getting sim-cards with data. 

The last time we went to Ubud, Bali. We got our sim-cards with data in just 5 minutes by walking across to the mobile shop. Keeping the same impression, we thought we could get the same here in Kuta. But it was not. The cost to get a card with data is up-to-bargain and there was no proper shop where we could get them – only available in souvenir stalls. 150,000IDR was what we paid for a sim-card with 4GB. It could have been cheaper but since we just wanted to get away the hassle. We could not be bothered to lower the price.

Thinking getting a sim-card was hard, buying tickets to Gili Meno was even more challenging. We soon realized the impossible trust we could not get from the street vendors, we got back to the hotel counter and asked them to help us book. Terrible idea we had, we ended up paying 900,000 IDR/pax two ways to go Gili Trawangan with the worst boat company ever – Sindex ( that we later figured when we did research about the company).

Also, in contradiction to what we were promised for, we were also informed by the boat company that we would not be able to get a transfer from Gili Trawangan to Amed Beach (our 3rd destination) upon texting them about the transfer boat. We had the issue settled eventually (Bravo to Markus the savior!) but it could have been better if the hotel was sure about the information they were compromising to the guests.

10:30am: Renting a scooter.

It was easier to rent a scooter since the service was available everywhere. We walked down to the main street and just picked one we felt comfortable the most.  We had ours for 120,000IDR (felt like we just got cheated though). But nevermind, off we went to our first we stop on the list: Tanah Lot Temple.

It felt nice to be on the road again at the back of the scooter. Although I was as well a terrible navigator, most of the time, we did arrive at the destinations. (Don’t ask me about other time)

Tanah Lot Temple. 

It took approximately 45minutes ride from Kuta toTanah Lot Temple. Upon reaching, there was an entrance door with ticket booths selling 15,000 IDR/pax and parking fee 2,000IDR/vehicle. Capped on we went, it was a perfect summer day to visit a place like this. Despite being crowded with tourists and locals, the temple was isolated out of reach on a large rock in the middle of the ocean.

Isolated? Yes.

There was no access path to the temple, or it was covered under the water that we could not see at all.  Similar to many temples and pagodas around Asia, these were built on somewhere that are not easily accessible by the people. As a matter of fact, this practice allows the monks and religion practitioners to be still and meditate.

Anyway, after contemplating the beauty of the temples and its surroundings, we walked along the road site around the area, there were many street vendors selling souvenirs, foods, drinks, etc. Markus was indeed excited about the Luwak coffee bean store where they had civets entertained the tourists.

12pm: Next stop, Kendungu beach.

The beach was not famous when we did research back in June. However, since we were close, we wanted to check it out.

Turned into a very small road paved with stones, my scooter rider was skeptical about my navigation. Hilariously, he mentioned about the incident happened in Bali last year when I led him to middle of the rice field and still insisted we were at the right place. Soon after we ended the laugh, Kendugu beach was in front of us. Blue as the sky with very strong current, less developed, and surprisingly remote.

There were a few surfers out at the ocean. The more we walked further along the beach, the more we were awe by the view around here: wild, quiet but strong.

1:30pm: By this time, we felt like we had had enough of the visit. We were a little hungry so decided to head back to the hotel for brunch at 3pm.

5:30pm: Sunset watching, beers and just enjoy the moment.

8pm: Evening stroll, Asian foods at Fat Chow and cocktails at Crumb & Coaster. 

After walking around and checking out the area near Beach Front Shopping Mall, we headed for dinner at Fat Chow due to overwhelming recommendations from Tripadvisors.

We were tempted and curious about the long queue outside the restaurant. After waiting about 20 minutes, we got a table. We ordered Pattaya Ribs and Nasi Campur. Personally, we thought Naughty Nuris Ribs were way better, more flavorful and tender. The Nasi Campur was a little spicy for me but it was a nice touch of Indonesian foods after living in Singapore for a very long time. All in all, we would rate 4 stars in term of service, ambiance, location but foods (hmmm…) not really convinced.  If you would like to try Ribs in Asia, Naughty Nuris is the place to go – it has a branch in Kuta as well. (Wish we had gone there instead) but  anyway, in a search for a well-integrated of Asian cuisines altogether (Thai, Vietnamese, Indonesian, Chinese, Malaysian) we would definitely recommend Fat Chow.

Dinner was done. What is a better way to end the evening with cocktails? Cocktails it is.

We went to Crumb & Toast. It was a cozy brunch and dinner restaurant with a few seats available attached with a cocktail bar section. We did not remember what we had but it took 30 minutes to have our drinks ready. Maybe we chose the wrong place to go for a drink. It was a happy day for us so far, we could not complain any further.

Happy Kelin.

10pm: back to hotel and get ready for our lonnnnnnnng (literally) boat ride the following day to the Gilis.

Until then, stay tune for part 2!

Kelin & Markus.

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