Wednesday, June 18, 2008


I've covered most of central and northern Bali in my previous trips. The furthest East I've been was to a small little village called Tihingan, a place known for its gamelan foundries.
So I decided to skip the Arts Fest (see more pics of arts fest above) and head towards the East in the district of Karangasem and Manggis, including Ujung where the famous Water Palace is located.
Our trip to the East was very scenic because I wanted to take a route that passes near the majestic Gunung Agung.
Furthermore, my tour guide and driver, Jamal, wanted me to have late lunch at his house in Karangasem.
The trip was over two hours, passing hillside paddy fields, beautiful gorges, classic Balinese temples and crazy Indonesian drivers.
It was about 3pm when we arrived at Jamal's place and lunch was ready. His wife, a native of Lombok prepared a simple yet delicious lunch consisting of kuah lemak Tenggiri, ayam goreng, tahu goreng and kulit sapi goreng. He also prepared sambal terasi or belacan for me, not knowing I have reflux. But hey, I always carry my Xantac or Nexium with me so no problem there.
Immediately after lunch and meeting his family, we went to the Water Palace in Ujung which was about 20 minutes away from his house.
The Water Palace isn't ancient. The only original part of the Palace still standing is a Gazebo vantage point on a hill facing the ocean. The original Water Palace it seems was nearly totally destroyed by a volcanic eruption in the 70s and has since been restored - therefore, the palace did not have that feeling of antiquity - but nevertheless it is a beautiful sight.
From Ujung we went looking for a place for me to stay the night as we are quite a distance away from Denpasar. After awhile, I decided to splurge a little bit and stay at Alila Manggis.
Whenever I'm in Jakarta I would most probably stay in Alila, a superb business class hotel, so I'm sure Alila Manggis would be much better since it is a beach resort.
Unfortunately, Alila does not feel like a Balinese resort, but like its Jakarta hotel, a very comfortable modern beach resort with Balinese accents.
The standard room is about US100 per night (off peak season price) but it is well worth it. It is spacious, with a huge queen size bed - firm and comfortable.
It has an ocean view and wifi internet connection!! (I'm updating this blog from my room).
I also arrived on the day of the full moon, so the hotel actually organised a cocktail party to greet the full moon - and there I was with my puzzle book sitting on the beach with about eight other couples (all kweilohs or bulegs) sipping martinis and other cocktails whilst a Balinese couple sat cross legged in the centre singing and praising the full moon in old Balinese language. The singing was haunting yet soothing. It ended around 8p.m. and the mat sallehs disappeared for their dinners.
I went out looking for Sundanese food but most restaurants served babi guling and sate babi so it was difficult for me to make a choice.
I ended up in a restaurant called Lotus - and no, they don't serve Thoseis but a mixture of Vietnamese, Japanese, Chinese and Balinese fare.
I ordered a Balinese style grilled fish - tasy but somehow I lost my appetite and returned to the hotel - straight back to my room.
Tomorrow is my last day, and I plan to spend some time in Denpasar before catching the 8pm flight back to Kuala Lumpur....argggghhhh....

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