Last of the series of Bali entries. Looking at pictures and typing up posts really makes me miss my vacation in Bali. 
With a majority of its population making a living through agricultural, one should never miss out visiting the rice terraces and padi fields of Bali.

The Tegalalang Rice Terrace is one of the more famous rice terraces in Bali. 

The rice terraces are so beautiful from this view, especially with the mountains at the back. It was drizzling at this point when the photo was taken, but we went out in the rain and admired the rice fields anyway.

Rice Paddies are a very nice backdrop for a meal. There are restaurants and cafes located in the middle of rice fields. Beware of mosquitos in the summer, but otherwise, if you have the luxury of time and money, treat yourself to a nice meal at a cafe by a rice field!

More than being an agricultural community, Bali (and many other parts of Indonesia) is well known for the rich culture and beautiful temples.
I've always believed that visiting a city isn't complete without learning more about the culture and visiting historical or cultural landmarks.

On this trip, Sheryl and I visited the Neka Art Musuem which had a very interesting layout. It looked a lot like a temple, but art pieces were displayed on the walls in different rooms in a very minimalistic fashion.
The place that left the most impression on me was the Brahmavihara-Arama Buddhist Monastery. Im not sure if its a popular tourist destination, but it was so serene and peaceful. The hot sun blazing through the clouds, as you stroll through the garden on the upper levels of the monastery accompanied by the majestic inverted bell structure provided a certain kind of calming sensation. 

We had to wear robes tied around our waists before we could enter the temple! Full experience in a monastery indeed!

As a Christian for most of my life, I have only been largely exposed to the Christian faith since young, I would say don't know much about the Buddhist religion. Some Christians might be uncomfortable with visiting temples and monasteries, but for the exposure and cultural knowledge, I recommend visiting the Brahmavihara-Amara; its unlike any monastery i've been to in Singapore. 

No matter what your faith is, when you're in a different country, do always make an effort to learn more about their culture and religion. Its interesting how different cultures can make an impression on you and make you a more accepting and tolerant person in general. 
My two-cents worth! :)

Missing Asia | Bali - Temples and Rice Fields

15 October 2014 Bali, Indonesia

In a previous post, I mentioned about regretting the decision of staying up in the north of Bali. Though very inaccessible, the North of Bali offers its own charm. Its a lot quieter, the long drives through the narrow roads (not if you get carsick), passing by loads of agricultural fields and rice padis along the way were always fun. But the biggest perk of staying in the north is having the opportunity to head out to Lovina Beach to watch the Sunrise in an open sea, and if you're lucky, see wild dolphins.

By far it was the BEST sunrise i've seen. The experience was incredible I think neither words nor pictures can justify.

We woke up at 4am, took a bus to the beach and hopped in (literally because it was a hole) a really small motorised boat (4 people in a row), and sailed out to the open sea. After 10 mins, you start to see the sky turn from grey to blue, on the right shades of pink, yellow and orange start infusing into the sky while on the other side it remains blue with the clouds being increasingly visible due to the sun rays.

It was the most beautiful sight EVER. It was one of those cliché moments where you feel all your problems melt away as you stare into the vast sky and realise how small you are - partly due to the fact you're on a small boat splashing about in the massive sea. Amazing and indescribable. 

We were lucky enough to spot several wild dolphins jumping up above the waters. 
The dolphins didn't come up to the surface too often because the boats were practically chasing them. It was quite sad. At the sight of a dolphin, the swarm of boats will speed towards that particular area, and that would mean chasing the dolphins away. We caught sight of the dolphins towards the end of the session when most of the boats left and our was just floating along the waters with the engine turned off. 

This dolphin spotting thing really depends on your luck. Sometimes people don't get to see any wild dolphins, sometimes people get to see them jumping up really high. I'd say, pay to see the sunrise from the middle of the sea, let the dolphins be and don't make your boat drivers chase them.

Not only does the sun rise early in Bali, the sun sets pretty early as well. Watching the sunrise from our rooms everyday was a treat in itself, but we were never in one place long enough to watch the sunset, apart from an evening at the Tanah Lot Temple.

We got there at about 5 and roamed around the area before heading towards the beach to catch the sunset. Unfortunately, being one of the most touristy locations, it was MAD CROWDED. But we had a fun time climbing up the rocks to get a decent photograph and walking in the waters as the waves crashed up the shore. 

Bali definitely has one of the most gorgeous sunrises and sunsets i've seen. Unfortunately, it was quite cloudy the day we were at Tanah Lot Temple - the sunset would have been a lot better had it been less cloudy. 
Still, I would say the sun rises and sun sets in bali are a MUST SEE. 

If you're one of those people who need loads of sleep, get someone to force you awake to watch the sunrise at 5am in Bali. You would not regret!

Hope you liked the photos! I'm definitely missing clear skies and gorgeous sunrises/sunsets in rainy London (but london has its own charm, so I'm not complaining!)

Missing Asia | Bali - Catching Sunrises Chasing Susets

13 October 2014 Bali, Indonesia

I was looking through the stash of photographs I have on my lap top - its running out of space. And I found pictures of my Bali Trip in the summer of 2013.

My trip to Bali has been my most MEMORABLE trip so far. Bali is unlike any other place i've visited. In the past, the countries i've travelled to in Asia are pretty urban and cosmopolitan. Visiting Bali was one of the best decisions ever, and i'd do it again in a heartbeat (well with minor changes in certain accommodation decisions!)

The trip to Bali was a rather spontaneous trip with my girl Sheryl, she got us a driver (its near impossible to travel through bali without a driver) and since we were both on a budget, we stayed at a place really up North - The Hamsa Resort - a deal we got off groupon.

We were having a 4 day trip in Bali, it was both our first time visiting bali, and our first time travelling together. Being 2 very clueless teenage girls, we had no clue what we were doing, and did not have too much of a concrete plan. Instead of deciding on which attractions we would like to visit and THEN decide on a place to stay, we only jumped on the deal.
Since most of the touristy attractions in Bali are located further South, in the Ubud Area, it took us a 2-3 hour drive to get there. So we planned our days to minimise traveling as much as possible.

Somethings i'd do better if I get the chance to visit Bali again include:

Living further down South
The resort we lived in was decent, it came with a spa, free breakfast (which were really good! The indonesians can really COOK) and, free morning yoga sessions. However, I wouldn't recommend anyone living in the resort for more than one night. For the reason that it is too far off from the "city" area in the South. One night is sufficient to visit the attractions in the North.

Getting a driver that is fluent in English
It was also a sort of a bummer that our driver couldn't speak really good english. There was some sort of a miscommunication with charges and that resulted in a small argument on the last day. Thankfully, sheryl had a friend who was fluent in Bahasa (?) and that helped us sort things out.

Checking up attractions, planning and then Staying for a longer time!
I can still remember the sights and sounds, the places we visited (ok no all of it, and especially not their names but you get my drift), the experience and my emotions. Growing up in a small cosmopolitan city like Singapore, you do not get the opportunity to connect with nature, much less climb waterfalls and visit lakes. It is always nice to get out and go some where more rural, where the sun rises at 5am and sets at 6pm. Though this gave us an initial culture shock of how things were closed by 6 and the lack of street lamps mean evening drives were mildly creepy.
I wished we stayed in bali for a longer time, or did a little more planning. But since it was sort of both our virgin experience traveling to a different country with no prior knowledge, I say it was a great experience and we learned a fair bit about travel planning. 
We met a couple who were backpacking for 9 days through bali! We were so envious.

I encourage EVERYONE to visit Bali if you're ever in South East Asia - or even if you're living in the region (apart from Indonesians?? I believe locals know better places to visit - PLEASE SHARE). It would be better if you're not on a budget - it means you can purchase all the interesting paintings and souvenirs and spend more on food!! But that doesn't mean its impossible to enjoy Bali on a budget. If 2 young, clueless girls with a small amount of savings can  have lovely memories in Bali, so can you!

More pictures of the places we visited coming up in the next few posts :)

Missing Asia | Learning Experiences in Bali

11 October 2014 Bali, Indonesia

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