GreaTime in Naturally-HEAVENly Bali

Judith Cabradilla Bacarro

April 22, 2020

“Mom, you will go with us to Bali…by June!”

That came as a surprise message from my youngest son last February 2019 as I was in our hotel room in Vietnam-during our Grade 10 Educational Field Trip.

Another trip to look forward to…this time with my Joseph, Lyza & Daden.

The 6-day trip was worth the wait.

Off we headed for Bali via Manila last June 4, 2019.

Bali is an Indonesian Island in the westernmost bed of the Lesse Sunda Islands, between Java to the west and Lombok to the east. Bali is Indonesia’s most-visited tourist destination, known for its natural attractions, relaxing atmosphere & warm climate.

I can’t forget the remark of one of our former Indonesian parents in school (who has been back years ago to Jakarta-with his family). He happily Congratulated me for having visited Bali. He, as an Indonesian has never visited the said tourist destination in his country due to his busyness at work.

So, for the 2nd time in my life, I became a ‘millionaire.’
In Bali, Filipinos spend in millions of rupiah equivalent to thousands in Philippine peso.

Our homey-hostels are beautifully-situated with Nature.
We experienced two Indonesian drivers, male and female (aside from the male driver in the island). They both have their own vehicles-primarily to cater to their tour guests.

Food simply tastes really really good!

 

Day 1: June 4, 2019

Arrival at the beautifully-decorated with fresh, huge white & purple orchids Bali airport.

Checked in at Bamboo Ubud. It’s a cozy eclectic place nestled in a small rice paddy with a neighboring community. The intimate place has a small pool that refreshed our tired bodies from our local & international flights plus the layover hours.

Spending three nights there was simply blissful as birds cheerfully serenaded us & the cool air naturally enveloped our tired bodies from our day tours. The hostel offered their yummy native delicacies.

 

The last night at our first home in Bali was simply unforgettable. It was there that I learned how to click a camera for great results.

 

Day 2: June 5 in ALOHA, UBUD

We were picked up by our male Indonesian driver who owns three vehicles. He is a Hindu, he explained, as marked by his red wrist bond.

We noticed temples and gods of different sizes in houses and other infrastructures. Food and flowers for their gods placed in small containers are almost everywhere on the streets. For tourists, they may look like eyesore, nonetheless, it’s their practice & belief that everyone should respect.

First destination was in Aloha Ubud Swing. For me it’s like a Fairyland. We loved the swings and the man-made ‘nests’ of different forms. The said nests are carefully & wonderfully secured on the branches of trees & other spaces along the side of a valley. The swings swung to & fro facing the valley of green trees and plants. Some invisible fairies must be guarding the place, giving so much happiness in a blissful & magical space.

At first try, riding the swings was nerve-wracking yet gradually calming as the crew pushed the huge & long swings with their loud & top-of-the-lungs shouts of ‘Aloha!’ They also have swings for groups. One is the Honeymooners’ swing. It’s carefully adorned with green leaves and colorful flowers… tossed to & fro by another crew.

Our mouth-watering & sumptuous lunch was served in carefully-planned presentations. One can’t help but give an applause for food & beverages at very reasonable prices in one of the Terrace-restaurants in Tegalalang-overlooking the other side of the rice terraces.

What was even more inviting with a warm energy is the huge wall painting of music icon- Bob Marley. The painting looks so real.

We were on a high area so the natural breeze coming from the rice paddies was simply refreshing.

DAY 3: June 6 @ BEDUGUL

We made our way to the next destination as we passed thru Bedugul highland

Handara Gate of Heaven is also known as the Pathway to Serenity-opening up to a world of free ample supply of oxygen coming from trees, lake & flowers. It also has a Golf Resort.

As we took our photos at the gate, we also met some Filipino & foreign tourists who are working in Singapore & France.

At TWIN LAKE WANAGIRI

Our schedule was open for the next destination & our driver brought us to Twin Lake Wanagiri-a breathtaking & ravishing space with a panoramic sight of the serene & pristine lake surrounded by blue mountains that look like strong & stalwart sentinels.

Having our poses on a big frame, little ship & different-shaped ‘nests’ inexplicably elated an ecstatic feeling- as if heaven came down on earth. The crew had their way of taking good photos with the use of an improvised/DIY reflector. Some ‘nests’ have safety harness while others don’t have, little-braver guests like us posed at our own risk.

We were more than happy for such a spur-of-the-moment itinerary.

Next stop – ULUN DANU BERATAN, a major Hindu Shaivite Shiva temple located near a water body in Bali, lying on the shores of Lake Beratan in the mountains near Bedugul.

The trees and flowers of different varieties are intoxicating as they welcomed us with their smiles and dances. The large influx of tourists made the garden temple more interesting. Despite the scorching heat of the sun, tourists just enjoyed sunbathing, posing at every interesting area.

 

At TEGALALANG RICE TERRACES

Tegalalang Rice Terraces is an agricultural icon on the cliffs of Tegalalang Village. Such a wide space of verdant-turned golden (when ready for harvest) rice paddies, a popular tourist hotspot in Bali.

Local rice farmers worked on this awe-inspiring emerald-green fields-stretching like the whole of eternity. The rice terraces stunningly stands as part of the Cultural Landscape of Bali Province UNESCO World Heritage Site.

We looked like tiny specks & dots in the super vaaaaaast rice terraces on Joseph’s drone shots.

Brewed coffee with the view on top after our buffet lunch was reinvigoratingly heartwarming. It fueled us in our long walks.

Our tour at the rice terraces was a bit long but we were not bothered nor got tired as our seemingly endless talks and laughter energized us all, plus, of course, the mentioned cup of coffee beforehand.

It was my first time to enjoy for real-the multiple sheaves of grain- ready for milling. One sheave is really heavy that I held it only for a few minutes.

The pose with the lush red poinsettia in an area at the rice field made some big black bees ‘furious.’ Good thing not one of us was bitten by the stinger.

It was funny as I tripped off on one corner of the field as I desired to have a closer pose in the rice field. Was thankful the irrigation was a bit dry, or else, I may have been wet with no extra outfit on hand.

I even bought an intricately-designed Bali hat as souvenir from a little store within the area.

DAY 4: June 7 @ LEMPUYANG TEMPLE “Gates of Heaven”

The Highlight of our Bali Trip

We had to leave our Airbnb at 4 a.m for us to catch the Sunrise @ Lempuyang Temple.

With seatbelts securely fastened, we braced ourselves for the almost 2-hour ride with our credibly-skilled Indonesian driver-Natalia. The long, winding & dangerous curves in the zigzag road was made possible & a bit easier by her. It was an early morning joy ride indeed! We also loved her very warm and accommodating spirit. It turned out that she is a Christian. She got used to the trail. Good thing we never encountered any vehicle as it was only past 4 in the morning.

We were the very first to arrive at the temple up the mountain.


Upon arrival, we’re instructed to wear the prescribed outfit. So, on top of our clothings were long skirts/malongs for a small amount of rentals. No skin should be left uncovered except the face, hands and feet.

The way up on foot was challenging with our empty stomach. What a great morning exercise it was!

We were the firsts in the long queue of tourists. We met a free-spirited Russian lady who works in Dubai & was in Bali for a vacation.

We waited for the sun to shine for us to have a clearer view of the sacred Mount Agung of Bali-between & behind the Gates except that it was quite elusive that day as the clouds conspired to literally cover & hide both the sun & mountain.

We stretched a bit our waiting time but eventually learned to let go and just enjoyed the morning fog instead.

After our individual photo shoots at the CENTER of the towering Lempuyang Temple Gates with the foggy-heavenly scene, the surprise revelation was unfolded- my dear Joseph’s PROPOSAL to her girlfriend Lyza of six years (they just turned 7 this year).

Guests of different nationalities happily applauded & cheered the said proposal. It was like heaven on earth. I was teary-eyed with much glee and gratitude.

One great fulfillment also for me as I PASSED my crash-course on “Photography 101” (over time learning the night before the great day with Coach Joseph).
I successfully took the shot of his proposal.

On the other hand, the most thrilled & elated of all was our newly-met Russian yogi who volunteered to take the video of the proposal (aside from Joseph’s recording). She was shedding tears of joy & excitement as well.

We proceeded then to TAMAN TIRTA GANGGA (meaning Water from the Ganges), a former Royal Palace in eastern Bali. It has a pond with schools of huge-multicolored fish. It was an energy-boosting experience as I enjoyed feeding the intricately & naturally ‘tattooed’ & tamed marine animals. The place also features tropical gardens & airy pavilions.

The centerpiece of the palace is the Patirthan Temple. It illustrates the historic significance of Tirta Gangga in the Balinese tradition as a Pilgrimage and Holy Water site.

 

From Gangga, we then had our breakfast in an intimate little restaurant along our way.

After late breakfast, we had our shopping time for souvenirs at Krishna Oleh Oleh Bali. It’s a big store solely for very affordable souvenir items.

We were brought then to our 2nd hostel that looks like a two-storey-ten-door apartment with an intimate pool @ the end side. We felt at home at once with the presence of a domesticated black pup & the homey room ambience.

In the afternoon, we decided to visit a nearby beach. We tried to look for a cab but since there was none, we joyfully took a walk.

That walk to Badung Canggu was a bit dangerous as most of the local & international tourists were on their motorcycles and each just had their feel of the small & narrow road, honking at each other, not minding us-the ones who were walking on the sides.

 

 

I almost got hit, not once, but thrice, by careless motorcycle riders. I was more than grateful for my safety, our safety, as our company had our eye on each other from time to time. I also felt the hand of my late hubby gently pushing me on the side walks.

After walking for more than a mile, the sea breeze and the warm sand simply cleared my body from a little traumatic walk. Badung Canggu has its natural offering of magnificent Sunset at the horizon. We enjoyed the live music, roasted corn, street food & the like. After dinner by the road with our plastic gloves-covered hands, we settled to sit back and relax for pizza & drinks at a restaurant by the shoreline. The bean bags naturally massaged our quite tired bodies.


We took a cab on our way back to the hostel.

DAY 5: June 8 @ NUSA PENIDA ​​

​​Nusa Penida is an island a bit similar to Samal island. It’s a little farther though compared to going to Samal from Davao.

The boat’s body that brought us to the island was interestingly & slightly submerged in seawater, sort of a ‘submarine.’ Small splashes of salt water got into the enclosed boat from time to time.
Upon reaching the island, a driver was already waiting for us.

We excitedly headed for DIAMOND Beach. What we thought was near turned out to be a long, winding & potentially-dangerous terrain. We were so impressed by the skill of our driver in the island. After the more or less 2-hour ride from the wharf, we finally reached our destination.

We had to leave our vehicle though and walked our way down and up as no vehicles can farther enter due to its risky terrain.

It was a breathtaking paradise on a mountain top. We were hundreds of feet above sea level. At both sides, down down below are resorts that continue to attract local & international tourists for famtimes, pre-nup & other shoots.

After lunch in a small hut and photo ops under the scorching heat of the sun, we decided to tread down Diamond Beach.

A rope on one side has been provided for more than halfway down the steep, narrow steps. It can hardly accommodate a two-way passage/footlane. But the remaining distance, I guess one-third of the steps, has no railings nor rope to help guests in going up & down the terrain. There was so much apprehension whether to go down or not especially with me and Daden. What compelled us to go down was the sight of mothers carrying their infants-tied around their waists & other young children tagged along by parents.

Our two lovey-duo are always on the go regardless the seemingly danger & risk at hand.

Notwithstanding our shaking legs and bodies, we went down anyway, overcoming our fears, nervousness & inhibitions.

The view down the beach was naturally exquisite & stunning with huge & naturally DIAMOND-carved rocks. Right timing in going to the shoreline has to be considered, waiting for ebbing waves to calm down lest our bags with our passports and other documents get wet.

We spent almost an hour at the beach-enjoying the playful waves & ebbing water; meditating on the greatness of the Creator; playing with the sand and taking poses with the huge diamond-carved sentinels of the space.

One breathtaking sight was that of a female tourist who bravely sat on a swing facing the sea below with her partner cheering & tossing her back and forth.
​​​​

Day 6: June 9 @ SEMINYAK

We loved our 3rd hostel-Despacito, a Santorini-inspired one with an intimate restaurant on the 2nd-floor facing the green scenery & a warm, very inviting pool below.

The EDGE OF BALI

We were brought by Natalia, our lady driver to The Edge of Bali past 3 in the afternoon & managed to go home by ourselves in a cab. It’s a remote area not that far though from our loft-our last hostel.

The mountain top villa & resto defy both convention & gravity as it is perched on the edge of a 530ft limestone sea cliff. It is a truly unique private place (no walk-ins) with a spectacular view, delectable & mouth-watering food, thirst-quenching beverages at affordable prices. We find the crew & staff very warm & amiable in delivering good services.

The restaurant by the edge beams at the two big pools. The infinity pool faces the Indian Ocean below that tirelessly ebbs its white & foamy wild waves swinging & dancing back & forth the open shoreline beside the mountain. Such a picturesque view on top.

Per instruction of our official photographer-Joseph, we crossed over to the other side of the pool, holding on to the thick glass pool wall just to have our individual ‘mandatory shot.’

There & then after the said shot, I got a little understanding of this line-“never leave Bali without visiting The Edge-never leave The Edge without having that ‘mandatory pose’ at their infinity pool.”

Day 7 June 10 @ MOTEL MEXICOLA

Motel Mexicola offers a wide array of affordable and yummy Spanish dishes. They have cubicles that cater to smaller groups. Off a few meters from the cubicles and tables is the open, wide, and spacious sort of a living room with a beautiful combination of cool eye-relaxing colors. I personally enjoyed the Spanish music as I just flowed & danced my heart out.

It was so much fun to notice images on their Toilet doors:
Half-sliced Papaya for Female- Peeled Banana for Male.

Our POTATO HEAD BEACH CLUB experience was entirely different.

Our steps led us to a gallery of recycled materials. Balinese artists conglomerated for a pro-environment cause-recycling materials & transforming them into something useful, valuable & beautifully-eccentric works of art.

 

Used rubber slippers, water bottles & other trash were piled into one gigantic image with the message of saving the world from trash.

We headed to the other building-their restaurant, where we were offered free entry drinks. The green grass was simply inviting. The sun over the infinity pool fronting the beach ‘smiled’ at every guest. The shades under the swaying palms were waving, offering a relaxed mode as we readily took two spaces on the ground. It turned out that there’s a minimum order (quite pricey) for each table/space on the ground area…that’s why most of the guests occupied the tables at the pool area.


It answered our little question-“how come nobody sits on the ground spaces?’

As we didn’t have plans to stay longer, we managed to rather have our ordered juices at the lobby tables.

To sum it up, this Bali Trip with my awesome & cool buddies is WONDERFULly unforgettable. Traveling with loved ones is simply fulfilling & heart-warming, a time of exploring a little corner on this planet.

My photos reminded me that I also brought along a manuscript (for editing purposes) of one of our Masterands. Upon coming home, I happily handed it to her before deadline.

Amidst this lockdown in Abu Dhabi where I have the luxury of time & space for being with one of my sons & family, resting, writing & meditating-I am joyfully creating, believing & anticipating for a fun-filled meaningful time where my ENTIRE FAMILY CAN TRAVEL TOGETHER, somewhere outside the Philippines. <3 <3 So be it and SO IT IS <3 <3 *********************************************************

Every travel is a conception of somebody. As Daden asked Lyza to bring her to Bali, they both decided to have Joseph with them, & eventually…including me.
As to the proposal, it was Josiah who suggested “why not do it in Bali, it’s a place of wonder and marvel.”

Indeed, God leads us to beautiful & amazing places… in His time.

A million thanks, love and appreciation to the three of you-Daden, Lyza & Joseph for making this awesome travel possible in…naturally-HEAVENly Bali.

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