Apr 2, 2009

New Year's Eve in Kuta, Bali

It's a lot more than just Kuta..!
(part 1)

An sms from my pal Badu, “Vira, a common question. Where are you gonna spend your new year’s eve?” I replied, “A common answer. In Bali.”
Yeah, I whipped my ass working for the whole year (ooh this sounds dramatic, doesn’t it?), then I packed my holiday gears for the end of year fun in Bali, just like many other people in Indonesia. Mumun, Bondy, Edo, and I were up for any adventure there at the change of year 2008 to 2009.

I bet a lot of you have heard of Bali and more familiar with it more than the country it’s in, Indonesia. Some foreigners even think that Indonesia is in or near Bali. Gosh, that is so dead wrong, people..! We, non-Balinese Indonesians, find that quite offending a li’l bit, but seeing the fact that Bali is the most prepared and welcome place for foreigners of all exotic places in Indonesia, we understand the misconception.
Anyway, Bali is a small island located in the south central part of Indonesia. It is sandwiched between Java island (to its west) and Lombok island (to its east).

Above is the picture of bali-bombing monument. It's a tragedy that has given the whole Indonesia a bad name in the international eyes. That is just too bad because sometimes the media just loooooves to exaggerate. So. Move on, take vacation in Bali. Read on and you’ll know why.
Where To Go?
Kuta, Sanur, Tanah Lot, Nusa Dua, Ubud, Kintamani. These are some of the places that people would probably tell you to visit in Bali. Yeah, these are the most popular ones since the old age. But here I’m just gonna tell you about the places we went to and things we did, which include the not so popular ones, yet have their own uniqueness and fun!
This is the town near Ngurah Rai airport where everybody goes. It has a killing sunset view, and even my parents were one of the many couples that visited this spot in their honeymoon. We’re talking ages ago! Until now Kuta still has the magic that attracts tourists with its sunset, surfing pipes, and of course the more and more developed infrastructures along the beach.
Cafes, clubs, hotels, motels, hostels, surfing shops, cheapo clothing shops, 24-hr mini markets, Hard Rock Café, McDonald’s, all of these are there in the Kuta area, many of which face the ocean view.
- Tanning and crowds on beach
Just laying back and tanning on the beach is of course also an option. Warning: there will be lots of sellers that offer making braids, temporary tattoos, selling ethnic accessories like bracelets, necklaces, even massages and nail polishing service. When you’re in the mood for tranquility, these offers can be such annoyance ‘cos they can hardly accept a ‘no’.

The crowded beach would be a cool thing to have when you are really into watching various kinds of people passing by or just sit around waiting for sunset. And I guess because we were there exactly on the last day of 2008, the beach was packed with all sorts of people – foreign tourists PDA-ing with locals, small towners in full clothes, little children dipping their feet at the shoreline, some commercial booth playing music for people to dance to, and of course the more tourists, the more sellers.

We ourselves weren’t feeling comfortable in such chaotic atmosphere. That wasn’t what we were looking for, although I did manage to have some time laying down on the sand and just enjoying the sound of waves – it was hard work to finally eliminate the noise of the crowd, believe me.

Nonetheless, even before the sunset we took off to find a decent budget restaurant for dinner at Poppies Lane (more about Poppies Lane if you just scroll through and read on).
- New Year’s Eve
This Kuta area is where we spent our new year’s eve, at Bounty Café. No specific reason for choosing the place other than because they charged nothing for entry (cheapos!). The scene wasn’t too good, the music was almost lame, but at least they gave out free whistles to make some noise.

We wanted to just chill at the beach or something, but the outdoor Kuta was just too crowded and rain was drizzling. The roads were blocked for vehicles, however motorcycles chiseled their way in. As if there weren’t too many people jam-packed already. Bars after bars try to compete with one another by having sexy dancers in front, loud music on speakers, etc.

Not long after 2009 entered, we went to check out a gay bar, out of curiosity, at .. oh I forgot the name of the street, but it was 45 minutes of walking (thanks to Nina, Mumun’s friend that said it was only 10 minutes! Made my feet soar). We were to tired to enter the bar, so we just had our midnight food at a café near it called Baku Dapa.

Ah, this is living. I fell in love with Ubud for its tranquility, cool weather, artsy environment, the green green grass, the rice paddies, oh just about everything…!
Unlike the widely known image of Bali, Ubud is nowhere near a beach. It’s a highland located in the central of the island and has very cool weather. The atmosphere is so relaxing and peaceful, and it’s only a small town, yet I saw so many chill cafes, restaurants, and home-stays along the narrow roads. Many of which are European, so there’s a cure for homesickness for you European lads there.

I can sooo imagine myself chilling out at one of the cafes on the side of a road with my laptop or notebook writing away my imaginative stories.. Yup, the ambiance for me is really condusive for creative works. I’m thinking of moving there someday… :)
- Antonio Blanco Museum; not an ordinary museum

Ubud is such a small town, we didn’t even need a map to find Antonio Blanco Museum. Just drive down the main road and you’ll find the signs.

Here in the museum complex, discrimination is applied. Local visitors only have to pay Rp 30,000 / pax to get in, while foreign visitors Rp 50,000. Positive thinking, the museum management has a good intention to keep the locals be more interested and familiar with their own arts and culture. Blanco himself was a Spanish artist who got married with a genuine Balinese woman named Nyi Ronji. The museum is now managed by his eldest son who also paints.

The whole museum complex includes a huge garden where some exotic species of birds are preserved and a café where visitors can unwind and read some info on Bali’s other tourist destinations in a provided directory computer. The nice frill was when we just got in the entrance, a Balinese lady served us glasses of iced tea complete with the straws and jasmine flowers on the side. Loved it!!

Just a walk to a door from the terrace café, there is the painting room of Blanco Jr. In there, visitors can get free guidance of how Blanco used to work from some female staff dressed in traditional Balinese clothes. The paintings are for sale, but of course only the copies with certificates.
Blanco’s paintings in the museum aren’t allowed to be photographed. They are mostly of topless or naked Balinese women in very expressive strokes of paints and unique modified frames. I can see the passion of this man through his works. Very impressive.

On the balcony of second floor, you could sightsee the paddies and villages around, and there are also statues of Balinese traditional dancers with reaaaaally realistic details.
- Spending the night at Ubud
Some told me that there are a lot of budget homestays in Ubud. Lucky that I have a friend, Onet, who now lives in Ubud with her Belgian husband. The hubby was at a business trip, so we could spend a night at her house while being good companions for her who was 2 months pregnant and living alone in the comfy single-bedroom house exactly in the middle of rice paddies.

I had never imagined before, how I would love being in a house surrounded by paddies like that. Open the front door, and what you see is all greenhhh…!! Plus it was raining in the morning when I woke up, so just imagine the cold weather. Very refreshing!

I needed my jacket to sit out in the porch and covered my legs with a sarong, while the others were still sleeping soundly inside the house at 7 in the morning… But then I went back inside and slept again at the sofa until 9am..haha.
- The famous Nasi Ayam Kedewatan (Kedewatan Chicken Rice)
We took the words of Onet who’s lived in Bali for 5 years at that time, about what good food to have. It’s the chicken rice (or some say it’s mixed rice [nasi campur] ) on Kedewatan street. Hence it’s called Nasi Ayam Kedewatan.

We had the chicken rice at the Ibu Mangku restaurant because it was Onet’s recommendation. But you could choose other places there as well.
- Campuhan River and Murni’s Café
Campuhan river is quite famous in Ubud. An Indonesian top rock band, Slank, even released a song about contemplating on the Campuhan riverside. Unfortunately we failed to find where the best spot of the river was. But I think you could enjoy the atmosphere of the river while chilling out at Warung Murni (Murni’s café) that’s built right beside the river, near the bridge.
Our visit to Ubud was on our 2nd night day in Bali before we continued to Kintamani the next day. On the 6th day of our total 7 days in Bali, we went back there again because we just loved it so much! But this time was a day trip only.


  1. Travel into Bali is easy with major airlines serving regular flights from around the globe. Bali is a great holiday paradise providing complete tourism facilities. Bali hotels and Bali villas offers choices from any kind of budget. You can find the Bali accommodation at your own prices.

  2. mumun4:01 PM

    well looky looky... an add...

    honestly, for a second I forgot how nice that trip was. Long live spontaneity!

  3. I knooooww.. an add... :D

    kapan2 spontan2 lagi yuuuuk :P

  4. These pictures are awesome really interesting thanks for sharing us. Indonesia is a beautiful country with lots of attractive and incredible places especially Bali. It is the major tourist spot over there that’s the reason every year tourists visit in a huge numbers from all over the world.
    Moreover, other top places are Istiqlal Mosque, Prambanan Temple, Sulawesi and Lake Toba.